In Yakutiye, the central district of Erzurum in Turkey, where half the population is Kurdish, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) municipality did not include the Kurdish language on any billboards even as it used nine other languages to provide Covid-19 precautionary advice.
The AKP municipality hung posters in nine languages with the words “Please Put on Your Mask” on billboards throughout the city. However, Kurdish was not included in the posters.
According to Dindar Karataş from Mesopotamia Agency, Abdurrahman Sever, one of the writers of the weekly Xwebûn Newspaper living in Erzurum, said that such discrimination in the city where half of its population is Kurdish indicates the ‘denialism policies’ that have been ongoing for years regarding the Kurdish people.
Sever said: “The discriminatory and denialism policies against Kurds in this country continues, just as it occurred in Diyarbakır prison, which was turned into a torture centre during the 1980’s, and just as it was imposed decades before that, using the phrase: ‘Speak Turkish'”.
Sever noted the cynical strategy used by the AKP during electioneering when it played Kurdish songs to get votes from the Kurds. In practice, however, he added that acts of ”removal of Kurdish signs and attacks on people singing in Kurdish cannot be considered different from existing polarizing discourses and policies. Language is the existence of society. People should protect their language. The most important way to achieve this is through the unification of the Kurds”.