Opposition MP asks Turkish PM why teachers were suspended for ‘speaking Kurdish’

Opposition MP asks Turkish PM why teachers were suspended for ‘speaking Kurdish’

Emine Kart - ANKARA
Opposition MP asks Turkish PM why teachers were suspended for ‘speaking Kurdish’ A Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy has asked Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım whether a crime such as “speaking Kurdish with each other” has been defined in the country’s penal code, as he questioned the grounds for suspension of three teachers in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa because “they spoke Kurdish with each other.” 

“According to the news in the media, an unidentified person living in Ankara messaged the Prime Ministry Communication Center and claimed that three teachers at Gülalibey Primary School, which is located in the Siverek district of Şanlıurfa, S.Ş., M.Y. and B.K., haven’t been attending the flag raising ceremonies, that they have been speaking Kurdish and Zazaish among each other and that they have been praising ‘organization,’ as far as he understood,” HDP Şanlıurfa deputy İbrahim Ayhan said, in a parliamentary question he presented to the Parliament Speaker’s Office on June 16.

Ayhan requested his questions be answered by Yıldırım. 

Upon the message from the unidentified person, an investigation was conducted by the Siverek Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which took the three teachers’ testimonies. Eventually, the chief prosecutor said “no evidence could be obtained” and made a decision for non-prosecution over charges of “terror organization propaganda.” In the meantime, one of those teachers had already been appointed to the Kahta district in the southeastern province of Adıyaman and another one to the Yumurtalık district in the southern province of Adana.

“Despite the prosecutor office’s decision, M.Y. working in Kahta and S.Ş. working in Yumurtalık were suspended from their duties on grounds of an administrative investigation upon a correspondence by the Siverek Governor’s Office,” Ayhan said. 

“Also the district governor’s office has given clearance for an investigation into the two teachers for ‘professional misconduct,’” he added.

“Charges which weren’t in the denouncement were added to the preliminary survey document that formed the basis of the clearance. M.Y. has been charged with ‘praising BDP’ [the Peace and Democracy Party, the predecessor of the Peoples’ Democratic Party – HDP] MPs, ‘live tracking the Gezi Park protests by phone’ and ‘calling in teachers to protests that were organized by Eğitim-Sen [the Education and Science Workers’ Union in Turkey],’” he said. “As for S.Ş., he was charged with ‘finding the government unjust concerning the Dec. 17-25 process and the issue concerning the confinement of private teaching institutions,’” he added, referring to the now-dropped Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013, graft cases.

“How do you evaluate the charges of ‘speaking Kurdish among each other’ leveled against the teachers? Is there a penalty for ‘speaking Kurdish’ present in the penal codes? What is the justification for teaching Kurdish, which is being taught at schools as an ‘optional course,’ if it is not to be spoken at schools?” Ayhan asked Yıldırım.

The MP also asked the prime minister to comment on an investigation against teachers for expressing their views on the popular agenda and for criticizing certain practices of the government “with regards to democracy.”