Europe

Amid tensions, Kurds celebrate spring festival in Turkey

  • People gather around a bonfire after Turkish authorities permitted the Newroz celebration, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Thousands celebrated the Newroz festival in Istanbul and in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish city in a region where Kurdish militants regularly clash with government forces. Many flags proclaimed  “No” in the Turkish and Kurdish languages, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to gain more power for his office in an April 16 referendum.
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

    People gather around a bonfire after Turkish authorities permitted the Newroz celebration, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Thousands celebrated the Newroz festival in Istanbul and in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish city in a region where Kurdish militants regularly clash with government forces. Many flags proclaimed “No” in the Turkish and Kurdish languages, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to gain more power for his office in an April 16 referendum. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)  (The Associated Press)

  • People demonstrate after Turkish authorities permitted the Newroz celebration, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Thousands celebrated the Newroz festival in Istanbul and in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish city in a region where Kurdish militants regularly clash with government forces. Many flags proclaimed  “No” in the Turkish and Kurdish languages, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to gain more power for his office in an April 16 referendum.
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

    People demonstrate after Turkish authorities permitted the Newroz celebration, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Thousands celebrated the Newroz festival in Istanbul and in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish city in a region where Kurdish militants regularly clash with government forces. Many flags proclaimed “No” in the Turkish and Kurdish languages, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to gain more power for his office in an April 16 referendum. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)  (The Associated Press)

  • People gather around a bonfire after Turkish authorities permitted the Newroz celebration, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Thousands celebrated the Newroz festival in Istanbul and in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish city in a region where Kurdish militants regularly clash with government forces. Many flags proclaimed  “No” in the Turkish and Kurdish languages, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to gain more power for his office in an April 16 referendum.
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

    People gather around a bonfire after Turkish authorities permitted the Newroz celebration, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Thousands celebrated the Newroz festival in Istanbul and in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish city in a region where Kurdish militants regularly clash with government forces. Many flags proclaimed “No” in the Turkish and Kurdish languages, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to gain more power for his office in an April 16 referendum. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)  (The Associated Press)

Thousands of Kurds have gathered in Turkey to celebrate a spring festival that has traditionally been used to assert the Kurdish ethnic identity and demand more rights.

Turkish authorities permitted the Newroz celebration on Tuesday in Diyarbakir, a mainly Kurdish city in a region where Kurdish militants regularly clash with government forces.

A few people in the crowd are carrying flags with the image of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Police are keeping their distance from the event, allowing Kurdish guards to search people and keep order.

Newroz, the Farsi-language word for "new year," is an ancient Persian festival that is celebrated in countries including Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Iran.