Erdogan’s Party in Van City adds Kurdish to Website

25/12/2012 RUDAW  By AZAD DICLE – VAN, Turkey – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has added the Kurdish language to its official website in the city of Van, the first such move by a political party in Turkey, an official said.

“This is not a political move.  It is for the public to be able to send us their requests and complaints,” said Omit Esengul, the head of AKP’s outreach and public relations office in Van.

“We want everyone to reach out to us in their native language,” he said, adding this was the first time in Turkey that a political party had started a Kurdish section on its website. On the new site, people can access news and information about the AKP and the party’s activities in the Van area.

Esengul said that his office had been working on setting up the Kurdish-language section for more than a year, in response to numerous requests from party supporters in the region. “We sent a suggestion to our main headquarters in Ankara and asked if we could do such a thing,” he said. “The response was that it is all right, and therefore we went ahead and started publishing in Kurdish.”

Esengul said that the reaction to the AKP’s new website had been mostly positive.

“Someone wrote to us, saying that, ‘from now on we can express our sufferings in our own language,’” Esengul said. But not everyone has been happy with the AKP’s new website.  Esengul said that criticism had come mainly from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). “They wrote to us and commented: ‘You are not sincere about the Kurdish language,’” Esengul said. “But we are telling them that publishing in Kurdish on our website is not a political move, it is rather for people to contact us.”

During the election campaign for his second term, Erdogan had promised to allow Kurdish-language education in schools in the Kurdish regions of Turkey.  But Kurdish activists in Turkey say that the AKP’s promise of an opening towards the country’s Kurds is not genuine, and that certain Kurdish letters are still banned.

“The Kurdish language isn’t banned in Turkey,” Esengul said. “TRT6 is broadcasting in Kurdish everyday and Kurdish is studied in the schools. But sometimes Kurdish activists and politicians get into trouble because they use those letters which some say do not exist in the Turkish language.” Regarding errors noted by Rudaw on the new Kurdish section of AKP’s Van website, Esengul said: “We are still in the beginning of this process and your criticism is right. We will take them into consideration and make the Kurdish language of our website much stronger.”