More than one million signatures for mother-tongue education in Kurdish

1,100,000 signatures have been collected within the framework of the campaign launched two months ago by Democratic Society Congress (DTK) to demand ‘education in mother tongue’ and were presented to the Assembly Petition Committee of the Turkish Parliament on Thursday.

The petition, which began two months ago after the call of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) to demand ‘education in Kurdish mother language’, has ended. While more than 1,100,000 signatures were collected within the framework of the campaign, it was underscored that the number of signatures would have exceeded 10 million if the campaign had not been carried out symbolically. Signatures were collected to present to Speaker’s Office, UNESCO, the UN and the EU.

About 10 packets of paper full of signatures collected under the campaign with the support of institutions such as HAK-PAR (Rights and Liberties Party), KADEP (Participatory Democracy Party), İHD (Turkish Human Rights Association), MAZLUMDER (Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People), Eğitim Sen (Education and Science Worker’s Union) and MKM (Mesopotamia Cultural Centre) were taken from the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) general building to the Assembly. Nearly a million signatures collected with same demands will also be conveyed to UNESCO, UN and EU officials. According to information received, some of the signatures will be sent to the UN Representative in Ankara on Monday while the other two institutions are expected to respond to the appointment request.

DTK Co-chair Aysel Tuğluk and BDP Group Vice-President Ayla Akat Ada, representatives of organisations supporting the campaign, held a meeting in the Assembly. Speaking at the meeting, Tuğluk remarked that 1,100,000 signatures were collected and they had reached their goal in a very short time by turning the campaign into a common struggle. Tuğluk also pointed out that the problem of mother-tongue education can not be handled separately from the Kurdish problem and added; ‘The Kurdish issue is a multi-dimensional problem of rights and freedoms. This hundred-year problem can be solved through the extension of rights and freedoms which passes through dialogue and reconciliation.’

'I will rip your tongue out, Minister!'

The Mother-tongue education in Kurdish debate is a contentious one; a red line in politics that no major political party wishes to cross.

Earlier in the week, Education Minister Nimet Çubukçu and MHP deputy Ahmet Duran Bulut got into a heated debate over education in a native language.

Bulut, accusing the Education Minister of supporting mother-tongue education, said: ‘The education minister is talking about two native tongues. I will rip your tongue out, minister.’

Çubukçu responded in a written statement saying that she was ‘appalled by his threats, and find[s] it absolutely troubling for humanity, especially given that I have not made any statements expressing support toward education in two languages. I have always been clear on the matter. Turkey’s official language is Turkish, and education is in Turkish.’

In September, PM Erdoğan spoke on the issue saying, ‘You can open courses in your mother tongue. But if you expect us to allow official education in the mother tongue, we will not be in for that. The official language in Turkey is Turkish.’

For more on the issue of mother-tongue education in Kurdish, read Kurdistan Commentary’s essay ‘Mother tongue education in Kurdish’ from December 2009.

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