Kurds have been struggling for a long time to convince the Turkish government to permit education in “mother languages” in Turkey.
Kurdish activists have voiced their concerns that obstacles placed in front of education in Kurdish are not able to be overcome unless the Turkish authorities officially recognise the Kurdish language.
The Kurdish Language and Culture Network (Tora Ziman û Çanda Kurdî) and the Kurdish Language Platform, which includes nine Kurdish political parties, in Turkey launched and campaign on February 21 and organised a petition demanding education in Kurdish and recognition of Kurdish as an official language in Turkey.
Labour and Democracy Platform in Turkey southeastern province of Urfa (Riha) continues the campaigning work in the city. Work to gain signatures for the petition will carry on until May 15, Kurdish Language Day.
Campaign activists in Urfa have not been able to collect physical signatures due to the full lockdown in Turkey announced on April 29, but they carry out the campaign work through social media platforms and aim at collecting 100,000 signatures through their online petition.
Salih Mevali, a campaign activist in Urfa and a member of the Mesopotamia Authors Association stressed the importance of the campaign for all other languages spoken by different communities living in Turkey to be officially recognised and called for support for the petition.
“Not just Kurdish, all other languages of other communities should be recognised as official languages. People should be able to use their mother tongue languages in daily life and in literature and so be able to enrich their spoken languages,” Mevali said in an interview with MA.
He pointed out the link between the effective usage of mother language in building the culture of a society. “A society is recognized through their language,” he added. “Language is the identity of a person. If the language does not exist, we cannot exist. Language has an existential importance of the recognition of one’s self.”
The Kurdish author also underlined the need to preserve Kurdish against assimilation policies saying: “We carry a huge responsibility and we should be aware of that. When we put our heads on our pillows in the night, we should be thinking about how to protect our language.”
“It is wrong to continue with the wrong policies. The effectice usage of mother languages of all communities should be promoted in education, in health and in all aspects of life. The assimilation policies should be ended,” said Cemal Babaoğlu, Urfa representative of the Mesopotamia Authors Association.
He stated that the petition for the recognition of the Kurdish language is a call to the Turkish state to give up on the “wrong” policies of bannings on mother languages and assimilation approach.
“Actually this campaign itself is a source of shame for the current Turkish government,” he said. “Our effort are at the same time an embarrasment for them. Get rid of this shame and recognise the basic human rights of peoples.”