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 Turkey's Batman University opens Kurdish language department

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Turkey's Batman University opens Kurdish language department  31.1.2012  

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Batman university
January 31, 2012

VAN, The Kurdish region of Turkey, — Kurdish language studies have become a third option for students at Turkey’s Batman University with the opening of the Department of Kurdish.

The University reported on its website that they have obtained approval from the Turkish Higher Education Ministry to open departments for Kurdish and Syriac language studies.

With the Kurdish and Syriac languages, Batman University now offers degrees in five languages: Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Kurdish and Syriac.

There are over 20 million Kurds in Turkey who have been struggling to keep their native language and ethnic identity, or have them recognized by the Turkish state. About 10 years ago speaking the language was prohibited by law.

Since the accession of the current ruling party, the Justice and Development Party, restrictions on the language have been eased, with some private schools teaching in Kurdish, a state-run TV station which broadcasts in Kurdish and Kurdish departments opened at a few universities.

However, the use of the language is still prohibited by law in the state institutions like the parliament, courts, government offices, and public schools.

Kurds in Turkey have been exposed to violence due to their ethnicity and different language. In December last year, a Kurdish man was several times stabbed and then shot dead by a group of Turkish men after he requested a Kurdish song be sung by a music group in one of the night clubs of Izmir in western 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.

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.

Since 1984 the PKK [Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan] took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey [Turkey-Kurdistan] which has claimed around 45,000 lives of Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

Aknews part of this article reported by Kamal Harmanci

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