Academic accuses Turkish govt of attempts to end Kurdish language courses in Japan

Vakkas Colak, a faculty member at the University of Tokyo has claimed that the Turkish government tries to shut down Kurdish language classes at the university, according to a report by the Yeni Yasam news portal.

He told Yeni Yasam that the Turkish Foreign Ministry which is against the Kurdish language lectures at the University of Tokyo has put pressure on Japan to cancel them.

“An attempt like this also means interfering in the internal affairs of Japan,” the academician said emphasizing that Kurdish classes are too important for the university to shut down on Turkey’s demand. Stating that he heard of these attempts from sources in the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Colak underlined that no one has the right to interfere in this situation.

“Because this issue [of education] is secured by the Constitution, there’s freedom to education in Japan. Even the Japanese government has no say in this case,” the Kurdish academician said.

“The university, which has long-term plans [for Kurdish classes], provides huge support to us,” he added.

Colak is currently giving Kurdish language classes for four hours a week to 40 students, most of whom are Japanese, at the University of Tokyo as part of a program that was launched on April 1.

Exchange students from China and Taiwan also show interest in Kurdish courses provided in Japan for the first time in the country’s history.

Being a Kurdish community leader in Japan and also a member of the Japan-Kurdistan Friendship Association, Colak previously published the first Kurdish-Japanese dictionary and the first Kurdish-Japanese grammar book.

Successive governments have imposed outright bans or suppression to a high extent on the Kurdish language in Turkey, throughout most of the 20th century.

The Turkish government has shut down a number of Kurdish language institutes, dailies, websites, and TV channels as part of a crackdown targeting the Kurdish movement since the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and AKP in July 2016.

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