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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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Demand for Kurdish language education remains high

A human rights fact-finding mission to Turkey's south-east has found that demand for Kurdish language education remains high, in spite of the closure of all seven of the area's private language schools earlier this month.

Government and media reports have suggested the closure of the schools was due to lack of interest from students. The prevalent view in the region, however, lays the responsibility with Turkish authorities, for failing to provide adequate legislative and material support to enable the schools to survive.

Restrictions on the use of Kurdish language in broadcasting and education were weakened last year, following decades of prohibition. Intended to assuage concerns that the protection of minority and cultural rights in Turkey was insufficient to meet EU accession standards, the reforms nonetheless failed to win Kurdish hearts and minds. There has been significant evidence that implementation of the reforms on the ground has been inadequate or non-existent.

The reforms enabled adults to receive private Kurdish language education provided that numerous conditions were met. Establishment and running of the courses was hindered bureaucratically, facing delays of up to 18 months, and the costs were prohibitively high for many in the poverty-stricken south-east. In its preliminary report, the mission finds there continues to be widespread demand for education in public schools and universities in the Kurdish language. Education about the language itself, accompanied by restrictions that only adults already fluent in Turkish could enrol, had less uptake.

A petition urging educational institutions teach in Kurdish as well as Turkish has now received thousands of signatures. The petition urges Turkey to amend Articles 2, 43 and 66 of the Turkish Constitution to be consistent with international treaties, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director, says, "Lifting restrictions on education and broadcasting in Kurdish would be a giant step towards a multicultural, pluralist and ultimately peaceful Turkey."