Learning, using and promoting the mother tongue is a natural social right. The mother tongue represents the identity of all living beings, said the KJK Education Committee.

The Education Committee of the KJK (Kurdistan Women’s Community) issued a statement to mark International Mother Language Day on 21 February. The statement said that Turkey’s government is a “one-man regime” based on the slogan “one nation, one language, one state” and is employing a policy of annihilation against the Kurdish language.

The statement said: “On the occasion of the International Mother Language Day, we salute all the people who are fighting for Kurdish to become the language of education and teaching in the four parts of Kurdistan and abroad and are promoting their mother tongue with determination during the week-long activities. In our multilingual world, 21 February is an expression of the fact that the language proves the existence of a people and takes a stand against the chauvinistic and nationalistic power system based on monistic thinking.

Actually, 21 February is the day of the mother tongue movement. Historically, it is the day when the people of Bangladesh paid a heavy price in the fight for their language. In this context, we commemorate the students who died that day in protests for their mother tongue.”

International Mother Language Day is a day of remembrance proclaimed by UNESCO to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The KJK points out that Turkey is a member of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, however, 18 languages ​​have so far become extinct or are threatened with extinction in the country. The KJK said that UNESCO must campaign for an end to the suppression of the Kurdish language by the AKP/MHP government.

“We appeal to UNESCO to urge Turkey and the other member countries to implement their conventions and to take institutional responsibility for the official status of the languages ​​of oppressed peoples like the Kurdish people. The fascist and genocide-seeking government in Turkey is conducting a policy of annihilation, particularly against the Kurdish language. The fact that Kurdish is offered as an optional subject in very few schools does not mean that the language annihilation policy has been lifted. Media professionals who report in Kurdish are still being arrested. The repression against institutions and media that are committed to the Kurdish language and culture continues unabated.”

The situation in Iran, Syria and Iraq

With regard to the situation in the various parts of Kurdistan, the KJK said that in Rojhilat (east, west Iran) mother tongue lessons are still not possible. In this context, the Education Committee refers to the Kurdish teacher Zara Mohammadi, who was sentenced to a five-year prison sentence in Sine (Sanandaj) at the beginning of the year because of her work.

Despite the great efforts of the people in Rojava, Kurdish is not yet recognized as an official language in Syria.

Iraq has its own status with the autonomous region of Kurdistan, but in Kirkuk, a metropolis with a predominantly Kurdish population, the Iraqi government is using various pretexts to implement a policy of prohibiting the Kurdish language, according to the KJK. For example, Kurdish signs are being replaced throughout the city, the use of the Kurdish language is forbidden in oil production facilities and the educational opportunities for Kurdish students are restricted in order to keep young people away from their mother tongue.

“The language of a people stands for its body, its existence and its freedom. As long as the body of Kurdistan, divided into four, is not united and its existence and freedom are not guaranteed, life cannot gain any meaning,” said the KJK, adding that “the learning, use and promotion of the mother tongue is a natural social right of importance. The mother tongue represents the identity of every living being in the universe. The fact that the Kurds, a people of forty million people, are still unable to learn Kurdish freely on their own soil is tantamount to genocide. The AKP/MHP government is implementing a policy of assimilation and language annihilation against all other peoples and languages ​​in Turkey.”

The KJK called to continue to fight for an official status of the Kurdish language and the right to mother tongue education and to focus on academic work and added that it is particularly important that parents speak Kurdish with their children.