Fw: Kurds arrested for reclaiming education in mother tongue

vip.cybercity.dk skutnabb-kangas at VIP.CYBERCITY.DK
Mon Jan 14 19:07:13 UTC 2002

Please spread the message - as you can see from below, again Kurds are being arrested just for demanding the right to mother tongue medium education and to the teaching of the Kurdish language as a subject. 

For those who are interested, I have also appended at the end an extract  from my latest book, with  the protest letter Terralingua sent to the President and Prime Minister, when  prison sentences were demanded for people who wanted to organise a course in Kurdish in 1998. The arguments in the letter are, sadly, still valid. Turkey tries to get the rest of the world believe that the human rights situation is better - many things happening right now show the opposite. Since all the news are about other types of terrorism, the Turkish state terrorism against the Kurds goes even more unnoticed than earlier.
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bert Cornillie" <bert.cornillie at arts.kuleuven.ac.be>
To: <skutnabb-kangas at vip.cybercity.dk>
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 5:21 PM
Subject: Kurds arrested for reclaiming education in mother tongue

> >
> >Subject: Kurds arrested for reclaiming education in mother tongue
> >Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 14:24:25 퍝
> >
> >- Kurdish Observer "Nobody minds the repression"
> >
> >
> >In spite of all obstruction the campaign for education in one’s 
> >mother tongue has rapidly spread, and the other day there were crowded 
> >activities in Van, Ankara, Izmir and Denizli.
> >
> >
> >At Van 100. Yil University activities continued. Ender Culha, Chairman of 
> >Human Rights Association (IHD) Ankara Branch brought the matter of 
> >detention of students to the Turkish Grand National Assembly Human Rights 
> >Investigation Committee while Hacettepe University students made a press 
> >statement, asking for their friends to be released. There were activities 
> >in Izmir and Denizli as well.
> >
> >In Van a number of parents submitted their petitions to school 
> >administrations demanding Kurdish education. Gathering in front of Fevzi 
> >Geyik, Mustafa Cengiz, Dumlupinar, Lutfiye Binnaz Sacli and Suphan 
> >elementary schools, the parents attempted to submit their petitions but 
> >were turned down. But some parents were reported to submit their petitions 
> >to the Fevzi Geyik.
> >
> >Kurdish was banned
> >
> >On the other hand, the students of Ataturk and Cumhuriyet Lycees marched 
> >for a while crying the slogan “We Want Education in Mother 
> >Tongue”. It has been reported that after the action speaking Kurdish 
> >was banned by the school administration. And in Altintepe, Yali and 
> >Yuniplik quarters, various groups lighted fires and danced halay, all the 
> >while crying slogans. A circular sent to all schools by Van Education 
> >Directory ordered not to accept civilian-clothed people, to identify 
> >people speaking Kurdish and to watch the gates continuously.
> >
> >Democracy Platform
> >
> >Van Democracy Platform organised press conferences on detentions. The 
> >press conferences denounced the repression on students and parents. The 
> >conferences was attended by a number of students. Giving a talk, IHD Van 
> >Branch Chairman Abdulvahap Ertan said the following: “We consider 
> >such a stance unacceptable. The students who have expressed only the right 
> >to speak their own mother tongue should be released immediately.”
> >
> >The matter at Parliament
> >
> >While in Ankara, IHD Branch Chairman Ender Buyukculha applied to the 
> >Parliamentarial Human Rights Investigation Committee, stating that police 
> >forces did not mention any legal grounds for detaining the students. 
> >Buyukculha asked for the students to be released as soon as possible or 
> >brought before the court. The Chairman stated that submitting petitions 
> >was a constitutional right, adding that “There should be no sanction 
> >for a petition rather than accepting or rejection it.”
> >
> >And in Ankara Hacettepe University, making a press statement, almost 100 
> >students asked for their fellow students to be released, shouting slogans 
> >all the while and making a protest with applause.
> >
> >Detainees
> >
> >Students under detention were not permitted to meet with their lawyers and 
> >families. The families went to Ankara Security Directorate in order to get 
> >information and were said “Your kids make PKK’s propaganda at 
> >universities.”
> >
> >In Izmir 23 parents were not permitted to enter into the Konak Education 
> >Directorate to submit petitions.
> >
> >Kurds, Turks, Arabians
> >
> >In Denizli Pamukkale University students made a press statement in HADEP 
> >Provincial premises and stated that they participated in the campaign 
> >under the slogan “The Limits of Our Language Are the Limits of Our 
> >World”. The press conference was attended by nearly 700 people. The 
> >students emphasized that they would continue their activities.
> >
> >Support from the democratic organisations
> >
> >Non-governmental organisations reacted to the repression on the campaign. 
> >The Turkish Human Rights Foundation (THIV), Education Union and Istanbul 
> >Kurdish Institute drew attention that demand for education in one’s 
> >mother tongue is a human right and cannot be repressed.
> >
> >THIV Chairman Yavuz Onen stated that they considered the demand a basic 
> >right, emphasizing that repression could not hindered the demand. Onen 
> >continued to say the following: “It is a vain effort, on the 
> >contrary it gives damage. Besides it is in violation to global human 
> >rights. Kurds and Kurdish are like mountains of the Turkey’s 
> >geography. Can you pretend that mountains do not exist? Forests will not 
> >disappear. It is a blind alley. It is extremely primitive.”
> >
> >Alaattin Dincer, Chairman of Education Union, stressed the repression on 
> >students showed that Turkey needed more steps towards democratisation, 
> >adding that the demand is an universal human right.
> >
> >And Hasan Kaya, Chairman of the Kurdish Institute, said “The demand 
> >is as clear as water, as brilliant as day”, and continued with words 
> >to the effect: “The rulers of this country should discuss the demand 
> >if they really consider the interests of the country and academicians 
> >should debate on it. If it has a detriment, then it will be shown 
> >scientifically. It is not possible to solve the problem only by subjective 
> >opinions.”
Extract from Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2000). Linguistic Genocide in Education - or worldwide diversity and human rights? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 518-522.

 One and two years of imprisonment, respectively, was demanded for two Kurds, Yilmaz Camlibel and M.Celal Baykara, who wanted to organise a course in the Kurdish language. A massive international campaign was launched to protest. Info Box 7.6 contains Terralingua's protest letter to the Turkish Prime Minister and Minister of Education. This is one way researchers can try to support speakers of dominated languages. In addition to protesting, the letter also argues why it is not advisable to violate linguistic human rights.

START INFO BOX &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
Info Box 7.6. Protest letter by Terralingua to Turkish Ministers for violating LHRs
Mr Mesut Yilmaz, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey
Basbakanlik, Cankaya, Ankara, Turkey; and
Mr Hikmet Ulugbay, Minister of National Education
Bakanliklar, Ankara, Turkey

 We are alarmed at the news that the course in the Kurdish language offered by the Foundation for Kurdish Culture and Research has been banned by Turkish authorities, and proceedings initiated against the Chair and Deputy Chair of the organisation, Yilmaz Camlibel and M.Celal Baykara.
  There are at least some 7.000 spoken languages in the world. Kurdish is among the 100 largest languages in the world, even according to minimalist accounts of numbers of Kurdish speakers. "Globalization carries with it a danger of uniformity [...] Peace means diversity [...] it means multi-ethnic and multilingual societies", according to UNESCO's The Human Right to Peace. Declaration by the Director-General, 1997, p. 9). Denying the existence of several ethnic groups and languages in Turkey is not only counterfactual - these groups DO exist, despite the official denial - but economically disastrous and politically counterproductive, internally and externally. Already now the proportion of the GNP that Turkey uses for the military and the police is among the largest in the world. Much of the cost goes to fighting the Kurds. Peace and conflict research shows clearly that it is almost impossible for a state to win a war against a people who think that they are being treated unreasonably. Physical force, especially against a group with large numbers, is an expensive undertaking and not cost-effective. Human rights violations in general and especially the lack of linguistic and cultural rights create and feed tension which then becomes "ethnic" conflict. Granting linguistic and cultural rights to minorities is in no way opposed to protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity - quite the opposite. We would like to remind you of the premable of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, from 22 June 1992. The preamble
 - considers "that the right to use a regional or minority language in private and public life is an inalienable right",
 - stresses "the value of interculturalism and multilingualism" and
 - considers "that the protection and encouragement of regional or minority languages should not be to the detriment of the official languages and the need to learn them" but rather "an important contribution to the building of a Europe based on principles of democracy and cultural diversity within the framework of national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Likewise, the positive impact of linguistic diversity for the economy is getting increasing ackowledgement:

 It is especially important to note that supporting interaction between localities and regions will not only help to build a European identity, but pave the way for a stronger European economy which takes account of cultural and linguistic diversity. An economy, even a strong one, based on these principles will not lead to a greater similarity in European ways of life but will instead reinforce the distinctive traditions and characteristics of Europe's localities and regions (from the Preface, by Pascan Maragall í Mira, to the book The Diversity Dividend: Language, Culture, and Economy in an integrated Europe, by Adam Price, Caitríona O Torna and Allan Wynne Jones, and published by the EBLUL (European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages). 

For Turkey, seeking stronger ties with Europe, not only leaving the Kurds alone but in fact encouraging the flourishing of Kurdish language and culture also makes economic sense.
 The absence or denial of linguistic and cultural rights are today effective ways of promoting "ethnic" conflict and violence, of the type which leads to both separatism and the emergence of totalitarian states. This has been acknowledged by many researchers from several fields. Professor Jurek Smolicz from Australia has (in 1986) formulated the argument as follows:

 ... attempts to artificially suppress minority languages through policies of assimilation, devaluation, reduction to a state of illiteracy, expulsion or genocide are not only degrading of human dignity and morally unacceptable, but they are also an invitation to separatism and an incitement to fragmentation into mini-states.

It has also been ackowledged by policy makers. Dr.M.Xulu, the South African Deputy Director-General of DACST (Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology), said in his opening address on 4 November 1997 at a seminar in Pretoria (where Terralingua's Vice-President was a main speaker) that one of the popular myths that has to be exploded is "that promoting multilingualism and respecting language rights will lead to language conflict and ethnic conflict". - If South Africans can recognise this as a myth (which they have), Turkey can do so too.
 There are strong reasons why states should support rather than try to eliminate linguistic and cultural diversity, not only in the name of human rights, but also in their own political and economic interest. It is in fact the Turkish state itself which "incites to separatism" and "incites to racial or ethnic enmity" (Article 312 of your Criminal Code) and transmits separatist propaganda, through violating basic linguistic and cultural human rights. The banning of the Kurdish course and the ensuing proceedings against Mr Yilmaz Camlibel and Mr M.Celal Baykara are examples of these state violations of linguistic human rights where it is these violations themselves which lead to conflict and incite separatism.
 Terralingua, Partnerships for Linguistic and Biological Diversity, is a non-profit international organization devoted to preserving the world's linguistic diversity and to investigating links between biological and cultural diversity. Our Board of Directors and Advisory Board consist of some of the most respected researchers in the field worldwide. We work with all other international organisations interested in linguistic, cultural or biological diversity, including UNESCO and UNEP (the UN Environmental Programme). 
 As an organisation devoted to preserving the world's linguistic diversity, we are of course concerned with the promotion of the teaching and learning of ALL languages in the world, including Kurdish. We urge you to allow the Kurdish language to be freely taught in Turkey, on courses, in schools and universities, to be used as the medium of education in schools and other educational institutions, and to be freely used in media. Likewise, we urge you to drop the allegations against not only Mr Yilmaz Camlibel and Mr M.Celal Baykara but against all those who are imprisoned or face charges for learning and using Kurdish and discussing peaceful solutions to the Kurdish question.

 On behalf of Terralingua
 Dr.Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

PS. Our Web site, with information about our purpose and work, is to be found at <http://www.terralingua.org>. The Secretary's (David Harmon) email is <dharmon at terralingua.org>, the President's (Dr.Luisa Maffi) email is <maffi at terralingua.org> and the Vice-President's (Dr.Tove Skutnabb-Kangas) email is <skutnabb-kangas at terralingua.org>.
END INFO BOX &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

 In May 1998, the two were acquitted - but still no Kurdish course can be organised. Kurdish music is supposed to be free, but for instance in 1995 over 70 music cassettes were banned, selectively: they were allowed in Istanbul and Ankara but forbidden in the Kurdish areas. After changes in the law in October 1995, the Court of Appeal converted a 2-year sentence to 1 year, for publishing a book with Kurdish folk songs, i.e. it is still forbidden. The translation of the Qur'_n into Kurdish by Mehmet Varle was banned, first with the pretext that it contained several mistakes, then the High Court of Religious Affairs (a state institution) just said that it was impossible to publish it in Kurdish. Address Box 7.2 lists some Kurdish electronic resources where the reader can continue.

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Address Box 7.2. Electronic resources on Kurdistan, the Kurds, and the Kurdish language
International Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan, Box 200738, D-53137 Bonn, Germany, phone 49-228-362802, fax 49-228-363297; email: <IMK-Bonn at t-online.de>. 
Readers who want more information on human rights in Kurdistan and Kurdish questions in general, can get started by consulting the following web-sites. Most of the list has been prepared by Siamak Rezaei-Durroei, Centre for Cognitive Science, Edinburgh, UK <siamakr at cogsci.ed.ac.uk> in September 1998 (thanks!).
n <http://www.kurdish.com>; Kurdish Worldwide Resources
n <http://www.xs4all.nl/~tank/kurdish/htdocs/>; Kurdish Information Network; European site with general data, cultural information, songs (with audio).
n <http://www.humanrights.de/~kurdweb/>; Kurdistan Web News, Information and Documentation Database.
n <http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/9574/armenia.htm>; Yezidi Kurds in Armenia.
n <http://members.tripod.com/~zaza_kirmanc/index.html>; Zaza/Kirmanc/Dimili Kurds.
n <http://home5.swipnet.se/~w-54922/index.htm>; Faili Kurds Homepage.
n <http://www.kurdistan.org/>; American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN).
n <http://www.clark.net/kurd/>; Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI).
n <http://www.mnsi.net/~mergan95/EnglishN.htm>; The Kurdistan Observer, Daily News in English.
n <http://home.nordnet.fr/~sdara/>; Kurdistan Tribune, Monthly News and Analysis in English.
n <http://www.med-tv.be/med/>; Med-TV web-page, News in English from Kurdish Satellite Television (Med-TV); email <med at med-tv.be>.
n <http://www.ozgurpolitika.org>; Özgur Politika On-Line, Kurdish Daily in Turkish.
n <http://www.khrp.org/>; Kurdish Human Rights Project, London-based NGO.
Academic and Cultural:
n <http://www.cogsci.ed.ac.uk/~siamakr/kurd_lal.html>; Kurdish Language and Linguistics (Kurd_lal), Archive and newsletter on Kurdish grammar, linguistics and bibliography.
n <http://www.deakin.edu.au/~kstudyg/kstudyg.html>; Kurdish Study Group at Deakin University, Australia-based academic site, teaching materials, Newsletter.
n <http://www.tidalwave.net/~bcks/>; Badlisy Center for Kurdish Studies, US based research organization.
n <http://www.marebalticum.se/kurd/index.htm>; Kurdish Library and Documentation Center in Stockholm, Sweden (English, Kurmanji, Swedish, Turkish), with links to Kurdish literature, poetry, art, publishers.
n <http://wwwcip.rus.uni-stuttgart.de/~etk10310/>; Kurdish Poetry Page.
n <http://home1.swipnet.se/~w-19878/index.html>; ROJBAS, magazine in Kurdish.
n <http://www.unitype.com/globaloffice.htm> has information on how to use [Microsoft Office - sorry] software to write Kurdish (Soraní, Kurmandjí, Guraní, and Zazakí) as well as Farsi, Arabic and Turkish.
Political parties:
n <http://www.pkk.org/>; Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
n <http://www.cpiran.org/Ku/index.html>; Komala (Communist Party of Iran).
n <http://www.puk.org/>; Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
n <http://www.kdp.pp.se>; Kurdistan Democratic Party.
n <http://members.aol.com/kurdis6065/Psk.html>; Socialist Party of Kurdistan.
Newsgroups and Interactive chat:
n <http://members.xoom.com/pashew/>; Kurdistan, Realtime Interactive Discussion Forum.
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