Unrest over education in Kurdish deepens with attacks on schools
ŞIRNAK – Doğan News Agency
AA PhotoThe padlocks on the primary schools that were to provide education in Kurdish in southeastern Turkey were removed, while some public schools were attacked with Molotov Cocktails in response to the initial locks.
“Everyone knows that we do not have any prejudice against any language that is spoken in Turkey. Kurdish is one of our languages, just like our beautiful Turkish, and other languages and dialects. All of them are respected,” said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu yesterday at a press conference, trying to ease the issue.
He said the government has taken “revolutionary steps” in this issue. “Kurdish teachers will be assigned for the first time this year.”
Members of the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H) attacked four schools in the southeastern province of Şırnak late on Sept. 16, in protest at the closure of a school that had planned to provide instruction in the Kurdish language.
The Berivan Primary School in Cizre district was sealed by the authorities as it had not received permission from the ministry to open. Because of the closure, students started their academic year in the garden of the building.
In response, a masked group from the YDG-H, a youth organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), set alight other schools in the district by pouring fuel on the buildings and throwing Molotov Cocktails.
The Nur Atatürk Highschool, the Fatih Elementary and Middle School, the İstiklal Elementary School and the İsmail Ebuliz Elementary School in the Cudi and Sur neighborhoods of Cizre were all targeted, according to reports.
The YDG-H also built blockades on the roads to halt firefighting teams that had rushed to the scene of the attacks.
Police resorted to tear gas and water cannons to disperse the groups, who responded with stones, noise bombs and Molotov Cocktails.
The schools were heavily damaged by the time firefighters had managed to extinguish the flames, with locals also helping the teams with buckets of water.
Police have stepped up security measures in the area against possible attacks on other schools, and they have also launched an operation to capture the suspects.
Meanwhile, the padlock on the door of the Berivan primary school in Cizre was removed by locals and education continued inside the building Sept.17.
The YDG-H also organized Molotov Cocktail attacks in the Yüksekova district of the southeastern province of Hakkari.
On Sept. 16, a group of protesters broke the padlock on a school that was opened by local initiative with the promise of education in the Kurdish language in Yüksekova.
Diyarbakır Mayor Gültan Kışanak called on the government to provide Kurdish language education in primary schools or allow the local authorities to provide it instead.
“The government must provide education in the mother tongue as a public service or it must transfer this duty to the local authorities. Otherwise it should not prevent the schools that were opened by local civilian initiatives. The government did not choose any of these three options, but said ‘your mother tongue is banned.’ This is not an acceptable situation,” said Kışanak.