At a huge rally to mark Kurdish new year, or Newroz, in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) called for the militant group to hold discussions on ending their 30-year armed struggle against the Turkish state. However, he stopped short of declaring an immediate end to the hostilities.

Hundreds of thousands of Kurds had gathered to hear Abdullah Ocalan's message and celebrate new year. Organisers claimed a million people attended, but there were no official figures. Large screens showed Ocalan's face while many waved the flags of his militant group. The mere display of Kurdish insignia, let alone an image of Ocalan, could have brought arrest and imprisonment less than a decade ago.

Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Thousands of Kurds gather to celebrate Newroz, the Kurdish New Year, in the southeastern Turkish city of DiyarbakirIlyas Akengin/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
A man takes a selfie as tens of thousands of Kurds gather to celebrate Newroz, which marks the arrival of spring and the new year, in Diyarbakir, TurkeyUnit Bektas/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
A Kurdish woman attends a gathering celebrating Newroz in Diyarbakir, south-eastern TurkeyUmit Bektas/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Boys pose in front of a banner bearing a portrait of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah OcalanYasin Akgul/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Kurdish girls in traditional dress take part in new year celebrations in DiyarbakirCarl Court/Getty Images
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Peshmerga fighters pose for a photograph during Kurdish new year celebrations in DiyarbakirCarl Court/Getty Images
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Kurds from Turkey and Syria celebrate Newroz in DiyarbakirCarl Court/Getty Images
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
People reach up to touch a large Kurdish flag during Newroz celebrations in Istanbul, TurkeyBulent Kilic/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
People watch the Newroz celebrations, marking the Kurdish new year, in Istanbul.Bulent Kilic/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
A Turkish Kurdish man jumps over a bonfire during a rally celebrating Newroz in IstanbulMurad Sezer/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Kurds rally during Newroz celebrations in Ankara, TurkeyAdem Altan/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
People from the Kurdish community gather on a hillside and light a fire as part of Newroz celebrations in Cizre, in Turkey's Sirnak provinceYasin Akgul/AFP

Newroz is an important festival marking the arrival of spring and the Persian new year.

Newroz (also spelled Nowruz) is also celebrated in other countries that use the Persian calendar, such as Iraq, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The calendar takes as its start date the time when the Prophet Mohammad moved from Mecca to Medina in 621 AD. The current Persian year is 1394.

Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Afghan revellers gather in front of the Hazrat-e-Ali shrine in Mazari-i-Sharif for Newroz festivitiesFarshad Usyan/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Afghan women gather to celebrate the new year in front of the Hazrat-e-Ali shrine in Mazari-i-SharifFarshad Usyan/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Balloons are released at the Hazrat-e-Ali shrine in Mazari-i-Sharif, AfghanistanFarshad Usyan/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Afghans try to touch and kiss a religious flag to celebrate the new year (Newroz) in KabulMohammad Ismail/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Afghan men take part in a ritual in front of the Hazrat-e-Ali shrine in Mazari-i-SharifFarshad Usyan/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
A girl plays with a toy gun during Newroz celebrations in Kabul, AfghanistanMohammad Ismail/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Afghan women walk inside a shopping mall ahead of Newroz in JalalabadParwiz/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Kurdish men carry lit torches up a mountain as they celebrate new year, in the northern Iraqi town of AqrahAzad Lashkari/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Kurds carry torches up a mountain where a giant flag of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region is laid, in the town of Aqrah, Northern IraqAzad Lashkari/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Residents release sky lanterns during Newroz festivities in Baghdad, IraqAhmad Mousa/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Kurdish residents celebrate Newroz in Dohuk, northern IraqAri Jalal/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Kurdish Peshmerga forces celebrate Newroz, a festival marking spring and the Persian New Year, in Kirkuk, IraqAko Rasheed/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Kurdish men stand guard with their guns during a gathering to celebrate Newroz in the Sheikh Maksoud neighbourhood of Aleppo, SyriaAmmar Abdullah/Reuters
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Syrian Kurdish people gather on Mistanur hill in the town of Kobani, destroyed in the fight against IsisYasin Akgul/AFP
Newroz Kurdish and Iranian new year
Syrian Kurdish people gather to celebrate Newroz on Mistanur hill in Kobani, also known as Ain al-ArabYasin Akgul/AFP