9 killed during Nevruz celebrations under Erdoğan’s rule

Kemal Kurkut (Photo by Abdurrahman Gök)

A report on Nevruz celebrations in Turkey drafted by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu has revealed that nine people have been killed by security officers in celebrations during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s more than two-decade-long rule, the Kronos news website reported.

Ömer Aydın and Mehmet Şen were killed during celebrations in 2002, Ramazan Dal, Zeki Erinç, İkbal Yaşar and Fahrettin Şedal in 2008, Hacı Zengin in 2012 and Mehmet Nağay in 2016, the report said. In 2017 Kemal Kurkut, a Kurdish university student, was shot to death by a police officer during Nevruz celebrations in Diyarbakır.

According to Tanrıkulu, police officers Hasan Yılmaz, Çetin Ayaz and Ahmet Toprakoğlu also died in incidents during Nevruz celebrations.

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.

In January a Turkish court acquitted police officer Yakup Şenocak, who shot Kurkut to death in 2017. Kurkut was a student at İnönü University in eastern Turkey’s Malatya province and had traveled to his hometown of Diyarbakır for Nevruz celebrations. Police found poetry books and clothing in Kurkut’s backpack after he was shot on suspicion that he was a “suicide bomber.”

This year’s Nevruz celebrations were no exception. During a Nevruz celebration in İstanbul on Sunday, 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 police on Tuesday detained approximately 200 people in Diyarbakır on the grounds that they violated the Law on Demonstrations and Public Meetings and for resisting police officers.

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