Narrow doors shut on Kurdish language course

Turkish officials have put the brakes on what was to be one of country's first Kurdish-language teaching centres because its classroom doors were not wide enough.

    The rights of Kurds have to be addressed before Turkey joins the EU

    During a preliminary inspection at the centre in Batman city in mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey this week, inspectors established that the doors of its six classrooms were 85cm wide, whereas the rules said they had to measure 90cm.

    However, the owner of the institution Aydin Unesi said on Saturday he was optimistic about the future of his troubled undertaking.

    "We dismantled the doors today and the new doors will be installed tomorrow. This is the only problem the inspectors detected and we hope to get the necessary permission in 15 days, or in a month at the latest," Unesi told AFP.

    "The doors of other teaching centres in Batman are also not standard, but we are showing tolerance ... This is something new for a country where Kurdish was banned until just a year ago and it is normal for inspectors to be over-cautious," he said.

    EU bid

    In a taboo-breaking move last year the Turkish parliament allowed private institutions to teach the language of the country's restive Kurdish minority as part of reforms aimed at boosting Turkey's struggling bid to join the European Union.

    Turkey has fought a decades-long war with Kurdish

    PKK rebels, in which more than

    30,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed.

    But the courses have so far failed to take off, and there have been complaints by entrepreneurs that authorities have imposed a mass of procedural rules which impede business on the ground.

    The EU has also criticized Ankara for failing to properly enact the reforms it has passed.

    Unesi said several language teaching centres in the Kurdish-populated southeast have come very close to finally opening their doors to students.

    Aid to Iraq

    Meanwhile, on Saturday Turkey sent tonnes of humanitarian aid to Iraq and pledged further support to help the daily needs of the people of its war-torn neighbour, the Anatolia news agency reported.

    Six Red Crescent trucks carrying tents, blankets, mattresses, medical supplies and food set off for the border with Iraq after a ceremony in Ankara.

    The supplies were to be distributed to 2500 families in Baghdad, Red Crescent chairman Ertan Gonen said, according to Anatolia.

    The institution was planning to send four more convoys of aid-carrying trucks to Iraq in the near future, he said.

    Turkey says its is eager to help in the reconstruction of post-war Iraq, but its plans to contribute peacekeeping troops have faced strong objections from the Iraqi leadership, and particularly from Iraqi Kurds.

    Turkey's parliament agreed last week to the deployment of troops in Iraq after a US request, hoping this would encourage the United States to crack down on an estimated 5000 Kurdistan

    Workers Party (PKK)

    rebels based in camps in northern Iraq.


    One Kurdish rebel

    fighter was killed after a clash with

    Turkish security forces on Thursday

     near the city of

    Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey. The fighting followed a rebel attack on a local police station

    in which one policeman was injured, officials told Reuters.

    Turkey has fought a decades-long war with the

    PKK, also known as KADEK, in which more than

    30,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed.



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