Dressed in their national costumes and carrying banners that read "Learn your mother tongue and protect your culture!" and "It is listening to you! Speak you mother tongue!", members of Circassian Cultural Association of Bursa gathered in Orhangazi Park on Sunday 20th February 2011.
Emphasizing the importance of February 21st as "World Mother Tonue Day", Filiz Celik, head of the organisation, noted that in addition to the official language, Turkish, 34 other languages were also spoken in Turkey of which 18 were in grave danger of becoming extinct in the near future.
Protection of languages was not only a problem of Human Rights but also of freedom and democracy and that the only way for any language to survive was for it to be spoken and taught to childeren, she added.
To Celik, saying that there was nothing that was stopping us from speaking our mother tongue as we could speak it at home and teach it at informal language courses was not an acceptable approach since this attitude only meant leaving the continuity of Circassian language, culture and identity in the hands of fate.
She continued," we as responsible citizens of Turkey, expect from our state and the government, which we voted in, realistic solutions. As last speakers of a language that is to die out soon, we want positive discrimination. There are 5 million Circassians around the world. We have been in Turkey for 147 years throughout which we toiled in the fields, sweated in the factories and died in the wars of this country. When were dying for this country we did not speak Turkish and now we cannot speak our own national language".
After reading out the press release, Circassians performed their national dances and reiterated their demads for langauge education in Circassian.