Turkey to allow Kurdish lessons in public
Turkish PM announces
elective Kurdish language lessons in schools, calls
it "historic step."
Turkish PM Erdogan said his government would allow
elective Kurdish-language lessons along with some
other dialects. Photo: AFP
June 12, 2012
ANKARA, — Turkey on Tuesday announced
plans to introduce elective Kurdish language
instruction in schools, a step aimed at easing
tension that Kurdish minority activists argued
didn't go far enough.
Kurdish politicians and activists have been
aggressively promoting official use of Kurdish in
recent years as part of their growing demands for
regional autonomy -- a goal shared by rebels whose
fight has killed tens of thousands of people so far.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has
long realized that it can't end the conflict through
military measures alone, and has already allowed for
Kurdish-language institutes and private Kurdish
courses, as well as Kurdish language television
Erdogan on Tuesday said his government would allow
elective Kurdish-language lessons in lower-level
education along with some other languages and
"For example, if enough students come together,
Kurdish can be taken as an elective lesson, it will
be taught and it will be learned," Erdogan told his
lawmakers in Parliament. "This is a historic step."
But, activists and Kurdish politicians insisted on
full Kurdish education in schools. Pinar Dalkus, a
26-year-old lawyer with the independent Human Rights
Association in the southeastern Kurdish city of
Diyarbakir, said introducing elective Kurdish
lessons would not meet their needs.
"We all had problems in school and I don't think
elective lessons can solve it," Dalkus said by
telephone. "We think education in Kurdish would be
Dalkus said some school children were even having
difficulty in telling that they need to go to
bathroom when they start school.
"Some families teach Turkish to their children at
home to prepare them for school," she said. "But
some others insist they learn their mother tongue
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians
say the measures fall short of their expectations.
Turkey's Kurdish community estimate to over 20
million of Turkey's 75 million population. Most of
them live in the Kurdish region southeast aka
(northern Kurdistan), though many have migrated to
Istanbul and other western cities to escape war and
poverty in past decades.
Turkey which still denies the constitutional
existence of Kurds, refuses to recognize its Kurdish
population as a distinct minority. Kurds ask for
more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute
the greatest minority in Turkey. Kurds call for
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish,www.ekurd.net
paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish
system within Turkey. A large Turkey's Kurdish
community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
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.
Gulten Kisanak, deputy chairman of the pro-Kurdish
Peace and Democracy Party, told a meeting of her
party in Parliament that allowing only elective
language lessons for people whose "mother tongue is
Kurdish amounts to oppression."
Turkey says the country was indivisible and that no
attempt at challenging the official Turkish language
will be accepted. Turkey's constitution says the
official language is Turkish and prosecutors are
opening investigations into direct challenges to the
The EU, which Turkey is striving to join, has pushed
the Turkish government to grant more rights to the
Kurds. But EU countries also have urged Kurdish
lawmakers to distance themselves from the rebel
Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main
opposition party, has sought national consensus to
try to end the fighting. Erdogan said his party was
open to dialogue with all parties, including the
pro-Kurdish party, for a solution.
Devlet Bahceli, leader of a nationalist opposition
party, however, said Tuesday that his party would
not negotiate any concessions to the rebel group,
which is branded as a terrorist organization by the
United States and the European Union.
Kurdish rebels killed two Turkish soldiers in
separate clashes along the Iraqi border in the
latest reported violence on Tuesday, the state-run
Anadolu Agency said.
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