Sunday, March 23, 2008

Newroz Festival Marred By Violence

PHOTO FROM Efe / El País
Newroz marks the start of the new year for Turkey's some 15 million Kurds and is by far the most important holiday in the southeast. Celebrations of past years have been marked by violent protests spurned by state repression and Kurdish provocation. For some Kurds, the holiday marks an important day of protest against Turkey's repression of Kurdish identity and has become a symbol of political resistance. Embraced by DTP, this year's political theme is "Enough is enough." Festivities got under way peacefully in Diyarbakır, but this was not the case in the eastern cities of Van, Hakkari, Siirt, Batman, Silopi y Mersin. In these cities, state authorities did not allow for celebrations and when they ensued, violence soon broke out. According to news reports, the police responded when demonstrators began to shout slogans for Öcalan and wave posters carrying his image.

The Spanish newspaper El País reports that in Van one man was shot in the chest by police and that some 100 more were injured. Additionally, at least 400 others were detained by police. Characterizing scenes in these cities as "battle grounds," footage of clashes between the police and demonstrators demonstrate violent acts taken by both sides. The demonstrators threw stones and Molotov cocktails, while police responded with gun fire, severe beatings, and pepper gas. For a look at the anarchy, see footage from EuroNews. The violence will only inflame sentiments against the state and further polarize Kurds and Turks.

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