Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Letter "W"

Bad news on the Kurdish front . . .

Also, from BIA-Net (article by Erhan Üstündağ):
A German citizen child whose father is a political refugee was not allowed to enter Turkey because of the W letter in his name and sent back to Germany.

Submitting a motion of question, on June 15, the Democratic Society Party deputy Akın Birdal asked the authorities to explain the reason behind this action.

Although the seven year old Welat was sent back to Germany by plane, his mother Yadigar D. and her two other kids were allowed to enter the country.

There is no “forbidden name”

According to the Turkish Census Law that was in effect until 2006, the newborn could not be given names that were “not appropriate to our national culture, our code of ethics and our traditions or injures the public opinion.”

At that period, the Turkish Language Society (TDK) had prepared a “list of forbidden names”. There were 23 names on the list. Demonstrations were organized to protest this arrangement which was essentially targeted the Kurdish names.

In 2003, a new regulation, which was set up for the adaptation to the European Union, restricted the name banning only to those cases that offended the public morality, but added to this a requirement of “suitability to the Turkish alphabet.” Thus, the letters Q,W, X were banned and names that included these letters.

There is no restriction regarding the names in the Census Law and the related regulation that went into effect in 2006.

On the other hand, the Chief of Staff asked its institutions not to use the letters Q, W and X.

The Implementation is against the Convention on the Rights of the Child
The 8th article of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (ÇHS) states the following:

“1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.

2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.”

The 30th article of the Convention about which Turkey expressed a reservation is:

“In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.”
One of the changes made during the reform revolution that followed Helsinki was law that allowed for the right of parents to give their children Kurdish names. The EU was key to the implementation of this law and Ankara had to be firm in ensuring that local authorities followed the new law. However, as the BIA-Net article notes, the law was not so comprehensive as to assure the right to use names with "Q," "W," and "X."

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