– Newroz celebrations in Amed, which left their mark on history, were always marked by demands for Abdullah Ocalan’s physical freedom and the solution of the Kurdish issue.
The Newroz fire, which is the symbol of the resistance launched by blacksmith Kawa against Cruel Dehak, will be celebrated this year with the motto “Rabe dema azadî û serkeftinê ye/ Arise, it’s time for freedom and victory”. Newroz, where the awakening of nature has been saluted for centuries, also became the name of resistance against oppression, prohibition and disregard in the Kurdish geography in the 1990s. Kurds who went out to the streets despite the bans faced massacres during Newroz in the 1990s. Kurds became massive with their own colors despite the obstacles and prohibitions, became millions in the 2000s and flocked to the areas.
While the massacres that took place during the Newroz celebrations of Cizîr and Nisêbîn are engraved in the memories of the Kurds, who have become millions from Kurdistan to the metropolises, Amed, where the fire of resistance was ignited with 3 matchsticks in 1982, had a special importance for the Kurds. With Mazlum Doğan’s Newroz celebration in Amed Prison, the Kurds became Kawa’s against the Dehak’s of the 20th century.
In 1992, when massacres took place during Cizîr and Nisêbîn Newroz celebrations, Diyarbakır Governorship did not allow the celebration of Newroz in Amed due to the state of emergency and law no. 2911. Thousands of people came in front of the People’s Labor Party (HEP) Provincial Organization building in Dağkapı Square and did not accept any ban. Students also celebrated the holiday by burning tires in the gardens of their schools. In 1993, when the PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire, Newroz celebrations took place in a calmer environment than the previous year. While the address of the celebrations was once again the HEP Provincial Organization located in Dağkapı in Amed, Newroz fires were lit in all neighborhoods of Amed.
As the 1993 Newroz passed in this way, hundreds of people were detained in raids in many cities before the 1994 Newroz, which also coincided with a tense period. Diyarbakır was again one of the centers where detention operations were carried out. On Newroz day, the permits of all police and soldiers serving in the city were canceled and checkpoints were established at the entrances and exits of the city and on all main roads. Against this orientation of the state, PKK called on the public to “celebrate Newroz at home against provocations.” With this call, people celebrated Newroz in their homes for the first time. Shops remained closed until noon in Amed’s Rezan (Bağlar), Şehitlik and Melikahmet neighborhoods.
Newroz, which could not be prevented by oppression, bans and massacres, was attempted to be turned into “Nevruz” by the state in 1995. During the Newroz holiday, unlike previous years, official meetings organized under the name of “Nevruz” holiday came to the fore. Delegations from Turkic republics such as Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan attended the meetings. The celebrations held by the state officials did not yield the desired results. Those who wanted to celebrate Newroz marched for freedom by burning tires in the streets and singing banned songs.
The date is 1997. The state, insisting on its “Nevruz” policies, sent “Prepare for Nevruz” circulars to university rectorates. The people of the city, who did not pay attention to the government’s circular, gathered in the Bağlar-Kuruçeşme district, which was determined as the address of Newroz celebrations, from the morning hours. The “Nevruz” celebration, which was planned to be held in Dağkapı Square on the same day by the state administrators, was canceled before it could be held due to the reactions of the public. The state, which could not tolerate the “illegal” celebration that started with the Newroz fire lit in Rezan, intervened in the mass gathered with its police and soldiers, and the crowd turned towards Batıkent Square. The crowd clashed with the police and reached Batıkent Square, where they lit the second Newroz fire on the same day.
In 1997, the address of Newroz in Amed was Batıkent Square and Rêzan. The Newroz enthusiasm, which started in the neighborhoods on March 20, moved to Batıkent Square on March 21. The Newroz celebration, attended by more than 15 thousand people, ended with a march to Dağkapı Square. The celebrations also took place in some neighborhoods as a result of the interventions.
The prohibitionist mentality showed itself once again in 1998. Although Newroz celebrations were banned, tens of thousands of people did not stop celebrating Newroz despite the attacks in Batıkent Square, where they still flocked.
The 1999 Newroz celebration, which was welcomed in an atmosphere where PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan was handed over to Turkey, again encountered a prohibitive practice. The ruling party of the period, who wanted to prevent the anger of the Kurds against the conspiracy from being reflected in the areas, imposed curfews and martial law in many cities of Kurdistan. However, despite this, people celebrated Newroz in the streets. While hundreds of people were detained and arrested in the clashes that broke out as a result of the interventions, many people were injured.
The bans were relaxed during Newroz in 2000, which coincided with the year when the PKK once again declared a unilateral ceasefire. In Amed, the Newroz Organization Committee did not allow the celebration of Newroz in Dağkapı and Batıkent Square. Diyarbakır Governorship approved the celebration to be held at the Fair Area, 12 km away from the city. Thereupon, more than 300 thousand people from Amed gathered at the Fairground and demanded that the death sentence for PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan be abolished.
Interest in Newroz, which has become a symbol of resistance, has increased over the years. Along with the decision to withdraw the PKK outside the border, the killing of Diyarbakır Provincial Police Chief Gaffar Okkan and 5 police officers in 2001, and the disappearance of HADEP Silopi District Chair Serdar Tanış and District Secretary Ebubekir Danış at the gendarmerie station to which they were summoned, created unrest. However, despite all these events, more than half a million people attended the second Newroz celebration held at the Fairgrounds. The main slogan of that year’s celebration was “Neither denial nor separation, but a democratic republic.”
The following year, in 2002, despite all the obstacles, approximately 1 million people gathered in the Newroz area of 187 thousand square meters, celebrated the holiday and lit the Newroz fire.
The 2003 Newroz, which started with discussions about the closure of the Kurdish party HADEP, was also celebrated in the Fair area. It was marked by anger towards the unanswered peace efforts made by PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan and the US intervention in Iraq. Slogans of “No to war” echoed at the celebration at the Fair area.
Amed’s 2004, 2005 and 2006 Newroz celebrations were also celebrated at the Fair Area with the participation of hundreds of thousands of people. The Newroz of 2004, which coincided with the March 28 local elections, went down in history as the Newroz of loyalty to Ocalan. Newroz was celebrated with the slogans “Newroz is unity”, “Either solution or solution” and “There is still a chance for peace” respectively. In Newroz 2005, which was held with the slogan “We will not allow war”, Democratic Confederalism, which was put forward by Abdullah Ocalan as an alternative to the nation-state approach, was declared. Millions of people came together in all regional cities, especially in Diyarbakır. Millions of people filling the square in Amed asked in 2006, “Do you accept Ocalan as the political will?” They answered the question “Yes” in unison and declared Ocalan as their political will.
During Newroz, when the fair area in the city was limited, the new address of celebrations in Amed became the Newroz Field. At the time of Abdullah Ocalan’s poisoning, the response was “His health is our health” during Newroz in Amed. During the 2008 Newroz celebration, which was held during a period when the pressure and arrests against the Kurdish political movement intensified, the cry of “Êdi Bes e (Enough is enough)” was also echoed in the Newroz areas. The demand for “Democratic confederalism” rose during the celebration, to which millions flocked.
Newroz 2009, which was celebrated before the local elections, was celebrated with referendum enthusiasm in the city. The most striking thing about Newroz was that the video containing Abdullah Ocalan’s evaluation of Newroz from the 90s was watched by more than one million people who filled the area from giant cinemas. This Newroz was a Newroz in which demands for peace and Abdullah Ocalan’s freedom were shouted.
Demands have become politicized during Newroz, where millions flock to the festival. It put an end to the discussions about the addresseeship created by the AKP in Newroz, which was celebrated with the motto “Free Leader, Free Identity, Democratic Autonomy”. Abdullah Ocalan was shown as the addressee in the solution of the Kurdish issue. The celebration, which witnessed the biggest Newroz in its history to that day, was attended by one and a half million people. People listened in silence to Ocalan’s Newroz evaluation of the past period, which was projected on the video. The applause and chants that started at the end and lasted for minutes were an indication of the people’s loyalty to Ocalan.
In Newroz 2011, the Kurds celebrated Newroz in 130 centers with the motto “Either freedom or freedom for an honorable life”. People shouted that the addressee in the Kurdish issue is once again Abdullah Ocalan, who received millions in Amed. After the celebration, hundreds of thousands of people held a “freedom march” from the area to Koşuyolu Park.
In 2012, when the conflict of the Kurdish issue deepened, celebrations once again faced bans and restrictions. The Ministry of Internal Affairs banned celebrations in many cities, especially Amed. Despite the ban, more than a million people in the city managed to reach the Newroz Area by overcoming the barricades from all sides. In the entered area, the signature campaign was launched around 4 basic demands such as “Recognition of Kurdish identity”, “Right to education in mother language”, “Political status” and “Ensuring the right of Kurds to organize” and for the development of a democratic solution with the motto “Êdî bes e, an azadî an azadî” a solution statement regarding the steps to be taken was put forward.
More than 2 million people attended Newroz, which was greeted with the beginning of a new process as a result of Abdullah Ocalan’s resistance in Imralı and the prisoners’ hunger strike in prison. Ocalan’s manifesto left its mark on the 2013 Newroz, which was celebrated with the motto “Freedom for Ocalan, status for the Kurds”. With his historic statement on Newroz, Ocalan declared that a new era of struggle had begun.
There was also an influx in Newroz in 2014, which was held during a period when the resolution process was still ongoing. There were participants from many parts of the world, as well as Kurdistan and Turkey. Nearly 3 million people attended Newroz, which was held with the motto “Free leader, free Kurdistan”. For the first time in the Newroz Area, the video message of KCK Co-Chair Cemil Bayık was watched on the screens installed on the platform. PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan’s message was listened to by the crowd in complete silence. Thousands of people lined up to join the petition launched for the freedom of Abdullah Ocalan.
The 2015 Newroz, which took place in Kobanê during a period in which the fight against ISIS and the Dolmabahçe Memorandum was signed, was celebrated with the motto “Êdî Bes e, ji Reber Apo re Azadî / Enough is Enough, Freedom for Leader Apo”. The demand of millions for “freedom for Ocalan” in the historic Amed Newroz, where the demand was voiced by millions, was recorded in history. Huge posters of Abdullah Ocalan attracted attention during the celebrations. 437 guests from 25 different countries, including the USA, England and France, attended the historical Diyarbakır Newroz. PYD Co-chair Asya Abdullah was also among the participants.
During the 2016 Newroz, when the solution process was put on the refrigerator and the curfews declared in the cities of Kurdistan were marked by massacres, hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the Newroz area in Amed with the motto “From the Sur resistance to the Newroz of freedom”. Newroz was dedicated to those who resist curfews.
Newroz 2017, which witnessed the AKP-community conflict and was welcomed in the state of emergency declared after the July 15 Military Coup Attempt, once again hosted a historic day. It was attempted to be created on the morning of Newroz, when university student Kemal Kurkut was killed by the police on suspicion of being a “suicide bomber”. During Newroz, the reaction to anti-democratic practices, especially due to the State of Emergency, was revealed.
Reactions to the attacks on Afrin rose during the 2018 Newroz, in which young people participated intensively. Newroz was celebrated with the slogans “Newroz is resistance, the spring of the people against fascism” and “Fascism will lose, the people will win”. Newroz ended with the police intervention against the march with the crowd dispersing.
Newroz 2019 in Amed was met with hunger strike actions that spread to all prisons, carried out by Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-chair Leyla Güven, demanding the end of the isolation imposed on PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan. Hundreds of thousands of people attended Newroz, which was held with the slogan “We will definitely win, we will break the isolation.”
Newroz was not celebrated this year due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic that shook the world. Newroz was celebrated in small groups on the streets with candles lit from windows.
Newroz Park, which was empty due to the pandemic the previous year, hosted millions again. The slogan “Let’s resist with the fire of Newroz, let’s be free” echoed from the area. During the celebrations, attention was also drawn to the murders of women and the closure case of HDP. Signatures were collected within the scope of the petition campaign launched by the Kurdish Language Platform and the Kurdish Language Network demanding that Kurdish be the official and educational language.
More than one million people attended Newroz in 2022, where messages were given about the country’s issues, especially the Kurdish issue. Despite all the obstacles, the demand for freedom of Ocalan was echoed in Newroz, which was celebrated with the slogan “Dem dema serkeftinê ye (Now is the time for freedom)”. In addition to 200 people, representatives of political parties and non-governmental organizations from many countries of the world, especially the Middle East and Europe, many people, representatives of political parties and non-governmental organizations from the Federated Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Northern and Eastern Syria and Iranian Kurdistan also attended.
The demand for freedom for PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan marked the 2023 Newroz, which was held with the motto “Her dem newroz her der Azadî / Everytime Newroz, everywhere freedom” after the earthquake. Despite the intense measures taken by the police, young people broke through barricades and barriers and raised the demand for “freedom for Ocalan” throughout the day. At Amed Newroz, where the call to end the isolation was made, Imralı was pointed out for a democratic solution. Despite all the obstacles and attacks of the police, slogans of “Bijî Serok Apo (Long live Leader Apo)” echoed in the streets of Amed.
It will be celebrated in 57 centers this year with the motto “Rabe dema azadî û serkeftinê ye”. All eyes will once again be on Amed during the celebrations held in a local election atmosphere. It is expected that the demand for a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue will rise and that Abdullah Ocalan, who has not been heard from for 3 years, will shout for his freedom.