Press freedom crushed by Anti-terror laws in Europe
Statement in defence of Roj TV 28, October 2012 - In January this year, the City Court of Copenhagen ruled that Kurdish satellite station Roj TV was promoting terrorism through its coverage. An appeal has been made against the decision and this will be heard on 29 October. Furthermore, eight people have been arrested during police investigations into Roj TV for allegedly providing financial assistance to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Meanwhile, the Danish Radio and Television Board cancelled Roj TV’s broadcasting licence in September for two months, claiming that documents and videos requested from Roj TV for the board's own investigation were not provided.
These events are part of a blatant attack on Kurdish media and unashamed political manoeuvring by the Turkish government, which sought assurances from the former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen that he would close down the Roj TV in return for support for his bid to become NATO secretary general. There is clear evidence from Wikileaks embassy cables, as well as statements by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi to the press, revealing these backhand deals.
This is yet another example European anti-terrorism laws placing whole Kurdish community under suspicion of association with terrorism. The blacklisting of Kurdish organisations, the stop and searches, the raiding of premises, the attempts to extradite Kurds, the stops at ports of entry, the intimidation of charities and community centres are countless ways in which European countries have criminalised the Kurdish communities.
The action by the Danish courts is inseparable from the continued and pervasive criminalisation of the Kurds by Turkish authorities. Police operations nominally against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) have resulted in thousands of arrests since 2009, with trade unionists, journalists, human rights advocates, lawyers and even elected politicians being imprisoned under the anti-terror laws.
Furthermore, Turkey has been an open violator of international norms of press freedom with seemingly little challenge from the international community, for some time. Turkey has just under 100 journalists currently in prison in Turkey, more than Two thirds of those are Kurdish, and the majority of them are being tried for ‘spreading terrorist propaganda’, being seen by the government and the courts as no different from armed PKK fighters.
Anti-terror legislation is being used as a tool to silence the critical Kurdish media and deny tens of millions of Kurds across the Middle East and Europe the right to information, and the right to have their views, culture and language accessible through their own media outlet.
Suppressing the rights of Kurds is certainly not going to solve the Kurdish question. Providing Turkey with immunity against violating fundamental human rights undermines the claims of European governments that they uphold these rights. The victimisation of Kurdish community is a shameful and cheap foreign policy to support a NATO ally.
The governments of Europe and Turkey must begin to disentangle the issue of ‘terrorism’ from legitimate demands of the Kurdish people for recognition, human and political rights and self-determination.
We demand that the Danish government halts all proceedings against Roj TV.
We demand that the Danish Radio and Television Board reinstate Roj TV’s licence to broadcast.
1. Find a copy of the summary of proceedings against Roj TV by following this link: http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.wordpress.com/resources/pik-campaign-statements/pik-press-release-15-november-2011/
2. Former Plaid Cymru President Dafydd Iwan attended the first Roj TV trial as an observer. The interview he gave to Peace in Kurdistan on his return is available to read here: http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/kurdish-tv-on-trial-an-interview-with-dafydd-iwan/
3. Read an article by Magnus Ag of the Committee for Protection of Journalists, January 2012: http://cpj.org/blog/2012/01/terrorism-laws-minority-media-rights-at-issue-in-r.php