Restricted celebrations mark Nevruz day across Turkey
DHA photoNevruz, the day marking the beginning of spring, has been celebrated despite restrictions across Turkey due to security concerns.
Police intervened with tear gas against a group of protesters, who – despite a ban by the Istanbul Governor’s Office – sought to celebrate Nevruz in the Bakırköy district on March 20. State-run Anadolu Agency reported that “many” people were detained.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ criticized the ban at a rally to mark Nevruz in Istanbul.
“The people of Istanbul and Turkey never deserve these conditions,” said Yüksekdağ, along with fellow MPs before their party’s building in Istanbul’s Bahçelievler district.
“The main theme of this festivity is the values of an oppressed humanity,” Yükekdağ said.
Nevruz marks the first day of spring and is celebrated across much of Central Asia on March 21.
Celebrations for Nevruz had were permitted last week the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, which traditionally celebrates the biggest Nevruz on March 21.
But other cities were not permitted to host Nevruz festivities. Celebrations were banned in many provinces amid security forces’ operations against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the country’s eastern and southeastern region including Erzurum, Erzincan, Muş, Batman, Bingöl, Tunceli, Şırnak, Kars, Hakkari and Mardin.
In the Turkish capital Ankara, Nevruz celebrations were also banned between March 19 and March 21.
Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala said Nevruz celebrations were allowed in 18 provinces and districts across Turkey this year, and the rest were not allowed due to “security concerns.”
He added that a total of 200,000 security personnel, 120,000 police officers and 80,000 gendarmes across the country had been assigned for Nevruz celebrations.
Around 80 people marched in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir on March 20, chanting slogans that “Nevruz cannot be banned.”
HDP deputy co-chair Filiz Koçali, who was in Eskişehir for the march, joined the group, who lit a fire inside a park and jumped over it, a traditional ritual done for Nevruz.
Raids were conducted on March 19, and 19 people were detained in the Aegean province of İzmir on grounds of allegations that they were going to stage illegal protests by making use of Molotov cocktails, fireworks and hand-made explosives, Anadolu Agency reported.