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


At 7/7/06 11:34 am, Blogger Vladimir said...

I could ifnd this article, but not the other one. Good job for translating. Also check out the articles of Eric Outshoorn.


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