Kurdish language banned in occupied and Turkified Afrin

The ban on Kurdish language has been the last step in a long series of attempts to change Afrin's demographics. The Kurdish names of streets, avenues and settlements in the city have been changed, and the local people are forced to learn Turkish.

New steps have been introduced to change the demography of the Afrin Canton in North and East Syria which has been occupied by Turkey and allied gang groups since a major military onslaught in 2018. Extensive attacks were launched against the Kurdish population from the first day of the occupation in Afrin where traces of the Kurds have been erased since, and murders, extortion, plunder, destruction, abduction, human trafficking and massacres are rampant in an attempt to de-Kurdify the region.

The last step as part of de-Kurdification policies has targeted the Kurdish language itself. Kurdish education has been taken out of the curriculum in schools.

Following the attacks on the city, most of the local people had to migrate to the neighboring Shehba Canton.

Speaking to Mezopotamya Agence (MA), Shena Kalo, Spokeswoman of the Democratic Society Education Committee in Shehba, recalled that the people of Afrin have been massacred and displaced from their homeland after their lands were occupied.

Saying that rape, torture and violence have become a daily routine in Afrin, Kalo stated that Turkey is hostile to the Kurds, and targets them wherever they reside. She stressed that this is the basic policy pursued linguistically, culturally and geographically, and Afrin has been destroyed by pillage and destruction.

Kalo emphasized that they have made serious gains with the Rojava Revolution, and that education in mother tongue is the foremost among them. She noted that they established their education systems and opened schools to offer this service.


“The children of our people rushed to these schools. In the past, the Syrian state always banned our language. Baathists officials of the state were trying to Arabize us. However, we overcame this thanks to the revolution. We embraced the gains of the revolution. We opened schools in hamlets, villages and districts under the guidance of thousands of teachers. We established not only education, but also all other parts of our system, which was confronted by the Turkish state this time. They introduced a policy of pillage and destruction wherever the Kurds achieved gains. They attacked Afrin with tanks, artillery and fighter jets,” she said.


Kalo told that Turkey's first target after occupying Afrin was education. “They said they would provide education in Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish. This was a lie. Kurdish was banned in Afrin in a short time. They only taught in Turkish and Arabic. They try to impose Turkish on our people who remain in Afrin. The Kurdish names of streets, neighbourhoods, streets, villages and settlements in Afrin have been replaced. They thus started assimilation programs. They force the local people to learn Turkish.”

Emphasizing that Turkey launched these attacks with the support of international powers, Kalo continued, “Schools were their first target when they started to attack Afrin. They bombed and destroyed schools. Language is the identity of a people. An attack on the language is an attack on the people. This is how they approached us. If a people's language is banned or faces extinction, it is not possible to talk about the existence of that people.”


Kalo stated that this plan has a broad framework. “Those who return to Afrin are arrested and interrogated. They are tortured and wanted to be brought into line. The invaders ask for ransom to release the detainees. People are forced to learn Turkish. They say, 'If you don't learn or read Turkish, you will have to leave Afrin'. They are planning to make Afrin into a place of their own through demographic change. Afrin's Kurdish identity is gradually being destroyed and a policy of Turkification is being implemented.”

Kalo said that they established their own education system in Shehba where they had to move after the invasion attacks in Afrin.

“We give education to children in their mother tongue. When they realized this, they resorted to propaganda and said that they would start providing lessons in Kurdish. They are trying to implement this new policy through the ENKS, which supports them. Based on this plan, they are using our people there as a tool for the schemes of the Turkish state. Therefore, our people should be careful and not be deceived by such schemes. We must frustrate the plans of the Turkish state,” she added.