Thousands in Diyarbakir celebrate Newroz amid tight security | The Herald

Thousands in Diyarbakir celebrate Newroz amid tight security | The Herald...
heraldonline.com 21/03/2016 Culture

Keywords:#AP, #Abdullah_Ocalan, #Afghanistan, #Ankara, #Associated_Press, #Diyarbakir, #Farsi, #Google, #Heraldonline.com, #Iran, #Iraq, #Islamic, #Islamic_State, #Istanbul, #Kurdish, #Kurdistan, #LinkedIn, #Newroz, #Nowruz, #PKK, #People, #Persian, #Pinterest, #Reddit, #Saturday, #Syria, #Turkey, #Turkish

Demonstrators try to protect themselves near a barricade as they clash with security forces during banned Nowruz celebrations, in Gazi district in Istanbul, Sunday, March 20, 2016. Nowruz, the Farsi-language word for " new year ", is an ancient Persian festival, celebrated on the first day of spring, March 21, in Central Asian republics, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran. Cagdas Erdogan AP Photo

* * * By SUZAN FRASER AND DOMINIQUE SOGUEL Associated Press
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ISTANBUL
Thousands of people gathered in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir Monday to celebrate the Newroz spring festival. Authorities made arrests in other parts of the country where the festivities were banned.
Revelers in Diyarbakir carried portraits of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. They also brandished flags of a Kurdish faction in Syria that Ankara considers a security threat.

Celebrators, some holding portraits of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, top left, gesture as they gather to celebrate Nowruz in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Monday, March 21, 2016. Thousands of people have gathered in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir to celebrate the Newroz spring festival. Authorities made arrests in other parts of the country where the festivities were banned. Murat Bay AP Photo

* * * Kurds in Turkey traditionally use Newroz to assert their ethnic identity and demand greater rights but this year's celebrations come amid tightened security.
The celebrations were banned in Ankara and in Istanbul, where security forces rounded up 164 people, including 12 minors, ahead of the festivities, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
Hamza Demirkol, who was celebrating Newroz in Diyarbakir, expressed a desire for peace. "We definitely don't want war and blood," he said.

People gather to celebrate Nowruz in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Monday, March 21, 2016. Thousands of people have gathered in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir to celebrate the Newroz spring festival. Authorities made arrests in other parts of the country where the festivities were banned. Murat Bay AP Photo

* * * Kurdish rebels are currently locked in battle with security forces in southeastern Turkey. A fragile peace process between the PKK and the Turkish state collapsed in July, reigniting a battle that has cost tens of thousands of lives since 1984.
In Diyarbakir, pro-Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas addressed the importance of resuming talks. "We are ready to take the initiative with all our friends to return to the peace talks table again and not let the people surrender to anger and grudges," he said.
The military said a total of 22 PKK militants were killed Sunday during operations across the southeast. It also reported the death of four soldiers targeted by a roadside bomb the previous day in the province of Mardin.

Celebrators, some holding portraits of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, top left, shout as they gather to celebrate Nowruz in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Monday, March 21, 2016. Thousands of people have gathered in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir to celebrate the Newroz spring festival. Authorities made arrests in other parts of the country where the festivities were banned. Murat Bay AP Photo

* * * Turkey has endured six suicide bombings in less than a year, including two in Ankara that have been claimed by an offshoot of the PKK. The latest struck Istanbul on Saturday killing four foreign tourists in an attack that the authorities blamed on the Islamic State group.

---Thousands of people gathered in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir Monday to celebrate the Newroz spring festival. Authorities made arrests in other parts of the country where the festivities were banned. ---
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