|KHRP Urges Turkey to Protect Kurdish Children from Discrimination|
On Universal Children’s day, KHRP would like to bring attention to the suffering of Kurdish children in Turkey, and urges the Turkish government to respect and protect Children’s basic human rights.
According to its latest Fact-finding Mission and Research report, ‘Protecting the Rights of the Child in Turkey’, KHRP has found that despite reforms, the fundamental barriers for Kurdish children to be on par with their Turkish counterparts remain.
Children are one of the most vulnerable sections of any society. Given the worrying regression in the protection of fundamental human rights and the widespread discrimination against the Kurdish community in Turkey, Kurdish children in particular are suffering disproportionately. This was most keenly identified with regard to the treatment of Kurdish children in the juvenile justice system, with those living in the Kurdish regions receiving far less protection. This has become particularly acute given the application of new anti-terror legislation that has been used to criminalise children. This was observed by KHRP in last year’s trial proceedings against members of a children’s choir after they sang a Kurdish song at a world music festival in the United States.
Other issues highlighted by KHRP’s report, which is expected to be published in late 2009, include barriers to Kurdish children receiving education in mother tongue. KHRP identified that it is essential that steps are taken to facilitate the learning of Turkish in parallel with courses designed to maintain Kurdish children’s mother tongue. Until this step is taken, KHRP has found that Kurdish children will remain at a constant disadvantage. Meanwhile, housing problems resulting from the current and planned forced displacement of people living in the Kurdish regions also continues to have a detrimental impact on children.
Next month KHRP will be building on its findings, and at the request of its local partner organisations will be using its legal expertise to provide training on the use of relevant international human rights standards regarding children.
‘The lack of mother tongue education; discrimination in the justice system, plus the wide scale internal displacement and isolation of Kurds in Turkey are all contributory factors undermining the protection of Kurdish children in Turkey’, said Rachel Bernu, KHRP Managing Director. In order for real progress to be made, a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue must be sought. External actors, particularly the EU, must use their influence to ensure Turkey’s compliance with all of its international obligations, particularly within the course of its EU-accession bid.’