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*Bring down the walls!*

"For so many years, Kurds have been subject to cruel denial and

Kurdishaspect.com - By Delovan Barwari
Kurdish Aspect
November 25, 2009

Linguistic diversity is closely connected to diverse democracy. A nation
proud of its diversity will safeguard and protect its dialects. As each
dialect holds important clues, culturally, geographically, and historically
in its oral and written forms, it is an obligation to our nation to promote
and safeguard all Kurdish dialects, on the basis of unity, academia,
heritage, brotherhood, and democracy.

For so many years, Kurds have been subject to cruel denial and suppression.
The use of the Kurdish language in education, except in Iraq, has been
outlawed for decades. Today, Iraqi Kurdistan is the only part of Kurdistan
where students are freely educated in Kurdish, as it is the only region
where Kurds are governing themselves.

In numerous democratic countries, more than one official language or dialect
is recognized at both the province and the national level.  For example,
Switzerland, approximately the size of Iraqi Kurdistan, has three official
languages: German, French, and Italian. India has 26 national languages and
each state can decide their own official language or dialect; neither the
constitution, nor any Indian law defines any national language.

In April of 2008, a group of 53 so called intellectuals (writers, poets, and
academics) initiated a petition to impose a regional dialect as the standard
Kurdish language in Iraqi Kurdistan. Following the petition, the former
Minister of Education, Dr. Dilshad Abdulrahman, attempted to impose Sorani
as the medium in the education system, while removing Kurmanji. However, the
move was harshly criticized and rejected by the intellectuals and academics
in the province of Duhok.

The petition by the group of 53, and the attempt by the former Minister of
Education to impose a dialect over another is clearly irrational and a step
backwards in the plight of the Kurds. The predicament in Kurdistan is unlike
any other nation in the world. Kurdistan has been forcefully partitioned and
occupied by four oppressive governments, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria.
These governments have all attempted to assimilate and eradicate the Kurdish
culture and language.

Today, Iraqi Kurdistan is the only part where the Kurdish language is
completely legal in the education system, media, and government. It is the
only region where the Kurdish language and its dialects can be fully
protected and flourish.

Kurmanji and Sorani are the two dominate dialects in Kurdistan today. It is
worth mentioning that Kurmanji is the dialect spoken in all parts of
Kurdistan, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria (approximately 75%); making it a
common denominator in all parts of Kurdistan. On the other hand, Sorani is a
widely spoken as well; spoken in both Iraq and Iran. Moreover, throughout
the years, it has contributed enormously to the field of academia and

The same way as Sorani has made tremendous contributions to the field of
academia, Kurmanji is also an integral part of the Kurdish literature, with
considerable literary contributions by immense poets and writers dating back
to 13 century. To name a few,  Ali Heriri, Meleye Jeziri, Faqye Teyra,
Ahmed-e–Khani, and Cigerxwen. Furthermore, in the past few decades in the
Bahdinan region, hundreds of books have been published by contemporary
literary giants such as Badirkhan Sindi, Muhsin Quchan, Mu’ayad Tayib, and
Arif Hito.

At present, the province of Duhok is the only region where the once
endangered dialect, Kurmanji, is surviving and being used in the education
system freely. It is extremely vital for KRG’s newly appointed Minister of
Education, Safeen Dizay, to protect and promote the Kurdish language by
wisely allocating the resources of its ministry, and taking into
consideration¬ ─ with an open mind ─ the view point and wishes of all its

Due to the dilemma and conditions that Kurds are living in today, imposing
or choosing a dialect over another is a self-destructive policy; it will
further divide our nation, and create a state of mistrust amidst the
citizens of Kurdistan. We must think clearly as nation, and plan ahead to
bring our people closer to better understand one another, and build a sense
of nationhood in their hearts and minds.

It is imperative for any nation to have official languages as it is one of
the unifying factors; however, the ground works for such plan must be well
calculated and thought out.  For the predicament in Kurdistan today, the
best solution is to allow the provinces or regions to freely choose the
medium of education. Moreover, regional dialects, as a special Kurdish
language course, should be a requirement as a part of the curriculum in
education system. Implementing such policy would enable the next generation
of students, (i.e. from Sullimania or Duohk), to easily communicate,
verbally or in a written form, regardless of dialect.

A dual-dialect education system will prepare the next generation of Kurds to
easily communicate with one another in either dialects. Furthermore, it will
help break down the walls, help transform the next generation to easily
understand one another, and will pave the way for the creation of a unified
Kurdish language.