Newroz, a Kurdish ceremony marking the arrival of spring, will not be celebrated in a festive mood this year due to the great destruction caused by the 6 February earthquakes, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Pervin Buldan said on Friday as preparations began in several Kurdish-majority cities and districts with the 2023 Newroz declaration having been made by various Kurdish organisations.
In such a period of great pain, solidarity is most needed to heal the wounds caused by the earthquake, Buldan said in a speech after the declaration at the Dicle Fırat Culture and Art Centre in the Sur district of the Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakır (Amed).
“So we have different things to shout about in the Newroz arenas. At a time where we need to defend life the most against this evil order, and struggle more to establish a system that keeps us alive, we want to send the message to the government: ‘your time is up, the peoples of Turkey want the change,’ ” said the HDP co-chair.
“The pain and anger of the earthquake will socialise and pour into the Newroz fields in millions,” said the representatives of the HDP, the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Peace Mothers, Kurdistani Coalition, Green Left Party and the Free Women’s Movement (TJA) in the joint declaration entitled “We are marching to freedom with the fire of Newroz”, marking the start of the 2023 celebrations.
The Newroz celebrations, which will be held in 43 centres in Turkey, will begin in Hakkari (Colemêrg). Commemorative events will take place on 17-18 March according to the programme announced.
The song that will be highlighted in this year’s events, “Rakin meşala Newrozê” (Raise the torch of Newroz) performed by the Mesopotamia Cultural Centres Collective (Kolektîfa Navendên Çanda Mezopotamyayê) was also introduced with the declaration.
After the announcement of the Newroz program in Istanbul on Saturday, HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar stated that the current government was responsible for the great destruction caused by the earthquakes. “It would not suit our values to celebrate Newroz in a festive atmosphere when there is such great destruction, pain and mourning,” he added. “We will celebrate and welcome Newroz with the hope of rebuilding and recovering in a spirit of mourning and solidarity,” he said.
The European Kurdish Democratic Societies Congress (KCDK-E) announced on Saturday that this year’s Newroz is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the earthquake and emphasised that the events, between 12 March and 2 April, will focus on holding the government accountable.
For the Kurds, Newroz celebrations with a political context have a history of 53 years in Turkey, although the tradition itself goes many, many years further back. The first Newroz celebration organised by Kurdish political groups in Turkey was in Silvan (Farqîn) district in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakır in 1970.
The 6 February quakes hit a region of 13.5 million people, largely populated with ethnic Kurds. The tremor-damaged region in Turkey was already coping with conflict over ethnic and religious identities. After the disaster, many people of Kurdish descent and followers of the Alevi faith in the region claimed that there was obvious discrimination in the efforts of the state institutions to distribute humanitarian aid.