Norwegian delegates visiting Diyarbakır for Newroz detained

A delegation of activists from Norway has been detained in Turkey after travelling to the south-eastern city of Diyarbakır to take part in the popular Kurdish spring festival of Newroz, Turkish news site Artı Gerçek reported on Wednesday.

Marie Sorhaug, Mads Opheim, Beth Hartmann and Astrid Melmeim, Norwegian members of the Solidarity with Kurdistan Initiative, were detained by Turkish police after attending a funeral service for Kurdish activist Zülküf Gezen, who took his own life in prison this month.

Gezen’s suicide was in protest at the enforced isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK resumed decades of conflict with Turkish security forces in 2015, and Öcalan, a prisoner in Turkey’s İmralı prison island, has been almost entirely prevented from meeting family members and lawyers since then.

The detention of the Norwegian delegates was the second time this week that supporters of the Kurdish political movement from Europe have been detained in Turkey.

On Tuesday local news reported that politicians from the French Communist Party were detained on their way to celebrated Newroz in Diyarbakır.

Ankara views the Newroz festival as an expression of Kurdish nationalism and has enforced tight controls on celebrations since the resumption of the Kurdish conflict.