İstanbul governor bans march aimed at calling attention to suppression of Kurdish language

Lawyer Suphi Özgen

The İstanbul Governor’s Office has banned a march aimed at drawing attention to the suppression of the Kurdish language and Kurds’ longstanding demand for access to education in their mother tongue, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Gazete Duvar news website.

Lawyer Suphi Özgen, president of the Kurdish Language Movement Association, was planning to hold a march from İstanbul to the capital Ankara on the 100th anniversary of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty on Monday.

According to Gazete Duvar, the march Özgen wanted to stage wearing a T-shirt that said “For Kurdish” in Kurdish, Turkish and Arabic was prevented by the police.

After being informed of the İstanbul governor’s banning of the march, Özgen said he would file an objection to the decision.

The Treaty of Lausanne, which established the boundaries of modern Turkey, effectively drew a line under international support for an independent Kurdistan.

Kurds have long demanded their own nation, but the countries where they are settled often see them as a threat to their territorial integrity.

Despite sharing the goal of their own state, Kurds are divided among themselves into different parties and factions.

These groups, sometimes split across borders, can be antagonistic towards each other and are frequently used by neighboring powers for their own ends.

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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