Health Ministry criticized for not having Kurdish among e-prescription languages

Turkey’s Health Ministry has come under fire due to the absence of Kurdish among the five language options recently added to the electronic prescription system of the country, where Kurds are the largest ethnic minority, making up around 18 percent of the population.

After Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, over the weekend that English, German, Arabic, French and Russian were added as language options in the system, healthcare workers, human rights defenders and politicians criticized the absence of Kurdish.

Miraç Laçin Uluğ, president of the Pharmacists Solution Association Board, said Kurdish is the most widely used language in social and family life in Turkey after Turkish.

“With millions of people using this language, what could the reason be behind the absence of the only language that might actually serve a purpose in this remarkable innovation?” he added.

The Şırnak Bar Association also submitted an official application to the ministry for the inclusion of a Kurdish language option in the electronic prescription system over the weekend, releasing a written statement titled “The right to healthcare in the native language cannot be denied.”

Describing the regulation as “necessary but inadequate,” the bar association said the exclusion of Kurdish from among the five languages added to the system is “devoid of legal grounds and far from fairness.”

“No Kurdish! Millions of Kurds live in this region, yet there is no Kurdish [among the language options]!” Eren Keskin, a prominent human rights activist and lawyer, said in a tweet.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), replied to Koca’s announcement about the language options in a tweet, saying the exclusion of Kurdish, the mother tongue of millions of citizens, from the system is “unacceptable.”

He also said the ministry was disregarding the problems Kurdish citizens face in receiving healthcare services due to their mother tongue.

Serhat Eren, a lawyer and MP from the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party (YSP), also criticized the government for omitting Kurdish among the system’s language options.

“Your entire politics revolves around denying the [existence] Kurds. Our existence doesn’t need explanation or proof. But your politics, with your racist and hostile practices, will be judged and condemned in the darkness of history and will be locked up,” Eren said.

“… Where is Kurdish, the ancient language of these lands? Why haven’t you added it to the system?” the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said in a tweet, adding in Kurdish that Koca has never been competent in his own language (Kurdish), either.

Throughout most of the 20th century, successive governments have imposed outright bans on or suppression of the Kurdish language in Turkey.

Since an attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in July 2016, the government has shut down a number of Kurdish language institutes, dailies, websites and TV channels as part of a crackdown targeting the Kurdish political movement.

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