The Newroz demonstration in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority city of Cizre (Cizîr) in 1992 marks a historical turning point in the Kurdish people’s struggle to get the Turkish state to recognise Newroz, even unofficially, as a national day of celebration for the Kurds.
According to official figures, 57 individuals (close to 100 in other sources) were killed in the city on the 21st and 22nd of March 1992, as state forces started shooting indiscriminately at demonstrators after the crowd refused to stop at a barricade on the main street of the city.
It reportedly started with shots fired from an armoured vehicle. In the ensuing carnage dozens of demonstrators were killed and hundreds wounded within a matter of hours.
People had to refrain from taking the wounded to hospital because they knew they would instantly be arrested and thrown into detention centres to be tortured.
On the second day, a small group of journalists tried to leave the hotel they were staying at to make observations and report on the situation. Although they visibly carried cameras and white flags, they were fired upon by state forces when they stepped out, and a journalist named İzzet Keser was killed.
A witness of the carnage, Bêrîvan Cizîrî, speaks to Jin News.
“Initially there was an attack by helicopters, and the people marching towards the city square were sprayed with pepper gas (…) I was marching in front of the crowd, was among those who led the march.”
“They were constantly spraying us with pepper gas, and a short time later, they started shooting. But they were still unable to make us stop or withdraw. We were all determined to continue marching and to reach the square. There was no way of stopping us except conducting a massacre.”
Berivan also adds that after the massacre in Cizre, she decided to join the freedom struggle on the frontlines.
“Later, I decided to join in the frontlines of the revolution, and took the nomme de guerre, Berivan”, she says.