11 detained over Nevruz celebration in southern Turkey

Photo: Kronos news website

Eleven people were detained on Friday as a result of an investigation into a celebration in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin in March to mark the spring festival of Nevruz, the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported.

As part of an investigation launched by the Mersin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, detention warrants were issued for 14 people for allegedly disseminating terrorist propaganda during the Nevruz celebration. Police conducted operations in the province and detained 11 of the suspects.

The prosecutor’s office launched the investigation due to the alleged dissemination of propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Nevruz is traditionally marked by Kurds in the second half of March as the first day of spring, with colorful celebrations across the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. However, the celebrations, which have a highly symbolic meaning for Kurds, have often been marred by heavy-handed police intervention.

The police in March detained hundreds of people across Turkey on the grounds that they violated the Law on Demonstrations and Public Meetings and for resisting police officers. 

During a Nevruz celebration in İstanbul, 224 people were detained for bringing “illegal banners” to the square and “causing outrage by shouting illegal slogans,” according to a statement from the İstanbul Governor’s Office.

The celebration in Diyarbakır was no exception as the police detained approximately 200 people in March.

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