DTP Leader speaks Kurdish in parliament

In a courageous move that could send him to jail, DTP leader, Ahmet Turk, speaks Kurdish in parliament in Turkey, saying:

In order to show that there is nothing to fear in using other languages and to emphasise brotherhood of languages during [UNESCO’s] International Mother Language Day, let me continue my speech in Kurdish.

The live TRT broadcast of the speech was immediately shut down. We shall see if there is anything to fear. Watch short clip here of Turk as he announces his intention to speak Kurdish and then begins speaking in Kurdish:

From the Turkish press: (See link to Kurdish article at bottom).

DTP speaks Kurdish in parliament, Turkish gov’t says ‘provocation’

Hurriyet Daily News Online
24 February 2009

The leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) gave a Kurdish speech in his address during the party’s parliamentary group meeting. State TV, TRT, cut the live broadcast, while the ruling party labeled the move as a “provocation”.

Ahmet Turk said in his address in the meeting that he will continue his speech in Kurdish “in the name of the brotherhood and

DTP Leader Ahmet Turk

DTP Leader Ahmet Turk

beauty of the languages”.

Turkish state television TRT cut the live Parliament TV broadcast of the group meeting of pro-Kurdish party DTP on Tuesday after Turk started speaking in Kurdish. [It was on TRT3].

TRT said under the law no language other than Turkish could be used when making parliamentary speeches or group addresses. [But the AKP can co-opt TRT6 and get simultaneous Kurdish translations].

“The constitution and the law on political parties prohibit the usage of any language other than Turkish in the parliament and in the group meetings. Therefore we had to cut the live broadcast and we apologize for this,” a TRT announcement made on the incident said.

A former deputy from a pro-Kurdish party had been jailed in 1995 for speaking Kurdish at an inauguration ceremony in parliament.

Turk told reporters after the meeting that he did not inform the parliament speaker about the issue ahead of time. “If it is not allowed to speak in a native language, then women in chadors should not be allowed in parliament as well,” he added.

Some experts claim an investigation will be launched unless the speech was made under the approval of the parliament speaker.

Turkey took steps to boost the cultural and democratic rights of Kurds. TRT launched on Jan. 1 a TV channel which airs in Kurdish 24 hours a day.

The Kurdish-language channel, TRT 6, simultaneously translated and broadcast a speech made by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan at a rally in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

The deputy parliamentary group leader of the ruling Justice and Development, Nihat Ergun, said the messages given in parliament should be in Turkish, what he described as the “common language”, in order to reach all citizens. [except those who don’t speak Turkish!]

“This is a provocative move against the democratic reforms made by the government,” he told CNNTurk.

But the main opposition party accused TRT of censorship.

“TRT’s censoring (of the speech) is not right. This is an act of censors. TRT should not censor the leader of a political party,” Mustafa Ozyurek, the spokesman for main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told TV channels.

“Of course, our official language is Turkish. Mr. Turk’s abeyance of this law would be appropriate. But I don’t find it right for TRT to implement censorship for his speaking,” he added.

The nationalist opposition party said both the parliamentary address made by the DTP leader and the launch of TRT 6 are wrong.

“Mr.Turk has made a mistake… TRT launching a broadcast in the Kurdish language is the real mistake here… We have asked in the past what would happen if Kurdish was also spoken in parliament,” Cihan Pacaci, the General Secretariat of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party told NTV.

Former speaker of parliament, Husamettin Cindoruk, also told NTV that using another language other than Turkish is only possible with the approval of parliament.

“There is no difference between (speaking Kurdish) either at group meetings or in the general meeting or at a commission. It is not possible to speak Kurdish anywhere because the official language of the country is Turkish,” Cindoruk added.

Here’s a report in Kurdish from NetKurd about it.

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