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 Former Kurdish mayor Demirbas blames Turkey for everything 

 Source : Van Wilgenburg blogspot 
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Former Kurdish mayor Demirbas blames Turkey for everything  19.1.2009
By Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

January 19, 2009

In October 2008 I interviewed former mayor of the Sur (City Walls) municipality of Diyarbakir Abdullah Demirbas of the Turkey's pro Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) in Brussels. At that time there wasn’t a Kurdish TRT TV-station and the new reform drive of the AKP-government. Demirbas was fired for offering municipality services in Kurdish. The real reason behind is still unclear. Now an AKP governor rules his former municipality.

The DTP politician is very critical of the current Kurdish policy of the AKP-government and calls them a political party of ‘village guards’. This shouldn’t be a surprise, since they both compete in the coming elections in March. Demirbas blames the state for DTP-members not speaking Kurdish and the violence of the PKK.                              

Abdullah Demirbas, former mayor of the Sur (City Walls) municipality of Diyarbakir
Violence and democracy

I asked him if the PKK attacks aren't counter-productive for more Kurdish rights, but Demirbas says the problem isn’t the PKK, which is considered by Turkey as a terrorist organization, but the Turkish state mentality. “Ocalan [PKK-leader] said: there must come an end to this war. But after six years the Turkish state have multiplied the operations. We hope for an end of the conflict.” According to Demirbas the PKK laid down their arms several times, but the military didn’t. “Soon they will ban our party. How we have to choose for a democratic way then?

Use of Kurdish

Some Kurdish media say that DTP-politicans cannot even speak Kurdish. Despite of the fact that they want the recognition of Kurdish. Sometimes even DTP-officials use interpreters to speak with the Kurdish population in Turkey. Isn’t this a shame? I asked. Demirbas agreed that there are some problems. “But this isn’t the mistake of my colleagues, but the fault of the Turkish system. It shows how far the Kurds are assimilated.”

Demirbas thinks that the Kurdish language campaign of TPZ-Kurdi (civil organization) will convince both Kurds and the DTP MPs to learn more Kurdish.

EU charter - a solution?

Demirbas receives a sign of support from EU MPs.

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is an European treaty which gives protection to regional languages in European countries. I learned about this treaty on University. I wondered what a Kurdish political would think about this.

Demirbas is very positive about this treaty. "If Turkey signs this treatment, it would accelerate the solution of the Kurdish issue. We know it's difficult for the Turkish state to accept this. For 85 years the state said:"we have on identity, history and language and that is Turkish." While they speak Armenian, Laz, Suryani, Cerkez, Laz and Gurci (Georgian) in Turkey. If minorities get recognition, it would realize a true democracy in Turkey."

Zazaistan and the DTP

In Europe 'Zaza-nationalism' is growing. These Zazaists don’t consider themselves Kurds, but Zazas. Despite the fact that many Zaza-speakers see Zazaki as a Kurdish dialect. Therefore I wondered if the DTP is faced with this new nationalism in Amed. Most Zaza-speakers are based in provinces Tunceli, Erzincan and Siverek.

“I don’t see this discussion within the Kurdish people. There are not a lot of people who are busy with this question. Zaza’s, Kurmanc and Sorans are all Kurds with different dialects. We can be accused of not giving enough attention to this dialect. But until recently there is more attention for Zazaki and during my time as a mayor I’ve done my best to use the Zaza dialect.”

State stricter towards DTP

Next to the DTP there are smaller Kurdish parties like HAK-PAR and the party of the ex-minister Serafettin Elci. The PKK-leader Ocalan accuses these parties of making propaganda against the PKK and working together with the KDP party of Barzani in Iraq and the AKP-government. Some PKK supporters say only the DTP is targeted by the state for speaking Kurdish and political campaigns. Demirbas doesn’t agree with this.

“They have less problems then the DTP, but this doesn’t say they don’t have any problems. For the state it is clear that the Kurds cannot have their rights. They are more strict towards the DTP then against HAK-PAR (The party wasn’t forbidden by the court). The goal of this was to prevent the unity of Kurds. Despite this we don’t work against each other. We only have different goals and strategies. We often also have similarities.”

Offending Kurds in Kurdish

Since 1991 there is more recognition of the Kurdish identity in Turkey. Now there is even a state TV-station in Kurdish. But Demirbas is not positive about this and also wants education in Kurdish. “In the past they offended Kurds in Turkish and now they will offend them in Kurdish. They want to open a Kurdish TV-station. While a park with the Kurdish name Berfin is forbidden.” The politician is very negative about the future. “This is all deception towards the Kurds and also the Europeans.”

Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a former Turkology and History student. Currently busy with minor Journalism in Leiden and Language and Culture studies in Utrecht. Experience with lectures, conferences and articles.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, vvanwilgenburg

** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not go far enough.

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 over 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 25 million ethnic Kurds, a large Turkey's Kurdish community 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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