Persian New Year celebration turns riot between Turkish police, Kurds

Published March 20th, 2015 - 06:00 GMT

At least five people have been injured during clashes that broke out between Turkish riot police forces and Kurds celebrating Nowruz, which marks the arrival of spring and the Persian New Year, in southeastern Turkey.

On Thursday, thousands of people attended the Nowruz celebrations organized by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the city of Sirnak, located 1,205 kilometers (748 miles) southeast of the capital, Ankara.

Violence erupted when a group of 50 people allegedly threw stones at the police officers deployed in the area. Police, in return, fired water cannon to disperse the crowd.

Five police officers and a 5-year-old child were wounded during the imbroglio. The six were taken to Sirnak State Hospital to receive medical treatment.

Separately, a group of masked men closed the main road leading to Diyarbakir in the Pazaryeri area of Turkey’s southeastern city of Batman by setting car tires on fire. The group then stoned an ambulance and a prison vehicle passing by.

A police car also caught fire after a Molotov cocktail thrown by the protesters hit it. Police used pepper gas to disperse the people.

Nowruz is as one of the oldest and most cherished festivities celebrated for at least 3,000 years.

The International Day of Nowruz was registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on February 23, 2010, and the festivities are now celebrated in many countries as far as the US and Canada.

However, the celebrations have frequently become the scene of clashes between Turkish police and Kurds over the past years.


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