Restart of peace process, education in first language remain steadfast demands among Kurds: Research

Regardless of the party they vote for, an overwhelming majority of Kurds in Turkey still believe the start of a solution process between the state and the Kurdish political movement and education in their first language are vital for them, a recent survey by Rawest Research has found.

Thousands celebrate Newroz in Diyarbakır in this file photo.

Menekşe Tokyay / DUVAR

An overwhelming majority of Kurdish voters – regardless of the party they vote for – have said they want the peace process to begin again and agreed on their demand for education in their first language, a fresh field survey carried out by Rawest Research showed.

Eighty percent of Kurds surveyed in 11 provinces, including Istanbul, the southern province of Adana, the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır, Mardin, Hakkari, Şanlıurfa, Malatya and Adıyaman, and the eastern provinces of Van, Ağrı, and Bingöl, said they want the solution process to be launched again.

Peace talks between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish state collapsed in 2015.

At least 73 percent of Kurdish supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), 78 percent of Kurdish voters of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and 85 percent of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) voters said they wanted the solution process to restart.

“The solution process is a period in which Kurdish people reach welfare and they feel good about themselves economically, socially and politically. That is why their demand for the solution process to restart is normal,” Rawest’s Kurdish studies center director Reha Ruhavioğlu said.

For Kurdish voters, regardless of the parties they support, education and public services in their language, Kurdish, are vital.

Most have said education should be provided both in Turkish and Kurdish. Some 61 percent of those surveyed said they want education to be provided in both languages, 17 percent said education should be in Turkish, but their mother tongue should be taught in schools and only 13 percent said classes should be taught completely in Kurdish.

Kurds aren’t saying they should only be taught in Kurdish, but that both languages should be in the education system, Ruhavioğlu said.

The CHP’s stance on the Kurdish issue has increased their popularity among Kurdish voters.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who drew significant support from Kurdish voters in the 2019 local elections, and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu are becoming increasingly popular amongst Kurdish citizens, the research found.

In an election between İmamoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former would be 10 points ahead of the latter, according to the research.

But Erdogan still remains a popular figure amongst Kurds. After jailed former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, the most popular with 41.8 percent of the votes, Erdoğan is the second most popular figure, with 29.1 percent of the votes. İmamoğlu has around 10.5 percent of the votes.

The AKP has seen the greatest drop in support by Kurdish voters since 2018, with a 16 percent decline, while the CHP has experienced the fastest growth in popularity with Kurdish people. The survey found that around 11 percent of the AKP’s votes have moved to opposition parties.

One in three Kurds feel they are closer to the left and one in five Kurds feel they belong to the right-wing on the political spectrum.

All those surveyed were above the age of 18.

Education in Kurdish has been an unwavering demand of the Kurdish political movement in Turkey. Calls for the recognition of Kurdish as an official language have gone unanswered. 

(English version by Nihan Kalle)