Tens of thousands celebrate Newroz in Frankfurt

Tens of thousands of people from all over Germany travelled to Frankfurt today to celebrate this year's Newroz festival, which was dedicated to the memory of the victims of the earthquake disaster on February 6.

Thousands of Kurds from all over Germany gathered in Frankfurt on Saturday to celebrate the Kurdish New Year, Newroz. The festival was marked by the struggle between authoritarian regimes in the Middle East such as Turkey or Iran and the resistant peoples, stated KON-MED, pointing out that.

Around 40,000 people from all over the country gathered for the central Newroz rally at Rebstockpark to celebrate their festival of resistance. According to KON-MED, many more could have come if booked bus trips had not been cancelled at short notice by some companies in NRW.

The square was decorated with flags in the Kurdish colours of red, yellow and green, with banners reading "Jin Jiyan Azadî" (Woman, Life, Freedom) and "Başûr, Bakur, Rojava, Rojhilat - Kurdistan yek welat" (South, North, West, East - Kurdistan is one country). There were also many flags with the portraits of martyrs of the Kurdish resistance, such as Zeynep Kınacı and Mazlum Doğan. Pictures of the founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, were also on display. One of the central demands was the freedom of the Kurdish leader in order to support a peaceful political solution to the Kurdish question.

The ceremony began with a minute of silence to the Kurdish national anthem Ey Reqîb. The welcoming speeches were given by KON-MED chairpersons Zübeyde Zümrüt and Engin Sever. "Öcalan represents the hope for freedom and just peace for millions of people in all four parts of Kurdistan. But since the Turkish government broke off peace negotiations in 2015, Öcalan has effectively been in total isolation, and the entire country with him. For a sustainable and just peace in Kurdistan, this state of affairs must end. The gate to Imrali must open," Zümrüt said.

Engin Sever talked about the repression of German authorities against politically active Kurds in the Federal Republic of Germany and spoke of a criminalisation policy which, he said, had its roots in the ban on the PKK’s activities. “This approach does not only restrict the fundamental rights of the Kurdish community in this country, but also actively prevents a solution to the Kurdish question. Instead of positioning itself at the side of a fascist regime like the Erdogan government, Germany should respect the Kurds' right to self-determination and support their struggle against oppression," Sever stated.

Demir Çelik from the Federation of Democratic Alevis (FEDA) was another speaker. The former member of parliament of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), who now lives in exile in Europe, first commemorated the victims of the devastating earthquakes of 6 February in the Turkish-Syrian border region, whose epicentre was in Kurdistan. "Our thoughts are with the relatives of the people who lost their lives in this terrible disaster," Çelik said. The politician deplored the systematic discrimination in relief supplies, emergency aid and the recovery of earthquake victims in Alevi areas, including the Kurdish province of Maraş and the Arab-Alevi region of Hatay.

"State authorities did not go to the Alevi villages in the earthquake area until days later, if at all. Countless villages where people were still lying in the rubble were systematically ignored and civilian aid was blocked. This action exemplifies how the Turkish regime is using the catastrophe to wipe out minorities in the country," Çelik stressed and spoke of targeted state measures to trigger mass emigration in the Alevi regions. "It is a policy aiming at genocide that the Turkish state is pursuing again these days to complete the centuries-old policy of forced emigration. We call on our people to resist the depopulation of Kurdistan."

Mustafa Abdullah Sultani of the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) recalled the struggle of the people and especially the women in Rojhilat (Eastern Kurdistan) and Iran for their rights and freedoms, and paid tribute to the victims of the "Jin, Jiyan, Azadî" protests, which were ignited by the violent death of the 22-year-old Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini in Iranian police custody last September, and thanked all the people who participated in this "revolution led by women and the youth". "This revolution can become the foundation for a democratic nation. It is of existential importance that the peoples of Iran and Rojhilat work together to remove the obstacles that stand in the way of this historic resistance," he said.

Other political messages were delivered by Mike Josef (Frankfurt's candidate for mayor), Kaweh Mansoori (Member of the German Parliament), Deborah Düring (Member of the German Parliament) and Philipp Jacks (Chairman of the DGB Frankfurt-Rhein-Main). There were also music and cultural contributions on stage, among others by Mizgîn Tahîr, Lale Koçgün and Kevana Zêrîn. Many people danced to the lively rhythms on the muddy ground after a downpour. For the numerous participants, Newroz was a colourful festival with encounters with compatriots from all over Germany.