Newroz in Amed: “Freedom for Öcalan”

Hundreds of thousands celebrated Newroz in Amed, expressing their will for peace and democracy.

The final celebration of 2023 Newroz, which kicked off on March 10 under the motto "Her der Newroz, her dem azadi" and dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Maraş-centred earthquakes on February 6, was held at the Newroz Park in Amed's central Bağlar district today.

This year's Newroz, which marks the beginning of spring, was dominated by anger and frustration over the government's handling of the devastating earthquakes in the Turkish-Syrian border region and the fact that the disaster is being politically exploited. More than 50,000 people have officially died in Turkey alone and the search for missing persons is still on. 230,000 buildings have been destroyed or can no longer be inhabited, according to government figures. More than one million people are living in tents, six weeks after the severe disaster. Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is making big promises, claiming to complete new houses for those affected within a year, to promote himself and his policies.


This year, the stage was not colourfully decorated, but black, as Newroz 2023 was dedicated to the victims of the earthquake disaster. The motto "With the Newroz fire to freedom" and "Everywhere Newroz, always for freedom" were written on signs. In various places in the square, huge banners were emblazoned with inscriptions such as "With Jina's hair we will strengthen our resistance" - referring to the Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini, who was the victim of a state femicide in September for an alleged violation of the Islamist dress code in Iran - and "Kemal Kurkut is immortal". This is to commemorate the young art student who was shot dead by a police officer in Amed on Newroz 2017. Other posters read "Şîna me sedema tekoşîna me ye" (Our mourning is the basis of our struggle). Flags of the parties of the Labour and Freedom Alliance, which co-organised the celebration, of the Amedspor football club and banners with the images of Abdullah Öcalan were waved.

The police this year built a 5-meter-high barbed wire fence between the main stage and the gathering area. Young people, climbing the wire fence with their banners, protested the police by chanting slogans. The police failed in their attempt to attack the young people, due to the 5-meter-high wire fence.


At the beginning of the festival, the traditional Newroz fire was lit. It is a symbol against tyranny and for resistance, but also has a political component. This was also expressed in the numerous speeches and messages read out. "The Kurdish people long for a great peace and a strong democracy," said the political veteran Ahmet Türk. This year's Newroz, he said, should therefore be seen fundamentally as an expression of the Kurds' will for the "crushing of fascism" and a call to the democratic public to support this effort with determination. "Let us unite to end the despotism of Turkish fascism and the reign of the current rulers. It is up to us to pave the way to peace and achieve our ideal of a democratic nation. Indispensable for this goal is the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan. For he is not only the leader of the Kurdish people, but the architect of a peace plan that we want to implement," said Türk.


HDP Co-Chair Mithat Sancar spoke of a decisive year in Turkey. He stated that the Labour and Freedom Alliance, which includes the HDP, EMEP, TIP, EHP, SMF and TÖP, will ensure that the voters vote Erdogan out of office on 14 May. He stated that they are calling for a "wind of change" to blow over the country. In this way, he said, it will be possible to return to the path of democracy and the rule of law.


"Turkey is dominated by warmongers. For eight years, we have been witnessing an escalation of a war of unprecedented proportions, directed against Kurdish society and with it against all forces of democracy," said Sancar, referring to the "Çökertme Planı" - a term that can be translated meaningfully as "decomposition plan" - which has been single-mindedly put into practice by the Turkish state since the unilateral termination of the "peace process" with Abdullah Öcalan. Between 2013 and 2015, there were talks between the PKK and the Turkish state aimed at working out a democratic solution to the Kurdish question.

"Öcalan, at a time when the Middle East turned into a sea of blood, proposed a local, peaceful and reasonable approach for all the peoples of the region in an attempt to contribute to a solution. But the table was overturned and his approach became the target of the ruling power elites. The resulting escalation of war politics has also led to the deepening of his isolation on Imrali, affecting the whole society. This state of affairs is responsible for practically all the crises in the country. Therefore, our demand is this: for a democratic solution to the crises in the country and sustainable peace, the isolation must be lifted. Because isolation means war. We are tired of wearing the chains of war and will shake them off on 14 May."


Unusually clear words regarding the isolation of Öcalan also came from PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, in South Kurdistan) chairman Bafel Talabani, who addressed the guests at the Newroz celebration in Amed with a video message - even though Öcalan's name was not explicitly mentioned. "Release our politicians and representatives and remove all obstacles that you have directed against the people, lawyers and doctors," Talabani's message said. The politician called on all Kurds to respond to attacks against the achievements of the Kurdish people with "national unity" and offered his condolences to the relatives of the victims of the earthquake. "My hope is that this year's Newroz festival will give the starting signal for the Kurds' common resistance. Let us put aside our differences and fight shoulder to shoulder for our achievements," Talabani said.


DTK (Democratic Society Congress) Co-chair Bedran Öztürk paid tribute to the victims of the earthquake and Kemal Kurkut, vowing to bring those responsible to account.

Öztürk said: “The path to democracy passes through Amed, which is the heart of the Kurds, and the square of democracy. Since 5 April 2015, the government has aggravated the isolation of Mr Öcalan, who is of great importance to the Kurdish people, the peoples of Turkey and the Middle East. Mr Öcalan’s voice became the hope for freedom in the Middle East. His ideas became the hope for freedom. Our people do not accept this isolation anymore. No news has been received from Öcalan for two years now, because they are afraid of Mr Öcalan’s voice. They are killing the future of Turkey’s peoples by continuing their war and bombardments in Kurdistan. This is an inhumane government which seeks to destroy the status of the Kurds with an occupation mentality and Kurdish enmity.”