Sunday, January 08, 2006

Roj TV controversy growing

Turkish Daily News 04.01.2006

The objection voiced by 56 mayors against the closesure of Roj TV makes it
harder to resolve the matter and almost impossible for the channel be shut down.

Mehmet Ali Birand

Fifty-six mayors objecting to the closure of Denmark-based Roj TV is not being discussed that much but has nevertheless placed Ankara in a very difficult position.
The government, and especially the Office of the Chief of General Staff, sees Roj TV as a mouthpiece of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Their stance is based on the fact that Roj TV constantly broadcasts PKK opinions and gives airtime to individuals linked to the PKK.
Roj TV doesn't even hide this fact. It doesn't have to because everything is out in the open.
This is why the state is applying pressure on Denmark to close down Roj TV. "Don't allow this mouthpiece for the PKK, which you recognize as being a terrorist group that kills innocent people," Turkey says to Danish authorities.
The move to close Roj TV has become a show of force between Turkey and the pro-Kurdish movement. Ankara applies pressure, Denmark resists.
Fifty-six Turkish mayors sent a letter to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen calling for Roj TV not to be closed, upsetting all the balances on the issue. The mayors cited freedom of expression and the needs of their constituents as the reasons the channel should not be shut down, getting themselves involved in the entire controversy.
After this letter, it has become impossible for Denmark to close down Roj TV. It is impossible for Denmark to ignore the pleas made by the democratic representatives of some of the people in Turkey just to placate Ankara.
There is also a political aspect to the matter that I believe will bring about important consequences.
The 56 mayors have indirectly supported a television channel that reflects PKK opinions. The PKK's influence in the [Southeast] region has once more become evident. This shows that an organization perceived by us as a terrorist group is not seen in that way by the people of the region.

What are we going to do now?

Will we criminally charge the mayors and then send them off to prison?
You must have noted that the test of wills between the state and the pro-Kurdish movement is getting more aggressive and pushing us in a new direction.
On a final note, so the 56 mayors sent a letter to the Danish prime minister and voiced their opinion; however, what we would have expected would have been for them to send a letter to Roj TV and warn the channel.
The mayors and the pro-Kurdish movement should reach a common point -- and that is for the guns to be silenced and the end of terrorism. If the PKK is to continue its terrorism, the pro-Kurdish movement should be against it.
If they abide by these rules, the region will return to peace. If not, we will harm each other and all of us will suffer....