A deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has criticized the exclusion of Kurdish from a newly launched translation service at Istanbul Airport, which provides real-time language translation to passengers travelling through terminals, with 36 languages and 80 dialects currently supported.
HDP deputy Meral Danış Beştaş issued a parliamentary question regarding this issue to Transportation and Infrastructure Mehmet Cahit Turan asking why Kurdish was not added to the new translation service.
“The obstacle that more than 20 million Kurds [in Turkey] are facing in transportation and other public services has not been also lifted for this implementation; Kurdish has not been included in the relevant technology which covers a large spectrum of 36 languages and 80 dialects,” said Beştaş in her parliamentary question.
“On the other hand, citizens who do not know Turkish face numerous difficulties from hospital to transportation services. Especially, the exclusion of Kurdish from instant translation services on a very critical platform where airport announcements are made is in need of explanation,” she said.
The service is offered via smart tablets at 35 points across the airport. A passenger first chooses the language and dialect on the application and then speaks into the device’s microphone. The application then connects the passenger to an airport official, whose answer is instantly translated and heard from the smart tablet’s speaker. The answer also appears on the device’s screen.
Beştaş also asked Turan why “Kurds are exposed to discrimination,” if “Urdu translation is more important than Kurdish translation” and if the authorities are “compensating the damages incurred by the Kurdish citizens due to not understanding airport announcements.”