- President of Kurdistan Regional Government
In April of 2008 a petition, by a group of 53 self-declared intellectuals, was generated in support of imposing Sorani as the medium in the education system while banning Kurmanji (Kurdish dialect from Bahdinan). In support of the idea, the former Minister of Education, Dr. Dilshad Abdulrahman, attempted to implement this policy by banning Kurmanji from the education system.
To carry on the plan and impose Sorani as the only official language, a conference was held in late December of 2009 by the Kurdistan Language Academy, in Hewler, headed by Dr. Shafiq Qazaz.
Dear President Masoud Barzani
Dear Prime Minister Barham Saleh
In the past century, the occupiers of our homeland Kurdistan have fiercely attempted to assimilate the Kurdish culture and identity by banning the Kurdish language from the education system, social and political life and media. Ironically, today, in Iraqi Kurdistan – within some Kurdish circles – a similar policy has been formulated to impose the Sorani dialect over Kurmanji speakers and the speakers of other dialects.
For so many years, Kurds have been subject to cruel denial and suppression. The use of Kurdish language in education, except in Iraq, has been outlawed for decades. Today, Iraqi Kurdistan is the only part of Kurdistan where students are freely educated in Kurdish, as it is the only region where Kurds are governing themselves.
In April of 2008 a petition, by a group of 53 self-declared intellectuals, was generated in support of imposing Sorani as the medium in the education system while banning Kurmanji. In support of the idea, the former Minister of Education, Dr. Dilshad Abdulrahman, attempted to implement this self-destructive policy; however, the attempt to ban Kurmanji was faced with a fierce debate and was strongly rejected by the intellectuals and academics of Kurmanji speaking regions.
Nevertheless, the conspirators remained determined to ban Kurmanji from the education system. To carry on the plan and impose Sorani as the only official language, a conference was held in late December of 2009, by the Kurdistan Language Academy, in Hewler, headed by Dr. Shafiq Qazaz. The organizer’s dark intentions were revealed, as it was unveiled that a letter of a prominent Kurdish intellectual and author, Amir Hassanpour was forged when the genuine letter was exposed and read to the conference.
Due to the political predicaments that Kurds are facing today, implementing such policy will have harmful ramifications; it has the potential to further divide our nation and create a state of mistrust amidst the citizens of Kurdistan.
We strongly believe that the best solution to the Kurdish linguistic dilemma is to allow the regions to freely choose the medium of education. Most importantly, Kurmanji must be granted official status equal to Sorani on the state level, within the KRG administration.
We turn to you to interfere in this matter based on the following reasons:
1. Freedom of choice: Kurdistan Regional Government is a democratic political system; therefore, based on democratic principles, the citizens have the right to choose their native dialect as the dialect of education in their region.
2. Based on numerous scientific studies, educating students in their native dialect would increase the comprehension and motivation level of students in education.
3. Today, the province of Duhok is the only region where the once endangered dialect, Kurmanji, is surviving and being used freely.
4. Kurmanji is a dialect spoken by some 40% of Kurds in Iraq; in addition, it is the dialect spoken by over 75% of Kurds in greater Kurdistan and it is the only dialect spoken in all parts of Kurdistan.
Without a doubt, each dialect in its oral and written form is a window to our history. Each proverb, poem, story, and song gives us clues about the past. In order to preserve the Kurdish history and culture, it is imperative to educate the next generation of students in these dialects.
In numerous democratic countries, more than one official language or dialect is recognized at both the province and the national level. For example, Switzerland, approximately the size of Iraqi Kurdistan, has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. India has 26 national languages and each state can decide their own official language or dialect; neither the constitution, nor any Indian law defines any national language.
We strongly believe that the best solution to the Kurdish linguistic dilemma is to allow the regions to freely choose the medium of education. Most importantly, Kurmanji must be granted official status equal to Sorani on the state level, within the KRG administration. Moreover, regional dialects should be offered as a special Kurdish language course (Kurmanji and Sorani) as a requirement in the educational curriculum. While Sorani speaking regions use this dialect in their education system, they should also offer selective Kurmanji courses to their students. Same thing is applicable to Kurmanji speaking regions; education language should be in their mother tongue Kurmanji, where as student are also given to opportunity to learn selective Sorani courses. Implementing such policy will help the next generation of Kurds to easily communicate with one another, regardless of dialect. Moreover, it will help break the barriers between our people, bring them closer, and help better understand one another, and will pave the way for the creation of a unified Kurdish language.
The Kurmanji Must Live! petition to President of Kurdistan Regional Government was written by Kurmanji and is in the category Students' Rights at GoPetition.