Sunday, January 16, 2011

Still No Blinking on Kurdish Language Defense

AFP Photo

The KCK trial continued Friday with neither side blinking on the defense in Kurdish issue. The court continued to turn off microphones as defendants attempted to speak in Kurdish, and the defendants refused to acquiesce in their demands. Some of the 151 defendants on trial argue they are better able to defend themselves in their mother tongue, though of course the issue, thanks also to the court's recalcitrance, is also being used as political fodder for Kurdish nationalists. In the end, the court decided to postpone the trial until Tuesday.

Meanwhile, protests in Diyarbakir and Istanbul got underway. In Diyarbakir, police blocked access to routes leading to the courtroom in Yenisehir, which lays just outside the city's historic walls that gave refuge to the many Kurds fleeing from the death and destruction that defined the 1990s. In Istanbul, an estimated 200 young people initiated clashes with police following a peaceful demonstration of 2,000 plus people on Istiklal Cadessi. The 200 young are no doubt among the city's thousands of impoverished Kurds that have immigrated into the city, live just off of Istiklal Caddessi, and are easily manipulated by forces who seek violent solution and seek to provoke.

According to Milliyet journalist Namik Duran, similar cases have allowed the use of Kurdish. Given the stakes here and the consequences for violence, why be so stubborn?

UPDATE I (1/18) -- Still no blinking as the trial continues. BDP leader Selahattin Demirtas announced that 1,000 families have announced their intention to join his party and that some of their children "to the mountain" (a metaphor for joining the PKK) as a result of the Kurdish language defense issue.

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