There has been increasing criticism of the Kurdish National Council’s (ENKS’s) demand to abolish education in the native language in Rojava. Kurdish Professor Jan İlhan Kızılhan, in an interview with ANHA, stated: “A person who cannot speak his/her native language cannot protect his/her identity”.
Kızılhan, a professor at the German Psychology Institute and a member of the Yazidi community, has provided psychological support to hundreds of Yazidi women who were rescued from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014. Professor Kızılhan drew attention to the fact that approximately 14 million Kurds have had to live outside of Kurdistan. He stated that the Kurdish people have an important historical and cultural heritage and scientific studies should be conducted on the Kurdish language and its dialects.
“The Kurdish language is an important part of Kurdish history. If we do not speak Kurdish amongst ourselves, we cannot protect our identity. I am willing to do more psychological research on this topic”, he said. Professor Kızılhan referred to the importance of children speaking in their native language and stated that speaking in their native language improves children’s intelligence.
Professor Kızılhan noted that people who are not free cannot speak their native language. He provided examples of some peoples in Africa and America who speak Spanish and French instead of their native language. “The language has been forgotten because the people could not speak their native language. Approximately 10,000 languages were forgotten in this way. There is an improvement about the speaking of Kurdish in Kurdistan, but the desired level has not been attained”, he said. Kızılhan drew attention to the importance of the Kurdish media and the role it has played in improving matters.
“Compared to 20 years ago, the number of Kurdish speakers has increased considerably. Kurdish channels like Med TV played a sacred role in it. Currently, the number of channels in Kurdish has increased. However, time is needed to create and use Kurdish in an academic context”. He stated that departments in several European universities were teaching Kurdish issues.
“When I conducted research on Kurdish psychology and learning the native language, I saw that the Kurdish used was not academic in content. Academic language is used only in schools and universities. It is not used in daily life. I suggested opening a “Kurdology” department in major universities around the world. All Kurds have to work for this”. He stated that Kurds play an important role in politics regarding the Middle East and claimed that no crisis can be solved in the Middle East without the participation of Kurds.
“That is why speaking Kurdish in the Middle East is very important”, he emphasized. Professor Kızılhan also commented on the use of Kurdish in Rojava: “Learning and the spreading of the Kurdish language take place through schools and universities in Rojava. Materials prepared for teaching in schools are very important in this regard. Rojava plays an extremely important role in terms of other parts of Kurdistan as well. Students are learning Kurdish in primary school and learning advanced Kurdish in its universities”.