Sunday, January 08, 2006

Kurdish mayors urge Denmark not to 'silence' Kurdish TV station

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Dec 30 (AFP) - 12h38 - Fifty-six mayors from Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast have appealed to the Danish government to resist Ankara's efforts to have a Denmark-based Kurdish TV station banned for alleged links to armed Kurdish rebels.
"For a truly democratic life to flourish in Turkey, ROJ TV should not be silenced," read the letter in English sent to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on December 27 and obtained by AFP on Friday.
"The elimination of the voice of Roj TV would mean the loss of an important vehicle in the struggle for democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms of democratic civilization," the mayors said.
They said the government's efforts to press Denmark into banning Roj TV fell foul of its Turkey's professed aim to improve its rights record as it seeks to gain entry into the European Union.
Turkey has asked the Danish authorities to revoke Roj TV's broadcasting license on the grounds that it has ties with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the United States.
Ankara charges that the channel, on the air since March 2004, incites hatred by openly supporting the PKK, which has been fighting the Ankara government for self-rule since 1984.
Denmark's broadcasting watchdog ruled at the beginning of the year that Roj TV's programming contained no incitement to hatred of Turkey.
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said last month that he had seen no proof of the station's links to the PKK.