Rights group takes student pledge to European court

September 19, 2012, Wednesday/ 16:54:00

The Diyarbakır branch of the human rights group Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER), which is likely to lose a four-year legal battle to remove a student oath taught in Turkish schools from the curriculum with a decision from the Council of State rejecting the group's initial application, has announced that it will go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

The association says the student oath, Andımız in Turkish, which literally translates as “Our Pledge,” is pedagogically anathema and potentially traumatizing for children of non-Turkish ethnic origin. The oath includes the line “How happy is he who calls himself a Turk.” Children in schools are expected to recite it daily, every morning before starting class.

MAZLUM-DER Diyarbakır branch President Abdurrahim Ay announced the association's plans to go to the ECtHR, saying: “The lawsuit we filed was rejected. We are now waiting for the Council of State to hear our appeal. But we really don't have much faith in the legal system here. We will go to the European court for the removal of the pledge.”

The Council of State is a court of first instance and the appeals court in the case, as the case for the removal of the pledge from the curriculum calls for the cancellation of a directive currently in force.

Ay said Kurdish children do not like reciting this pledge, saying: “We as kids didn't want to recite this pledge. Out loud, we said we are Turks every day, but I always changed that word to ‘Kurd' in my head. They are doing the same thing to children today. It is a source of embarrassment that this text is still part of the education system. Our children going into class as if into a military unit, forming a formation according to orders like drill commands and going through this ‘Our Pledge' ritual every morning as if reciting some sacred text is a pedagogical anathema.”

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