PM İntroduced Kurdish Education With Democracy Package

erdoganTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed the details of a democratization package at a press conference in Ankara on today

Turkey will lift the ban on the wearing of headscarves in public institutions and will introduce education in Kurdish in private schools as part of a series of democratic reforms revealed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Erdoğan revealed the details of the much-anticipated democratization package at a press conference in Ankara.

The prime minister said they would remove a headscarf ban in public institutions, except for judges, prosecutors, police officers and army members, as part of an amendment to the law’s fifth article.

Rights for Turkey’s ethnic minorities were also a big part of the package. Education in different languages and dialects will be permitted in private schools, although the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has long pushed for guaranteed mother-tongue education in public schools, according to reforms.

Erdoğan promised to end penalties for the use of certain letters, such as “q,” “w” and “x,” which are used in Kurdish.

The legal obstacle against the names of villages, particularly ones whose appellations were originally non-Turkish, names will be eliminated, he said.

The student oath, which starts with the words “I’m Turkish, right, and hardworking,” will no longer be read in primary schools, he said.

In a move designed to please Alevis, Erdoğan said the name of Nevşehir University in the Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir would be altered to Hacı Bektaşı Veli University, in honor of a medieval holy man that is revered by Alevis and who lived in a village on the edge of Cappadocia.

The land of the Mor Gabriel Monastery will be given back to a Syriac community foundation, Erdoğan  promised.

A Roma culture and language institution, as well as an institute that will work on problems of Roma minorities in the country, will also be established, he said.

“We will remove limitations on the collection of charities,” Erdoğan said.

The package is a result of Turkey’s democratization history, particularly over the past 11 years, said Erdoğan. “This package is not a first and will not be the last of such reforms,” Erdoğan said.
The Prime Minister also paved the way for a change in Turkey’s electoral system.

“The 10 percent threshold in the current election system is not a system that [the ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP introduced. This threshold was present when we entered the elections for the first time,” he said.

“We are opening the floor to discussion on three alternatives to the threshold [which is currently 10 percent],” he said.

“First option is we can continue with the current system of 10 percent,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan introduced the 2nd option as to lower the threshold to 5 percent while implementing single-member district constituency system in groups of 5.

“As the third option, we can remove the threshold altogether and fully implement the single-member district system,” he concluded.

The 7 percent threshold to receive Treasury aid to political parties will be reduced to 3 percent, which will pave the way for more parties to obtain financial support, he said.

The government will also permit campaigning in different languages for political parties, including during non-election times, he said.

“With another change, we are also opening the way for political parties to have co-chairs,” he said. The BDP and several leftist parties are already employing the co-chair system.

The obstacles standing against membership in political parties will also be removed with a new amendment, he also said.

“We will also increase the penalties from hate crimes from one year to three years to fight against discrimination,” he said, adding that punishments for hate crimes, particularly those committed based on religion, nation or ethnicity, would be aggravated.

“We will establish an institution to fight against discrimination,” he added.

Furthermore, there will be punishments for those that prevent religious groups from practicing their faith as part of the new package, he said.

Regulations on rallies and demonstrations will also be eased to increase the freedom of assembly by extending the permitted period of demonstrations until midnight, later than the previous limit of sunset, he said.

The package also tightens policies on private data usage in line with amendments to the Constitution passed in a referendum in 2010, by guaranteeing that date will not be used be by non-authorized people.