Even this debate has virtually brought the case against the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) to a halt. In court, serious problems may arise due to the arrangements concerning which language should be used. Thus, a Kurd who cannot speak Turkish sufficiently may be deprived of his or her right to a defense just because she or he is not provided with an interpreter.
As for the case against the KCK, some defendants who insist on using their mother tongue, i.e., Kurdish, in their defense know Turkish very well as they have attended universities and even law faculties in Turkey. I can make sense of such a resistance as a sort of civil disobedience. But I can’t understand why a person who attended a law faculty in Turkey and who is even working as a lawyer for the time being should speak Kurdish and wants his words to be translated into Turkish by an interpreter and tries to justify this act by referring to the “rights of defendants,” and I don’t approve of it. Of course, I respect it as a political attitude, but I think it is considerably problematic to defend it as part of the rights of defendants from a legal perspective.
With this in my mind, I recently tweeted the following:
“It is a legitimate right to seek education in one’s mother tongue, but it is an unfounded politically motivated show for a person who knows Turkish to use Kurdish in court.”
My tweet soon produced much reaction. Given that I received extremely accusatory messages, I felt the need to elaborate on my intention. So I tweeted as follows:
“If a man who graduated from a university in Turkey insists on making his defense in Kurdish and attempts to justify this by referring to the right of defense, this is not a correct argumentation. This has nothing to do with the rights of defendants. Rather, any insistence on this implies the defendant in question waives from his right of effective defense at the expense of a political attitude.”
I think what I said was very simple. A Kurd who is a university graduate wants to be provided with an interpreter in order to speak Kurdish in court. Very likely, they would be provided with an interpreter who is not as well educated as they are. They will speak Kurdish and the interpreter will translate their words into Turkish. Just suppose that a lawyer who completed their entire education in English and who is a member of a British bar association insists on speaking Irish and wants his words to be translated from Irish into English in a case where he is the defendant. Can his demand be justified using his intention to “defend himself more effectively?” This is clearly a political stance and, as the case may be, a political show.
We are facing such a situation with regards to some defendants in the KCK case. Some defendants who are lawyers want to defend themselves in Kurdish via an interpreter. When their demands are declined, they claim that the rights of the defendants have been violated. Such cases are fraught with numerous illegal practices. For instance, the Counterterrorism Law is being construed in a broad sense. But I don’t see any illegality in the court declining the above-mentioned demands to speak Kurdish in court.
This was what I meant in my tweet, and it was very simple. But it produced such a huge flood of reactions that I eventually came to be advertised as a person who denies the linguistic rights of Kurds and Kurdish presence. This incident showed once against the sheer magnitude of polarization in Turkey. Your every word is placed into one of the camps. The nuances in your words are just ignored. They are seen as either black or white. You either deny the rights of Kurds or become a paragon of freedoms. And such a harsh climate makes it impossible for creative ideas and authentic recommendations for solutions to flourish. Someone should tell Turks and Kurds alike that political, philosophical and legal evaluations cannot be either black or white and they certainly entertain gray areas. Otherwise, we will never produce profound ideas and real solutions amid the suffocative polarizations.