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Kurdish Language

Winding up his service in the Turkish army, Serdar Tanis, a 22-year-old Kurdish conscript, made what appears to have been a fatal error. He decided to set up a branch of the country's main Kurdish political party in his native Silopi in southeastern Turkey. From his faraway barracks near the Bulgarian border, the idea seemed perfectly legitimate.
On Page 4,272 of this immense manuscript--reams of lined notebook paper filled with a neat, handwritten script--is a single word --tailor-made --the final entry in an abandoned dictionary. For 21 years, Rashid Karadaghi devoted his life to this English-Kurdish dictionary. Living alone in a tiny cottage near UC Santa Barbara, he worked from dawn until late at night, hunched over his array of reference books, sometimes spending an entire day on a single definition.
June 10, 2004 | Amberin Zaman, Special to The Times
Four Kurdish activists were freed Wednesday and state-run television launched its first Kurdish broadcast, moves calculated to boost Turkey's chances of launching membership talks with the European Union this year. Hundreds of Kurds gathered outside Ankara's Ulucanlar prison and broke out in piercing ululations, mobbing the four former lawmakers -- led by Leyla Zana, Turkey's most prominent Kurdish female politician -- as they walked out to freedom.
August 12, 2002 | From Times Wire Reports
TURKEY * Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, whom a Turkish court had sentenced to hang, praised Turkey's recent elimination of the death penalty and called on Kurds and Turks to live together as brothers, an Italian paper reported. Prison authorities allowed La Repubblica to put questions to Ocalan in writing.
November 29, 2000 | From Reuters
The head of Turkey's National Intelligence Agency, or MIN, said in remarks published Tuesday that it would be against Turkish interests to hang Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan, who was sentenced to death last year for treason. In an unprecedented briefing with selected national newspapers, Senkal Atasagun also said he is in favor of ending a ban on Kurdish-language broadcasting and of setting up a state-controlled television channel in Kurdish.
August 3, 2002 | From Associated Press
Turkey's parliament abolished the death penalty and legalized education and broadcasts in the Kurdish language early today, moves aimed at improving the country's chances of joining the European Union. Parliament sounded more like a soccer stadium than a lawmaking body during a marathon debate that began Friday, with pro-EU legislators and nationalists opposed to the reforms shouting at each other. But finally, a show of hands voted in the reforms.
November 1, 1995
The Turkish consul general set a new standard for political fiction in his Oct. 23 letter when he characterized Turkey as free and open. Twenty million Kurds are forbidden from speaking the Kurdish language and references to Kurdish culture in Turkey are forbidden by law. To publish or speak or sing in Kurdish is a crime against the state. Human Rights Watch reported last December that the Turkish military campaign is aimed largely at the civilian population in a massive effort of forced relocation and village destruction, displacing some 2 million people, destroying their homes and fields.
May 14, 2006 | Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer
When the Turkish government lifted its ban on the letter "w," it seemed like a breakthrough. After decades of repression of Kurdish ethnic identity and a deadly war with separatist rebels, the government has made moves toward democratic reform in recent years, part of Turkey's bid to improve its chances of joining the European Union. Letters that appear in the Kurdish alphabet but not the Turkish one were no longer banned from print. Emergency military rule was lifted.
April 22, 2000 | From Associated Press
A prosecutor Friday charged the brother of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan with treason and demanded that he be sentenced to death. Guerrilla commander Osman Ocalan, whose whereabouts remain unknown, is likely to be tried in absentia on charges of separatism and causing the deaths of thousands of people and soldiers in 15 years of fighting between Turkish troops and his brother's Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
October 20, 2009 | Associated Press
Unarmed Kurdish rebels in combat dress marched into Turkey from northern Iraq on Monday in a show of support for peace with the Turkish government. The eight rebels, along with 26 other Kurds, were immediately detained by Turkish paramilitary police after crossing the border gate at Habur. They were moved to a military battalion's headquarters for questioning by prosecutors, the state-run Anatolian news agency reported. Earlier, Kurds in northern Iraq celebrated with music and drums as the group left from a refugee camp, the news agency reported.
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