Residents of Turkey’s Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakır (Amed) spoke to Mezopotamya News Agency on Sunday about the bans and restrictions on the Kurdish language.
They were all critical and objected to the fact that Kurdish has only recently started being taught in schools, and then only as an optional subject, although languages such as English, French, German and Italian have been officially accepted in many schools as languages of education alongside Turkish, throughout the entire history of the Turkish Republic.
One resident, Dilan Akdemir, said:
“There is still no education in our mother tongue, in Kurdish. This is not fair, I can’t tolerate it any more. All languages are available in schools, both as classes and used as the language of education. Why is our language forbidden in schools? It shouldn’t be like this.”
Another resident, İbrahim Günsür, indicated that the disappearance of their mother tongue would eventually mean their own disappearance as well.
“Every people has its own colour, its own character. We Kurds are another colour in this diversity. If we do not protect and preserve our identity, our culture and language, will soon be extinct. And that will mean that we ourselves will disappear.”
Ferhat Atabeyoğlu said:
“It’s no good having Kurdish as an optional language. It shouldn’t be optional, it should be taught as a matter of course. How can Kurdish be optional? What kind of nonsense is that? You say it’s there, it’s optional. It’s disparaging. You can’t call Kurdish an optional subject. It has to be a language of education, it can’t be optional.”
A resident who agreed to speak anonymously said:
“This is our language. We need to talk, to read, and to communicate and work in our language. We should preserve it. If we don’t preserve our own language, there’ll be nothing left to preserve. If the language of a people is banned, in effect anything that relates to that people is banned too.”
Musa Atkan said:
“Who can separate us from our own language? God gave it to us, nobody else! Why do the Americans, the English and the Arabs have the right to use their own languages when we Kurds do not? They can not deny our very existence. It’s a disgrace!”