Turkish parliament offers simultaneous translation into four languages, excludes Kurdish

The Turkish parliamentary administration set up a digital system in the General Assembly Hall that enables simultaneous translation of speeches and debates by lawmakers. Despite providing translation to the languages of French, Russian, English and Arabic, the system excludes the Kurdish language, which is the second mostly spoken language in Turkey.

This file photo shows the General Assembly Hall of Turkish parliament.

Duvar English

As Turkish parliament launched its fifth legislative session of its 27th term on Oct. 1, the parliamentary administration renewed the General Assembly Hall.

As part of the changes, a digital system was set up in the rows of lawmakers that enables simultaneous translation into French, Russian, English and Arabic, Mezopotamya news agency reported on Oct. 5. The system however excludes the Kurdish language, which is the second mostly spoken language in Turkey.

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) group deputy chair Meral Danış Beştaş slammed the parliamentary administration's move, saying it once again proves authorities' “discrimination” against Kurds.

“We have just checked; four separate simultaneous translation systems have been set up in front of the system in front of us: English, Arabic, Russian and French. I do not know if there is any Arab, Russian, French or English, but there is no any Kurdish translation [in the system],” said Beştaş.

“I should make a note of this in order to express the discrimination once again. There are Kurdish deputies in this parliament, and I would like to express that there should be at least a translation service for the Kurdish language,” she said.

Kurds make up around a fifth of Turkey’s population, but few are able to speak their mother tongue due to a years-long systematic oppression of the language.

Turkey’s current constitution, ratified after the 1980 military coup, does not entirely prohibit the use of Kurdish, but successive governments have repeatedly cracked down on its use. 

After President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, it loosened the restrictions on the Kurdish language to attract the votes of Kurdish citizens. But with the collapse of the ceasefire between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the government in 2015, the latter started to reverse advances made for the use of the Kurdish language.