A regional court has banned the name of the Cegerxwîn Youth and Cultural Centre, named after a Kurdish poet when it was built in the Kayapınar district of Diyarbakır province four years ago, for being Kurdish. The court additionally ruled that 19 parks have their names changed from Kurdish names, citing that
"...Neighbourhood, street, avenue, boulevard, square and other place names should not violate the basic principles of the Constitution, current legislation, public morality, or give rise to discrimination or separatism." Kayapınar city council has appealed to State Council to overturn the decision.
"The court decision is unlawful"
Municipal and Local Adminstration Service Workers Union Tüm Bel-Sen, Diyarbakır branch, released a public statement protesting the Diyarbakır 1st Regional Court decision to prohibit the Kurdish names of parks and institutions.
Tüm Bel-Sen members asked that the ban on the name of Cegerxwîn Youth and Cultural Centre, which offers education and training in areas like theatre, violin, guitar, vocal, music and computer, be repealed and expressed that this political decision ignored the rights of the Kurdish people.
Tüm Bel-Sen Diyarbakır Branch President Medeni Alpkaya told bianet that in Turkey, people whose mother tongue was not Turkish still did not have the freedom to express themselves in their own language as of 2012.
Alpkaya said that City Council decided to give some parks and institutions Kurdish names but Kayapınar governorship wanted the names removed.
"Kayapınar Governorship cancelled the [city's] decision to give Kurdish names twice. Later this issue was transferred to court which decided to remove the Kurdish names. But this decision is unlawful. In other words, the court has made a political decision affected by the political atmosphere of this period. The legal process continues and we are not going to let this go. Our hope and wish is that we immediately revert this wrongdoing.
"I find it very sad that Kurdish names are banned in a period in Turkey where political parties defending the right of the Kurdish people have made important strides for the official recognition of the Kurdish language. As a union which aims to have more weight in local administration we are going to protest this prohibition decision until the end."
"Kurdish must gain official recognition"
Kayapınar Municipal Mayor Assistant Servet Yılmaz emphasized that the legal process was still ongoing although the decision to ban Kurdish names had gone into effect. Speaking to bianet, Yılmaz said Kayapınar City Council unanimously agreed to give Kurdish names to some parks and institutions, but that the governorship applied to Diyarbakır 1st Regional Court to halt the decision.
"The court ruled that the cultural centre could not be named 'Cegerxwîn' because it was not a Turkish word and it was a word constituted by a foreign language, as stipulated in a 23 May 2011 Turkish Language Institution (TDK) decision. City Council then appealed to State Council to revise this decision," he said.
The court also ruled that Park names like "33 bullets, 1 May" ("33 kurşun, yek gulan") also be renamed with Turkish names. Yılmaz said the city would be appealing this decision as well.
Yılmaz said similar problems would continue unless official authorities accepted the Kurdish language. He stressed that the constitution must be revised to protect one of the most basic rights of the Kurdish people.
Yılmaz added that a significant part of the public was sensitive to the issue and that media played an important role in forming public opinion. "When people of common sense speak out, we expect that a new constitution will satisfy the language rights demands of Kurdish people," he said. (SA)
Translated by: Rana Ençol