Monday, February 06, 2006

Dr. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas to Danish Authorities concerning ROJ TV

The second Appeal of Internationally Known Defender of Linguistic Human rights Dr. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas to Danish Authorities concerning ROJ TV

Copies to

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Minister of Foreign Affairs Per Stig Møller

Minister of Justice Lene Espersen

Danish flags and the Danish Embassy in Damaskus are burning when I write this. Denmark claims to be defending the right of expression, the right to a free press, free media. If Denmark claims to be defending a universal principle, it might be wise to show that Denmark extends this principle (which may sometimes provoke and offend others) also to Muslims.

There are some 25-35 million Kurds in the world. Most of them are Muslims. ROJ-TV which sends via satellite to over 70 countries, in several varieties of Kurdish, in Turkish, Arabic and Farsi and some other languages, can be seen and is a main source of secular, democratic information, by Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and so on. Nationalistic forces in Turkey who do not like the Kurds to have information in Kurdish, demand that Denmark withdraws the license that ROJ-TV has to send – this license has been granted by Denmark. Several investigations have shown that ROJ-TV fulfills all the demands for neutral and democratic reporting.

In this situation, it is especially important to show that Denmark really defends the right of Muslim Kurds to the right of expression (including in media), which is guaranteed according to Article 19 of the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Denmark has ratified. In a communication made under the ICCPR to the Human Rights Committee with which you will be familiar, the right to freedom of expression has been interpreted to cover not only the content but also the form of speech (meaning the language, in this case, for instance, Kurdish), and protects speakers of minority languages from significant interferences by the state with their ability to express themselves through their language.

Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, dr.phil.