Turkish gov’t detains over 100 Kurdish activists ahead of Nevroz festival

Turkish authorities detained more than 100 suspected Kurdish activists on Tuesday on suspicion of planning illegal demonstrations or plotting attacks for the Nevroz festival, with Turkish police stepping up operations against Kurdish activists and politicians in Ankara, İstanbul, Şırnak and Mardin provinces.

At least 11 people were detained in the capital of Ankara for allegedly “preparing for a provocative attack ahead of Nevroz,” and police were searching for 14 more. Police also raided several homes in Ankara early Tuesday morning.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) official Sulhattin Değer, Mine Metin and JINHA reporter Duygu Erol were detained and taken to the Ankara Police Department. Police also raided the home of Mezopotamya Agency reporter Selami Aslan but were unable to find him at home.

İstanbul police said on Tuesday they had detained 16 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) youth wing in Turkey’s biggest city on suspicion of preparing for “rogue demonstrations” and “attacks.”

In the southeastern province of Şırnak police detained 76 people with suspected links to the PKK. A small pro-Kurdish party, the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), said 27 people, including one of its officials, had been detained in raids in the southern province of Hatay.

In Şırnak’s Cizre district and town of Kumçatı, police detained several people including Lütfiye Duymak, widow of Mahmut Duymak, who was killed by Turkish soldiers during operations in Cizre in 2016. Locals report police raids in Mardin’s Savur district where Savur Town Council members Gülbahar Soygit and Osman Aksoy were detained.

Celebrating Nevroz, which coincides with the spring equinox in late March, is an important marker of identity for members of Turkey’s Kurdish minority. Nevroz is celebrated in Iran, Turkey and parts of Central Asia.

The Turkish state has been waging a war for decades against the outlawed PKK in a conflict that has intensified since a ceasefire collapsed in 2015. At the height of the PKK’s insurgency in the 1990s, Nevroz celebrations were marked by clashes between protesters and security forces.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union.

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