Thousands attended the Newroz celebration in Turkey’s southern city of Mersin on Saturday, chanting slogans that called for freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The demonstration area was decorated with banners that read, “We will break the isolation, we will defeat fascism”, “Newroz pîroz be” (‘Happy new year’), and “Kemal Kurkut is immortal” (in commemoration of Kemal Kurkut who was killed by the police during a Newroz celebration in 2017).
Women and children with Newroz flags, and yellow, red and green pennants entered the area with the slogan ‘Biji Newroz’ (‘Long live Newroz’).
The demonstrators also frequently chanted the slogans, ‘Bijî Serok Apo’ (‘Long live, leader Apo’), ‘Bê Serok jiyan nabe’ (No life without our leader), ‘PKK is the people, the people are here’, and ‘Bijî berxwedana zindana’ (‘Long live the resistance in prisons’).
Representatives and members of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Free Women’s Movement (TJA) and Peace Mothers joined the celebrations.
The Newroz -the arrival of New Year on the day of the spring equinox- which is celebrated across the Middle East has a political context for the Kurdish people, and is celebrated as a day of uprising for freedom.