Nowruz celebrations kicks off in Diyarbakir

DIYARBAKIR: Nowruz celebration which is being organized by Democratic Society Congress (DTK) has begun in southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakir. Nowruz, which represents the coming of the spring, is widely celebrated by people in Central Asia and the Middle East also is celebrated in Turkey on March 21.

Huge preparedness which was held in Baglar district of Diyabakir has nearly ended and the Nowruz Park was flocked by people who came to Diarbakir from neighboring cities and districts to attend the celebrations which were generally scene of the clashes past years.

Many reporters also have flocked to the Nowruz Park to cover the celebration in which the letter of Abdullah Ocalan is being expected to be read to the crowd. Crowd in the area are started to folk dance to celebrate the Nowruz.

HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas had previously called for a video message from the PKK leader, but no video is expected to be given. The message is expected to include an extensive review of the settlement process while calling for democratic reforms.

A call for the laying down of arms would have a positive impact on the ongoing peace talks, but several key figures within the PKK, such as the number two in charge, Cemil Bayik, recently stated that Ocalan would not convey such a message.

Despite an ongoing settlement process, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had surprisingly said last weekend that there is no Kurdish issue in Turkey, but rather problems faced by the country’s Kurdish citizens, the same thing that Turkey’s other citizens also experience.

“My brothers, there has never been any problem called the Kurdish issue in this country. However, there are intentional efforts to keep it on the agenda. … We ended it [the issue] in a speech I made in Diyarbakir in 2005 and that is it,” Erdogan said during a rally in Balikesir, implying that the issue had already been eliminated by steps taken by the ruling party in the past.

The HDP’s Demirtas had blasted Erdogan’s discourse, describing his remarks as a tactical maneuver for the parliamentary elections to be held in June.

“I just wonder why he has been carrying out this [settlement] process if there is no Kurdish issue,” the HDP co-chair said.

In an unexpected move, Erdogan also objected on Friday to the idea of a committee to monitor talks aimed at resolving the Kurdish issue, saying the process should only be conducted by the country’s intelligence agency and the government.

“These processes are carried out by them [the intelligence agency]. … If the government is in charge, then the government should continue the process. That’s what I think. The process should remain within its [current] framework,” Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul Ataturk Airport before leaving for a visit to Ukraine.

Erdogan’s remarks came days after a top government official, Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan, confirmed that a “monitoring committee” of five or six people will be established to monitor the process.

Erdogan said on Friday that steps such as the establishment of a monitoring committee are of no use. “These are unnecessary. I don’t find them appropriate either,” he said of the proposed committee. “Such steps should not be taken to please certain people,” he added, apparently referring to the Kurdish side, which has been pressing for a monitoring committee as part of the settlement process.

The issue of a monitoring committee being established in order to observe the settlement process with the Kurds has been a controversial matter between the government and the HDP as well. Last week, following a meeting with Akdogan, HDP officials told the press that a 16-person monitoring committee had been established to follow the settlement process closely and to visit Ocalan. Later the same day, Akdogan denied the claim via Twitter, saying, “These [assertions] are entirely false.”

As part of the settlement negotiations, the government demanded, as of late spring of 2013, that the PKK lay down arms and leave Turkey. The demand has thus far not been met, apart from some exceptions, by the PKK which has accused the government of failing to take some steps in return.

The ambassadors of more than 20 countries including the US, who have been invited by the DTK, are expected to attend the celebration in Diyarbakir to hear what Ocalan will convey in his message.

Celebrations will begin at 10 a.m. the opening speeches by Selma Irmak, the co-chair of the DTK, and Asya Abdullah, the co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the PKK. Ocalan’s message will then be read, possibly by HDP deputies Onder and Pervin Buldan.