Two political events in Turkey with serious consequences for the Kurdish society

Last week in Turkey two political events with serious consequences for the Kurdish society took place. On the one side over eleven thousand teachers were dismissed of service. Most of them are located in the Kurdish provinces. In the province of Diyarbakir alone a total of 4313 teachers were suspended and in Dersim more than half, i.e. 504 out of 950 teachers are affected.

On the other hand 24 town halls in the Kurdish east and southeast of the country were put under state control. Hence, the Turkish central government unlawfully deprives democratically elected Kurdish representatives from exercising their mandate.

In addition to the fight against the Gülen movement, the Turkish state has thus resumed the so-called “war on terror”, which is primarily directed against peaceful Kurdish activists campaigning for more autonomy and minority rights in Turkey. The dismissed teachers are to a very large part officials who had not been politically active. It is obvious that Erdogan does not only take extreme action against “potentially dangerous people”, but aims at nipping any critical voice in the bud.

The renewed crack down on Kurds has reached a new level by targeting Kurdish teachers and curtailing the individual freedom of expression. There is no space for a critical voice in Erdogan’s ‘new Turkey’. This attitude illustrates time and again that Kurds are neither wanted in Turkish state services nor in Turkish politics.

The fact that Kurdish teacher are to be replaced by pro-government teachers, similar to the appointment of the mayors, confirms the suspicion that the Turkish state aims at enforcing its state ideology at all costs. As a matter of fact since the founding of the Turkish Republic the school in Turkey has had the mission to spread the official Turkish ideology. Consequently, the school in the Kurdish regions has never played the role it actually should have, namely the education and development of society. The educational institutions in Turkey were instructed to assimilate the Kurds into Turks by imposing their own view of history. However, in the past Kurdish teachers were able to mitigate at least partially the state indoctrination policy.

Given that the socio-economic level in the Kurdish regions in Turkey is significantly lower than other parts of the country, the dismissal of Kurdish officials for many families means losing an existentially important source of income. The witch hunt against democratically elected representatives and Kurdish teachers is a major blow to thousands of Kurds provoking anger and resentment on the Kurdish side. The question remains open as to whether the Kurds will ever find their place in the Turkish state.

Against this background, we call for the resumption of Kurdish teachers in the civil service. Consequently, a basis must be provided which allows the Kurds to take their fate into their own hands and which allows them to live their national and democratic rights freely. Despite the given difficulties, the Kurds in Turkey are called upon to continue struggling for private schools and advocating further for their right to self-determination as laid down in international law.

Ceng Erdogan, Board member of the Kurdish-European Society
Devran Ölcer, Board member of the Kurdish-European Society