Turkish authorities remove Kurdish language signs from Diyarbakır streets

Bilingual Kurdish-Turkish street signs in the majority Kurdish city of Diyarbakır have been removed and replaced with monolingual signs in Turkish by government-appointed local administrations, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

Under a state of emergency ongoing since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government has removed at least 93 local administrations, allegedly for links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Pro-government sources claim that the trustee administrations put in their place have reduced corruption and improved services. However, other sources, including Ahval’s Nurcan Baysal, say the trustees are taking measures that reverse previous positive steps taken by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) towards recognising the Kurdish identity shared by millions of Turkish citizens.

These measures include shutting down organisations concerned with Kurdish language and culture, removing Kurdish names from public parks and streets and destroying Kurdish cultural monuments and linguistic symbols.

The removal of Kurdish-language street signs has a particular symbolic significance in Diyarbakır, a city that is known by many as the “unofficial capital of Turkish Kurdistan.”

“The trustee administrations’ intolerance for the Kurdish language and Kurdish values continues,” Mezopotamya said in a tweet showing the signs being removed.

In late March, the trustee administration in the southeastern Turkish town of Nusaybin demolished a monument to Kurdish victims of a massacre and replaced it with a clocktower. During the same month, a Turkish government directorate hung a new sign reading “Turkish Mosque” over a 17th century mosque in Kilis, southeast Turkey, which is officially called “Kurdish Mosque.” (Ahval)

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