A Kurdish woman in the eastern Turkish province of Batman has been fined TL 1,055 for failing to answer questions in a public survey conducted by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) because she does not speak Turkish, a local newspaper reported.
According to the Batman-based Son Söz newspaper, the woman, Tenzire Çetin, said she received a bill for an administrative fine of TL 1,055 last week for failing to answer the questions in a TurkStat survey in 2015 because she does not speak Turkish and is illiterate.
Officials from the TurkStat Siirt regional office confirmed the incident, saying that it is obligatory for citizens to take part in TurkStat surveys unless a person suffers from serious health problems or has recently lost a relative.
Kurdish language and culture have been de facto criminalized since the earliest years of the Turkish Republic.
Turkey’s current constitution, ratified after the military coup of 1980, recognizes only Turkish as the country’s official language.
Until a short while ago, speaking Kurdish in public was outlawed, and people were arrested for even so much as the possession of a Kurdish music cassette.
In recent years many restrictions on Kurdish were loosened as part of the so-called “Kurdish Initiative,” first announced by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in 2009.
However, following a failed military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, many Kurdish media outlets were closed down along with dozens of others, and restrictions on the speaking of Kurdish in daily life again began to be imposed.