QAMISHLO, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – On Sunday, Kurdish media and cultural centers, as well as educational institutions, in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) celebrated Kurdish Language Day held annually on May 15.
A Kurdistan24 news team in Qamishlo covered several ceremonies held in the city and interviewed several Kurdish intellectual figures, journalists, and academics.
Hakim Ahmad, an official in the Kurdish Language Organization, told Kurdistan24 that Syrian Kurds have always been eager to learn their mother tongue, especially after the Kurdish areas received some autonomy in 2012.
“Our language and culture were banned in Syria for nearly five decades, so people were thirsty to learn their language when it became available in the educational institutions,” Ahmad said.
Kurdish Language Organization is an educational center in Rojava that supervises the publishing process of textbooks and pedagogy in the schools, institutes, and colleges in Rojava.
Janda Arafat, a Kurdish language teacher in Qamishlo, told Kurdistan24 that since 2012 people of different ages have started joining the classes in large numbers. Arafat added that the students have expressed their delight in learning their mother tongue for the first time in the history of the country.
“Despite the lack of electricity in many areas of Rojava, most people do their homework by candlelight at evenings, since they work and attend the school during the day,” Arafat said.
NEWSPAPERS IN KURDISH
One prominent Kurdish newspaper that started in Syria after the civil war breakout is Bûyerpress (Kurdish for 'the event' ). The local newspaper is available in Kurdish and Arabic and was founded by two Kurdish journalists Ehmed Bave Alan and Qadir Egid in Qamishlo on May 15, 2014.
[Bûyerpress newspaper inauguration, presenting the first issue, May 15, 2014, Qamishlo, Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), Syria. (Photo: Bûyerpress)]
Speaking to Kurdistan24, Bave Alan, the Editor-in-Chief of Bûyerpress, said on Monday that Bûyerpress is a bi-weekly newspaper, published in both Kurdish and Arabic. The dialect used is Kurmanji, which is spoken by most Kurds in Syria, Turkey, and a few regions in Iraq and Iran.
“We published the first issue on Kurdish Language Day, so every year we celebrate two important events on the same day,” said Bave Alan.
“The schools and educational institutions are not enough for promoting the language. Bûyerpress is playing an important role in exposing people to their mother language in a way different from school courses,” he said.
Bave Alan added that since most readers were denied the right to learn Kurdish for most of their lives, they are more fluent in Arabic and thus the paper also publishes in that language to communicate with the majority of the audience.
Before the civil war, Kurds in Syria would be arrested simply for speaking Kurdish in public. In July 2012, suppression ended when the Syrian government forces withdrew from Kurdish-majority areas.
A year later, Kurdish became the official language of Rojava for the first time in Syria's history after the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) sparked the Kurdish Renaissance by announcing an autonomous system in the northern and northeastern areas of the country.
Reporting by Hisham Arafat
Editing by Ava Homa and Karzan Sulaivany
(Dilovan Chetto contributed to this report from Qamishlo)