Kurdistan Knife-wielding suspect killed by police in Diyarbakir Newroz gathering

Knife-wielding suspect killed by police in Diyarbakir Newroz gathering
Thousands of people gather to celebrate Newroz in Diyarbakir, Turkey. (Photo: Kurdistan24)

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – Police on Tuesday shot and killed a knife-wielding suspect who tried to enter a Kurdish New Year (Newroz) gathering in the city of Diyarbakir, a Kurdistan24 correspondent said.

Police shot the suspect after he refused to let officials search his bag, according to Turkey’s Dogan News Agency.

The suspect was taken to hospital in critical condition but succumbed to his injuries on the way there, Dogan reported.

Over 5,000 police were stationed around the area for the celebrations as security measures were tightened.

While Turkish authorities in Istanbul and Ankara denied Newroz celebrations, officials in Diyarbakir decided to allow a gathering for the Kurdish New Year.

The Kurdistan24 bureau in Ankara reported that both cities' governorates justified the Newroz ban because “persons or groups attending the gathering may cause provocations.”

The ban came despite an appeal by the opposition Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Last week, HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir urged the Turkish government to allow celebrations for “the sake of peace.”

For decades and despite strict bans, Newroz has served as a means of political expression for millions of Kurds whose identity and rights are suppressed in Turkey.

Kurds usually mark the celebration by lighting large bonfires along with singing and dancing.

In 1992, Turkish government forces killed 103 peaceful civilians in several Kurdish towns as they gathered to celebrate Newroz, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released at the time.

After the year 2000, although successive Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments eased restrictions on Newroz, authorities remain wary of its greater political implications.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

(Ari Khalidi contributed to this report)