TURKEY: HDP MP Çelik pushing for indigenous languages to gain official distinction

ANKARA, MARDIN, Turkey – Syriac Member of Turkish Parliament Tuma Çelik (HDP) submitted questions to three ministers asking why official use of the languages of indigenous peoples in Turkey is denied by Turkish parliament. On the occasion of 15th May Kurdish Language Day, MP Tuma Çelik asked interior minister Süleyman Soylu, health minister Fahrettin Koca and the education minister Ziya Selcuk what the reasons are for Turkish parliament not to accept indigenous languages like Syriac, Kurmancî, Zaza and Arabic into its official discourse and parliamentary records.

A case in point is when the MP used Syriac in an introduction to his speech in a parliamentary session. The passage in Syriac was recorded in the official records of parliament as “unknown language” and hence omitted as such. According to the MP the same goes for similar cases in parliament by other Members of Parliament expressing themselves in their mother tongue. HDP MP Çelik concludes that this treatment by parliament can hence be taken as on official stance and a mentality of enmity against indigenous languages other than the Turkish language.

HDP MP Çelik published the questions in the Kurdish Kurmancî language on his Twitter account on the occasion of Kurdish Language Day where he draws attention to the non-acceptance of indigenous languages as Kurmancî, Arabic, Zaza and Syriac. Moreover, as some of the indigenous languages in Turkey are in serious danger of extinction, as evidenced and reported by UNESCO, Çelik asks the ministers to take measures to prevent Syriac from disappearing in Turkey. If there is no official support and appreciation of linguistic diversity and heritage in Turkey, the Syriac mother tongue of Turkish citizens faces extinction.