Turkish TV presenter stops woman from speaking Kurdish live on-air

A Turkish TV presenter on Tuesday prevented a Kurdish woman from speaking in Kurdish during a live broadcast, drawing ire on social media and criticism from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Didem Arsalan Yilmaz, presenter for the Turkish media channel Show TV, stopped a woman from speaking Kurdish on-air on Tuesday evening, telling her to “speak Turkish properly, we will understand. This is the Republic of Turkey.”

The woman was on the show to resolve a family issue involving her nieces.

Yilmaz presents the daily social TV show Vazgecme, where she uses television to solve people’s problems, reveal secrets, and reunite families. Scores of people are commenting on her response using the hashtag #haddinibildidemarsalan, or “know your place Didem Arsalan.”

The Kurdish language has been banned in official settings in Turkey since the foundation of the state nearly a century ago. The restriction of the language was eased during the peace process between the government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2013. However, when the process ended in 2015, things reversed.

The state has at times denied the very existence of Kurds. The word “Kurdistan” is banned from the parliament, most Kurdish private media is closed, and the HDP is under immense pressure with hundreds of its members in jail. An armed Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has waged a decades-long conflict with the state.

A Turkish publishing house censored the word Kurdistan in a Turkish translation of a popular novel, only catching the author’s attention in a Twitter movement earlier this month.

In June, a campaign was launched in Turkey to make Kurdish an official language.


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