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Kurmancî bê sînor /
/Kurmanji Beyond Borders

Group Online Tuition (8 MAX)
10 weeks
sTART DATE: Monday 4 April 


Kurmanji screenshot_edited.jpg

The aim of this course is to take part in keeping this beautiful language alive. Kurmanji has faced more than a century of attempts to assimilate it under Turkish nationalism and western imperialism.


After the First World War the Treaty of Lausanne was signed between Turkey and Western imperialist states such as Britain and France. The Kurdish land was rich in oil and other natural resources, which were divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. The borders remain the same today. The Treaty did not mention the rights of the Kurds at all. Kurds call these parts Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Kurdistan.


The biggest Kurdish population, called northern Kurds, live in the the part of Kurdistan occupied by Turkey since 1920. The Turkish state denied the existence of Kurds, categorising them as “mountain Turks”. In addition to the Kurdish language, the word “Kurd” itself was prohibited in any language. The names of Kurdish villages and towns were changed to Turkish ones. Parents were not allowed to give their children Kurdish names.

Following the military coup the Kurdish languages were officially prohibited in private life too. Kurds who spoke Kurdish or listened to Kurdish music at home were arrested and imprisoned. Later when their parents visited them in prisons they could not communicate, as most parents could not speak Turkish. 

The Turkish state reacted more severely to Kurdish language and publications than to weapons. A Kurdish writer says: “The police found a photograph and a gun when they searched me. I had a photo taken in front of the Kurdish newspaper named “Roja Welat”. I was not accused of being in possession of a weapon but I was taken to court because of the photo taken in front of a Kurdish newspaper’s poster”.

Kurds are the biggest nation in the world to be deprived of its own state, of self-government and basic human rights.

The Kurdish language belongs to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family and developed between 4,000 and 2,000 years ago.  

Kurmanji has faced the risk of extinction due to the oppressive and humiliating policies of the Turkish state, which have caused many Kurds to lose their self-confidence, and let them believe that their language has no value. A large part of the population in North Kurdistan were assimilated as they feared that the Kurdish language was putting them in danger.
But since the Syrian war, feminist Kurdish women not only defeated Isis but also led the Rojava revolution. The revolution is a fight to experiment with unconditional democracy—to create a way of life that values feminism, direct democracy, ecological stewardship, and ethnic and linguistic autonomy. Education is fundamental to this new society, and the language of instruction is Kurmanji.
In this course we will learn basic communication in Kurmanji, while taking part in conversations about culture, feminism, history, politics, and ecology.

The course is taught by Cîhan, who has taught Kurmanji for many years with a number of different institutions.


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