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 Turks lukewarm to broader rights for Kurdish minority

 Source : AFP
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Turks lukewarm to broader rights for Kurdish minority  25.3.2007


March 25, 2007

ANKARA, -- About a third of Turks back Kurdish-language education and broadcasts as a means of ending the two-decade Kurdish conflict in Turkey, while a majority believe that combating separatist Kurdish rebels is the way out, a poll showed Saturday.

The survey, published in the popular Milliyet daily, found that 34.9 percent believe that granting the Kurdish minority the right to education in its mother tongue would be a "right" way to resolve the conflict, while the remaining respondants said it would be "wrong."

Another 36.3 percent backed Kurdish-language broadcasts.

About 39 percent expressed support for removing a 10-percent national threshold for parties to enter parliament, which has kept Kurdish political movements from obtaining parliamentary representation.

More people -- 42.4 percent -- were in favour of extending state support to preserve Kurdish culture and traditions and 48.3 percent said the powers of local administrations should be broadened.

A solid majority of 80.3 percent said "eradicating terrorism" is the way to end the conflict, which has claimed more than 37,000 lives since the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms in 1984.

The survey was conducted by the Konda polling company among 48,000 people across Turkey in October.

Under European Union pressure, Turkey has in recent years broadened Kurdish cultural freedoms, legalising the teaching of the Kurdish language at private courses and allowing limited Kurdish-language television and radio broadcasts.

But Kurdish activists say the reforms are inadequate and have called notably for lowering the 10-percent election threshold and granting general amnesty for PKK militants to encourage them to end their armed campaign in the southeast.

Other parts of the poll, published in Milliyet this week, projected the number of Kurds in Turkey at 11.5 million, or 15.7 percent of the 73-million-strong population.


** 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.

Others estimate as many as 40 million Kurds live in Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia), which covers an area as big as France, about half of all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in Turkey.

Turkey is home to some 20 million ethnic Kurds, some of whom openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of 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 Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q which do not exist in the Turkish
alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003

The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it is a criminal offence"

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia  


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