On trial for speaking Kurdish

Midyat (province of Mardin) Public Prosecutor opened new investigations against the managers and members of BDP for writing in Kurdish on the signs of party buildings and banners for celebration of Newroz, Kurdish new year. BDP Midyat Branch replaced the party signs in four languages, Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic and Syriac, on January 12 and March 17 for Newroz celebrations.

Eighteen BDP managers and members will be tried next weer for writing in Kurdish.


The Kurdish languages belong to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European family. Systematic comparison of Kurdish with other Iranian languages shows that Kurdish is a northwestern Iranian language. The present state of knowledge about Kurdish allows, at least roughly, drawing the approximate borders of the areas where the main ethnic core of the speakers of the contemporary Kurdish dialects was formed.

Today, Kurdish is an official language in Iraq.

In Syria, on the other hand, publishing material in Kurdish is forbidden. Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media.

The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized in Turkey, and the use of Kurdish names containing the letters X, W, and Q, which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet, is not allowed.

In Iran, though it is used in some local media and newspapers, it is not used in public schools.

In 2005, 80 Iranian Kurds took part in an experiment and gained scholarships to study in Kurdish in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In March 2006, Turkey allowed private television channels to begin airing programming in the Kurdish language. However, the Turkish government said that they must avoid showing children's cartoons, or educational programs that teach the Kurdish language, and could broadcast only for 45 minutes a day or four hours a week.

In 2010 Kurdish municipalities in southeast decided to begin printing water bills, marriage certificates and construction and road signs, as well as emergency, social and cultural notices in Kurdish alongside Turkish. Friday sermons by Imams began to be delivered in Kurdish, and Esnaf provided Kurdish price tags. These decisions were met with heavy repression by the State and indeed hundreds of mayors and officials have been tried for using Kurdish in public leaflets and publicity material.

The state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) started its 24-hour Kurdish television station on 1 January 2009 with the motto “we live under the same sky.” Yet another cosmetic action to please the not so strong European pressure rather than for a true will of trying and address the Kurdish Question in a proper way.

The Turkish Prime Minister sent a video message in Kurdish to the opening ceremony, which was attended by Minister of Culture and other state officials. But boycotted by many Kurds who see TRT6 as yet another bluff.