DEM Party appeals to UNESCO over violations of language rights in Turkey

ANKARA — On International Mother Language Day, Tülay Hatimoğulları and Tuncer Bakırhan, Co-Chairs of the People’s Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party in Turkey, sent a letter to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The missive, written in six languages – Arabic, Armenian, Syriac, English, Turkish, and Kurdish, including the Kurmanji and Zazaki dialects, urgently calls for action to address what they term as the “systematic assimilation and prohibition of languages other than Turkish” in Turkey.

The letter outlines the dire state of linguistic diversity in Turkey, pointing out that assimilation policies have placed numerous languages on the brink of extinction. According to UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, 18 languages in Turkey are either vanished or are under threat, among them the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish.

Emphasizing the fundamental human right to education in one’s mother tongue, as recognized by the UN, the DEM Party leaders lamented its denial to Kurdish, Arab, Armenian, Assyrian, Circassian, and Laz communities in Turkey. They decried what they see as policies of linguistic assimilation and cultural genocide, branding them as crimes against humanity. The party accused Turkey of flouting international resolutions aimed at language protection and called on UNESCO to intervene by sending a delegation to investigate violations of mother tongue rights.

The letter implored UNESCO to press Turkey into recognizing and protecting all languages within its borders, including Arabic, Armenian, Syriac, Circassian, Laz, Roma, Bosnian, and Kurdish (both Kurmanji and Zazaki dialects), and urged compliance with international treaties.

The DEM Party’s letter to UNESCO serves as a rallying cry for the protection of linguistic diversity and the upholding of mother tongue rights in Turkey, urging international intervention to safeguard these fundamental human rights.