Language activists say people interested in Kurdish have been ‘criminalised’ in Turkey

Language activists say people interested in Kurdish have been ‘criminalised’ in Turkey

Ακτιβιστές των κουρδικών λένε ότι άτομα που ενδιαφέρονται για τη κουρδική γλώσσα έχουν «ποινικοποιηθεί» στην Τουρκία

Language activists say people interested in Kurdish have been ‘criminalised’ in Turkey

It is the keystone of Kurdish literature and "Hawar" magazine's 89th birthday is celebrated on the 15 May, which is also the date celebrated by Kurds around the world as Kurdish Language Day since 2016.

A group of Kurdish intellectuals were forced to migrate from Turkey because of increasing political pressure on their works in Kurdish. Having arrived in Syria, Celadet Elî Bedirxan and fellow Kurdish authors began to publish a magazine in Kurdish, named “Hawar” on May 15 1932.

May 15 has now been accepted as ” Kurdish Language Day” by the Kurdish National Congress in 2006 and has been celebrated by the Kurds around the world ever since.

89 years have passed since the Kurdish magazine Hawar was published, but restrictions on Kurdish language which forced the founders of the magazine to migrate from Turkey have not changed that much, MA reports.

Especially after 2016, the restriction on the use of the Kurdish language was intensified. News agencies and media outlets, which published news in Kurdish were banned and all educational institutions, including kindergardens and language and culture institutions were closed.

In face of such increasing repression of the Kurdish language, Kurdish activists and human rights defenders in Turkey have been struggling for the preservation of Kurdish and urging the Turkish authorities to take steps to recognise Kurdish as a language in education and to enable education in mother language.

Mesopotamia Language and Culture Research Association (MED-DER) executive member Murat Bilgiç also underlines that the attacks and repression on the use of the Kurdish language have increased in recent years.

“Looking back at the repression of the Kurdish language in Turkey during the last few years, we can say that other states would not achieve such a distortion and repression of a language in a hundred years,” Bilgiç said.

“Everybody interested in language has been criminalised,” he added. “When they stole the seats of the elected mayors, the trustees first destroyed the institutions working on language and culture.”

The ban on Kurdish has reached to such an extreme level that, especially in the western provinces, Kurdish people have been subjected to hate crimes ranging from verbal abuse to physical lynch attempts by extreme ultra nationalist groups.

In the last seven years, five people have been killed as a result of racist attacks, just because they “spoke” Kurdish.

Spokesperson of the Kurdish Language Platform Şerefhan Cizirî believes that preserving the language has become a part of the Kurdish resistance against assimilation.

“The Turkish state has given their decision; ‘We will assimilate the Kurds,’ they say. They have tried everything to accomplish that goal,” he said. “”But the main body of the Kurds has not been assimilated. The Kurds continue to say, We are Kurds!”