Cablegate: Newroz Celebrations in Se Turkey

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Newroz (Turkish spelling "Nevruz")
falls on Friday, March 21. This spring festival
is the most important holiday for Kurds, and
since the 1990s has become increasingly linked to
Kurdish political aspirations. Our contacts in
the region predict large public celebrations will
take place. While our contacts in both the
Kurdish community and the GOT emphasize they want
the celebrations to remain peaceful and lawful,
the imminence of war in Iraq could spark trouble.

2. (SBU) DEHAP officials in Adana have applied
to the provincial governor and security director
for permission to hold Newroz celebrations. As
of yesterday, no answer has been received. DEHAP
says it is in control of its rank-and-file and
has warned against responding to "provocations".
They expect a crowd of up to 100,000 people in
Adana for a celebration to be held at a large
vacant lot off a main thoroughfare in Adana.
(Note: Last year's Newroz celebration in Adana
drew approximately 50,000 people. End note.)
The Security Directorate for Adana told us he did
not anticipate any violence.

3. (SBU) Similarly, DEHAP in Diyarbakir is also
expecting a response from GOT provincial
officials to a request to hold Newroz festivities
there. Timing is important, because, according
to the law, such permission has to be obtained 48
hours in advance. Last year, Newroz was
celebrated by more than 300,000 people at a
fairground some 15-km outside Diyarbakir on the
way to Elazig. This year, DEHAP has requested to
use open land in the Huzurevleri neighborhood of
Diyarbakir municipality.

4. (SBU) Newroz could not be coming at a more
sensitive time, given the imminence of war. Both
Kurdish and GOT interlocutors are pledging a non-
confrontational approach. That said, the
potential is there for things to spin out of
control. It should be recalled that the Newroz
holiday - celebrated by Kurds everywhere - is not
only a spring festival but also part of the
Kurdish people's foundation mythology,
celebrating a successful rebellion against an
ancient evil tyrant named Dahhak.

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