Ubuntu under investigation by Turkish attorney general

Caroline Ford caroline.ford.work at googlemail.com
Wed Nov 29 16:09:02 GMT 2006

On 29/11/06, Mark Shuttleworth <mark at canonical.com> wrote:
> Ozgur Karatas wrote:
> I am exploreing this on me. although ubuntu team made the package of
> kurdish language, they say that they had done it.. The person who said
> this lie ise a turkish diplomat. he says that they improved UBUNTU. i
> will prosecute to him..
> The name of the person which maked this mistake is Osman Baydemir. He is a
> Continent president of Turkey.
> http://www.milliyet.com/2006/11/21/guncel/agun.html
> Ozgur, I slow down. I don't think it's sensible to charge around
> threatening to prosecute people until the full facts are clear, and at this
> stage its not at all clear what's going on. We want to be supportive of the
> local Ubuntu team, and the Kurdish translation efforts, and we will need to
> be diplomatic and effective in the way we approach this. Please work with
> Jono to get a full understanding of what's going on.
> Mark

Our ethos is "Every computer user should be able to use their software in
the language of their choice. ". This is controversial in many situations,
as language issues can be extremely political in many parts of the world.
The right to speak your own language is tied up with issues of national
identity and minority groups asserting their language rights can be a threat
to the state which can see them as separatists.

This situation is not unique to the status of Kurdish in Turkey and will no
doubt come up again as we increase our language support.

The reception took place in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diyarbakir which
Wikipedia describes as the unofficial capital of Turkish Kurdistan. One of
the speakers was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mehmed_Uzun a writer who has
been imprisoned for Kurdish language activity and who has recently returned
from exile.

In short, this wasn't a low profile geek-only, technical launch. This was a
major political event.

I'm proud as a linguist and a free software advocate that linux was the
first operating system to be available for these people in their own
language. When we create our own software we can use our own language, and
make those decisions that large corporations wouldn't touch because of the

I think we need a way of flagging these up so that we can be forewarned if a
controversial release is about to happen. We could have sent out a press
release highlighting "Every computer user should be able to use their
software in the language of their choice" to the Turkish press to explain
where we are coming from. We don't want linux to be seen as "belonging" to
one particular community, but also we certainly shouldn't back down on our
ethos of "your software, your language".

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