Kurdish language should be studied throughout Turkey, activists say
DIYARBAKIR-AMED, Turkey Kurdistan,— The Kurdish Language Platform plans to encourage Kurdish education and promotion of the language in Turkey, starting by issuing booklets and pushing for the establishment of a government-funded board.
“The Kurdish language shall be official and it should be studied in all parts of country. We call on the government to establish an institution for our language such as the Kurdish Language Board…” said Serefhan Ciziri, the spokesperson for Kurdish Language Platform during a press conference on Wednesday.
Ciziri added that the board shall be passed in the parliament and receive a budget from the government.
“…because we live in this country and undertake all our citizenship duties such as paying taxes and going into compulsory military service,” he argued.
Nine Kurdish parties in Turkey held a campaign in support of their language at the end of last year, calling on Kurds to speak in their native language.
Kurdish is not an official language in Turkey despite having a roughly 20 million speakers in the country. Kurds are allowed to speak in their mother tongue at home, although the government has allowed some pro-government TV channels to present programs in Kurdish.
The platform will launch a campaign on International Mother Language Day on April 21 with the slogan of “Kurdish is Our Identity and Existence” in Diyarbakir (Amed), distributing booklets which encourage Kurds to speak in Kurdish at home and outside.
“Let’s focus on Kurdish language by speaking and studying it and thinking in Kurdish,” said Ciziri.
During Newroz celebrations — which mark the beginning of Kurdish calendar — they will call on Kurdish political parties to publish posters and deliver speeches in Kurdish.
When Kurdish is spoken in parliament, the recorder simply puts an ‘X’ on the official record. At different times Kurds have been demeaned and labelled as “mountain Turks who forgot their language.”
Several Kurdish language programs at prominent universities have been closed in Turkey over the past decade.
The lack of formal studies for Kurdish in Turkey means that some prominent Kurdish officials, including former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, can not communicate with comrades in Kurdish.
The use of the term “Kurdistan” is vigorously rejected due to its alleged political implications by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize the existence of a “Turkish Kurdistan” Southeast Turkey. The word ‘KURDISTAN’ is strongly prohibited in Turkey.
Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media.
The use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet are prohibited in Turkey and has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003. Kurdish Newroz must be written as ‘Nevruz’ with Turkish alphabet.
The Kurmanji dialect is the most common Kurdish dialect in Turkey and the world. Increasingly, the language is being recognized online by Google, Microsoft, and other software companies. Much of the preservation of the language is done by linguists and academics abroad.