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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Green MEP calls for greater protection of Kurdish language education

Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert has called for greater support for mother-tongue education in the Kurdish regions during a European Parliament seminar organised by the Kurdish Human Rights Project.

The event, which focused on linguistic rights in the Kurdish regions, forms part of a programme of talks which aims to promote awareness and discussion of human rights in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

The Kurdish community face severe violations of their linguistic rights, particularly in Turkey, Syria and Iran, where governments fail to recognise and protect minority groups and instead consider the use of mother-tongue language and dialects a threat to state unity and national identity . The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to education for all, yet the failure of states to recognise minority languages denies the Kurdish community an essential medium of communication and learning.

Jean, a member of the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee and KHRP’s Advisor on Environmental Rights, said: “The use of mother-tongue languages is a crucial means for the Kurdish people to express their cultural identity and access education.  KHRP research shows that a mother tongue education is more decisive than any other factor in predicting the education success of a child and is essential in fostering community and cultural identities, yet Iran, Syria and Turkey continue to deny the right to a Kurdish language education, breaking their international human rights obligations to promote and protect minority languages.

“Attempts by ruling governments to stamp out minority languages are clearly designed to silence such voices and stamp out political opposition, which is absolutely unacceptable.  Iran, Syria and Turkey must now take the necessary steps to formally recognise minorities and treat Kurdish as an official language and entrench mother-tongue education rights in their national Constitutions.