Turkey’s Davutoglu says I want to learn our nice Kurdish language if I can find some time
ANKARA,—Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoglu on Sunday vowed that peace with Kurds would be achieved, seeking support from the Kurds, the largest minority group, in a key visit to Turkish Kurdistan in the southeast of the country. “The peace process will definitely reach success in any case and eternal brotherhood… will prevail,” Davutoglu told a cheering crowd in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir (Amed), AFP reported Addressing Turkey’s Kurds at his party convention, Davutoglu saluted Kurds in their own language, drawing bursts of applause, saying: “I want to learn our nice Kurdish language if I can find some time.” “Even though speaking and singing in the Kurdish language in the prisons was prohibited, I am here today to change all these rules. I want to learn to speak the Kurdish language as well as I speak Turkish,” he said in a speech that he began in Kurdish. “We will walk altogether in the streets of Diyarbakir. We will walk shoulder to shoulder anywhere in the world, let it be Diyarbakir or the Middle East, as equal members of our nation,” he said. Turkey’s peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) appeared to be making progress until a standoff over the key Kurdish town of Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan late last year. Davutoglu also criticized widespread demonstrations in many Kurdish cities in Turkey last October in support of the town of Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan.
“Those who took part in the demonstrations did not have the right intention, and the demonstrations were not for the sake of Kobani,” he said. “I kiss the forehead of the people of Kobani and send my greetings to them,” he added. Over 30 people were killed in October when Kurdish anger over Turkey’s strategy against the Islamic State (IS) insurgency spilled onto the streets. The PKK, whose rebellion for self-rule left 40,000 dead, has warned that a fragile ceasefire that has largely held since 2013 will be over if Kobane falls to jihadists. Davutoglu on Sunday lauded the peace process as a “project of brotherhood” between Turks and Kurds, not a “conjectural” manoeuvre to win elections. Addressing Turkey’s Kurds at his party convention, in what is the country’s Kurdish heartland, he said: “your existence is our existence.” The PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 22,5 million. The PKK demanded Turkey’s recognition of the Kurds’ identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country’s Kurdish region, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms. The Kurdish language was banned until 1991 in Turkey, and the country’s large minority Kurds still widely complain of persecution.
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