Repression of Kurdish language is back in Turkey - magazine

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been rolling back its own reforms that liberalised the use of the Kurdish language in Turkey, leading some to fear a return to the repression that followed the 1980 coup, progressive U.S. magazine The Nation said.

“Now the AKP is trying to criminalise Kurdish language and culture again,” Sami Tan, who started a new Kurdish language centre in Istanbul after authorities shut down his old one, told the magazine. “That’s why many people are afraid to come to our classes.”

Kurdish language institutes have been shut down under anti-terror laws, while Kurdish-language pre-schools in Turkey have been shut down, destroyed or “Turkified”, the magazine said.

The attacks on the Kurdish language mirror the chaos in Turkey’s majority-Kurdish southeast, which has intensified since peace talks broke down in 2015, it said.

“Based on a string of emergency decrees passed since July 2015, scores of Kurdish media organisations, associations, language schools, and cultural institutions have been shut down,” The Nation said. “Even a children’s TV channel that translated cartoons such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Smurfs into Kurdish was taken off air temporarily.”