Monday, July 31, 2006

Roj TV most popular in Southeast, poll says

Research Unveils Huge IDP Population

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

The long-awaited results of independent research revealed that the country's displaced population was no less than 800,000 -- a figure that is above the figure released by the government of around 350,000.

At least 800,000 people have been internally displaced since 1986 as a result of the conflict between security forces and members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the country's Southeast, according to research by Hacettepe University obtained by Turkish daily Milliyet.

Also yesterday in Diyarbakır , Yenişehir Mayor from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party Fırat Anlı announced results of a public survey that showed Roj TV -- seen by Turkey as the mouthpiece of the PKK -- to be the most popular television channel in the region.

Anlı said 21 percent of those who participated in the poll said they had come to Diyarbakır due to mandatory relocation during the 1990s. Of them, 20 percent said they had found it hard to adapt to urban life but eventually had become used to it, but another 20 percent said they would return to their villages if given help.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Danish Artists Call for Free Speech in Turkey

Thursday, July 27 , 2006

Stickers made by two Danish artists aimed to protest limitations on freedom of speech in Turkey

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Two Danish artists on Monday plastered sarcastic stickers across Ankara , protesting limits on the freedom of speech in Turkey -- the latest stop in the pair's international campaign to use ironic and humorous messages to spark debate.

Pia Bertelsen and Jan Egesborg were focusing on restrictions against freedom of speech in Turkey.

"We know you love Kurdish television," read one of the stickers, featuring a picture of Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan on a TV screen. "We know you care about freedom of speech," read another.

Turkey has had several attempts to shut a Kurdish-language satellite television station that broadcasts from Denmark , saying that Denmark-based Roj TV supports the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had once furiously left a press conference in Denmark early, after finding out that Roj TV reporters were among press members in the room.

The visit to Ankara was part of a global tour that has taken the artists already to Serbia and Belarus. They also took out local advertising space in Zimbabwe.

The two artists told the Turkish Daily News their intention was not to offend or provoke. Instead, they wanted to get people to think about freedom of speech issues. Although the stickers mainly concentrated on Kurdish TV, "It is more a general support of freedom of speech," Egesborg said. "We are worried about the situation because, if Turkey is going to be a member (of the EU), it has got to have freedom of speech."

Egesborg said he supported Turkey 's European Union membership. "It would be a disaster if Turkey does not enter the EU."

"How to relate to minorities is an issue in Denmark and Turkey," Bertelsen said. "But in Denmark people can communicate what they think, in Turkey they can't."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Artfully supporting Turkish minorities

By Jody Sabral

Wednesday 26 July 2006, 1:56 Makka Time, 22:56 GMT

Two Danish artists have performed an "art protest" on the streets of the Turkish capital, Ankara, to highlight concerns over freedom of speech in Turkey and show support for Turkish minorities.

Artists' stickers plastered on Ankara streets

"After the recent arrests of Turkish journalists for "insulting Turkishness, we wanted to address the issue of freedom of speech in Turkey.

"We want Turkey to be a member of the EU, but we are concerned about this issue," Jan Egesborg, one of the street artists involved told

Egesborg and his partner, Pia Bertelsen, who call themselves "Surrend", short for surrender plastered stickers around the city centre with pictures of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minster, and texts that read:"We know that you love Kurdish television; We know that you put the control of freedom of speech highest;we know that you know more about Kurdish television than 56 mayors."

Artists highlight the irony

The artists told that their aim was to promote a dialogue between the Danish and Turkish governments after 56 Turkish mayors were charged with up to 10 years' imprisonment for writing a letter to the Danish prime minister asking him not to close down the Kurdish satellite channel Roj TV, which today broadcasts in Kurdish from Denmark.

"We do not support Roj TV, but are focused on freedom of speech, because we believe that Turkey would be a good partner for the EU," Egesborg said.

"We want Turkey to be a member of the EU. It would be fantastic for both parties in terms of economic and cultural excahnge," he added.

Freedom of speech

Turkey has been criticised by the EU over its policies on freedom of speech, since getting the greenlight for accession talks in October 2005.

Turkish writer charged under 301

Article 301, on the denigration of Turkishness, the Republic, and the foundation and institutions of the State, was introduced with the legislative reforms of June 1, 2005, and replaced Article 159 of the old penal code.

Up to 60 journalists have been investigated under Article 301. Amnesty International has expressed extreme concern at the frequest use of it to prosecute human rights defenders, journalists and other members of civil society who express their dissenting opinion.

Public reaction

The reaction on the streets from both Turkish people and security forces was one of curiosity and calm.

"The reaction was not a negative one, quite the opposite. People stopped and read the stickers and seemed genuinely interested. Even the police looked on in wonder to what we were doing and did not react negatively," Egesborg said.

Pia Bertelsen says the aim of Surrend is to take art to hotspots.

Bertelsen and Egesborg and another artist, Claude Rohland, put up anti-war posters in Baghdad last year.

In Zimbabwe, they placed advertisments in newspapers, "making fun of" Robert Mugabe, the country's president.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

DTP poll shows Roj TV most popular

Turkish Daily News

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A poll by a Diyarbakır municipality shows nearly half of the people in the Yenişehir district earn between YTL 200 and YTL 300 a month

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

The public survey initiated by the Yenişehir Municipality of Diyarbakır showed that Roj TV, seen by Turkey as the mouthpiece of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), as the most popular television channel in the region.Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Yenişehir Mayor from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) Fırat Anlı said the poll showed Roj TV was the most popular channel, while the DTP mayors were being prosecuted for writing a letter saying it shouldn't be closed. A prosecutor has demanded 15 years in prison for 56 DTP mayors who wrote to Denmark's prime minister urging him to resist Turkish calls to ban the ROJ TV station.The mayors were charged after they sent a letter to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, asking him to keep the Roj TV station on the air in Denmark despite claims from Turkey that it was a mouthpiece for the PKK, the agency said.

The indictment accused the mayors of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization. The PKK has been listed by the European Union and the United States as a terror group. Anlı said the poll was carried out on 1,060 people from neighborhoods within the Yenişehir Municipality . Anlı said Diyarbakır came 53rd in Turkey in the University Entrance Examination (ÖSS) last year, dropping to 59th this year. He said Diyarbakır was in need of support from the government on education, noting that the municipality's resources were not enough to address the issue. Twenty-five percent said they were illiterate and 73 percent said only one person in their household worked. Fırat said the questions were prepared in Turkish, Kurdish and English.

He said 42 percent of those who participated in the poll said their monthly income was between YTL 200 and YTL 300, with 14 percent saying their monthly income was over YTL 1,000 and 21 percent said they had come to Diyarbakır due to mandatory relocation during the 1990s. Of them, 20 percent said they had found it hard to adapt to urban life but eventually had gotten use to it, but another 20 percent said they would return to their villages if helped.According to the poll, if there was an election today, 56.3 percent would vote for DTP and 16 percent would vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (DTP).He said the poll's results would be sent to the relevant ministries.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Prime Minister warned that terror law changes could impose censorship of Kurdish issues

Turkey10 July 2006

Reporters Without Borders has written to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan voicing concern about amendments to the anti-terrorism law that have just been passed by parliament. The organisation roundly condemns articles providing for prison sentences for the dissemination of statements and propaganda by "terrorist organisations," fearing they could lead to arbitrary prosecutions of journalists covering issues related to these organisations.

The amendments are sufficiently vague that any member of a news media producing a contested report or article could be prosecuted, especially as several journalists are already charged with collaborating with the successor to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and face stiff sentences for covering military operations or pro-Kurdish demonstrations.

Paris, 6 July 2006

Dear Prime Minister,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, would like to share with you its concern about the situation of free expression in Turkey, a country currently holding negotiations with a view to joining the European Union. We are worried about amendments to the 1991 Law on the Fight against Terrorism (Act 3713) that were passed by parliament on 29 June, as they introduce new restrictions on press freedom and above all target the pro-Kurdish media, whose very existence your are threatening.

Article 6, paragraph 2 of this law now provides for a three-year prison sentence for "any dissemination of statements and communiques by terrorist organisations." The owners and editors of news organisations risk a heavy fine.

Article 7, paragraph 2 of the law says that: "Whoever makes propaganda for a terrorist organisation will be sentenced to five years in prison. If the crime is committed by means of the press, the penalty may be increased by half. Owners and editors will also be sentenced to a heavy fine."

Reporters Without Borders would very much like the term "terrorist organisation" to be precisely defined in order to avoid any abuse of this provision for the purpose of arbitrary arrest or imprisonment. For example, an official list of organisations considered to be terrorist could help avoid misunderstandings.

Parliament also added a new article (article 8, paragraph b) providing for "chain liability," under which, for example, a newspaper report with no byline could result in a prosecution being brought against the editor in charge, the editor-in-chief, the newspaper's owner, the printer and even the translator if it was translated from another language. The amendment says "persons responsible for a programme" or "persons responsible for an issue of a publication" can be prosecuted and sentenced to heavy fines. Parliament introduced this extremely dangerous concept with the aim of extending the range of editors, executives and others liable for prosecution. The entire chain of command becomes potentially guilty.

The persistent legal obstacles to free expression in Turkey have been highlighted by Reporters Without Borders in the past. The government, the armed forces, militant nationalists and any state institution can abuse the law to target journalists commenting on sensitive or controversial issues or episodes in Turkish history such as the Armenian genocide, the withdrawal of the Turkish armed forces from Cyprus or the Kurdish question.

The fight against terrorism is, of course, necessary and legitimate, but Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the possible intention of these new amendments. We think they are especially targeted at pro-Kurdish journalists who are often accused of terrorist collaboration with the outlawed Kurdish separatist organisation PKK/Kongra-Gel.

We could cite the case of Rüstu Demirkaya, a reporter with the pro-Kurdish news agency DIHA, who has been held in Tunceli prison, in eastern Turkey, since 14 June on a charge of "collaborating with the PKK/Kongra-Gel." A former PKK activist reportedly accused him of supplying PKK members with a laptop computer and 10 virgin CD-ROMs and of tipping them off about an ongoing military operation. He could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

The police handling the investigation have not produced any concrete evidence in support for the allegations made by the former PKK member. It is completely unacceptable that Demirkaya should have to remain in prison while the investigation continues.

We could also cite the case Evrim Dengiz and Nesrin Yazar, two young women working for DIHA who were stopped by anti-terrorist police on 15 February in Mersin as they returned from covering a demonstration marking the seventh anniversary of the arrest of the PKK/Kongra-Gel leader Abdullah Öcalan. We have been told that the police took them some distance away from their car, which they then proceeded to search and claimed to have found two home-made petrol bombs inside.

Dengiz and Yazar were accused of making the bombs for the demonstration. The judge in charge of the case has classified it on security grounds. The Mersin prosecutor has requested life imprisonment for a "threat against state unity and territorial integrity" under article 302-1 of the criminal code. Their lawyer, Bedri Kuran, who has not been allowed to see the prosecution case file because it has been classified, says the search violated legal procedure because it should have been carried out in a judge's presence. He also says there is no forensic report on the petrol bombs.

Prime Minister, we cannot help being troubled by the speed with which journalists are placed in pretrial custody in Turkey even when the evidence against them is very slim. Free expression and press freedom are inviolable democratic principles that must be respected.

We urge you, Prime Minister, to ask parliament to revise the amendments to the Law on the Fight against Terrorism so that they meet international standards.

We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration.


Robert Ménard Secretary-General

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

BIA² Releases 2nd Quarterly Monitoring Report

Monitoring media freedoms and rights in Turkey, BIA² discloses 56 "Freedom of Expression" cases launched against 67 individuals from April through June as government still seeks to impose new restrictions. Turkey pays ECHR 332,000 YTL in 1.5 years.

BIA News Center
11/07/2006 Erol ONDEROGLU BİA (Istanbul) - "Perihan Magden, Birgul Ozbaris and Gokhan Gencay face up to 27 years imprisonment in total on charges of 'discouraging the public from military service'.

Everyone from journalists to tradespeople collide with freedom of expression limitations as charges are pressed. While Turkey loses at European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) freedom of expression cases, the taxpayer has to pay the compensation collectively".

The 2006 2nd Quarterly Report prepared by the "Network in Turkey for Monitoring and Covering Media Freedom and Independent Journalism" - BIA² Media Monitoring Desk and covering the months of April, May and June discloses factual details on the situation of the media in relation to rights and freedoms.

The 12-page BIA² report discloses that 56 new "Freedom of Expression" have been launched against 67 individuals from April through June as the government still seeks to impose new restrictions.

Covering the persecution of journalists and writers Nese Duzel, Sebati Karakurt, Perihan Magden, Hrant Dink, Birgül Ozbaris, Gokhan Gencay, Abdurrahman Dilipak, Memik Horuz, Evrim Dengiz, Nesrin Yazar, Rustu Demirkaya, Elif Shafak, Semih Sokmen, Aslı Bicen, Sabri Ejder Ozic, Murat Belge, Murat Yetkin, Hasip Kaplan, Emine Senlikoglu, Mehmet Sevket Eygi and Musa Agacik the report stresses that Turkey has already been made to pay over 332,000 YTL (USD 207.500) in compensation in only 1.5 years at cases heard by the ECHR.

"While the reforms on the road to European Union membership were important steps for freedom of expression the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has not only ignored the grave consequences created by the Criminal Code in just a year but has even passed a new form of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) knowing it only brought more sentences at the ECHR in the past and does so today too" says the report.

BIA²: Government takes freedoms lightly

BIA² Media Monitoring Desk's report deals with the situation of journalists, writers and activists persecuted and prosecuted in Turkey under the headlines "attacks and threats", "detentions and arrests ", "trials and initiatives", "European Court of Human Rights", "RTUK applications", "adjustments and seeking justice" and "Reaction to censorship".

The report contains information on 56 court cases launched against 67 people, four journalists seeking their rights at local courts and 15 individuals who have applied to the European Court of Human Rights.

Charges made under Turkish Penal Code (TCK) article 288 (attempting to influence justice), 301/159 (Insulting Turkishness and state institutions), 318 (Discouraging the people from military service), 216 (Inciting hatred and enmity) are highlighted in the report together with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's reply to criticism of his conduct by filing for damages.

The "Independence" of Justice

The report cites developments over the past three months that reveal problems with regard to the independence of justice in Turkey.

It notes that while the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors has no structural or functional autonomy, the fact that the Office of the Chief of General Staff and the Police force are at top of the list of institutions filing criminal complaints "creates a concerning picture for the freedom of media and expression".

"Covering a wide section of society from journalists to tradespeople at least 40 people have been put on trial or are still being tried under article 159 of the old TCK and article 301 of the new Code" it says.

Anti-Terror Law

The report states that while the consequences of the Penal Code are so clear the government's approval of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) means "the freedom of media and expression of opinions is taken lightly".

The TMY that was passed by Parliament on June 29 and is currently the source of journalist Nese Duzel and Sebati Karakurt's trial does not only increase prison terms and extend them to new areas but in certain conditions also extends the criminal responsibility in publications from newspaper owners and editor-in-chiefs to "publication executives" the report warns.

It adds that the law amends previous articles in such way "that monetary fines are now changed to prison terms and allows the stopping of publications will also be a serious obstacle in the debate of issues such as the Kurdish problem and media coverage of these issues".

Says the report:

"The case launched against journalist Hrant Dink for his article series 'Armenian Identity' under article 159 turned into an adventure displaying differences of evaluation between local courts and the Supreme Court, constituting an important example. As observed in other "inciting hatred and enmity" cases, the Dink case also damaged "the feeling of justice" being upheld.

Human rights activists have now tied hoped to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer's veto of the TMY which has in the past 1.5 year alone cost Turkey 332.500 YTL at the European Court of Human Rights".

10 attacks on media, journalists in prison go up to 4

According to the report, nine journalists and one publishing company have been attacked in the past three months while two journalists have been threatened.

In the same period of last year the number of attacks recorded was 7. Another determination made by the report is that journalists working for the Kurdish press are frequently being charged with "assisting the PKK".

"Isci Koylu" [Workers Peasants] magazine Editor-in-Chief Memik Horuz was the only journalist "under arrest in prison in the scope of press freedoms" until the new year but since then Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporters Evrim Dengiz, Nesrin Yazar and Rustu Demirkaya have been added to the list bringing up the number to 4 in six months. "Assisting the PKK" cases launched against the three journalists continues.

"Discouraging military service" a spreading threat

"Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" newspaper reporter Birgul Ozbaris has been charged seven times in trials related to her news coverage and interviews on conscientious objection and she faces 21 years imprisonment if found guilty.

"Birgun" newspaper Sunday Supplementary editor Gokhan Gencay interviewed conscientious objector Erkan Bolot, "Yeni Aktuel" magazine writer Perihan Magden wrote an article titled "Conscientious Objection is a Human Right". Both journalists face three years imprisonment each.

With amendments made in the Military justice and trial procedures, the trial of individuals such as Abdurrahman Dilipak at military courts will not be possible but civilian courts will be allowed to attribute to the Military Criminal Code where such trials are heard.

Article 301 puts over 40 on trial

The allegation of "Insulting Turkishness" has last been leveled against "Father and Bastard" novel author Elif Shafak, Metis Publishing House chief Semih Sokmen and translatorAsli Bicen.

An investigation on the same charge was also launched against the Head of the Armenian Apostolic Church Karekin II.

The justice system and security forces continue to show tolerance to Unity of Jurists group member attorney Kemal Kerincsiz and his associates who spread violence into court cases.

Radio broadcaster gets 6 months under 301

The Adana 5th Court of First Instance sentenced radio broadcaster Sabri Ejder Ozic to 6 months imprisonment under article 301 for "publicly insulting the parliament" despite opinions presented to the court by the Court of Appeals Public Prosecutor and the court's own prosecutor. The court neither deferred the sentence nor turned it into a monetary fine.

Yetkin faces 4.5 years for criticizing court case

It appears that the allegation of "attempting to influence a fair trial" that faces journalists every time judicial decisions are debated, is to continue to be a long-term problem.

Even though the case launched against "Radikal" newspaper writer Murat Belge for criticizing a court decision banning a conference on Ottoman Armenians resulted with an acquittal, four writers from "Radikal" and "Milliyet" newspapers were not fully cleared when the prosecution appealed against their acquittal.

On top of these, a prosecutor now demands 4.5 years imprisonment for "Radikal" newspaper writer Murat Yetkin for criticizing the court case against renown author Orhan Pamuk.

TCK's article 216 is also leading to different consequences in judiciary practice. Jurist Hasip Kaplan who expressed his views on contemporary issues on a television program aired by "Flash TV" was acquitted in the case where he was charged with "inciting hatred and enmity".

However, journalist-writer Emine Senlikoglu was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for expressing her views on a television program she attended in Manavgat in the year 2000.

This allegation was also leveled against "Milli Gazete" newspaper writer Mehmet Sevket Eygi in the past three months.

Following up on the kicking

Journalist Musa Agacik who four years ago was covering Prime Minister Erdogan during a festival was kicked by the PM's bodyguard Murat Oksuz . Star newspaper reporter Agacik could find no one to testify as witness to the assault but pursued his claim that resulted with an administrative monetary fine for Oksuz. (EO/II/YE)

* The full report in Turkish can be obtained from Bianet. Please contact Erol Onderoglu, Tel: 0212 251 1503 Fax: 251 1609 e-mail: for more information.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006



YIgal Schleifer 7/06/06

Fifty-six mayors from Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast region will soon stand trial in the city of Diyarbakir for allegedly aiding militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Charges were filed against the mayors after they wrote an open letter to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen last January asking him to resist Turkish pressure to shut down Roj TV, a Kurdish news and entertainment satellite channel beamed out of Denmark. If found guilty, the mayors could face up to ten years in prison.

Since it started broadcasting in 2004, Roj has become one of the most widely watched television networks in Turkey's Kurdish regions. For the Turkish government, though, Roj TV brings little joy. Ankara has accused Roj of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for the PKK, which battled Turkish troops during the 1980's and 1990's in a bloody separatist fight that took the lives of more than 30,000.

Locals look at the station quite differently. In her small apartment in Diyarbakir, a major metropolitan city of about 721,000 in southeastern Anatolia, Rabia Celikmilek has access to the entire world. A satellite dish on the roof of her crumbling brick building streams 452 channels into her television, with programs from almost every continent. But Celikmilek, a Kurd, says she really only watches Roj TV.

"I don't know Turkish and I don't want to watch Turkish programs. I want to watch programs in my own language, so I watch Roj," the 46-year-old housewife and mother of ten said, as she watched the station's evening news broadcast. "Roj TV reflects the emotions of the Kurds, our opinions. It's a mirror of the Kurds. So when I watch it, I am happy."

With PKK guerillas again clashing with Turkish security forces following several years of quiet, and tensions on the rise in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast, the Turkish government has lately been stepping up a campaign to have Roj TV shut down ? a move that threatens to strain the country's normally staid relations with Denmark and which has raised hackles among Kurds.

"We know for sure that Roj TV is part of the PKK, a terrorist organization," said one Turkish foreign ministry official. "[The PKK] is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU [European Union], and Denmark is a member of the EU and we would expect that the broadcasting organization of a terrorist group would not be given a free pass."

Turkey has accused Roj of helping" incite" a three-day outbreak of violent protests in the southeast in March and says it has provided the Danish government with documentation to prove the station's link to the PKK.

Denmark, meanwhile, finds itself caught in yet another sticky freedom of the press debate. Although the outcry has been minor compared to the furor over a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, Denmark's embassy in Ankara reports that it has received a steady stream of angry letters and e-mails from Turks incensed by the country's hosting of Roj TV.

The issue even sparked a mini-diplomatic crisis in Copenhagen last November when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan boycotted a joint press with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen because a reporter from Roj was in the room. News services reported Fogh Rasmussen as saying on Danish radio in mid-June that he finds it "rather shocking . . .that because you write a letter to me, you are being accused of violating the law. It is shocking that it can take place in a country which is seeking EU membership."

"Surely it's not something that helps to improve relations," commented Anders Christian Hoppe, Denmark's ambassador to Turkey, about the Roj TV affair. "The [Danish] government's position is that, just like in Turkey, this is a matter for the courts. Governments in western countries, including Turkey, do not interfere with the courts," the ambassador continued.

The station, he added, "is being investigated by the police, the government. We have been given material by the Turks and it has been very helpful."

Roj, which means both "day" and "sun" in Kurdish, has open access to the PKK, whose fighters and leadership are holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq. The station frequently airs footage provided by the organization of its guerillas in action against Turkish security forces. Its news programs feature frequent updates about imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, a figure many Turks revile. The station's announcements regarding the deaths of PKK members border on the reverential, the guerillas' young faces shown in front of the organization's red flag.

But Manouchehr Tahsili Zonoozi, a Kurd from Iran who is the station's general manager, says the station, is not controlled by it at all. "We are an independent Kurdish broadcaster. Our job is to be journalists," he said, speaking by telephone from the station's studios in Denmark.

Zonoozi also rejects as "rubbish" the Turkish claim that Roj helped incite the recent violent protests in Turkey. "If I am going to be accused for what happened in Istanbul or Diyarbakir, then you should accuse Le Figaro for [the recent riots that] happened in France," Zonoozi said. "We are very popular and that's hard for the governments in the region."

Until recently, local stations in Turkey were forbidden from broadcasting programs in Kurdish. As part of the country's reform drive to join the European Union, that restriction was lifted, but other limits remain.
Stations are only allowed to broadcast in Kurdish for four hours a week and are not allowed to tackle political subjects in their programs or offer shows for children. Deniz Gorduk, news manager of Gun TV, a local station in Diyarbakir, says Roj ? which, among its various programs, shows children's cartoons in Kurdish ? fills a vacuum created by the Turkish government's controls.

"There are so many limits on us and that is why Roj TV is so popular," Gorduk said. "Roj TV is freer than us."

In the increasingly restive southeast of Turkey, where satellite dishes now adorn even the humblest village homes, the Turkish government's efforts to shut Roj TV are now being added to the local basket of grievances.

In one Diyarbakir family's living room, the subject of Roj TV easily gets emotions going. "When Roj TV started, it was like a sun rising," said Ali, a tailor who asked that only his first name be used. "For Kurdish people, Roj TV is a big window into their lives. We only have Roj TV and now Turkey wants to shut it down."

Editor?s Note: Yigal Schleifer is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul.

Posted July 6, 2006 © Eurasianet

An almost identical article by Yigal Schleifer appeared in " Torono Star" on

Jun 24, 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Turkey demands from Denmark

NRC _ Handelsblad Dutch Daily


Introduction : Turkey demands from Denmark to prohibit the Kurdish channel ROJ TV , operating from Copenhagen,for its alleged provocations to hatred. Manager Manouchehr Tahsili Zonoozi denies the accusation: I'm not a politician, I'm a Kurdish journalist."

By our correspondent

Bernard Bouwman

Copenhagen , 22nd of June. Patiently, Manouchehr Tahsili Zonoozi listens to the explanation. Yes, he knows that the Turkish authorities hold him and his channel ROJ TV responsible for the uprisings in Southeast-Turkey some months ago during which more than 10 people lost their lives. But when Zonoozi hears that according to Ankara he summoned the Kurds to go into the streets and fight the Turkish police, he flies into a rage. "Rubbish! Not one television has that power, neither do we. I'm not a politician, I'm a journalist. A Kurdish journalist."

It is a tense time for ROJ TV. Once again the Turkish authorities asked Denmark to prohibit the channel for alleged provocation to hatred and alleged links to the PKK of Abdullah Ocalan. Since the PKK stands on the European Union List of terror organisations, in the meantime Denmark initiated an inquiry. "I am entirely confident", says Zonoozi, "In 2004 Turkey already lodged a complaint, dismissed by Denmark . How much the Turkish government disgusts ROJ TV, became clear during the visit of Premier Erdogan to Denmark. When Erdogan spotted a journalist of ROJ TV in the press room, he requested the Danish people to remove the person. When they refused whilst the journalist in question was accredited , Erdogan decided to renounce from the press-conference.

This was only the beginning of a bilateral conflict that would only grow bigger during the following months. A group of Kurdish Mayors requested Denmark in a letter not to close down ROJ-TV. The Turkish authorities reacted furious and instated an inquiry; the public prosecutor asked 15 years imprisonment against the mayors. Denmark on its turn reacted severely; the Danish Premier Rasmussen declared to be shocked by the fact that a letter addressed to him can lead to such an accusation. "It is shaking that something like that can happen in a country that wants to become a member of the European Union."

How justified are the Turkish accusations? How radical is ROJ TV? In the offices of the channel in Copenhagen are enough things present that could infuriate Turkish nationalists. There is a map of Kurdistan on which the borders are clearly marked. In southeast Turkey the border lays in Gaziantep , but also cities as Erzurum and Erzincan are according the map are included in Kurdistan . As known, it is the official Turkish opinion that Kurdistan doesn't exist: Turkish Kurds are citizens of Turkey with the same rights and duties as the other citizens.
But according to Zonoozi this is rubbish. "The biggest mistake of the Kurds is that they exist." He discusses for quite a while the position of the Kurds in Iran , where a man has been tortured to death after a demonstration. Still according to Zonoozi, his body has been left behind on a square in the centre of a city as horrifying example. But something like that doesn't happen in Turkey , not? "Oh no?", says Zonoozi, "I think they do". What follows is a comprehensive story about an accident in Kiziltepe nearby Mardin, where a child and father were killed by the Turkish authorities. According to Zonoozi this is the same thing as what happened in Iran . (The official Turkish position is that the shooting happened during a pursuit of followers of the PKK). In a world that treats the Kurds like that, it is good that they have a voice. and because he is a Kurdish journalist, he has no problem with the headline "state terror against the Kurdish people". "We use it while that's the way it is."

But his Kurdish angle of incidence doesn't make him a paladin (mouthpiece) of the PKK, stresses Zonoozi. Not only the Turkish government has problems with the Kurds, this is also the case in Syria and Iran . "Every country says we are the mouthpiece of the Kurdish movement. This is of course not the case." ROJ-TV, according to the manager, has not only programs in Turkish and Kurdish, but also for example in Arabic." And, underlines Zonoozi, the channel is not one-sided. For example, he made a program during which the family of a death member of the PKK had a dialogue with the family of a death Turkish soldier.

" Both had the opportunity to talk", says Zonoozi. Who can say that ROJ –TV is partial? Only the Turkish authorities. One of the most severe accusations of Turkey towards ROJ-TV is that the channel receives money from the PKK. Due to the fact the PKK is already on the EU list of terror organizations, this should lead to the closure of the channel. But Zonoozi considers the accusation as unjustified. "Our finances are public," he says. "For everything that happens, we have proof." How less ROJ TV feels threatened by the Turkish offensive to close them down, seems from the fact that the broadcaster recently launched a Kurdish music channel. "We shine, we shine", says Zonoozi after he explained how many Kurds are watching the channel by Eutelsat Satellite and Internet. The next months it will become clear if the channel will keep on shining.

Note: the article is translated from Dutch into English

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Deborah Ann Dilley

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006


Rather than linking to each individual update, I am just going to ask my regular readers to check Save RojTV for the latest in the news about the 56 Turkish mayors who are facing prison time for signing a letter in support for Roj TV. The Kurdish world seems to be just waiting breathless for more information as to what is going to happen post-indictment.