Friday, January 20, 2006

ROJ TV was invited to take part in hearing on the cultural situation of the Kurds

ROJ TV was invited to take part in hearing on the cultural situation of the Kurds organised by Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe – Committee On culture, science and education.

The hearing was held in Paris on Wednesday 18 January and was closed to press.
Although some participants from Turkey were not happy to hear the speech by Mezopotamia's director Manoucher Zonoozi, who pointed out to the cases of violation of human rights there.

The following is the text of Mr. Manuchehr Zonoozi representing ROJ TV in the hearing.

The Chairman, Mr. Jacques Legendre,

Lord Russel-Johnston, the Rapporteur,

The members of the committee,

Ladies and Gentleman,

Firstly I would like to thank you for inviting Roj TV.

I would also like to thank you for organizing such a hearing today.

My speech today will consist of two parts. The First part is about Roj TV, the role of Roj TV in the Kurdish culture and society and the second part will consist of experiences of Kurdish media in general.

Before going on about telling you what Roj TV is all about, the aims and objectives of it, perhaps I need to tell you about the history of struggle of the Kurdish existence.

Not long ago, it was just before two decades ago the voice of the Kurds was not heard.
As a result of division of Kurds in four parts, namely Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, Kurds were denied of their identity and suppressed of any means of rights, let alone the basic right of freedom of speech. And that at the time there were armed clashes of Kurds in the four countries mentioned before.

The beginning of 1990's was also the beginning of a new era in the history of Kurdish media in which the first Kurdish paper was published in Turkey. Yet it did not take long for the government to close down the newspapers . 29 Kurdish journalists were assassinated between 1991-1996. Thousands of court cases were opened against the journalists, chief editors, columnists etc. In October 1994 in Istanbul, Özgür Ülke newspaper was bombed and destroyed. Because the paper was publishing news without censorship that no other newspaper would in Turkey. So this was already an act against the official ideology. After all the pressure against freedom of expression on the Kurdish journalists some had to take asylum in Europe.

Thanks to European democracy which gave those journalists an opportunity to broadcast in Kurdish.

Here starts the history of Kurdish broadcasting namely Med TV in 1995.

ROJ TV started broadcasting in March, 2004. The license provider of Roj TV is Mediesekretariat of Cultural Ministry of Denmark.

A General description of ROJ TV's programming

Roj TV is a Kurdish satellite and internet broadcasting to promote the use of various varieties of Kurdish language, namely Sorani, Kurmanci, Hewrami, and Zazaki.

Roj TV tries to reach all the Kurds divided by four countries as well as Kurds living in Diaspora.

Roj TV not only assesses Kurdish society to develop democracy but also aims to bring democracy to Middle East. Roj TV broadcasts human rights violations in Turkey, Iran and Syria. Just recently we announced the torture of a woman named Sewra Kamkar in the prisons of Iran, also a member of a Kurdish human Rights organization.

On 13 of July 2005 A well known Kurdish personality Hussein Amed Hüseyin was arrested and tortured in Kamişlo in Syria. And two weeks later his dead body was given to his family. There was no news in Syria's media about the case.

Shemzinan event is another example : culprits associated with Turkish Intelligence after bombing a Bookshop were caught up by the local people. Roj TV was the first channel to capture picture of their identity and broadcast.

By watching Roj TV, Kurds are also informed of their rights and also the rights of others in the region.

For example, During bird flu epidemic when the Ministry of Health traveled to The Kurdish Cities the people protested the minister for handing out brochures in Turkish (a language they don't speak, it is also a fact that most of them are illiterates) but not in Kurdish.
But Roj TV took the responsibility to deliver information about the bird flu and ways to take precautions.

Roj TV does not only broadcast in Kurdish but also in Turkish, Arabic, Assyrian and Persian.

Roj TV promotes fraternity among the people in the region.

Roj TV has an effective role in creating culture of peace , by celebrating the religious events of the Christens, Alewis, Ezdayis and others. We celebrate Christmas every year by having a special Christmas celebration program.

Because of our philosophy of broadcasting which is purely based on freedom of speech, The Country that provide our broadcasting license is under constant pressure from Turkey and other countries in the region.

Although Denmark, where ROJ TV is receiving its license, has been under great pressure from Turkey to shut down the channel, but Danish Prime Minister Anders Fog Rasmussen very strongly protected the freedom of expression, a basic principle of democracy.

We thank Denmark for their support and that we are very proud to be based in Denmark indeed.

Roj TV plays a harmonizing role in the region and therefore helps to democratization of Middle East.

This morning children in Turkey started their school by saying "How happy one is who says that he/she is Turkish" but those children who watch ROJ TV sing songs or listen to the stories in Kurdish.

Mr. Chairman, Lord Russel-Johnston, members of the committee thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to express my views .