If Kurdish is necessary, then the state will provide it!

If Kurdish is necessary, then the state will provide it!

Anatolia News Agency (Anadolu Agency), abbreviated as A.A., has started its Kurdish service. It is its sixth language after English, Arabic, Bosnian/Serbian and Russian, and Turkish of course. It is good that a news agency starts Kurdish service. It is better if it is the state news agency. It is much better if it is the state of the Republic of Turkey. 

This is a good development. Deputy Premier Bülent Arınç, only a few years ago had questioned whether or not Kurdish was a language of civilization. He has answered his own question in his statement about AA’s Kurdish broadcast. He must have eliminated his suspicions since he said that Kurdish was at least good enough to “create a strong public opinion in favor of Turkey” in the Middle East. 

Before we proceed any further let’s remember TRT Şeş: This channel is the state’s first full day Kurdish TV channel. The transformation to a full day broadcast from previously five or 10 minutes of broadcasts was a big deal at that time. 

Now, the situation is this: Alongside the elective Kurdish courses in schools, the state is both broadcasting TV programs 24/7 as well as serving Kurdish news stories to the world, to Turkey and to North Cyprus. 

Can we say, “The bans imposed on Kurdish are being lifted? The chains are being broken?” We can say that from one perspective, from the perspective of the state. However, something strange emerges when viewed through that perspective: The state is speaking Kurdish with TRT-Şeş. It disseminates written news with AA. The state is providing selective courses through the Education Ministry. 

Let’s take a closer look: When elective courses were debated, İsmail Beşikçi said, “Elective courses are a good step for Turks, not for Kurds.” It was a simple logic: If a citizen was to learn his/her mother tongue through elective courses then it means he or she does not speak that language. If she or he speaks it, then the elective course is not of much help for that person; it is good for a non-Kurdish person. Hence, this initiative of the Education Ministry does not possess much of a “Kurdish initiative” feature. It is a service more for the Turks or non-Kurds. 

The strangeness in TRT Şeş is that “the state” speaks Turkish; it broadcasts in Kurdish. This broadcast is addressing the Kurds indeed, but Kurds themselves cannot make this broadcast. It means that the TRT Şeş also bears features of the “Kurdish initiative,” to a limited extent. 

The same goes for the AA. Those steps taken by the state in Kurdish broadcasts recall the words of a notorious governor, his statement adapted to Kurdish: “If the Kurdish language is a need for Turkey, then the state will step in and provide it.” (The original was “If communism becomes a necessity for Turkey and if it is a good thing, then we will provide it for you; what’s it to you?”)

Let’s not go into the issue of “content” but given the broadcasts of TRT, including Şeş, it is difficult to assess what good the AA service would do except for naming the political figures of Kurds as “terrorists.” 

This oddity become clearer with the government’s view on Kurdish education: They are against it together with CHP and MHP. If Kurdish education is not to be provided then, two or at most three generations later, Kurdish will become a language that Kurds will only learn through “elective courses.” 

This perspective is not new. It is the official policy of 1923-1939. It is a process of “assimilation”, denial-destruction and nationalization. In the İnönü report of the time it said, “There cannot be a segregation policy in primary education.” 

A solution is possible by reversing what has been done in that period. Not by counting what has been done and its consequences to the “pro” column of the state and move on. This can only mean the wish to complete the original project. İnönü, who rejected segregation in primary education, knew only too well that a Kurd exposed to quality primary education in Turkish in the hands of good teachers will not remain that much of a Kurd anymore. At a place where primary education is 12 years, the road leads to the imposing of a “solution” that again excludes the Kurds. 

Ali Topuz is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this abridged piece was published on Sept. 3. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.