Monday, February 13, 2006

Roj TV key to democratization?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

By: Vladimir van Wilgenburg

Roj TV makes sure that Kurds are not obliged to watch the scarcity of images directly controlled by the Turkish state. Because of Roj TV's modern satellite technology, Roj TV escapes the hands of Turkish dominance and censure.

Despite some EU-reforms in Turkey, there isn't something you can call real Kurdish television. The 30 minutes of state-run broadcasts and 45 minutes of private-run broadcasts are frankly not enough. This is an example that Turkish homogenisation and assimilation policy is still out there.

Roj TV, like KurdistanTV, Zaghros TV and Kurdsat makes sure that Kurds in Turkey and Kurdistan regain their pride, by becoming more aware of their Kurdish identity by delivering an alternative to Turkish television.

Kurds will become educated on their own identity, by educational information on Kurdish history, Kurdish literature, landmark geographical sites in Kurdistan, Kurdish culture, etc.

With the on-going debate about freedom of expression because of the cartoon-row, Roj TV is also in danger. Premier Erdogan concluded that, freedom of speech has it's limits. I cannot agree with this, because if I would, it would give pretence for anti-democratic measures like closing Roj TV, stopping criticism on religion, family and governments under the name of "respect". This would mean the end of freedom of speech and the start of a new dictatorship.

In the discussion about Roj TV, PKK is not the point. If you think the Turkish state is sacred and holy, then I can assure that this isn't true. Just look to the number of Turkish nationalists still roaming in the Turkish government (MHP). Frankly Roj TV is offering a platform for more Kurdish parties from all parts of Kurdistan. It isn't only focusing on Northern edges of Kurdistan, there is attention for situation of Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian `occupied´ Kurdistan as a lot of Kurds would say.

An example is that Roj TV last year invited politicians from the opposition parties Komala and KDP-I, after demonstrations in Eastern-Kurdistan (Iranian). They also once asked parties from Western Kurdistan (Syrian) to comment on the events there. Roj TV therefore creates more unity among the Kurds, which was also seen in the support of Kurdistan TV for the survival of Roj TV.(" rival" TV-station of KDP)

Another good point of Roj-TV that it is multilingual like the most of the Kurdish TV-stations. Roj TV can be seen as an example for the mostly Turkish programmes on Turkish television. Roj TV even broadcasts in Turkish, although it's meant to also reach Kurds who have forgotten their mother language.

Roj TV actually promotes democracy by giving an alternative view and showing Kurdish television 24 hours a day. Turkey still not managed to close Roj TV in the EU and therefore became a needle in the eye of Turkish republic. Even Turkish journalists-writers didn't deny that Roj TV is popular and watched by non-PKK-Kurds, as well pro-PKK Kurds.

Therefore Roj TV is a source of pressure, next to the developments in South-Kurdistan and the EU democratization process. Turkey may realise that the only way to decrease the influence and support for Roj TV is by allowing more and longer Kurdish television broadcasting. This only can be seen as something positive. I think that even people within Roj TV would welcome more Kurdish television, as a the Roj-TV producer Hessen Qazi told me: "Every Kurdish television station must be welcomed, because it will result in more pluralism" .

Then at last Roj TV could compete with those other Kurdish channels, instead of being subject of Turkish intervention and pressure. This is the only way it should be and that's why the closure of Roj TV must be stopped. The destruction of Roj TV would mean the end of freedom of speech and would partly stop the further development of the Kurdish issue and the democratization of Turkey.

Source: From Holland to Kurdistan