[lg policy] Still in Turkish prison, Demirtas supports Kurdish language preservation

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Nov 5 11:52:35 EST 2018

Kurdistan Still in Turkish prison, Demirtas supports Kurdish language
[image: Rawa Barwari] Rawa Barwari
November 02-2018     11:34 PM
[image: Still in Turkish prison, Demirtas supports Kurdish language
Jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas seen with his wife Basak during a
visit in this picture taken in the Turkish jail of Edirne, Nov 1, 2018.
(Photo: Basak Demirtas)
<http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/tagreader/tag/KurdishLanguage> Linguicide
<http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/tagreader/tag/Linguicide> UNESCO
<http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/tagreader/tag/UNESCO> Zazaki
<http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/tagreader/tag/Zazaki> Kurmanji
<http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/tagreader/tag/Kurmanji> Sorani
<http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/tagreader/tag/Sorani> Demirtas
<http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/tagreader/tag/Demirtas> TurkeyCrackdown

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Selahattin Demirtas, the jailed former leader of
Turkey's Kurdish opposition voiced support for efforts to preserve the
Kurdish language in a letter Friday from the prison in which Turkish
authorities have held him for the past two years.

"I am very pleased with Kurdish parties' decision about our mother
language. I wholeheartedly back every attempt for the Kurdish language to
be used without hindrance and freely in every aspect of life including
education, business, society, and politics," Demirtas wrote in Kurdish in
the letter his lawyers delivered to the outside world.

Despite Kurdish being the mother tongue of over a fourth of Turkey's
population, by some estimates, the Ankara government still forcefully
retains a policy of linguistic Turkification that has at times amounted to
what could be called linguicide.
The handwritten Kurdish letter by the Kurdish politician Selahattin
Demirtas imprisoned by Turkey. (Source: HDP)

Demirtas, the former Co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and a
previous presidential candidate was detained and promptly put in prison in
November 2016 along with nine other lawmakers in a crackdown that purged
President Tayyip Erdogan's political rivals shortly after a failed military
coup attempt.

Earlier this week, representatives from nine Kurdish parties and factions
gathered at a workshop in the city of Diyarbakir where they put out a joint
statement urging people to prioritize Kurdish in their daily life and
demanding that Turkey enshrine Kurdish as the second official national

Although often regarded as the heart of Kurdish liberation movement,
Diyarbakir is one of a score of Kurdish cities where Turkish has
effectively replaced Kurdish as the conventional means of everyday

"We extend our people's cry against the assimilation policy [by Turkey] to
the United Nations, UNESCO, European Union, and the European
Commission," the statement read. "We demand their help in preserving our
mother language."
A Kurdish party representative reads a statement at a workshop aimed at
preservating the Kurdish language, Diyarbakir, Oct 29, 2018. (Photo:
Kurdistan 24)

According to a 2016 UNESCO report, among other minority languages in
Turkey, the Kurdish dialects of Zazaki and Sorani (found in central
Anatolia around the Turkish capital of Ankara) are especially vulnerable to
extinction due to linguistic suppression that began in the immediate
aftermath of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's proclamation of Turkey as an
ethno-centric republic.

Demirtas himself spoke little Kurdish until recently, though he has made
progress in teaching himself both his native Zazaki and the more prevalent
Kurmanji during his stay in the supermax prison in Turkey's
northwesternmost Edirne Province.

Editing by John J. Catherine


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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