Saturday, June 21, 2008

Charges Against Choir Boys Dropped

The Diyarbakır court trying the three boys for spreading terrorist propaganda dropped the charges yesterday. The boys were being tried as adults, and if convicted, faced a prison sentence of five years.

From Gareth Jenkins:
Perhaps most bewildering is that the Turkish authorities do not appear to understand that the often draconian suppression of Kurdish language and culture can be counterproductive; inviting ridicule and opprobrium abroad and serving as a gift for organizations such as the PKK, which use it as a recruiting tool and a justification for their campaigns of violence. There can be no doubt that the judicial persecution of children for singing a song has made a greater contribution to PKK propaganda than the song itself could have ever done.

But, for the moment at least, there is no indication of a change in official attitudes. On June 19, the Turkish media reported that the Turkish General Staff (TGS), which has traditionally regarded the preservation of a homogenous national culture as being a security issue, had initiated a campaign to purge the Turkish used in military establishments of foreign loanwords such as “brunch,” “fast food” and “restaurant.” Posters have been pinned up in military camps exhorting everyone to “Speak our beautiful Turkish” and calling for an end to the use of the letters “q,” “w” and “x”. (Radikal, June 19) It is unlikely to be a coincidence that these letters are found in the Kurdish alphabet but not in the Turkish one. Quite how far the TGS will take its own advice currently remains unclear, as it frequently encourages Turks seeking reliable information to visit its official website,

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