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POLITICS > Diyarbakır Mayor advises kids to avoid rallies amid Nevruz debate

ISTANBUL / DİYARBAKIR

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Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir. AA photo

Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir. AA photo

Children should be hitting their books rather than hitting the streets to protest, Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir has said as Kurdish groups vowed to celebrate Nevruz in Istanbul on March 18 despite official prohibitions.

“Youngsters should be going to school instead of throwing stones at police on the streets,” Baydemir said at a conference titled “Preventing Child Abuse,” held by the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office, his municipality and the Diyarbakır Police Department on March 15. “For political, social and economic reasons, children in this region cannot have healthy childhoods. Protest meetings are not where children should play, and throwing stones at police tanks is no game for children.”

Noting that many children are currently under arrest for throwing stones at police, Mayor Baydemir said the local authorities and government must cooperate to find a solution to the issue.

Diyarbakır Gov. Mustafa Toprak also said they had an emergency action plan specifically designed for children in the province. Toprak said almost 700 children in the province had been subjected to violence.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people, mostly university students, were detained in a number of operations against the youth branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in several cities on March 16. The operations occurred in Istanbul and Ankara as well as in the southern provinces of Adana and Siirt, Doğan news agency reported.

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), meanwhile, has announced its intention to follow through on plans to celebrate Nevruz in Zeytinburnu’s Kazlıçeşme neighborhood on March 18 even though the Istanbul Governor’s Office has declared any such rally would be illegal.

Similarly, the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office said in a written statement March 16 that “the official Nevruz celebration was set for March 21; as such, [authorities] will not allow any celebration to be observed previous to that date.”

Kurdish groups had also planned to hold Nevruz celebrations in the southeastern province on March 18. However, Peace and Democracy Party leader Selahattin Demirtaş condemned the decision on March 16.

“This is a political approach to the issue. Nevruz has been celebrated between March 17 and 21 during the last 12 years. If the [ruling] Justice and Development Party really wants it to be celebrated on March 21, then we should announce the day as a public holiday,” Demirtaş said.

Demirtaş also said the ruling AKP had been deciding when the opposition should hold their protests and rallies. “The decision to cancel the Nevruz celebrations on March 18 is not in line with political ethics.”

The People’s Democratic Congress (HDK), an umbrella organization of the BDP and other political organizations, announced March 16 that a Nevruz celebration would be held March 18 in Kazlıçeşme despite the governor’s decree.

“The Istanbul governor’s [action in] forbidding this celebration is political and illegal,” Istanbul deputy Sebahat Tuncel told the Hürriyet Daily News. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

March/17/2012

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