Kurdish Language Symposium starts in Van

Organised by the Eğitim-Sen union, the 1st Kurdish Language Symposium has started in Van with the participation of guests from four parts of Kurdistan,

The 1st Kurdish Language Symposium organised by the Education and Science Workers' Union (Eğitim Sen) Van Branch has started. The symposium at the Van Bar Association Tahir Elçi Conference Hall will last for two days. The symposium will focus on "policy, planning, education and legal status". The symposium, attended by guests from four parts of Kurdistan, started with an opening speech.

Delivering the opening speech of the symposium, Lokman Babat, spokesperson of the Kurdish Language Commission of Eğitim Sen Van Branch, said: "There are dozens of trade unions in the field of education in Turkey, but the only union that advocates education in mother tongue is Eğitim Sen. The struggle for language is an important area for us, but it is shameful to still demand education in one's mother tongue in this century. We need to turn our mother tongue into the language of life. For this, we need to increase the struggle even more."

Samî Hêzil, one of the organisers of the symposium, said: "In this symposium we will discuss the issues of policy, planning, education and legal status of mother tongue. Language is our future and everyone should feel responsible for it."

‘Those who do not speak their language cannot live freely’

İbrahîm Sungur, the guest of honour of the symposium, said: "Those who do not speak their language and do not fight for it cannot live freely. Today, madrasahs and religious order houses are being opened, but even in these centres there is a requirement to speak Turkish. The most important thing is that Kurdish be the language of politics. If we can realise this, we will have taken a very important step."

Following the opening speeches, the session on "Politics and Language" was held. The session was moderated by Mazlum Kanîwar and the speakers were researcher Dr Nadire Güntaş Aldatmaz, linguist Sami Tan and academician Dr Mikail Bülbül.

‘Killing a language is a genocide’

Linguist Samî Tan said, "Killing a language is a genocide. Genocide has been tried on many communities, especially the Kurds. Language assimilation is a crime against humanity. Studies have shown that people feel psychologically more comfortable when they speak in their own language. The language policy of the Turks is white genocide and they have been doing this with their policies for years. There has been a struggle against white genocide. Very important work has been done to reverse this policy. It is the society itself that will keep the language alive against all assimilation policies. If the society organises itself, no state apparatus can make it forget that language. The fate and future of our language is in our hands."

Academician Dr Mikail Bülbül, who spoke about the "standardisation of the language", said: "The fate of Kurdish and the place we live in is the same. If there was a unity of politics and geography, all Kurds would understand each other. But today, people in the four parts of Kurdistan do not understand each other's languages. For this, standardisation of the language is necessary."

Researcher Dr. Nadire Güntaş Aldatmaz said: "In addition to Kurmanji, Kirmançki also needs to be standardised. There is a standardisation problem in all languages. Whatever the possibility and status of a language is, that language is standardised to that extent. Schools and education are essential for the standardisation of a language. Under these conditions in Turkey, Zazaki has no chance of surviving. This is also the case in schools and universities in Turkey, where language education is provided. Kirmançki is almost non-existent."

 The symposium will continue with various discussions and sessions for two days.