Boycott receives partial participation in eastern Turkey

September 20, 2010

Students in Turkey’s eastern provinces partially participated in a boycott of the first week of the school year Monday, Doğan news agency reported.

The Kurdish Education and Language Movement, or TZP-Kurdi, a pro-Kurdish NGO in Turkey, had asked parents not to send their children to school during the first week of the school year to protest the lack of Kurdish-language education.

The school boycott received high participation in the southeastern province of Hakkari, where locals also overwhelmingly participated in boycotting the Sept. 12 constitutional reform referendum. Only a few students, the children of public workers, went to school on Monday in the central districts of Hakkari. Hakkari Gov. Representative Davut Sinanoğlu said the low numbers for school attendance was not a result of the boycott and that the participation rates in the first week of the school year were always low in the city. Sinanoğlu said last year 95 percent of all students did not attend school during the first week of the school year. “Very few people practiced the boycott here. They don’t send their children just because it is the first week,” he said.

In the southeastern province of Van, some quarters populated by families that migrated from neighboring villages or cities participated in the school boycott. At Dumlupınar Primary School, only 30 of 3,000 registered students went to school on Monday. The Van branch of Kurdi-Der, a pro-Kurdish association, gave a press statement in front of the school on Monday while police forces took security measures. Meanwhile, police called on people to send their children to school as they drove around the city in armored cars.

In the southeastern province of Bitlis the school boycott was not in general effect as many children went to school on the first day even though the rate of participation in the referendum boycott was 70 percent.

Siirt Gov. Musa Çolak said locals did not participate in the school boycott and sent their children to school on Monday, speaking at a ceremony for the opening of the school year. However, the schools in Siirt lacked teachers because the Education Ministry delayed assigning teachers after the Public Personnel Selection Examination, or KPSS’s, educational sciences section was canceled upon allegations of cheating. Çolak said they have taken measures to mitigate the lack of teachers and would make efforts to increase school enrollment in the city, which is 96 percent at the moment.

Diyarbakır Gov. Mustafa Toprak also said locals showed low participation in the school boycott. “The rate of attendance at school Monday was over 90 percent, which is higher than last year,” said Toprak.

Istanbul Gov. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu also said Monday “any boycott taking place in Istanbul is out of the question.” He said there were calls to participate in the school boycott in Istanbul as well. “The boycott is a violation of the right to an education. We hope it will not be enforced anywhere,” he said.

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