Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has urged that Kurdish be given official recognition.
The Kurdistan 24 news station quoted him as saying on Sunday that a legislative regulation needed to be prepared for Kurdish to be recognized as an official language in Turkey,
Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), made the assertion in a speech following an iftar dinner with Kurdish opinion leaders on Sunday.
Answering a question from Kurdistan 24, the CHP leader said that people’s right to learn their native language and receive education in that language is “inalienable.”
“A legislative regulation is necessary for Kurdish [language] to be legally used, taught and studied. This regulation must be implemented. If a proper basis is formed for it, I believe that all the members of the parliament would say ‘yes’ [and accept it],” Kilicdaroglu argued.
He also said that people in Turkey should have equal rights regardless of their nationalities.
“This is a requirement of democracy,” the CHP leader added.
Referring to the fact that it’s illegal to use Kurdish as a language of instruction in private and public schools in Turkey, he stressed that bans such as this have harmed the country by paving the way for the society to fall apart.
“For years, we have seen that bans would not carry Turkey any further. This country needs to be freed of those bans and regain its self-confidence. All of these could happen. I do not believe that Turkey has a problem that lacks a solution,” the opposition leader said.
Holding a press conference at the parliament, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) spokesman Saruhan Oluc said on Monday that they think the CHP leader’s remarks were very significant for the Kurds in Turkey.
“We think it’s important that the parliament is pointed at as the place where this issue can be solved. We hope that problems such as this [Kurdish language] can be solved with the support of other opposition parties [than CHP] and the ruling [AK] party,” Oluc said.
According to Article 42 of the Turkish Constitution, which is ratified two years after a violent military coup, in 1982, “no language other than Turkish can be taught as a native language to Turkish citizens.”
The CHP leader’s move, which acknowledges a long-demanded right by the Kurdish population of Turkey, came after the HDP urged its supporters in Turkey’s west to cast strategic votes for opposition candidates on March 31 local government polls.
Partly due to those Kurdish votes, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered defeat in a number of major cities, including Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, where CHP candidates won the mayoral race.