Posted by: hevallo | September 3, 2009

Why Would Education in Kurdish Seperate Turkey?

Why would education in Kurdish separate Turkey?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Ministry of Finance Mehmet Şimşek recently made a visit to the village in Batman where he was born and grew up. One of the interesting moments of the visit was the speech of Şimsek’s uncle, which could not be understood by the journalists. His uncle spoke in Kurdish, his native language. And Minister Şimşek, his nephew, interpreted his words.

Kurdish is the native language of millions of citizens living in this country. Mehmet Şimşek said he did not know a single word of Turkish when he started elementary school. I heard a similar story from Osman Baydemir, the mayor of Diyarbakır. Baydemir said the language barriers he had to face while trying to adjust to school caused him to suffer from traumas.

It is seen clearly that the Deniz Baykal, the leader of Republican People’s Party, or CHP, is agreed by part of the society when he uttered the words “Kurdish will first begin as an elective course but later it will become a required course, and thus pave the way for separation of the country.”

Interior Minister Beşir Atalay said such worries cause ‘separation paranoia.’ We could indeed say that a fear of separation is felt. While some political circles deliberately stir up this fear and try to obtain political gain from it, it is a fact that such a fear exists. Then let’s discuss this fear.


Education in one’s native language is a human right. In today’s world the right to learn and teach one’s native language demanded by millions of citizens is an irrefutable legitimate right. A considerable amount of Kurds aspire to protect and use Kurdish as an active language. They do not want to do it on an individual basis but rather desire the state to protect Kurdish. This demand gradually spreads among the wider Kurdish community.

The ‘education in Kurdish’ that is provided in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq exists as a successful example right beside us. The forced assimilation policies of Republic of Turkey against Kurds have collapsed. It was not actually possible to eradicate the language and existence of a nation that is estimated to be around 20 million people. The ‘racist’ understanding prevailing in this country fought against reality and life for years and it lost. There is no turning back from this.

The Kurds have determined it an aim to protect and develop their native language. One of the demands of hundreds of thousands of Kurds gathered in Diyarbakır on Tuesday was education in Kurdish.

This is the reality. We should first see this reality. The Kurds want to develop their language, culture and folklore. These demands cannot be suppressed. The important thing is that a peaceful environment in which Turks grant these rights to the Kurds is provided.

The Turks living in Europe do their best so that their children do not forget their native language. They know a nation that has lost its native language is condemned to annihilation. The Kurds want to survive. Maybe the main reason for dozens of Kurdish revolts was the reflex of existence as a Kurd.


Resisting this rightful demand of Kurds means a meaningless fight against reality. In addition, such an attitude of rejection will further shake the Kurds’ trust in the state.

Today, the widespread inclination among the Kurds living in Anatolia is the desire to live together. The surveys carried out reveal this desire to be over 90 percent. Again a great majority of Kurds wants the state’s “ignorant” attitude against Kurds to change.

The understanding that has prevailed in Turkey has arrived at a decision-making point. The “Kurdish opening” is the imposition of this reality. The provocation of Turkish nationalism, and creation of a psychological atmosphere in which the extremely rightful democratic demands of Kurds will be refused shall unavoidably provoke separation.

The teaching method of Kurdish, be it elective or requirement, is the later stage. We should first agree on this: Is it a right of the Kurdish people living in Turkey to perform music, literature, and arts in their native language, and to learn and develop their language in schools with scientific methods, or not?

Education in Kurdish will not separate Turkey but rather it may bring the Kurds and Turks closer together. The point is the understanding with which this education will be carried out.

The main character of the nationalist and militarist education in Turkey is separatist. The education that starts each day by saying ‘I’m Turkish, I’m decent,’ unfortunately reflected an understanding that ignores different cultures and aims at eradicating them from this country. Such an education failed in terms of ‘unity.’ It pulled Turkey into bloody conflicts.

Hasn’t it been understood from all the pain we have suffered that politics based on denial and annihilation is separation itself and provokes separation further?

“Education in Kurdish” is currently a demand of peace promoting unity. If responded to positively, it will bring positive results.

* Mr. Oral Çalışlar is a columnist for the daily Radikal in which this piece appeared Wednesday. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.


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