Newroz Piroz Be! (Happy Newroz)
Tens of thousands of Kurds celebrated Newroz festival in Istanbul as they carry Kurdistan flags, portraits of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerillas and rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan on 20th of March.
Women, men and children who dressed in traditional way, danced and demanded their rights here in Istanbul. Tens of thousands of Kurds chanted support for a Kurdish rebel group and its imprisoned leader.
Newroz in Turkey has become a symbol of Kurdish identity. Every year millions of Kurds celebrate Newroz festival throughout the country. While the Kurdish celebration has taken the form of a political expression, other countries such as Iran and Afghanistan, newroz is understood as a traditional spring festival.
In Kurdish legend, the Newroz holiday which coincides with the spring equinox, celebrates the deliverance of the Kurds from a tyrant. The celebrations are held between 18 and 24 March and it has an important place in the terms of Kurdish identity in Turkey.
The Kurds are a large and distinct ethnic minority in the Middle East, numbering some 25-30 million people. Half of the Kurds reside in Turkey, where they comprise over 20 percent of the Turkish population. Since beginning of modern rebuplic, any expression by the Kurds of unique ethnic identity has been harshly repressed. As a result, Kurdish nationalism is deemed separatism, and grounds for imprisonment.