May 15 has been celebrated as “Kurdish Language Day” since 2006. Kurdish activists in Turkey have profoundly struggled for years for Kurdish to be recognised as an official language in education and every day life. Recognition of the Kurds mother tongue constitutes the heart of the cultural struggle of the Kurds living in Turkey.
The women who live in the Edremit district of Van (Wan) spoke to MA regarding the importance of mother tongue and their concern regarding the threat of extinction of Kurdish language.
Women say that they try to preserve the Kurdish language by speaking Kurdish with their children and grandchildren. ”If the language is not spoken, it will be forgotten. Everyone should speak their mother tongue,” they noted.
Fatma Yücel (38), who has five children, emphasised the necessity to adopt the Kurdish language against oppressive policies.
”We speak Kurdish with the children because we know that if we do not speak Kurdish, it will be forgotten. That’s why we first teach our children their mother tongue,” she said. ”Children can learn Turkish in school or television, but the teaching of mother language starts at home with the mothers.”
She went on: “We cannot forcefully say to any parents ‘teach your children Kurdish’, but we can say that they should be more sensitive. I say this to any Kurdish family around me who does not speak Kurdish with their children. ”
Hayzeran Gürel who has nine children and seven grandchildren said that they all grew up speaking their mother tongue language, Kurdish.
Gürel said: ”I speak in Kurdish with my children, I raised them with Kurdish, but when I see them speaking in Turkish with their own children, this actually breaks my heart. There are many pressures against our language. The government does not want Kurds to speak their mother language but if Kurdish is not spoken, it can be forgotten. So we should all use Kurdish in our daily lives to make it a living language.”
Kumru Muhu, another grandmother raising her grandchildren with Kurdish, pointed out that the institutions related to teaching Kurdish language were closed, ”They did not allow children to learn their own mother language. Because they want the language, the traditions and the customs of the Kurds to disappear. Therefore, everyone should speak Kurdish with their children to not to let this happen,” she said.