The first day of spring also marks the new year--Nouwroz--for the Kurdish people. This has been a day of struggle for the 20 million Kurds living under the domination of the Turkish state.
On March 13, a mostly Kurdish working-class community outside Istanbul erupted in rebellion following attacks by fascist groups. Tens of thousands of people came into the street. By the end of the week at least 25 had died at the hands of the Istanbul police.
The Turkish army tried to preempt the Nouwroz demonstrations by carrying out a massive offensive into northern Iraq. According to wire service reports, some 30,000 Turkish troops invaded the Kurdish area of Iraq, allegedly in pursuit of guerrillas led by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
In Germany on the eve of Nouwroz, Kurdish organizations demonstrated in Bremen, Berlin, Mannheim and Duesseldorf demanding the right to asylum. The Bonn government has threatened to expel to Turkey thousands of the almost 500,000 Kurds living in Germany. A large proportion of the Kurdish community in Germany is sympathetic with the liberation struggle and with the PKK.
As these events were taking place in Europe and the Middle East, the International Action Center hosted a March 19 meeting in New York featuring prominent Kurdish leaders--people in the Kurdistan parliament-in-exile. The meeting, attended mostly by Kurds and progressive Turks, solidarized itself with the massive rebellion in Istanbul.
One of the speakers was Ali Yigit, an exiled member of the Turkish Parliament and member of the Democratic Labor Party (DEP).
"What is taking place in Istanbul," said Yigit, "is above all the uprising of four million Kurds who have been forced out of their villages by the fascist military's assault on their homes in North Kurdistan. In these attacks the Turkish army has razed and destroyed over 2,000 villages, killing thousands and making millions homeless, pushing them to the shanty towns in the outskirts of Istanbul and other major cities.
"These Kurds are suffering from the double oppression of massive poverty and racist attacks by both the police state apparatus and government-sponsored religious right-wing organizations.
"The Turkish army claims that the PKK has burned the villages. This is a big lie and smacks of the traditional game of making the victim look like the villain," said Yigit.
"Contrary to the state-sponsored reports that the Kurdish movement and the PKK are finished off, the Kurdish movement for self-determination is strong as ever. The government in Ankara for many years has claimed that 'the Kurdish problem' is finished. They were wrong then and--as evidenced by the massive outpouring of our people in Istanbul and the solidarity march of over 25,000 Kurds and their supporters in Germany--they are wrong today, too."
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