Roni: The Kurdish language is under serious threat

According to MED-DER Co-chairman Rıfat Roni, with the spread of Turkish mass media and schooling, Turkish has now become the dominant language in the villages, which poses a serious threat to Kurdish.

The Turkish state's attacks on the Kurdish language and culture continue. Kurdish children are forced to speak Turkish because Kurdish, which is not legally recognized, is also prohibited in the public sphere. Kurdish signboards and neighbourhood names are being translated into Turkish with the assistance of trustees appointed to the seized HDP municipalities.

Speaking to ANF, Mesopotamia Language and Culture Research Association (MED-DER) Co-chair Rıfat Roni stated that the pressure on the Kurdish language has never stopped since the establishment of the Turkish state, reminding that people have been killed, arrested, or detained for using a Kurdish word. Roni added that it is currently impossible for a person who does not speak Turkish to work in any business sector since the state is using new methods to punish the society with poverty to ban the Kurdish language and limit its visibility in the public.


Pointing out that as progress toward the strengthening of the Kurdish language is made, the system puts its preventive measures in place, Roni said: “Many institutions laid the groundwork for the growth of the Kurdish language between 2004 and 2015. In a city like Amed, there are around 2,000 Turkish schools. The state has not established a single Kurdish school. Even from this vantage point, we can see the state's stance toward Kurds. Kurdish people will gain status once linguistic obstacles are overcome. That is why the pressure and prohibitive measures against Kurds persist. That is why we must preserve our language. Politics that advocate for the Kurds' fundamental rights and freedoms should also establish their policies on the Kurdish language. Language is memory, ideology, intellect, and the design of a society's future.”


Emphasizing that technology has evolved significantly for humanity, and oppressed peoples now have an excellent opportunity to take advantage of these advancements in positive ways, Roni made the following assessment: “When the mentioned scientific and technological benefits are employed by the power that implements assimilation programs, the oppressed peoples face a severe threat. For example, a few decades ago, the state could implement assimilation practices in cities more easily than rural areas. However, televisions, smartphones, and other similar technology equipment can now be found in villages even. The Kurdish people should not be using these tools in the manner intended by the state. Turkish is overtaking Kurdish as the language of communication. This is a serious threat. The locals used to live in their natural settings, unaffected by the harmful sides of technology, but now the Turkish language is everywhere. Even rural Kurds who used to be unable to communicate in Turkish with their children are now able to do so.”


Roni noted that the dominant system first produces strategies of pressure and assimilation on language, and language is the first condition for people to obtain their freedom. Stating that this is the situation in Turkey, he added: “The prohibition of the Kurdish language was always on the government's agenda. They do not spend the energy they used to ban the Kurdish language in other areas. Language is the most crucial step in the process of forming a nation. Remember that the first step of the trustees appointed to Kurdish municipalities was to remove the Kurdish signs. They removed the Kurdish words on municipal buildings. Now that the system stands together and practices against the Kurdish people's values, the Kurds must stand together to protect their values.”