Kurdish-majority Diyarbakır province speaks Azeri - education ministry

The language spoken by residents of Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeastern Diyarbakır province is not Kurdish, but a Turkish that resembles Azeri, the country’s education ministry said.

The remarks, published in a booklet prepared for local students, also said Newroz, the Kurdish festival welcoming spring, was a tradition that stemmed from Central Asia, while spelling the holiday with Turkish letters, as “Nevruz,’’ Evrensel newspaper reported on Friday.

Diyarbakır, home to 1.7 million people, is one of the largest Kurdish-populated cities in the country and stronghold for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The booklet effectively denies the existence of Kurds in its claim that the dialect of the region carries many characteristics of the Azeri Turkish spoken in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, HDP Diyarbakır deputy Remziye Tosun said.

The Education and Science Laborers Union (Eğitim-Sen) Diyarbakır branch co-chair Zuhal Sezer, echoing the statements made by Tosun, said the ministry's 214-page booklet sent to the elementary schools of over a dozen districts “dismisses an ethnic identity and race.’’ 

“This is a very cruel, dangerous and brutal approach,’’ Sezer added.

The report arrives amid an intensified political and judicial crackdown on the HDP as the country’s Kurds celebrate Newroz.

Turkish parliament earlier this week revoked the membership of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker while moving to close down pro-Kurdish HDP.