Monday, May 14, 2007

Kurdish Bird shot down ! From YOL to ROJ TV via David & Layla

Kurdish Bird shot down!

From YOL to ROJ TV via David & Layla

David & Layla was an Official Selection in Competition at 23rd Annual love/ Amore International film festival at Mons in Belgium.

ROJ TV came to interview me and to cover the screening of the film at one of the sold out 600+ seat cinema. Afterwards I had the great honor and pleasure of being invited for an interview at ROJ TV station arranged by the charming, noble and witty anchor producer Hassan Ghazi.

The film festival organizers arranged for me to be driven to ROJ TV, a 45 minutes drive from the festival.

I was sharing a car with some festival jury members who were being driven to Brussels Airport.
We arrived at some complex by a river. Suddenly we all saw the Roj TV sign on a big modern building.My European colleagues were all impressed by this huge head quarters and asked what country ROJ TV belongs to?

The security guard called ROJ TV. A minute later Hassan himself came out to greet us and invite all for tea. But they had planes to catch.

Once inside, I was delighted to see so many Kurds, women and men, young and old, from all parts of divided Kurdistan and from diaspora, all working quietly and professionally together.

I felt I was in a dream: a micro vision of what a free Kurdistan could be like one day.

In between preparation for the interview, I had a kebab lunch with some polite and casual staff members in a huge restaurant belonging to ROJ TV. Then I had chai in a grand bar that was also an integral part of ROJ TV.After the interview ROJ TV graciously invited me to dinner and then to stay the night in a nearby hotel.

In the 1980’s, I lived in San Francisco to which lovely city I had immigrated after 16 years of studying and working in London.

In San Francisco, I was editor for a journal called Azadi Kurdistan.I had a marketing executive Job so I was able to also send monthly checks to Ibrahim Ahmed, the legendary leader and poet, exiled to London to support his literary journal published in Kurdish.

A few years later,when I was passing through London,Ibrahim Ahmed invited me to his home in the suburbs of London.My sister Dilkhwaz who was studying for a master degree accompaned me.I recall I chided her for wearing too modern,too tight a pair of Jeans and somewhat heavy make up.I said to her, we are visiting the home of our grand poet.I bet his wife is going be wearing modest daily Kurdish clothes.I wished that you my dear sister wore something more subdued, more poetic... Sure engough the wife of our humble poet wore a dark Kurdish cloth with tiny fine flowers reminding me ofmy mother's dress

Up to that time, Kurdish communication was confined to these small journals spread out in diaspora in Europe and America and read only by a few.


Suddenly we heard of a phenomenal Kurdish film called YOL wining Palme d’Or at Cannes in France, the most prestigious festival in the world. We learnt of thr film's legendary writer/director Yilmaz Guney who had directed (via his assistant) his epic film from inside Turkish prison. Then he had fled to Europe to finish the film’s postproduction

To me this was the first fantastic breakthrough for Kurdistan cause on world stage. A Kurd had managed to use film – the most powerful communication medium in the world to present the complex Kurdish tragedy to the world.

I stayed up that night ,wrote an amateur review of this film and published it in our Azadi Kurdistan in Dec 1983 entitled “YOL: A Monument to Human Endurance.” This review has since been re-published at Yol: A monument to human endurance
including Devrim , Editor-In Chief of, say this old, emotionally powerful review still holds true- moves people and brings tears to some eyes.

“Kurdish Bird shot down!”

Then in 1980's, one day an LA producer woman friend faxed me a little piece published in Variety – the Hollywood leading entertainment journal- with this intriguingly title of: “Kurdish Bird shot down!”

This is when I learnt of Med TV. A group of Kurds using their own funds had dared to create from scratch, the unimaginable: they have created the first Kurdish satellite TV!

They had envisioned and create the impossible: the first satellite TV for the independent voice of divided and oppressed Kurdistan.

Of course, this proved too much for Turkey the military occupier and oppressor of 20 million Kurds of its part of Kurdistan annexed by military force to Turkey and mislabeled as South East of Turkey(with Kurds called in official Turkish text books ‘Mountain Turks’ who had forgotten their Turkish language!)

After Yol, This extraordinary creation of an independent Kurdish satellite TV station became the second most important breakthrough for the cause of Kurdistan.

Soon, Turkey successfully lobbied the UK government to shoot down this young Kurdish bird as a “terrorist threat ”!

Then undeterred, other determined Kurds founded another more powerful Kurdish satellite TV station and started to broadcast again in the face of chauvinistic , supremacist Turkish government's attacks.

Furious and paranoid Turkish government started to lobby again to shut down the new Kurdish satellie station.

In fact Kurds had to create other Satellite TV stations, Eventually, protected by European Union from dastardly Turkish pressures, the much bigger ROJ TV was created with its present HQ near Brussels, now broadcasting 18 hours a day in all Kurdish dialects as well in Turkish, Arabic, Farsi and in English.

Birds of a feather... but of course, none of these Kurdish birds had any relations to each other!

Another Kurdish Bird shot down:

The third most important landmark in the history of free Kurdish media has to be This outstanding London-based internet, the ‘Voice of United Kurdistan’ is the brainchild of Dr Rebwar. Assisted by a few dedicated, self-sacrificing souls such as Peshraw, this site soon established itself as the most professional, the most objective, the most dynamic, the most reliable and therefor soon and the most visited Kurdish site on the internet. is the closest Kurdistan has to a BBC world radio. Yet sadly to-date neither wealthy Kurds nor Kurdish Regional Government offer much material help. The BBC (or al-Ahram or al-Jazeera!) could not exist and flourish without government support. Yet BBC remains independent and frequently criticizes British government officials and policies.

Similarly, for the sake of the larger noble services of ROJ TV and KurdishMedia, wealthy Kurds and Kurdish government need to understand, appreciate and support KurdishMedia and ROJ TV as independent public service channels, having the inalienable right to investigate and to criticize everyone and everything, including Kurdish personalities,artists, entities, Kurdish parties, the Kurdish government and Kurdish officials.

If any proof is needed for the continuing power of words, is frequently under attack by hackers, most notably from the hired anti-free speech agents of Turkish government.

As of this article, the mighty is still grounded now for weeks due to hacker attacks and lack of Kurdish financial support to rebuild a more secure site.

The world and its constituent societies cannot progress without freedom of speech including healthy self-criticisms.

It was indeed a grand pleasure, a dream come true, and a special inspiration to finally visit ROJ TV-the Kurdish CNN!-and its sincere, hardworking and dedicated staff.

Biji Roj TV! Biji KurdishMedia! Biji Azady! Biji Kurdistan!

Jalal Jonroy, writer/director, David & Layla. New York, May 2007


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