Diyarbakir to celebrate Newroz as Istanbul and Ankara face ban

A man holds the Kurdish colours: red, yellow, green at a Newroz celebration in Diyarbakir.

Turkish authorities have banned 21 March spring-equinox celebrations organised by the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Istanbul and Ankara on grounds of “security concerns.”

The celebration, which is observed by Kurds and other nations in the region as the beginning of the new year, has been granted permission in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakir province.

The Governorates of Ankara and Istanbul had declared on Tuesday that the celebration, which sees thousands of people gather to listen to speeches and dance to music, would not be allowed due to “possible tensions and provocations between people who will participate in the celebrations and others.”

According to local media the Diyarbakir Governorate, following much deliberation, has given permission for the celebration on 21 March in the majority-Kurdish cit.

Experts say Newroz (Nowruz, Nawruz) has been celebrated for more than 3,000 years in the region by many nations and ethno-religious groups, including Persians, Kurds and Azeris. It is seen as a holy day by Zoroastrians.

The celebration has also gained a political feature with Kurds mythologising it as a day of ‘resistance against tyranny’. Celebrating Newroz was banned in Turkey until the early 2000s.