19 detained over Nevruz celebration in Ankara

A reveler jumps in front of a bonfire during a gathering of Turkish Kurds for Nevruz celebrations marking the Persian New Year in Diyarbakır, southeastern Turkey, on March 21, 2023. Nevruz (also known as Nawroz or Nowruz) is an ancient Persian festival, which is also celebrated by Kurdish people, marking the first day of spring, which falls on March 21. ILYAS AKENGIN / AFP

Nineteen people were detained on Monday as part of an investigation over a celebration held in Ankara on March 19 to mark the spring festival of Nevruz, the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported.

In an investigation initiated by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, 19 people were detained for allegedly disseminating terrorist propaganda. Police conducted operations in five provinces to detain 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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