Kurds in Turkey lit the first fire of Newroz 2023 at a ceremony on Wednesday in the Şemdinli (Şemzînan) district of Hakkari (Colemêrg), a southeastern city that symbolises a fight for freedom and against assimilation in the Kurdish collective consciousness.
This year’s Newroz, a celebration that takes place on the spring equinox on 21 March, is dedicated to some 50,000 people who lost their lives in the 6 February earthquakes, Mezopotamya Agency reported.
A group gathered in front of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) offices in the district to kickstart the celebrations, after negotiations with security forces who barricaded off the traditional Newroz celebration site. The fire was lit in the countryside.
Newroz represents resurrection and rebirth for thousands of years, HDP MP Sait Dede said at the ceremony to light the fire. Dede also blamed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government for the disastrous aftermath of the earthquakes.
Participants lit the fire with three matchsticks that symbolise Mazlum Doğan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant who committed self-immolation to protest prison conditions on Newroz Day in 1982.
This year’s celebrations will be held under the slogans, “Her der Newroz, her dem Azadî” (“Newroz everywhere, freedom forever”) and “Newroz ateşiyle özgürlüğe” (“Towards freedom with the Newroz fire”).
Celebrations will hold off on 16 and 17 March as the former is the 40th day after the earthquakes, which holds religious significance, and the latter the anniversary of the Halabja Massacre, a chemical attack that killed some 5,000 people in the last days of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.
The week-long festivities in 43 centres will conclude with the biggest one on 21 March in Diyarbakır (Amed), Turkey’s largest Kurdish-majority province.