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Education

Kurdish Lessons Now Allowed in Some Turkish Schools

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A man reads a Kurdish newspaper in Diyarbakir, Turkey, in 2009
A man reads a Kurdish newspaper in Diyarbakir, Turkey, in 2009

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From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report in Special English.
 
Speaking Kurdish was a crime in Turkey until about twenty years ago. More recently the government has been easing some of its restrictions on the use of the language. Now, the government is letting some schools offer Kurdish language classes.
 
Halil Cecen teaches beginning Kurdish to medical students at Dicle University in Diyarbakir, in mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey. He spoke to reporter Dorian Jones about the change in policy.
 
"He says it's a beautiful feeling because the people had so many expectations, and the government responded. He says unfortunately it has taken many years – fifty or sixty – and it is only just being implemented."
 
A class like this would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago. Sabri Eyigun is the Kurdish deputy rector of the university.    
 
"He says with the government's democratic initiative, many taboos have been broken. And life has begun to become normal. The Kurdish language was one of those taboos, he says."  
 
Student Mazlum Ozer says he welcomes the classes. He speaks only a little Kurdish, he says, and he sees the classes as a big step but only the beginning. He thinks learning Kurdish should be required, especially in health education. He says it would be even more successful if Kurdish were taught starting at a young age.
 
A few hours down the road, across the border, Syrian Kurds seized control of their region from Syrian government forces earlier this year. Now children are learning Kurdish as a first language. Kurds in neighboring Iraq have had that right for years.
 
But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently rejected calls for Kurdish education in the mother tongue. He called it a terrorist demand of the Kurdish rebel group PKK.
 
"He says there is no such thing as education in the mother tongue. He says the country's official language is Turkish, and the government has its duty with Kurdish classes in schools and universities."
 
Kurdish politicians face increasing pressure if they violate language restrictions.
 
The latest offenses that Diyarbakir's mayor is accused of include publishing children's books in Kurdish. Thousands of members of his party have been detained this year under anti-terrorism laws.
 
But the Kurdish language and culture are increasingly making their presence felt. Dorian Jones spoke to Farqin, a local singer.
 
"He says the demands of Kurds in Iraq and in Syria will push the demands of Kurds in Turkey. He says any freedom struggle there will definitely affect the people in Turkey. He says Turkey is definitely under the shadow of the struggles in those countries and cannot be isolated."
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by: ahmet from: turkey
12/05/2012 1:52 PM
kurds have same rights in turkey with other people. even there is not "other" concept in turkey. all citizens have same rights. a kurd, a turk, or an another citizen can be a president in turkey. turkey never discriminate any citizen. but somebody claim we have not freedom. I want to say to kurds "what do you want?". blood?

In Response

by: Anonymous
12/11/2012 12:21 PM
lie.


by: hawkar from: kurdistan
12/05/2012 11:37 AM
i was very happy when i heard the news about studing kurdish language in some schools in turkey. i think it will be a first step to grow the prossese between both nation.


by: melis from: turkey
12/04/2012 9:44 PM
turkey is a multi cultural country which includes a lot of different nations.In my opinion it isn't good to give that kind of rights to one nation in multi cultural country because if kurdish can educate in their mother tongue the other nations in Turkey want this oppurtunity too.So this causes a mess.


by: kurdo from: germany
12/04/2012 9:01 PM
Thanks VOA for that report.


by: mostafa from: iraq
12/03/2012 8:14 AM
I am happy about that. I hope that Kurdish language teaching in turkey will be improve and develop in future. I want to say, there is about 1o million kurds lives in iran, too. The kurds in Iran excluded from learning there first language. I wishing that to kurds in Iran, allso.


by: roj from: Kurdistan Region, Iraq
12/03/2012 6:15 AM
Kurds fight for their own basic rights, all thats being said and mentioned as abuse on their part is not fair and not true. Eventually, they are NOT FREE as a people.


by: hasan from: Turkey
12/02/2012 2:12 PM
Ottoman Turkish language was main language during the hundreds years in middle east and Balkans. This language was comprised of main Turkish gramer and words and idioms from Arabic , Farsian and other languages such as Kurdish, Bosnian. But, this scientific language was forbidden and forgotten. Problem of Turkey and middle east people is not speak local language. Problem is forgotten Ottomon language. I believe that all promlems will dissolve if this forgotten language could be activated.

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
12/03/2012 10:26 AM
Hello Hasan, thank you for your information. I've read your comment interestingly. You mean Ottoman Turkish language is the root of now-spoken Turkish language but somewhat different from it which is comprised of other languages, for example, Persian and Arabic.

By the way, it is often said that the order of words is similar between Turkish and Japanese. When we say in Japanese "I read a book this mornig", we put Japanese words in the order of I, this morning, a book, read. I suppose your Turkish probably has the same order. It may be easier for us Japanese to learn Tukish than English !?

In Response

by: İlhan from: Turkey
12/05/2012 7:54 AM
Hello Yoshi,
The similarity of word orders between Turkish and Japanese seems true. We, too, say "I this morning a book read" in some cases. In fact, we put any word (or word group) in front of the verb if we want to emphasize it.
In addition to this, I think the most difficult part of learning Turkish is the form of the verb according to the subject. The verb "read" gets different suffixes for the adverbs I, you, he/she/it etc.


by: Merve Nadide from: Tukey/ İstanbul
12/02/2012 8:08 AM
I think that freedom which given them is very nice. However, unfortunately there are some people who want to abuse it. I hope that they can not.


by: FRANZ from: BRAZIL
11/30/2012 9:54 PM
Beautiful story. I wish the U.S. imitate Europe in terms of charging economic partners of Human Rights. I'm sure that a simple tax would change the world for the better.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/30/2012 9:01 AM
There have been many tribes who colund't have their own country. Israeli before the WWII was so. Parestine is now at last getting state status at UN with great difficulty. Krudish seems remain this kind of people. Now they live over the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and so on. Why have they come to these sad situation? I learned all of them were the same nation of the Ottoman Empire before the WWI. Yet they were dispersed into the above mentioned countries along with the division of Ottoman Empire territory by the winner of Allies countries. They may be in one aspect sufferers of international disputes.

We can see other examples of divided tribes by international disputes. They are as you know German before the end of cold war and present Korean after the Korean war. I suppose it's very difficult to demarcate boundaries of neighboring countries, especially when they are determined not by geographical features but by the interests of individual countries.

The reason why Turkey approved Kurdish lessons in schools this time is reported it traded easenig the restriction of human rights for the seat in EU. Anyway, I hope Krudish people could speak their own language and could live peaceful lives in any country.

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