ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkey’s military-dominated National Security Council (MGK) said on Tuesday "terrorist" groups were behind a campaign to introduce Kurdish-language education in Turkish schools.
The issue has led to a police crackdown on a drive mainly by university students and parents who want Kurdish to be taught in classrooms. Hundreds of people who signed petitions have been detained.
"(The MGK) examined the separatist activities organized by a terrorist organization (on) the issue of education in a language other than the official language," the council said in a statement faxed to Reuters after its regular monthly meeting.
On the language issue–it said the MGK had examined "the damaging activities from domestic and foreign sources that threaten the country’s security and the preventive measures taken and to be taken against these activities."
The European Union–which Turkey hopes to join–has urged Ankara to expand civil liberties for the country’s 12 million Kurds–but many in Turkey fear greater cultural rights could encourage restive Kurds to call for more autonomy.
Authorities have said the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)–which has fought a 17-year-long conflict for self-rule in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast–is behind the campaign for Kurdish-language education.
The military wields enormous power over civilian politicians at the MGK–an advisory body chaired by the president and including government leaders.
The statement said the council also examined foreign trade and security issues–as well as the latest developmen’s on Cyprus–where UN-backed talks are underway to resolve a decades-long standoff between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.