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New Year Celebration 2016 in Turkey with ‘STAR WARS’ from ISIS


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This year Newroz celebrations in Turkey are mostly forbidden in all cities because of ‘security reasons’. Newroz refers to the celebration of the traditional Iranian new year holiday of Newroz in Kurdish society. In Kurdish legend, the holiday celebrates the deliverance of the Kurds from a tyrant, and it is seen as another way of demonstrating support for the Kurdish cause. So metaphorically it is also in Turkey a celebration of relief, freedom and peace. It is celebrated not only in Turkey but all over the world: e.g. Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Germany.

Newroz is considered the most important festival in Kurdish culture, and is a time for entertainment such as games, dancing, family gathering, preparation of special foods and the reading of poetry.

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Because of the political polarization in Turkey and the current anti Kurdish governmental politics this year the celebration of Newroz is officially prohibited in most cities in Turkey of ‘security reasons’. The People’s Democratic party HDP is claiming the celebration of Newroz to be a legitimate right of all people and the banning of it to be neither legal, nor legitimate. They want to go on with planning the festivity for Sunday, the 20th of March. We will see if the celebration will take place even after after a suicide bomb attack hit Istanbul’s main shopping street today Saturday 19th. It seems an ISIS member is behind the attack. His name is Mehmet Öztürk (Mehmet the real Turk in English).

Authorities have taken blood samples from the father of Mehmet Öztürk, a suspected member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), in the probe into this suicide bomb attack. Unfortunatly the main bomber of March 19th attack is still on the run. Savaş Yıldız ( Star Wars in English) – 32 – is among four ISIL members currently being sought in Turkey and is still somewhere in Istanbul with a much bigger device of a bomb then the Real Turk had with him yesterday.

It was claimed that Savaş Yildiz was behind two bombings in Mersin and Adana, in which three people were injured, and fled to Syria after the attacks. He was included on a list prepared by the police of four suspected ISIS members who infiltrated Turkey from Syria and were planning suicide attacks.

The pedestrian street was completely sealed off after the attack. Radio and Television Supreme Council has imposed broadcast ban as to the explosion. This is a direct attack on civilians. Turkey’s three opposition parties represented in parliament have condemned this suicide bomb attack.

“We strongly condemn terrorism and call on everybody who have left Turkey on the lap of terrorism to take responsibility,” said Selin Sayek Böke, deputy leader and spokeswoman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party.

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The the situation is very tense in Turkey after the fourth bomb attack in the last six months.

On the other hand the government tries to prevent any celebration of Newroz this year: e.g. Chris Stephenson, a UK lecturer in computer science at Istanbul Bilgi University since 25 years, was detained and deported from Istanbul after being found with invitations to Kurdish new year celebrations. He said before his departure on Wednesday from Istanbul’s Atatürk international airport there was “no offence, no trial, just an administrative decision to deport me after 25 years of residency in Turkey”. He said the invitations found in his bag were issued by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic party, and featured a reference to Kurdish self-determination and a small picture of a barricade. On Friday – March 18th Chris Stephensonhas received news from the authorities that now there is “no ban on him entering Turkey” anymore and he can return.

The People’s Democratic party was holding a Newroz celebration at the Bahçelievler District in Istanbul on Sunday 20th. Police intervened with tear gas against a group of poeple, who – despite the ban by the Istanbul Governor’s Office – sought to celebrate Nevruz. Many people were detained.

This years ban of the Newroz celebration is a further loss of  democracy and diversity in Turkey.

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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