November 10, 2018 / 10:14 PM
Kurdish parties warn of Kurdish language assimilation in Turkey

Kurdish parties in Turkey warn that the Kurdish language is gradually disappearing due to the assimilationist policies of the government.

Nine Kurdish parties have joined together to create a taskforce to fight for more language rights and to shield Kurdish from what they see as the danger of assimilation and oblivion, according to al-Monitor.

Deputy chair of the Kurdistan Socialist Party (PSK) Bayram Bozyel told al-Monitor on Thursday (November 8) that the Kurdish language faces extinction in Turkey.

 “With all its means, Turkey is pursuing a policy to assimilate [Kurds] and wipe out the Kurdish language,” he said.

 “To fend off this threat, nine Kurdish parties came together and decided to work jointly to sound the alarm and raise awareness.”

The new platform has three main objectives, Bozyel added. The first is to encourage Kurds to use the language more often in everyday situations.

 “How can we, Kurds, protect our language? How to use it more in daily life? This is our first goal and we need to show a strong will here,” he said.

 “Second, a language cannot be protected only through usage in daily life. Assimilation cannot be stopped unless it becomes an official language and an education and market language,” he added.

 “It could become official with Turkey’s permission; hence Turkey and the government are a party to this problem. We want Kurdish to become a language of education in Turkey and the Kurdish regions, along with Turkish, to be taught from primary school to university and be an official language.”

The third objective has an international aspect, according to Bozyel. He said the taskforce would seek support from the international community to put pressure on Turkey to improve its policies regarding language rights.

Even if Kurdish “cannot become an official or education language at a stroke,” the aim is to popularize its usage, he told al-Monitor.

The initiative aims to revive the Kurds’ decades-long efforts to use their language as they choose, especially in education.

The progress on the issue has stalled since settlement talks between the Kurds and Ankara collapsed in 2015. The breakup of the peace process reignited clashes between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters.

Ankara has pursued a policy of clamping down on Kurdish political groups that has seen the seizure of Kurdish-run local administrations and the detention of dozens of Kurdish politicians, including members of parliament.

Turkey is currently embroiled in a three-decade long conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has also seen the Kurdish group carrying out attacks on the state targeting Turkish security services.

Hundreds have died since the PKK and the Turkish state resumed hostilities after the collapse of the ceasefire in July 2015.

Southeastern Turkey has plunged back into some of its worst violence since the 1990s, after a two-year ceasefire between the PKK and the state collapsed in July 2015.


Reporter’s code: 50101