Turkish police detain 14 in Istanbul Newroz celebration 

(Re-leads with detentions)

Istanbul police on Saturday detained 14 people participating in the city’s celebration of Newroz, a festival welcoming spring, taking place amid an intensified crackdown on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Four people were detained for allegedly resisting police, while 10 people were taken into police custody on charges of conducting "terrorist propaganda,’’ T24 news site reported. 

Thousands of Kurdish and pro-Kurdish Turks convened in the Yenikapı district of the country’s most populous city to mark the holiday in the event that was streamed from HDP’s Twitter account.

"I salute the Newroz resistance of all of you,’’ jailed former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş  said in a statement read during the celebration, "at a time when the inconceivable pressures on our beloved people, party and yourselves is intensifying.’’

"Happy Newroz resistance to you," the prominent Kurdish politician said.

This year’s celebrations, held with the slogan, “Let us resist and become free with the fire of Newroz,’’ arrive as the government has dialled up a political and judicial crackdown on the HDP.  

Turkish parliament earlier this week revoked the membership of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker and human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, while moving to close down the pro-Kurdish party.

HDP co chair Pervin Buldan delivered a speech in Yenikapı, in which she highlighted on the unseating of Gergerlioğlu on Wednesday.

The crackdown by Ankara is “the seizing of the will of the people,’’ Buldan said, recalling the appointment of government officials to replace dozens of elected HDP mayors in the Kurdish majority east and southeast since the 2019 local elections.

Buldan also condemned the government over the decision to withdrawfrom a landmark European treaty protecting women from violence that it was the first to sign a decade ago.

“Women will have the last word,’’ Buldan said, adding that the HDP would not never accept for Turkey to scrap the convention with a “night coup,’’ in reference to the presidential decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the decision late Friday.

A number of Kurdish politicians took part in the gathering at Yenikapı, including HDP Istanbul deputy Musa Piroğlu and former deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder.

Participants in the gathering waved HDP flags and jumped over fire, a long-standing Newroz tradition.

HDP shared images of Kurds gathered to celebrate Newroz in western İzmir province and in the southern province of Mersin, large crowds showed up to mark the holiday.

In capital Ankara, Newroz celebrations are taking place in the city's Anıt Park.

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