Foundation for Endangered Languages
4. Appeals and News from Endangered Communities
Turkish prosecution of Kurdish language
On 25 January 1998, Sertac Bucak, Director of IMK e.V. wrote from Bonn in Germany:
The Kurdish language course offered by the Foundation for Kurdish Culture and Research (KÜRT-KAV) has been banned by the Turkish authorities in Istanbul. Criminal proceedings have been initiated against the Chairman of KÜRT-KAV, Yilmaz Camlibel, and Deputy Chairman M. Celal Baykara. The prosecution has called for prison sentences of six to twenty-four months for the accused on account of their alleged violation of Article 292 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC).
On 20 August 1996 KÜRT-KAV applied to the responsible Board of Education of Istanbul Province for permission to offer a private Kurdish language course which fulfilled the standards set by the Turkish National Ministry of Education. On 20 March 1997 the Board of Education rejected this application (details are included in the annex „Background Information“). On 12 May 1997 KÜRT-KAV filed an appeal at the Ankara District Court against this decision of the National Ministry of Education. The first court hearing was held on12 November 1997 in Ankara. The court rejected this appeal, whereupon KÜRT-KAV lodged another appeal at the Supreme Court in Ankara.
KÜRT-KAV is the first non-governmental organization with a Kurdish identity and a pluralistic basis in the history of the Turkish Republic to receive official status, after four years of juridical struggle.
According to its statutes, KÜRT-KAV is entitled to offer Kurdish language courses. This right, which was accorded to the foundation within the framework of the Turkish legal system, has been annulled by the executive branch. These actions of the Turkish institutions clearly violate the principles of a state ruled by law.
Courses in several languages are offered officially and privately in Turkey. The decision made by the Board of Education and the National Ministry of Education was politically motivated, and its roots lie in the state policy concerning the Kurds. The Turkish government should show to the Kurdish language, which is spoken by more than fifteen million Turkish citizens, the same tolerance and respect that it shows to all other languages.
KÜRT-KAV is determined to win recognition of its rights by proceeding through the courts. It urgently needs the support of national and international NGOs in all areas. For this reason, we are asking you to support our cause.
If you have further questions, we will be happy to answer them. We hope for a positive response from you.
Mr. Mesut Yîlmaz
Mr. Hikmet Ulugbay
South African San Institute looking for sponsors
From: "Geoff Perrott" sasi(at)iafrica.com
I am not sure if you remember me but my name is Geoff Perrott and I work for SASI which is an NGO working towards regaining dignity and justice for the San / Bushman in southern Africa through land rights, access to natural recources, language and cultural support.
This is a slightly differnt request from usual ... this is a short note to ask for your help with something concerning me ...and the Bushman!
I am changing jobs within SASI and moving from the co-ordinator role into a more marketing role. SASI is doing really well at the moment with funders enjoying sponsoring our work but this is not sustainable in the long run. For SASI to survive for twenty / thirty years we need to think now of ways to do it. The best way from here as we see it is to build up a donor base or regulars donors to SASI. If we can get x amount of people giving us R x per year then SASI will at least be able to have a solid platfrom from which to do its work.
My first task will be to build this base so that in a years time I have 2000 people giving SASI R 120 per year (R10 / month ... two beers!), in two years 5000 giving R 130 / year and so on.
To start this I need to get names and addresses ... lots of them. I could get it from the voters role (and probably will at some stage) but for now I want to try to get people who I (and you) think would be interested in the work that SASI does.
So I want to ask you if you will please think of, at least, eleven people who you think will be interested in being on SASI's mailing list and send me their name and address ... actually it's ten people because I am assuming you'll want to be on that list!!!!
I have got 27 names and addresses so far and I am hoping to get 1000 before the first Donor Aquisition goes out in early April ... I have very few contacts overseas and would really like some names from there!
Thanks for the help! Kindest regards
For some examples of what SASI actually do, see Nigel Crawhall’s letter in section 4, Allied Societies and Activities.
From Tove Skutnabb-Kangas tovesku(at)babel.ruc.dk
Dear FEL Members
I apologise for being much too late (travel etc.) in reacting to Chris Moseley's plea (October) for a letter about Albanian-medium teaching in Prishtina and Kosova/Kosovo in general - I have only now seen the correspondence in Osmios. I agree fully with Ken Hale's views: we should stand up for language rights, regardless of whether the languages in question are "endangered" in the more classical sense or not.
On the other hand, we need to know the situations we react to extremely well. Albanian-speakers are a very large majority in Kosova; a decade ago some 90 percent of the population. Albanians in the autonomous territory of Kosova had Albanian-medium schools and university in ex-Yugoslavia. The small Serb minority in Kosova naturally had Serbian-medium education; ex-Yugoslavia had some of the most progressive educational language rights regulations in the world. Now all public education in Kosova, for everybody, is Serbian-medium only.
Suggesting as Anthea Fallen-Bailey does that "some classes could be provided in Albanian: language classes, or history, or literature, or....; one does not have to provide a complete educational system just for Albanian", or referring to additional cost for Albanian-medium teaching materials "that the new Serbian authorities cannot afford", is therefore completely misplaced. (Anthea quite rightly says herself that she is not up-to-date on current Serbian-Albanian relations). - Let's envisage that Mexico took over the southern part of the US and made all public education Spanish-medium only. Would we then for the English speakers suggest a compromise where "some classes could be provided in English: language classes, or history, or literature, or....; one does not have to provide a complete educational system just for English", also because "the new Mexican authorities cannot afford" English- medium or bilingual teaching materials? Hardly.
Our approach should, I feel, concentrate on reminding regimes of accepted international human rights law standards and clarifying them. It was precisely for this type of situations that the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel, initiated the work that led to the The Hague Recommendations Regarding the Education Rights of National Minorities & Explanatory Note (October 1996).
The Hague Recommendations are new educational guidelines issued by The Foundation on Inter-Ethnic Relations for the OSCE (= Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) High Commissioner on National Minorities. The guidelines were worked out by a small group of experts on human rights and education (including the author of these lines). Below are a few bits from some of my articles, recent or in press (for details, see my Web- site): "Politicians created in the OSCE the position of a High Commissioner on National Minorities 'as an instrument of conflict prevention in situations of ethnic tension' (Rothenberger 1997, 3). The High Commissioner, Max van der Stoel (1997, 153) stated when launching the Hague Recommendations Regarding the Education Rights of National Minorities that
...in the course of my work, it had become more and more obvious to me that education is an extremely important element for the preservation and the deepening of the identity of persons belonging to a national minority. It is of course also clear that education in the language of the minority is of vital importance for such a minority.
In the section of the Hague Recommendations called 'The spirit of international instruments', bilingualism is seen as a right and responsibility for persons belonging to national minorities (Art. 1), and states are reminded not to interpret their obligations in a restrictive manner (Art. 3).
In the section on 'Minority education at primary and secondary levels', mother tongue medium education is recommended at all levels, including bilingual teachers of the dominant language as a second language (Articles 11--13). Teacher training is made a duty of the state (Art. 14).
1) The right of persons belonging to national minorities to maintain their identity can only be fully realised if they acquire a proper knowledge of their mother tongue during the educational process. At the same time, persons belonging to national minorities have a responsibility to integrate into the wider national society through the acquisition of a proper knowledge of the State language.
3) It should be borne in mind that the relevant international obligations and commitments constitute international minimum standards. It would be contrary to their spirit and intent to interpret these obligations and commitments in a restrictive manner.
11) The first years of education are of pivotal importance in a child's development. Educational research suggests that the medium of of teaching at pre-school and kindergarten levels should ideally be the child's language. Wherever possible, States should create conditions enabling parents to avail themselves of this option.
12) Research also indicates that in primary school the curriculum should ideally be taught in the minority language. The minority language should be taught as a subject on a regular basis. The State language should also be taught as a subject on a regular basis preferably by bilingual teachers who have a good understanding of the children's cultural and linguistic background. Towards the end of this period, a few practical or non-theoretical subjects should be taught through the medium of the State language. Wherever possible, States should create conditions enabling parents to avail themselves of this option.
13) In secondary school a substantial part of the curriculum should be taught through the medium of the minority language. The minority language should be taught as a subject on a regular basis. The State language should also be taught as a subject on a regular basis preferably by bilingual teachers who have a good understanding of the children's cultural and linguistic background. Throughout this period, the number of subjects taught in the State language, should gradually be increased. Research findings suggest that the more gradual the increase, the better for the child.
14) The maintenance of the primary and secondary levels of minority education depends a great deal on the availability of teachers trained in all disciplines in the mother tongue. Therefore, ensuing from the obligation to provide adequate opportunities for minority language education, States should provide adequate facilities for the appropriate training of teachers and should facilitate access to such training. Finally, the Explanatory Note states that Submersion-type approaches whereby the curriculum is taught exclusively through the medium of the State language and minority children are entirely integrated into classes with children of the majority are not in line with international standards (p. 5)". (My comment: This submersion type education is what Serbia now offers to Albanians in Kosova. As watchdogs, then, we need to know what the accepted international standards are in human rights law in our area and what their applicability is. Who is protected by the Hague Recommendations, for instance? Ex-Yugoslavia has been excluded from OSCE but might become a member again when the human rights standards improve. The Recommendations can be directly appealed to, for instance, in the US and Canada which are OSCE member states. On the other hand, they are an authoritative interpretation of human rights standards in general, worldwide, and should therefore apply even in countries which are not members of OSCE.
But all states do not accept that they have minorities in the sense of international law (e.g. the USA and France do not); and many differentiate between "national minorities" and "immigrants". Another quote then: "The UN ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; 1966, in force since 1976) Article 27 still grants the best legally binding protection to languages:
In those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.
In the customary reading of Art. 27, rights were only granted to individuals, not collectivities. And "persons belonging to ... minorities" only had these rights in states which accepted their existence. This has not helped immigrant minorities because they have not been seen as minorities in the legal sense by the states in which they live.
Until recently, the Article was interpreted as Tau excluding (im)migrants (who have not been seen as minorities); Tau excluding groups (even if they are citizens) which are not recognised as minorities by the State (in the same way as the European Charter does); Tau conferring only some protection from discrimination ("negative rights") but not a positive right to maintain or even use one's language, and Tau not imposing any obligations on the States.
More recently (6 April 1994), the UN Human Rights Committee adopted a General Comment on Article 27 which interprets it in a substantially more positive way than earlier. The Committee sees the Article as Tau protecting all individuals on the State's territory or under its jurisdiction (i.e. also immigrants and refugees), irrespective of whether they belong to the minorities specified in the Article or not; Tau stating that the existence of a minority does not depend on a decision by the State but requires to be established by objective criteria; Tau recognizing the existence of a "right", and Tau imposing positive obligations on the States.
What are the possible implications of the General Comment on the educational linguistic human rights of (im)migrant minorities? The answer is that we do not know yet. Neither does the Human Rights Committee (Eide 1995b). It remains to be seen to what extent this General Comment will influence the State parties. If the Committee's interpretation ("soft law") becomes the general norm, and if the Western European countries where migrant and refugee minorities live start observing this norm, the educational linguistic rights situation might improve."
A last little bit from a long article, including thoughts on (educational) linguistic human rights, ethnic conflict and the future of linguistic diversity):
"Granting linguistic and cultural human rights would be a step towards avoiding 'ethnic' conflict, avoiding disintegration of (some) states and avoiding chaos and anarchy, where the rights of even the elites will be severely curtailed because of increasingly civil war-like conditions, especially in inner cities. Many western states use today larger sums to control this anarchy (with the help of the state machinery of violence) than their education allocations. But the link between language rights and other human rights, including economic and social rights on the one hand and civil and political rights on the other hand, is seldom acknowledged.
Whether humanity has a moral obligation to prevent linguicide, or whether this would be interference in an inevitable process in which only the fittest survive, has been debated at several levels, some partly inspired by primordial romanticism (as in many revitalisation movements), some by instrumentalist 'modernism' (as in old and modern colonial situations, including the possible neocolonisation of central and eastern Europe by the United States and Western Europe). An attachment to one's language or mother tongue as a central cultural core value seems, like ethnicity, to combine: draw on primordial, ascribed sources but to be shaped and actualised by (achieved) econo-political concerns (Fishman 1989, Smolicz 1979).
In addition, linguistic human rights are a necessary (but not sufficient) prerequisite for the maintenance of linguistic diversity on the planet as discussed earlier. Educational language rights are at the core of both efforts. Schooling, in addition to migration, was explored as one of the important causal factors in language loss at the Berkeley conference on endangered languages (see above). In a couple of generations schooling has succeeded in killing languages which without formal eucation had survived for millennia. Formal schooling may soon reach the entire world population.
My estimation is that languages which are not used as main media of instruction will cease to be passed on to children at the latest when we reach the fourth generation of groups where everybody goes to school - and many languages may be killed much earlier. The language which is used as the main medium in minority education is decisive for the future of languages on the planet (and too many of those who decide about minority education worldwide are (monolingual native) speakers of the killer languages)."
Sorry to be so late, and long, but I hope some of the legal quotes might be useful even for our future reactions.
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (Dr), Roskilde University, 3.2.4., P.O.Box 260, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark; direct phone (was changed Aug.97) +45-46-742740; fax +45-46-743061; email: tovesk(at)babel.ruc.dk
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 22:46:12 +1100 (EST)
This is the Centro Editorial de Literatura Indigena, A.C., of Oaxaca Mexico, covered in some detail in two items in Ogmios #6 (31 October 1997). The institution provides native speakers with the skills and wherewithal to start producing literature in their own languages, regardless of the absence of a written tradition. We recentlu heard this from one of its instigators, Russell Bernard:
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 1998 01:44:36 -0500
Dear Dr. Ostler:
with best regards,
H. Russell Bernard
Warao Indian Chief Elected to Venezuelan Academy of Language
From: Julio Cesar Centeno Jcenteno(at)telcel.net.ve
Warao indian chieftain Pedro Juan Krisologo (70) has been admitted into the prestigious Venezuelan Academy of Language for his bibliographic contributions and programs in favor of his ethnic group and will occupy the seat left vacant by his mentor, Capuchin friar Cesareo de Armellada.
The 23 members of the Academy made their decision based on Krisologo's unedited bibliographical studies, two dictionaries and other studies on Bari, Warao and Panaril indian legends.
Pedro Juan Krisologo laments that despite many Unesco and government programs, very little has been done to penetrate the indigenous world-view. "Luis Herrera Campins passed a law ordering bilingual teaching but only the Catholic missions are complying. The message and wealth contained in indigenous legends and sayings are ignored. Every time an indian elder dies, a complete library disappears."
The new member of the Academy, married to a Spaniard, is from Yawaraco, Santa Rosa del Cano Araguao, Delta Amacuro State. He remembers his great grandmother who died at the age of 120 and was raised by his grandmother. Missionary nuns taught him Spanish and sent him to high school where he studied under Friar Cesareo de Armellada, who recommended young Pedro Juan to Monsignor Pellin, director of the "La Religion" newspaper in Caracas.
The Spanish Ambassador to Venezuela granted him a scholarship when he was 17 to study History of the Americas at Madrid's Alcala de Henares University, and later he received his doctorate at Seville's Achivo de Indias in 1958.
In 1962, Pedro Juan obtained a Masters in Linguistic Anthropology at Mexico's Universidad Autonoma and returned to Spain for special courses on journalism and artistic education.
On returning to Venezuela, Krisologo did supply jobs at the Justice Ministry until he was nominated President of the Delta Amacuro Anthropological & Historical Museum. "That fit me like at glove because I was able to do a lot of groundwork in social and educational programs."
"My great grandmother used to tell me that the stars we see today are new and the invisible ones we can't see belong to past years. Each generation has its own constellation and each constellation its own myths and each telluric circumstance has its guiding star ... everyone has his star in the heavens.
When a Warao indian dies he goes to an earlier world where his ancestors live and becomes part of the stars."
Medals Of Honor Sought For Native American Code Talkers
ANADARKO, OK, April 8, 1998 - Many know that in World War II a large number of Navajo served as "code talkers" for the US Marines in the Pacific. There have been books and articles published which cover their service, and they have been highly honored in many ways. Fewer people are aware, however, that there were other code talkers in both World Wars from many tribes who served in the Pacific and in Europe.
In all, at least 17 tribes have been identified as serving in this manner by Dr. William C. Meadows, an Anadarko (OK) scholar whose book on the Comanche code talkers of World War II is currently under review by the University of Texas Press.
Meadows identifies two types of code talking, which he calls Type I and Type II. The former involved actual encoding of messages and translation ofcode into the code talkers' native languages. The second type involved theplanned or spontaneous use of Native American languages to relay strategic messages without further encoding.
An informational appendix is included below which identifies the tribes whose warriors served United States armed forces in this manner, beginning with the Choctaw in World War I, who practiced the first type of codetalking. In all instances, the use of these native languages foiled enemy attempts to decipher the communications of United States armed forces. The result was often a dramatic turn in the tide of battle, and thousands of allied lives were saved which would have inevitably been lost in continued fighting.
The code talking of these American Indian warriors was practiced under dangerous, harrowing conditions, willingly and without question. Perhaps even more remarkable, it was a service which they rendered to a government which had conquered their own people. Some of the code talkers lost their lives, and many were wounded during the two World Wars. Many of these brave men have since passed on to the land of the spirits, unrecognized by this country. The United States has never officially recognized the codetalkers, although the French government awarded them or their tribes their highest military honor in 1989.
A petition is being circulated by friends and families of Native American code talkers of World War I and II in a grassroots effort to get their country to recognize this valiant, ingenious service in an appropriate manner. The signatories to this petition are asking the U.S. government to rectify this omission now by awarding the code talkers of both types the Medal of Honor for their valiant, unique, and outstanding service above and beyond the call of duty.
Code Talking Types 1 and 2: Explanation:
World War I
World War II
Liz Pollard, Smoke Signals Enterprises, 505 W. Louisiana Ave., Anadarko, OK 73005, USA +1(405)247-2251 Email: lpollard(at)smokesig.com
Mapuches denounce Chilean Government at the UN Human Rights Commission
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Item 16: Rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religiousand linguistic minorities
Document presented by International Peace Bureau
We thank you for the opportunity of speaking before the Human RightsCommission today, and are pleased to greet you, the members of the Commission,and the non-governmental organisations here present.
The Mapuches are a minority within the Chilean State, whose rights this State in practice does not recognise. These include: our linguistic and cultural rights; our right to a livelihood, for we are deprived of our land; and eventhe right to physical integrity. Today, we are suffering brutal repression as in the worst years of the military dictatorship.
Without the recovery of these lands, and the inalienable right of property over them, the survival of the Mapuche communities and of their culture is under threat. Deprived of their lands, the Mapuche communities suffer growing social instability, with the evident danger of outbreaks of violence, which could have unforeseeable consequences for the peace and stability of the Chilean State as a whole.
We demand, therefore, the recognition of the fundamental rights of the Mapuche people, as guaranteed by legal instruments both national and international, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, article 1.
Between October 1997 and March 1998, 85 Mapuches, among them women and children, were detained in Temuco, Malleco, Arauco, Angol and Santiago. This was the result of the introduction of the Law of State Security and the Anti- terrorist law in 5 communes in the Mapuche region. The Chilean police, on the basis of these legal instruments, carried out an exaggerated military operation in the entire region. Together with anti-terrorist forces, and using military vehicles and helicopters, the police patrolled the area, entering homes, threatening the inhabitants. Detentions took place at any hour of day or night. According to the statement of one of the detained, he was held incommunicado for 7 days (whereas Chilean law stipulates 5 days), during which he suffered inhuman and degrading treatment.
In a confrontation between security guards of the logging company Arauco S.A. and Mapuche families from the Pichi Lonkollan and Pilin Mapu communities of the Lumaco sector of Malleco Province, who were trying to halt the exploitation of forestland traditionally theirs, 2 trucks were burnt -- an incident which, in our view, could hardly constitute a "threat to the interior security of the state". The reaction of the Chilean state towards the Mapuche population in this case seems to us to be irresponsible and totally exaggerated.
We should like to make it absolutely clear that the Mapuche people are not opposed to progress, but want fair, sustainable and harmonious development, with full respect of their rights and ancestral values, and a development process from which they are not absolutely excluded.
We believe that the recognition of cultural diversity in Chile will mark the beginning of a historic reparation which today the indigenous peoples areanxiously awaiting, and which sooner or later the Chilean State will have to consider. For only in this way will a solid base for coexistence with theoriginal inhabitants of the country be created. Our demands are not of a violent nature, but are based on full respect of the Chilean legal order, which includes the norms of the common law which traditionally governed the Mapuche people, reserving for ourselves the right to self-determination, as the basis for the protection and development of the Mapuche in their ancestral territory.
We demand also the ratification of ILO Convention 169 by Chile, as this is one of the few texts, if not the only text, which recognises the inalienable rights of indigenous peoples.
We thank you.
E-mail: mapulink(at)aol.com - http://members.aol.com/mapulink
Circle of African Historical Linguists
I'm interested to submit my paper. I was at Düsseldorf during last Congress (International Congress of Historical Linguistics). I noticed that there was not another African besides me. And I supposed that it was because of the lack of organisation and a problem of means. So I'm organising a Circle of Young Central African Histocal Linguists (CYCAHL) in order to attend the next Congress of Vancouver 99. … If not from the staff of ICHL XIV I expect some help from the Canadian Government.…
Please let’s make sure that African Historical Linguists will not miss this rendez-vous (again).
PHONE : 04 72 72 65 25 HOME : 04 72 75 97 33.
Rights of Roma in Germany: Sinti and Roma warn of "discrimination"
Wiesbaden / GERMANY ( RNN Correspondent ) May the 19th 1998 The Central Committee of the German Sinti and Roma has warned of a discrimination" of their language. It would be a scandal", an arbitrary act" and an international disgrace", if Romanes would not be included in the European Charta for Minority Languages" like the languages Frisian, Sorbian, Danish and Low German, said the chairman, Romani Rose, on Friday.
He emphasizes that this is the more obscure, as Romanes is the language of one of the ethnic groups that have been affected worst by the holocaust. Due to the statements of Rose, the language of the German Sinti and Roma is not being taken into account in the ratification law. Germany had signed the European Charta for Minority Languages" in 1992, and since then the Central Committee has demanded the consideration of Romanes in the Charta.
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Subsequent comments suggested that the UK was no more helpful towards Welsh and Scots Gaelic. (Ed.)