I went to the traditional Kurdish spring festival of Newroz (‘Nevruz’ in Turkish) recently in Diyarbakir, which was a fairly extraordinary experience. We were told there were a million people there, which I could believe.
The way in which Kurdish traditions have fused with the symbolism of the PKK is extraordinary. The crowd was a sea of Ocalan flags, with many men (and little boys as young as three) wearing the dark green fatigues of the rebels.
Just as extraordinary were the heights to which some people climbed in order to get a better look and wave banners:
I did a photoessay that appeared on SETimes, and you can see it here.
It was an odd hybrid of angry demonstration and family day out. There was a striking contrast between the many families who had apparently just come along for a quiet picnic, and the youths with covered faces brandishing Ocalan banners and chanting slogans.
At a gathering the following day in one of Diyarbakir’s main parks, kids throwing stones at riot police were being exhorted to show restraint by their elders. I’m returning to Diyarbakir on Tuesday to write more about this disconnect between an older generation keen on peace and dialogue as a means to solve the Kurdish problem, and the youngsters who are disillusioned or impatient with this approach.
Turkey’s leaders need to take solid steps towards some kind of resolution with the current generation of Kurds, because they may find the next generation far harder to deal with.
I’ve had a couple more pieces out about Turkey’s hydro-engineering programme. One piece for the Christian Science Monitor looks at the issue in the national context and in terms of Turkey’s surging energy needs. The other, for Eurasianet, is taking a closer look at the Allianoi situation specifically.
A few months ago I wrote about an Iranian couple who fled to Turkey after suffering terrible persecution in Iran (see previous post). The good news is that they have both gained refugee status now, and have been provisionally approved to move to the United States. I did an audio report for SETimes on the difficulties of their lives in Turkey, and their hopes and fears for the future.
Finally, I’ve also written about the Libya crisis recently, visiting some wounded Benghazi fighters and demonstrators who are in hospital in Istanbul. You can read my report for SETimes here.