The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that peacefully petitioning for Kurdish language classes is a fundamental human right and it accused the Turkish government of violating a student’s right to an education. The decision arose from complaints by 18 applicants who attended Turkish universities and decided to petition their university authorities to provide optional Kurdish language courses. For daring to petition, the students were subjected to disciplinary action. The European Court ruled the petitions could not be “construed as an activity which would lead to polarization of the university population on the basis of language, race, religion or denomination.”
Kurdish was banned after the 1980 military coup as violence broke out between the armed forces and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Even as the EU Court was ruling in favor of the students, a Turkish court acquitted a mayor on charges of using Kurdish in his celebratory message to his constituents.