By Reşad Ozkan
COLOGNE, Germany – Kurdish immigrants in Germany are not formally recognized as Kurds and efforts for formal recognition are hampered by German business interests with Turkey, according to Mehmet Tanriverdi, head of the Federal Association of Immigrant Groups in Germany (BAGIV).
“It is unfortunate that despite having a considerable Kurdish community in Germany the relationship between the German government and the Kurdish groups is not formal,” he told Rudaw in an interview. “We have tried so hard to be recognized officially, but the German government always rejects our initiatives.”
Tanriverdi accuses the German government of pursuing “double-standards” in dealing with the Kurds, even though Berlin has good relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) “through its consulate, a business representation, and a language center in Erbil.”
He says that Kurds in Germany are trying for recognition as Kurds, not “as Turks, Iraqis, Syrians, or Iranians.”
“In all German states the Kurds do not have the right to study in their native language, and the same is true in the fields of communication and social affairs,” he says.
“Why does a channel like the DW (state-owned Deutsche Welle) broadcast programs in many different languages but refuses to include Kurdish?” asks Tanriverdi, who has lived in Germany for 33 years and has been honored by the German chancellor for his work with immigrants, which includes help with settling in and integration.
He believes it will help Germany, too, if Kurds are recognized for who they are, “Because it will facilitate the integration of the Kurdish community in Germany.”
According to Tanriverdi, Kurdish parents in Germany want their future generation to integrate into German society but also be able to study and learn their mother tongue.
He raised the issue of Kurdish education at the ministerial level and at a conference on education and integration in 2007, where authorities in 16 German states agreed to provide education facilities, in return for organizations such as his encouraging immigrant parents participate in the education process.
There are two other Kurdish organizations in Germany known as KOMKAR and YEK-KOM, but Tanriverdi says that they are driven by different priorities.
“Our main difference with the two organizations is that we care more about the rights of Kurdish immigrants in Germany, but their activities are more related to Kurdistan,” he says. “They are under the influence of Kurdish political parties.”
But he adds that political views should not hinder cooperation.