I celebrated Newroz in Diyarbakir with teary eyes!

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Luqman Barwari
  • 26/03/2011 00:00:00

I celebrated Newroz in Diyarbakir among more than a million Kurds, on March 20th. The program started at 10:00am, with a welcome and expression of well wishes by the organizers. This introduction was followed with a performance by a beautiful musical group from Mihabat, Eastern Kurdistan. They began with the song, “Newroz,” by the well-known Kurdish poet, Piremerd.

The program continued with messages from Mr. Ahmet Turk, Mayor Osman Baydemir, and several other regional Kurdish leaders. The festival participants enjoyed more music by Hozan Brader and Hozan Comert, as they danced and chanted to the songs. Unlike the past 4 years’ Newroz programs that I had attended, this one ended at 1:00pm.

Festival participants were invited to join BDP and other Kurdish officials and activists for a peaceful 10-mile march to Peace Tents Park. A group of at least 200,000 joined the march, led by Mr. Turk, Mayor Baydemir and other MPs.

As the marchers continued toward their destination, heavily armed Turkish police interfered and confronted them. Skirmishes took place between some of the brave Diyarbakir youth and the Turkish police, while the remaining demonstrators proceeded to march onward.

We arrived at the Peace Tents Park at around 3:00pm, but the Newroz “peace marchers” were still not left alone by the Turkish police forces. We were trapped- surrounded on all sides and attacked by the Turkish police on the ground, as several helicopters hovered overhead, dropping tear gas on the park grounds, while skirmishes continued between police and the Diyabarkir youth.

No one could escape the effects of the tear gas spreading so rapidly throughout the park. The gates were locked, there was a heavy police presence just outside, and there was nowhere to escape; many were injured. Several hours later, negotiations took place between the Turkish state police, Mayor Baydemir and other Kurdish city officials.

At around 7:00pm, ambulances were allowed in to attend to and take away the injured. I, myself, left the park at around 8:00pm, my eyes still red, inflamed and teary and with a continuous cough from the tear gas.

As I came back to my hotel room, fatigued and still suffering from the physical and emotional aftermath of the events, I could not help but think about how cruel and hypocritical the Turkish regime is when it comes to the innocent, defenseless Kurdish people.

The recent speeches of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan were playing in my head, haunting me; it’s shameful just how hypocritical a head of a state can be. He travels

around the world, preaching and encouraging the recent uprisings in the Middle East against dictatorial leaders; he speaks harshly against Israel for its mistreatment of the Palestinians, yet he “forgets” the oppression of Kurds. Hasn’t he recently stated on a number of occasions, “My fits of anger over the deaths of children were ‘nondiscriminative’ when it comes to race or religion; if a child is killed, I would fiercely stand against the murderers”.

Perhaps, Mr. Erdogan, you could do something about your own state before going around the world and preaching to other states about how they should treat their citizens. There are many questions that you, Mr. Erdogan, must answer.

What about the uncovering of mass graves in the Kurdish region on a daily basis?

What about the recent closure of the democratically-elected Democratic Society Party (DTP) and subsequent jailing of more than 1800 Kurdish politicians, and human rights activists since April 2009?

What about the detention of more than 3,000 Kurdish children under 18 years of age?

As far as I know, Mr. Prime Minister, their only crime was to attend peaceful gatherings and marches, much like I witnessed yesterday.

How can they defend themselves against a brutal and vicious police force?

Yes, the only weapon that I witnessed those kids using against the heavily armed Turkish police force were pieces of concrete from the sidewalks; the police were equipped with machine guns, armored gear, shields, gas masks, water cannons, and helicopters, from which they showered the marchers with tear gas bullets.

I urge you, Mr. Prime Minister, to stop going around the world trying to tell other states how to practice democracy. Although it maybe difficult to create a democracy any time soon in your own state, you’d better start with your own state before preaching to others.

You cannot hide your state apparatus’ crimes against defenseless Kurdish people, not with today’s mass media outlets.

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Luqman Barwari
  • 26/03/2011 00:00:00