Syrian and Turkish forces attack Kurds celebrating Newroz holiday


In the largest Kurdish city, Diyarbakir (or Amed, in Kurdish), reports say that over 1 million people gathered to listen to the music, dance, and hear speeches from the local Kurdish politicians. Pictures from the event showed Turkish jets and helicopters flying low but there were no encounters with this extremely large crowd of celebrators.

However, while the festival in the Diyarbakir remained peaceful with no Turkish forces to intervene (perhaps because of the size of the festival there), other areas of celebration did not. In particular, across the border in Syria in the Kurdish city of Qamishli, three Kurds were shot dead by Syrian security forces.

The reports say that the Syrian forces opened gunfire into the crowd after celebrators lit torches as part of the festivities. Fire (and torches) is a big part of the Newroz celebrations all over the world, and it seems rather that the Syrian forces were simply more interested in looking for an excuse to open gunfire on the crowd in order to disperse them than they were concerned for a few torches.

Kurdish celebrators were also met with violence elsewhere. In several Kurdish cities throughout Turkey, Newroz celebrations were simply forbidden just as they have been in the past. The people in the Kurdish cities of Van, Hakkari, Urfa, and Siirt were denied permits to carry out their festivities.

Nevertheless, you cannot stop the people from celebrating an ancient holiday. Music was played loud and clear, and the celebrators set up fires to jump over; jumping over fire is an old tradition practiced all over the world by the various groups that celebrate Newroz. Unfortunately, in these cities, Turkish forces responded to peaceful celebrators with violence using batons, tear gas and water cannons. Many were injured and hundreds are said to have been arrested.

The following video was captured by the Turkish daily newspaper, Hurriyet, and speaks for itself. Local sources (verified by more video footage) say the festival started peaceful until Turkish police rushed the celebrators at times even beating the women with their batons as can be seen.

This month the atrocities continued against the Kurds in Turkey and despite the footage to prove it, hardly anyone flinched. The international community remained largely silent, the media didn’t bother doing anything with the pictures or videos, and the headlines continued reporting everything else happening in this world from California to Tibet!

The brutality is most certainly nothing new but justice simply lacks a voice in this part of the world.

I’ll leave you with a video that can be seen at the following link. I must warn some that it may be heartbreaking to say the least! Newroz Tragedy- 2008

Update: Two more deaths in Turkey after victims suffered severe injuries reported the Agence France-Presse. People again poured into the streets to protest and more clashes with Turkish police left several more protesters injured.

Article by Goran Sadjadi