ISTANBUL (Reuters)–Leading international writers called on Monday for Turkey to solve its Kurdish problem by granting language and cultural rights to its 12 million Kurds.
Internationally renowned Turkish novelist Yasar Kemal said assimilation policies and a 15-year-old rebel conflict had shown that "violence will neither transform Kurds into Turks nor enable Kurds to attain their rights."
More than 50 prominent writers–including Nobel prize winners Guenter Grass–Jose Saramago–Nadine Gordimer and Elie Wiesel–signed the statement calling on the country’s president–prime minister and parliament to "save Turkey from her shame."
"Turkey must solve the Kurdish problem by embracing her Kurdish citizens in their own right. We believe that such a step forward will immensely strengthen Turkey economically–socially and culturally," Kemal–who describes himself as a Turk of Kurdish origin–said in the statement.
Monday’s statement said Ankara had the power to solve the ethnic problem by making Kurdish a language of education and recognizing the need for Kurdish radio and television.
"The rights of Kurdish language–culture and identity must be given constitutional guarantees," Kemal said.
Kemal is the author of the internationally acclaimed "Memed My Hawk" and is a winner of a prestigious German literary award. He has also been convicted by Turkish courts for his writings on the Kurdish issue.