Turkish high court allows couple to name their baby girl Kürdistan
ŞANLIURFA – Doğan News Agency
Toprak family named their now 1.5-year-old baby girl 'Kürdistan,' but a local court ruled that the name could offend society and thus changed it to 'Helin.' DHA photoThe Supreme Court of Appeals upheld an appeal allowing a Kurdish couple to name their baby girl "Kürdistan" on July 13.
“Every person is obligated to have a name. The right of choosing a name that identifies with the person’s life and becomes an indistinguishable part of its personality is a fundamental individual right, guaranteed by the Constitution,” the high court said in its ruling.
A local civil registry had filed a complaint in 2011 against the Toprak family living in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa’s Hilvan district on the basis that the name could “offend the society.” The local court ruled in favor of the complainant, changing the baby girl’s name to “Helin.”
“According to the laws, the right of naming their children belongs to the parents. The fact that the name has a foreign origin does not justify that it has to change. Furthermore, a court cannot legally change the name ex officio to Helin, removing the use of an individual right,” the high court's ruling also said.
Due to the fact that it was the name given by the Kurdish population to their land, the word “Kürdistan” had long been a taboo in Turkey. The term is still not officially used to designate a geographic region although its legitimacy has become more accepted in Turkish society in recent years.
The family’s lawyer Bekir Benek said that the decision was “historic,” especially during the ongoing Kurdish peace process launched over six months ago. “Such a decision, while the resolution process is underway, is gratifying. From now on anyone living in Turkey will be able to name their children Kürdistan,” he said.
The family also expressed its happiness about the decision. “We named our girl after the land where she lived. The trial had hurt me but the Supreme Court’s decision is historic,” the father Yunus Toprak said.