Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Open letter to Kurdistan’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani

9/26/2006 KurdishMedia.com - By Xemgine Welat
Dear Mr. Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani,

As a Kurd, I am so honored to see the promising developments in the southern part of our homeland and also to see you as the Prime Minister of a unified Kurdish government. I have no doubt that you will serve our nation in the best possible way.

As the Kurds of the North (of Kurdistan) who are victims of cruel denial and suppression policies of the Turkish state and deprived of basic human rights, we turn our hope to southern Kurdistan and expect you to take some steps for 25 million Kurds in the biggest part of Kurdistan.

As you well know, we still can not speak Kurdish freely or get education in our mother tongue. Our language can not have any channels to survive and flourish. Due to this, the situation of the Kurdish language is getting worse by the day and speakers of our beloved language are decreasing gradually. Even in the capital city, Amed, the daily social, cultural and political life is in Turkish.

Needless to say, PKK is just as guilty as the Turkish state for not paying enough attention to the Kurdish language and culture and not prioritizing it. As Dr. Ismail Besikci states in one of his recent interviews, PKK uses the words Kurd and Kurdistan quite often, yet it has always used Turkish in its publications. There is also a significant amount of Turkish on Roj TV despite the worsening language issue; TV officials don’t seem to take any precautions on this matter.

While this is the gloomy picture of the North, we are enthusiastically looking forward to seeing good news from you about the world’s most oppressed language, the Kurmanji Kurdish dialect. It is a Kurdish dialect spoken by more than 25 million Kurds and subjected to countless repression; it wasn’t ever allowed to live freely, to be the language of academia, or be studied in universities except in the tiny Kurdish community in Armenia. Its speakers have always been tortured, beaten and killed; singers and writers were always persecuted. As a result of such brutal policies, millions of Kurds are not able to speak their mother tongue and the numbers of Kurmanji speakers seem to be dying day by day.

Your Excellency,

As the Prime Minister of Kurdish Regional Government, we expect your government to take immediate measures to protect Kurmanji from disappearing all together. In my opinion, a Kurmanji conference should be organized, for instance in Duhok, as soon as possible with the participation of Kurmanj linguists, academicians, and writers to determine the strategies needed to keep Kurmanji alive and ways to flourish it.

In addition, some funds should be arranged in order to publish Kurmanji books, newspapers, magazines and learning materials such as CDs and computer programmes.

Such suggestions can be increased but must be prioritized in accordance with most urgent ones. While, as I mentioned before, we are expecting excitedly, for you to make the misfortunate situation of our beloved Kurmanji better, we are shocked by the recent news coming from the south. Kurmanji, which you call Behdini over in the south, has no value and status. Although the amount of Kurmanji speakers in the South is not much less than the Sorani speakers, it is very disappointing that the Iraqi Kurdish leaders and politicians treat it like a step-son.

According to Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (http://www.pcgn.org.uk/The%20Kurdish%20Toponymy%20of%20Northern%20Iraq.pdf) the amount of Sorani speakers is 2.8 million (10.6% of Iraqi population) whereas the amount of Kurmanji speakers is 2.2 millions (8.4 of Iraqi population). Despite the fact that there is little difference in the figures of the statistics, it is very saddening to see Kurmanji be put in this position.

Furthermore, it is no doubt that Kurmanji is the widely spoken dialect of the Kurdish language spoken by 75% of all Kurds. It is also the only dialect spoken in all four parts of Kurdistan, while Sorani is only spoken in two parts; some parts of Iraqi Kurdistan and Iranian Kurdistan.

If Kurdistan is one and Kurdish people are brothers, then there should be more respect and value for Kurmanji, and thus Kurmanji speakers. It is obvious that Kurdish people can not have a common language by ignoring Kurmanji or trying to lower its value. For this reason it is a shame to recently come across what we have been hearing and seeing all that is being discoursed in the news and the media.

First of all, there is an obvious intention to remove Kurmanji/Behdini, where this removal includes the removal of Kurmanji even from classes in the Behdinan region and make all classes Sorani. Secondly, we have read with great enthusiasm that, on behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government, you signed an agreement with Microsoft as a participant of a world wide Windowsa Kurdi (Kurdish Windows) initiative. I, along with a number of other Kurds, felt honored and pleased to see such a development. Yet, like millions of Kurmanji speaking Kurds, it devastated me to hear that this Microsoft Windows will only be in Sorani with Arabic letters which means we, the Kurds of Turkey, will not be able to utilize such a product. I hope what has been reflected in the media is not true and that your government has made a deal with Microsoft for a Kurmanji Windows as well.

We have to understand the situation at hand was the doing of our enemies and those whose wish is to divide Kurds. To further the work of such enemies, that is by banning and removing Kurmanji, we are not progressing in any way but rather retreat the accomplishments we have made over the years. To make official such a decision will further deteriorate the unity the Kurds have experienced. Such an action is being done at the expense of the majority, where democracy fails to work and absolutism seems to prevail.

Your Excellency,

I am a proud Kurd and I love anything related to Kurds and Kurdistan. Although I am a Kurmanji Kurd, I also learned some Sorani not because it is superior or special, but because it is a part of my language. I love all Kurdish dialects and spend a great number of hours trying to learn more about them. Yet, our beloved Kurmanji, which was passed down to us by Ehmede Xani, Melaye Ciziri, Feqiye Teyran, Ehmede Beyazidi, Cegerxwin and beautiful voices of Mihemed Arife Ciziri, Hesen Ciziri, Eyshe Shan, Meryemxan, Mihemed Shexo, Karapete Xacho, Sheroye Biro, Kawis Axa and many others seems to come to a downfall for reasons we can overcome. It is our nationalistic and patriotic duty to preserve and promote it and pass it to future generations. At this point, the biggest responsibility falls onto Your Excellency’s shoulders and the hard working Kurdish politicians like yourself since you are the Prime Minister of the only free part of the homeland and along with your colleagues are the hope for all Kurds in South Kurdistan.

I wholeheartedly hope and believe that your government will take necessary measures to preserve and develop Kurmanji and that Kurmanji Microsoft Windows will be the first step in this direction.

Patriotically Yours,

Xemgine Welat

Xemgine Welat can be contacted on: xemgine_welat@hotmail.com

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


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