Turkey’s ombudsman’s office uses Kurdish in public ad

20 May 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – The Public Monitoring Institution (KDK), publicly known as the Ombudsman Office, has used Kurdish in Internet announcements inviting citizens to submit petitions regarding complaints about state agencies, which is a first for an official body in Turkey.

The ads are also significant because they use the letters “w” and “x,” which exist in the Latin script used for Kurdish. Earlier, some Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) members got in legal trouble for naming parks in their regions in Kurdish and using these letters that are considered “foreign” by Turkish courts. The ombudsman’s move is a de facto denouncing of the Kurdish letter ban, making it doubly important.

The Ombudsman Office’s ads were published in Turkish, Arabic, English and Kurdish. The other three languages don’t constitute a problem, but the Kurdish ad is historically significant. “Our state trusts itself, and it opens itself to the inspection of the nation.

Legal petitions to the Ombudsman’s Office started as of March 29. The most common complaints so far have concerned rules about public servants, retirement, promotions, administrative tenure, zoning plans, tender procedures, educational and examination procedures, union rights, taxation, protection of forests and immobile cultural assets and social security issues.

The office is headed by Chief Ombudsman Nihat Ömeroğlu. The other inspectors on the board are Zekeriya Aslan, Mehmet Elkatmış, Serpil Çakın, Abdullah Cengiz Makas and Muhittin Mıhçak.

Meanwhile, BDP Hakkari deputy Adil Zozani, who recently changed his last name to his Kurdish family name from the Turkish last name “Kurt,” said a native speaker probably did not prepare the public ad in Kurdish; however, he said it was still very important. “In Kurdish, we have plural and singular expressions depending on the subject; here, they pluralized nouns according to the verb. Some linguists associate the plural with the verb, just like in Turkish, but this is a grammatical mistake. But it doesn’t change the result. It is not important if it is grammatically correct or not. It is important that the Internet website of a public agency uses Kurdish and Kurdish letters. This by itself is enough to show how meaningless bans on Kurdish are in Turkey.”

However, he criticized the fact that the Kurdish invitation came after the English and Arabic versions. “It would have been more logical to use English or Arabic after all the other languages more commonly used in this land,” he said.