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Online bookstore helps Kurds reconnect with their roots

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Online bookstore helps Kurds reconnect with their roots

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:29 pm

Online bookstore for Kurds

Based in Diyarbakir, Pirtuka Kurdi sells books on Kurdish language, culture and history

An online bookstore in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir is helping Kurds across the country reconnect with their language and history despite the coronavirus lockdown.

Six years ago, Bawer Bersev established Pirtuka Kurdi (Kurdish Book), an online bookstore to help millions of Kurds in Turkey access books about their own language, history and culture.

The site has books in Kurdish, Turkish and English and collects stock from 28 other stores.

Bersev told Rudaw on Sunday that their sales have spiked thanks to coronavirus-related lockdowns which have closed physical bookstores across the country.

“Sales have increased by 40 percent during the lockdown. We have received a satisfactory number of orders, mostly from Mardin, Sirnak, Hakkari, and Samsun provinces as well as Diyarbakir province,” he said, referring to Kurdish-majority areas in southeast Turkey.

“Kurds order dictionaries and language learning books. This is an honour for us as it means that Kurds want to learn their language with all its dialects,” Bersev added.

Kurds, who were categorized as “mountain Turks” by the Turkish government until 1991, have faced severe restrictions on their native language.

Totally banned until the 1990s, President Turgut Ozal pledged to lift the ban on Kurdish and somewhat succeeded, moving from total ban to a partial ban on the language. He also agreed to make a deal with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but his sudden death in 1993 suspended the process.

When the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2012, Kurds were given more freedom to use their language, but it was mostly limited to speaking Kurdish at home and in informal settings.

“This website has been launched to serve the Kurdish language. We aim to make it possible for Kurdish readers and researchers to access books about Kurds in the Kurdish language and other languages,” the bookstore says on their website.

Azad Zal is a Kurdish publisher in Diyarbakir. He says that they refer those looking for books about Kurds to Pirtuka Kurdi.

“When Kurdish readers ask us where they can find Kurdish books, we refer them to Pirtuka Kurdi because it has become the first stop for Kurdish books,” he told Rudaw.

Around 226 Kurdish books were published in Turkey in 2019. Online bookstores have helped authors sell their work in spite of the lockdown in place since April, which has closed shops across the country.

Abdullah Keskin, owner of the Kurdish Avesta Publishing House in Istanbul, told Rudaw English in March that many of their books have been banned by Ankara due to their content.

"About 20 of our books were banned 10-12 years after [our] foundation. We were also fined and sentenced … these are pre-Republic research and historical [books], not political books," he said.

Due to Ankara's sensitivity with the PKK, books about Kurdish language, culture and history are often banned on the grounds of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

The bookstore is not the only place helping Kurds to reconnect with their culture, however.

Thousands of Kurds in southeast Turkey have attended language courses to improve their mother tongue.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeas ... y/22062020
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Online bookstore helps Kurds reconnect with their roots

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