A celebration of identity
Newroz, or Nowruz, is an ancient holiday celebrated by a multitude of ethnic groups across the Middle East, Iran, Central Asia, and the Caucuses, and ushers in the first day of Spring--March 21. For Kurds, Newroz is a means of political and cultural expression, featuring Kurdish politicians, activists, and musicians, and has become a manifestation of Kurdish identity. In Turkey, the celebrations begin a few days before the Vernal Equinox, culminating in a huge gathering in the heart of Turkey's Kurdish population, the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. This year, PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan, who despite serving a life sentence for treason still enjoys widespread influence among Kurds, sent a letter that was read at Newroz in Diyarbakir, calling for an end to the PKK's armed struggle against the Turkish state.