21 February International Mother Language Day: Kurdish is still banned

NEWS CENTER - The demand for Kurdish, which is still included in the parliamentary minutes as an "unknown language", to be the language of education is not accepted. Managers of associations fighting for languages called on parents to "teach your children their mother language".
The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) accepted February 21 as "International Mother Language Day" in 1999. Every year since 2000, February 21 has been celebrated as "Mother Language Day". According to the "Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger" published in March 2013 by UNESCO, which declared 2008 as the "International Year of Indigenous Languages", 40 percent of the approximately 7 thousand languages in the world, or 2,500, are under threat of extinction. The number of languages that have disappeared in the world since the 1950s is 230. While 18 languages have disappeared in Turkey to date, the Kirmançkî dialect of Kurdish is also in danger of extinction.
While the official monolingualism policy in Turkey destroys the different languages in the country, the assimilation policy manifests itself mostly through Kurdish today. The policy of denial and destruction, which has been carried out since the establishment of the Republic, continues with practices and bans especially on the mother language. The first target of the Decree Laws (KHK) issued during the State of Emergency (OHAL) declared in 2016 was Kurdish institutions and publications. In addition to the Kurdish-language Azadiya Welat newspaper and Tîroj magazine, the Kurdish Language Research and Development Association (KURDÎ-DER), the Istanbul Kurdish Institute and the Kurdish-language Ferzad Kemanger, Ali Erel and Ahmet Beyhan primary schools were closed by decrees. The schools built in Amed's Licê (Lice) and Farqîn (Silvan) districts for Kurdish education were demolished before their construction was completed. Bilingual municipal projects of municipalities were cancelled and Kurdish signs of streets, parks and settlements were removed. Today, when cultural and artistic activities are still banned, Kurdish is recorded as "unknown language" and "X" in Parliament and court records.
However, despite all the denials and pressures, Kurds do not give up their struggle to keep their language alive. Established in 2017, Mesopotamia Language and Culture Research Association (MED-DER) provides training in their mother language to hundreds of trainees every year for the development of Kurdish.
MED-DER Co-chair Remzi Azizoğlu said: "Learning the mother language begins for a child with his/her mother's womb. For this reason, the mother language is important. Language is parallel to the development of thought. The stronger the mother language, the stronger the mentality. Language also forms the basis of literature and poetry. Language is sociality."
Stating that approximately 25 million Kurds live in Turkey, but their mother language is neither accepted as the official language nor as the language of education, Azizoğlu said: “Kurds are still under domination. Certainly, Kurdish language must be the language of education as well as being the official language. If unity and equality are to be talked about, Kurdish must be the official language and the language of education first." 
Stating that language forms the basis of a nation, Azizoğlu said: “Language is the only thing that distinguishes society from each other. This shows us how important a tool language is. We defend education in the mother language against Kurdish, spoken by millions, being included in the curriculum as an elective course by fitting it into a few hours. Kurd children are being forced to teach Turkish from an early age. This alienates them from their mother language and this is where the real problem begins."
Stating that they have been expressing their demands for mother language clearly for years, Azizoğlu underlined that they will continue the struggle until their demands are met. Emphasizing that the mother language must be the language of education, starting from kindergarten to university, Azizoğlu continued as follows: “Mothers and fathers should speak their mother language to their children at home and on the street. The mentality of 'Our children are falling behind because they do not know Turkish' should be abandoned. Our children will learn Turkish over time. The important thing is that they first learn their mother language. That Kurdish consciousness should be instilled by learning their mother language.”
One of the places closed within the scope of the state of emergency declared after the military uprising on July 15, 2016 was the Istanbul Kurdish Institute. The people working here did not give up their work and came together under the umbrella of the Kurdish Research Association (Komeleya Lêkolînên Kurdî). The association has produced important studies on Kurdish language, culture and history since its establishment on March 6, 2017.
Remziye Alparslan, Co-chair of the Kurdish Studies Association, touched upon the relationship between language and society and said that language is a common history for society. Alparslan said: “Language primarily forms the function of creating unity for a society. If a society has no language, a large part of that society disappears. Because language represents a common history, memory and culture for society and also plays an important role in distinguishing some differences between societies. In fact, language is the primary condition of existence for both nations and communities.”
Alparslan said that many languages, especially Kurdish, are under threat in Turkey and emphasized that the existence of Kurds is wanted to be destroyed with the bans on Kurdish. Alparslan said: “By banning the Kurdish language, the state aims to destroy the Kurds and Turkishness imposed. The beginning of these prohibitions was with the proclamation of the Republic, but they still continue today. The borders of the Turkish state were drawn with the logic of a prison for the Kurds. The aim was for the existence and voice of the Kurds not to be known outside."
Stating that the Kurds have not bowed down despite all the pressures they have experienced throughout history, Alparslan said: “They aimed to destroy the Kurds by banning the Kurdish language. The Kurds have continued their existence in these difficult conditions until today. The Kurds' self-existence was thanks to their struggle from past to present."
Underlining that Kurds are in a great struggle against attacks on their mother language, Alparslan noted that the Kurdish Studies Association is also a part of this struggle. Alparslan said: “It may seem like a simple thing for others, but we have paid great prices for our existence from past to present. Our language institution, the Istanbul Kurdish Institute, was founded in Istanbul in 1992 by intellectuals like Apê Musa and when Apê Musa founded this place, they took down our sign and threatened us with death. Martyrs were given for this struggle. But after the coup attempt in 2016, which they saw as a blessing for themselves, they closed our institution with an unrelated decree. We have established our institution again, this time as the Kurdish Studies Association, for more than 3 years. Therefore, even though the pressure on us continues, we are ready to do whatever we can to fight for the Kurdish language.”
Stating that they have carried out many studies as an association against the government's assimilation policies, Alparslan said: “Let's increase society's sensitivity to language or at least provide an awakening. Let's prevent this assimilation with our courses for both children and adults. Our struggle is the struggle to teach the Kurdish language and to gain the status quo of the Kurds." 
Alparslan called for protecting the language and history of the Kurds and said: “If people know their history, they will see the truth. They see the reality of the oppression they are subjected to and comes to their senses. Our language is truly our reason for existence. If our language disappears, no matter what we do tomorrow, our identity will be incomplete. So, let's protect our language. The flag of the language struggle will rise in the hands of the new generation, our youth will do this."