Today is the 21st of March, a day called Newroz, the ancient celebration which means the beginning of the New Year and spring. Peoples in Central Asia, Iran and especially Kurdistan are celebrating this day for centuries. As the oldest New Year celebration, Newroz also symbolizes rebirth, hope, prosperity and freedom. The Kurdish people -who have been oppressed throughout history- celebrate Newroz not only as a festival but also as a day of resistance against oppression and as a demonstration of its struggle for its own political identity, democratic rights, peace and freedom. As European Parliament – Kurds Friendship Group, who always stand beside of Kurds and their struggle for freedom and peace, we greet Newroz. We support and welcome peaceful and democratic demands of Kurdish people for freedom and recognition of its legitimate rights.

We have been informed that this year pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have planned to celebrate Newroz few days before 21st of March. However, earlier celebrations of Kurdish people have been banned by Turkish Government. Despite this ban, millions of Kurds across Turkey came together under the slogan, "Enough is enough, either freedom or freedom", but police forces brutally attacked Kurds with water cannons, tear gas and -in some cities- they opened fire with real bullets towards crowds where there were also BDP MPs, including awarded European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize Leyla Zana. We were shocked to be informed that, in Istanbul, BDP officer Haci Zengin has been killed by Turkish police during the Newroz rallies. Dozens of other Kurds were injured, including BDP MP Ahmet Turk, who has been hospitalized. Hundreds of Kurds have been arrested. This is unacceptable. We extend our sincere and deepest condolences to the family of Haci Zengin, to BDP as such and to the Kurdish people. 

We call on Turkish Government to end the illegitimate and unjust repression against Kurdish people, to release all the democratically elected BDP members still illegally jailed, to restart direct negotiations with representatives of Kurdish people in order to reach a peaceful, negotiated and comprehensive political solution of the Kurdish issue. We underline that Turkey will never be a member of European Union unless it brings a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, recognizes the legitimate rights of Kurds and respects fundamental human rights, including the freedom of expression.

(*) The European Parliament – Kurds Friendship Group is composed by several Members of the European Parliament from several EU Member States and from different political groups.