Before the revolution in North and East Syria, Kurdish and Assyrian, as mother languages, were prohibited by the Syrian regime. But now people are increasingly learning their mother languages in North and East Syria. Representatives of various ethnical communities in Syria spoke to Hawar News Agency on the importance of a mother language.
Semîra Hena, a teacher of the Assyrian language for the Olef Tao language organisation, said the Assyrian language was the heritage of a civilisation.
“We want our children and the younger generations to learn and talk their mother languages”, said Hena. “That is an obligation in order to prevent the extinction of our language and ensure its continuity in world”.
Commenting on methods to protect their mother language, Hena said children should receive education in their mother languages in schools and families should teach it to their children. “Those children should teach their own children or new generations in future as well”.
Explaining how she could not learn her mother language in Syria’s public schools during her childhood, Hena said, “We were learning the state curriculum in school. However, we were able to learn our language in church only during summer holidays. Unfortunately, in the past we could not learn our language freely”.
‘Since the establishment of the Autonomous Administration we are not afraid’
Hena also noted that the Damascus government had prevented them from learning their mother language in the past, and for that reason, she added, they were afraid speaking in their mother language. “The state was investigating or arresting us. However, since the establishment of the Autonomous Administration, we are not afraid. Moreover, we can acces education in our mother language”.
Hena added, “The presence of the Assyrian language is the presence of the Assyriac people as well. It was easier and more efficient to provide students with education in their mother language”.
‘Kurds should defend their language’
Kurdish Language Association (SZK) co-chair İzedîn Silêman also commented on the topic. “Language is the identity and the existence of all people. But it is even more important for the oppressed Kurdish people. Our enemies and the invaders did not allow us to learn our language and it has been banned for a century. A nation cannot say it has an identity if it does not have a language, because how can I claim that I am a Kurd if I speak Arabic?”
Sileman said Kurds always fought for their mother language under any conditions. “The maintenance of the lanuage can be achieved by using it in every field of life and it requires an extra effort”. Sileman also noted that every person has a right to learn his or her language and it was legitimate to prepare materials to realise it. “First of all, as Kurds, we should use our mother language in all fields of life. Those who did not use their own languages failed”.