Kurdish TV Survey

kurdishtv_banner A interesting research project to learn more about TV habits of Kurdish speakers in Turkey. Who watches which channels? See link below for survey.

Eger hûn li Tirkîyeyê dijîn û di televizyonê de li bernameyên Kurdî temaşe dikin, ji kereme xwe vê lêpirsînê bersiv bidin. Gelek spas.

Eğer Türkiye’de yaşıyor ve Kürtçe televizyon programlarını izliyorsanız, lütfen birkaç dakikanızı ayırıp bu anketi tamamlar mısınız? Teşekkürler.

If you live in Turkey and watch Kurdish-language television programming, please take a few minutes to complete this survey. Thank you.

https://tr.surveymonkey.com/s/televizyona_kurdi

TRT6 bans 60 Kurdish words

The banned words

TRT6 has a ban on 60 Kurdish words. These words may not be used in broadcasts on the Turkish government’s much-vaunted Kurdish-language station. Are these words offensive? Perhaps akin to the late US comedian George Carlin’s seven words you can never say on television? No, not in the least. These 60 Kurdish words are banned says TRT management because Roj-TV uses these words!

Hmm. Roj-TV broadcasts in Kurdish, right? So doesn’t it make sense that there’s going to be some overlap in word usage? Roj-TV says ‘navnetewî’ (international) so TRT6 can’t? Roj-TV says ‘tenduristî’ (health) so TRT6 says to use the Turkish word ‘sıhhat’ instead? Bizarre.

The proscription of these words was revealed by former TRT6 employee Rengin Elçi, who ended up quitting because of the situation. Elçi argued that you simply cannot ‘replace’ words in Kurdish for others of Arabic, Persian, or Turkish origin, as TRT6 was insisting.

When Elçi began to talk to TRT6 management about the grammatical structure of the language and the spelling of words, for example how you cannot put double letters together in Kurdish (so sıhhat cannot be Kurdish), a staff member of TRT6 shouted, ‘And you have an Oxford Kurdish dictionary!’

Former TRT6 coordinator Sinan Ilhan, who doesn’t even know two words of Kurdish, also claimed that the general Kurdish public wouldn’t understand these 60 words. He knows no Kurdish and was making the decisions on behalf of the native speakers of the language. A rather demeaning assumption and totally off the mark.

But there is a more insidious reason for this ban. The idea that these words have been pulled from TRT6 for their usage on Roj-TV or that ordinary Kurds won’t understand them is a smokescreen. The government, rather, is trying to prevent the Kurdish language from flourishing.

I contacted Deniz Ekici, Kurdish linguist and expert on the Kurdish language, and now an Assistant Professor at Middle Tennessee State University, for his opinion about this. Said Ekici via an email to Kurdistan Commentary:

The TRT authorities banned the said words on the pretext that these words are used by Roj-TV, as if Roj-TV had coined these words. These are pure Kurdish words used by Kurds from all four parts of Kurdistan. It seems like the real reason behind this outrageous decision is that the Turkish government wants to compel the TRT6 staff and the production companies to use the Turkish equivalents of these words, for instance ‘tarîx’ instead of ‘dîrok’; ‘ordu’ instead of ‘artêş’; ‘savci’ instead of ‘dozger’; ‘direktor’ or ‘yonetmen’ instead of ‘derhêner’ and so forth. It is important to note that none of the supposedly Turkish equivalents are really Turkish words. They are all Arabic except for ‘yonetmen’ and the French word ‘direktor’ (from ‘directour’). However, the audience thinks that these are pure Turkish words for they do not speak Arabic or French or other foreign languages, for that matter, from which Turkish has borrowed extensively. By forcing the TRT staff to use ‘Turkish’ words the Turkish state aims to humiliate and make a mockery of the Kurdish language, which in turn reinforces the Turkish state discourse on Kurdish that claims that it is not really a language for it has only a few hundred words of its own and that other words are borrowed from Turkish and other languages and, by extension, the claim that Kurdish is a dialect of Turkish. What is more, in this way the Turkish state tries to invalidate the most vital attribute of Kurdish nation, that is the Kurdish language.

Additionally, TRT6 will not let broadcasters use Kurdish pronunciations of Kurdish towns either. Announcers must say Mardin instead of Mêrdîn, for example.

In a recent survey conducted by the Turkish government to find out who is watching what, Roj-TV won out. TRT6 didn’t even appear in the top ten channels watched by Kurds in Turkey. The survey found that Kurds would rather watch TV in Turkish than tune in to TRT6.

Here is the list of the banned words:

aram: quiet, calm
arîşe: problem, challenge, issue
artêş: army
asayî: normal
asteng: obstacle
belavok: flyer, pamphlet
bijîşk: physician
bûyer: event
çalakî: activity
dadgeh: court (of law)
damezrandin: to establish
darayî: financial, monetary
derhêner: producer (cinema)
dîmen: view, landscape, scenery
dîrok: history
dozger: public prosecutor
ewleyî: security
erdnîgarî: geography
êrîş: attack
fermî: official
gerdûn: universe
girîng: important
helwest: attitude, standpoint
hîndekar: teacher, trainer
komar: republic
kovar: magazine
maf: right
merc: condition, circumstances
mijar: topic
nakokî: conflict, dispute, discrepancy
navnetewî: international
netewe: nation
nexşe: map
nijad: race
niqaş: discussion, debate
nûjen: contemporary, modern
parêzger: lawyer, advocate
pejirandin: to accept
perwerde: education, schooling
pîşesazi: industry
pêşkeş: present, gift
pêvajo: process
pêwîst: necessary, requisite
pirtûk: book
pispor: expert, specialist
qedexe: forbidden
raman: to think, idea
raya gel: public opinion
rexne: criticism
rêxistin: to organise
rizgarî: liberty
şano: theatre
şaredarî: municipal government
tawanbarî: allegation, accusing
taybetî: specialty, genius
têkoşîn: to try, attempt; to struggle
tenduristî: health
wêje: literature
zanîngeh: university
zanyarî: information, knowledge

sources:

Sterk, Rewîn. TRT 6, 60 Kürtçe kelimeye yasak getirdi. ANF, 07 December 2010.

Roj-TV trial to begin on Tuesday

 

Protest in Berlin: 'Hands off Roj-TV'

 

The trial against Roj-TV is set to begin on Tuesday, 19 October in Copenhagen at the City Court.  As reported earlier in a case overview by Kurdistan Commentary an indictment was issued against the Kurdish satellite TV station and its parent company, Mesopotamia Broadcast A/S METV. The indictment against the station was filed by the Danish Prosecutor General’s office for violation of Penal Code §114e. Under this provision in Danish law, it is an offence for a person, group, or association to promote the affairs of a terrorist organisation. The indictment is for ‘promoting the affairs of the terrorist organisation, PKK’ (Kurdistan Workers’ Party or Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan in Kurdish).

Protests in support of Roj-TV have been held in Europe and Turkey during the past week.  Demonstrators took to the streets in Izmir (Turkey) and Berlin (Germany). In Brussels last week, more than 100 members of the Roj-TV staff staged a demonstration to vocalise their displeasure with the case against their station.  They held up a red, green and yellow banner in French reading ‘Roj-Tv est la voix du peuple Kurde’ (Roj-TV is the voice of the Kurdish people).


video clip of Roj-TV employees demonstrating in Brussels

In a press release by Roj-TV staff they say the case against Roj-TV is

in line with the request of [the] Turkish state and the international forces, is not only an injustice committed against Kurds but also a big blow to the freedom of thought and information. It is a massacre against thought and more importantly, it is an intervention, which does not regard the will, language, culture, art and political identity of the Kurds whose population has reached 40 million in the world.

The Turkish state is persecuting the Kurdish media within its borders, whilst at the same time doing its utmost to try to silence the Kurdish press and media outside of its borders. With its policy of persecuting Kurdish press and media, freedom of thought, Turkey is well-known around the world for its disrespect for the freedom of speech, free media and thought. Using every diplomatic opportunity both locally and internationally, the Turkish state has always stated that criminalising the Kurdish cause and bringing onboard international support is directly link to the ineffectiveness of Kurdish media and press and in particular ROJ TV. The Turkish state war against Kurdish media and press is somewhat significant. In this war, it firstly censors the Kurdish media after which it issues millions of pounds and issues years of prison sentences, and if these do not work it results to the full closure. In essence, alongside its diplomatic attempts the Turkish government has utilized millions of dollars at trying to close down ROJ TV. When it could not defeat the consciousness of the international community, Turkey has tried to gain the support of individual countries. Clearly, The Danish Prosecutor indictment against ROJ TV is an indication of these dirty politics based on self-interest. As indicated above, The Turkish state has utilized all its attempts to try to silence ROJ TV both within Europe and Denmark. The Copenhagen Prosecutor contains the complaints directly advocated by Turkey.

For the full press release see Libre News, Roj-TV employees staged protest in Brussels.

In response to a question posed on Twitter by one of his followers, senior Roj-TV official Amed Dicle (@AmedDcle) said the chances of the closure of Roj-TV are ‘fifty-fifty.’

 

Street demonstrations in support of Roj-TV in Izmir

 

Partial timeline of events in Roj-TV’s history:

• 09 December 2003: Roj-TV receives broadcasting licence in Denmark

• 01 March 2004: Roj-TV begins broadcasting

• July 2005: Investigation begins

• November 2005: Turkish PM Erdoğan refuses to attend press conference with Danish counterpart Rasmussen because Roj-TV was present

• May 2007: Danish Radio and Television Board announces that Roj-TV has not violated any laws regarding incitement to hatred or violence

• 24 February 2008: Belgian officials fine Roj-TV €4.25m (later annulled)

• 19 June 2008: Germany bans Roj-TV broadcasts

• mid-2008: Zonoozi steps down from position as head of Roj-TV in Denmark

• 01 April 2009: Danish prosecutors sent to Ankara to investigate links between Roj-TV and the PKK

• 04 April 2009: Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen selected to be NATO’s next Secretary General

• 01 August 2009: Rasmussen becomes NATO Secretary General

• 24 February 2010: German ban on Roj-TV abolished

• 04 March 2010: Roj-TV offices raided in Belgium

 


Copenhagen City Court

 

• May 2010: Zonoozi goes to Berlingske Tidene to give his story

• 31 August 2010: Danish Prosecutor General’s office announces indictment against Roj-TV; offices raided; bank accounts confiscated

• 07 October 2010 Prosecutor Lise-Lotte Nilas asked the Copenhagen district court to revoke Roj-TV’s broadcasting licence

• 19 October 2010 Trial begins in Copenhagen

Case overview: Denmark indicts Roj-TV for supporting terrorism

Screenshot from Roj-TV

On 31 August 2010 an indictment was issued against Kurdish satellite TV station, Roj-TV, and its parent company, Mesopotamia Broadcast A/S METV.

Roj-TV began operations in March 2004 and broadcasts in Kurdish and several other languages to more than 70 countries. Administrative offices are located in Denmark where its operating licence was issued. The station’s broadcasting centre is in Denderleeuw, Belgium and was raided by police and security forces in March of this year. The studios in Denderleeuw are operated by ROJ NV, a separate broadcast production company that supplies programming to Roj-TV.

From the time the Danish Radio and Television Board granted the licence to Roj-TV there has been ever-increasing tension between Copenhagen and Ankara. Turkey has continuously pressured Denmark and other European allies to stop Roj-TV transmissions, lodging complaint after official complaint.

The current indictment against the station was filed by the Danish Prosecutor General’s office for violation of Penal Code §114e. Under this provision under Danish law, it is an offence for a person, group, or association to promote the affairs of a terrorist organisation. The indictment is for ‘promoting the affairs of the terrorist organisation, PKK’ (Kurdistan Workers’ Party or Partiya Karkerên

Kurdistan in Kurdish). The press release from PG Jørgen Steen Sørensen (see press release in Danish) specifically mentions repeated broadcasts of interviews with PKK sympathisers and leaders, saying that a number of programmes, according to their content, are ‘propaganda activities supporting the PKK and that this propaganda activity is likely to promote the activities of the PKK.’ The press release also mentioned that ‘cases of violation of Penal Code §114e are rare.’  (see the Danish Security and Intelligence Service website for complete details on Section 114 and its clauses).

This code clearly indicates that a ‘person’ is liable, not an organisation. However, a ‘person’ has not been indicted in this case against Roj-TV. Danish State Prosector Lise-Lotte Nilas said that her office decided to go after the companies rather than individuals. The prosecutor’s office felt that the investigation would have taken longer had they chosen to bring an indictment against the people involved in the case rather than the companies.

And more delays were what they did not want. The case against Roj-TV has taken long enough as it is, with only one investigator assigned to it. An investigation into alleged ties with the PKK began in July 2005, making it five years and a month to indict Roj-TV and Mesopotamia Broadcast A/S METV. Mesopotamia is the parent company for Roj-TV, Mezopotamya TV (ME TV) and the Mesopotamia Music Channel (MMC).

The case is complicated, pitting press freedoms against illegal financing and support of terrorism. But the deck is stacked against Roj-TV with Denmark being called Europe’s weak link, bringing with it enormous pressure on Danish courts to shut the station down and prove Denmark can be a partner in the global fight against terrorism.

Former managing director of Roj-TV’s administrative offices in Denmark, Manouchehr Zonoozi, went public in the spring claiming that Roj-TV had substantive connections to the PKK. He turned over photographs showing meetings between senior management at Roj-TV and members of the PKK. Photographs were from meetings in Belgium as well as at PKK training camps in the Qandil Mountains. He says he learned of the Roj-TV/PKK connections back in 2004 at a meeting at a PKK camp in Hewlêr (Erbil).

Zonoozi was director of the station until mid-2008. Some reports say Zonoozi resigned from his position due to threats from members of the PKK in Belgium. Other reports indicate he was fired by a representative from the PKK. He is now cooperating with Danish national intelligence (PET) and has been given a new identity. He lives in a safe house under police protection after several threats were made against his life. Yilmaz Imdat is the new head of Roj-TV in Denmark.

Lise-Lotte Nilas, Danish Public Prosecutor in the case, said that contact with PKK in and of itself is not forbidden by law. So this does not constitute a crime. What is important, she underscored, and what was the scope of the investigation, is whether Roj-TV supports terrorism and incites further terrorist actions. The investigation focused mainly on the organisational and economic structure of the TV station.

If the past is any indication, then the answer is that the station does not incite terrorist actions. In response to three complaints by Turkish authorities in 2006, the Danish Radio and Television Board determined in May 2007 that Roj-TV had not violated any broadcasting rules (ruling memo, .pdf) nor had they incited violence or hatred.

Danish Radio and TV board chairman, Christian Scherfig, says that from what he has seen from Roj-TV, their programming is similar to the objective news coverage from other stations such as DR or TV2 [Danish television stations].

Another piece of the investigative puzzle was the discovery back in May 2010 that Ibrahim Ayaz, a Kurdish Swede who sits on the Roj-TV board of directors, held a 20% stake in Roj-TV. Ayaz was Abullah Öcalan’s bodyguard and personal assistant. Henrik Winkel, chairman of the Roj-TV board, has reportedly said in private that he is no longer making decisions for the station since Ayaz’s accession to the board.

In the Belgian offices of Roj-TV: Seated is Chairman of the Board, Henrik C. Winkel; third from the left is former head of Roj-TV, Manouchehr Zonoozi.

Berlingske Tidene, a Danish newspaper with a conservative bent, has extensive coverage of Roj-TV. It came under fire from Kurdish organisations across Europe for its coverage of alleged connections between the station and the PKK. Henrik Winkel, Roj-TV chairman, said that despite the ‘insulting’ and ‘defamatory’ articles published in Berlingske Tidene, Roj-TV would not file a lawsuit against the newspaper. Winkel said it would be ‘a wasted effort and would not lead to anything.’

Part of Berlingske Tidene’s investigation revealed that Roj-TV has received 118,000,000 Danish Kr. (appx. €16m) since 2004 in ‘illegal’ funding from the Copenhagen-based Kurdish Culture Foundation (KCF). Monies from the KCF are deemed illegal because there is no clarity as to where the KCF receives the funds that it then donates. The prosecution’s case will try to prove that the funding comes from the PKK, linking ‘terrorist’ money to the TV station.

The Danish Justice Ministry’s Civil Affairs Agency (CAA) in the past has threatened the Kurdish Culture Foundation with fines (once in 2004 and again in 2008) due to its untraceable largesse. No sanctions were ever levied against the KCF, however Danish Justice Minister Lars Barfoed has now prohibited the organisation from any further donations to Roj-TV without explicit approval from the CAA.

After the indictment was announced, police arrived at the offices of Roj-TV at H.C. Andersens Boulevard, 39 in Copenhagen. They drilled out the lock in the door, entered, and took away five desktop computers and several boxes. Everything was then loaded into a white van parked outside the doors.

Berki Dibek, Turkish Ambassador to Denmark: 'I have confidence that the Danish judicial system will find Roj-TV guilty of promoting terrorism. Roj-TV is part of the PKK, which has killed thousand of people in Turkey.'

Turkey’s ambassador to Denmark, Berki Dibek, was obviously pleased with the indictment and made his feelings known in an announcement in which he said he was confident that the Danish judicial system would do the right thing.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision in a statement saying it expects ‘that these media organisations…will get the punishment they deserve.’

The Turkish press, too, welcomed the decision with headlines such as ‘Finally, Denmark’ and ‘Good morning, Denmark’, referring sarcastically to the length of time it took for the indictment to be handed down.

Line Barfod, a Danish member of parliament and legal affairs spokesperson from the Red-Green Alliance (Endhedslisten) calls the indictment against Roj-TV a serious curtailment of freedom of expression in Denmark. She said that if the media is no longer free to broadcast interviews and reports from areas of conflict, then it is a very serious limitation on freedom of expression. She added that Danish authorities are bowing to pressure from Turkey and the US and laments the fact that millions of Kurds may no longer be able to watch TV in their native language. Barfod also stated that Denmark’s anti-terrorism laws must be amended to avoid further reductions in press freedoms and freedom of speech.

No date has been set yet for the trial, which is expected to be followed closely across Europe and in Turkey. The trial will take place at the Copenhagen Municipal Court. Should Roj-TV and its parent company be found guilty, prosecutors will ask that Roj-TV’s broadcast licence be revoked.

Denmark’s leading criminal law expert, University of Copenhagen professor Jørn Vestergaard, believes the prosecution has fairly good odds of winning the case. In the meantime, and much to the frustration of Ankara, Roj-TV continues on the air.

Partial timeline of events in Roj-TV’s history:

• 09 December 2003: Roj-TV receives broadcasting licence in Denmark

• 01 March 2004: Roj-TV begins broadcasting

• July 2005: Investigation begins

• November 2005: Turkish PM Erdoğan refuses to attend press conference with Danish counterpart Rasmussen because Roj-TV was present

• May 2007: Danish Radio and Television Board announces that Roj-TV has not violated any laws regarding incitement to hatred or violence

• 24 February 2008: Belgian officials fine Roj-TV €4.25m (later annulled)

• 19 June 2008: Germany bans Roj-TV broadcasts

• mid-2008: Zonoozi steps down from position as head of Roj-TV in Denmark

• 01 April 2009: Danish prosecutors sent to Ankara to investigate links between Roj-TV and the PKK

• 04 April 2009: Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen selected to be NATO’s next Secretary General

• 01 August 2009: Rasmussen becomes NATO Secretary General

• 24 February 2010: German ban on Roj-TV abolished

• 04 March 2010: Roj-TV offices raided in Belgium

• May 2010: Zonoozi goes to Berlingske Tidene to give his story

• 31 August 2010: Danish Prosecutor General’s office announces indictment against Roj-TV

Sources:

Denmark: Roj-TV at the heart of Turk-Danish relations. Information and Liaison Bulletin, Institut Kurde de Paris, No. 289, April 2009.

Doğan, Yonca. NATO’s new chief Rasmussen offers no apology on cartoons. Today’s Zaman, 07 April 2009.

ROJ TV’s head says it won’t be shut down. Hurriyet Daily News, 08 April 2009.

Jelbo, Michael, Simon Bendtsen, and Karl Stougaard. PKK-leders livvagt medejer af ROJ TV. Berlingske Tidene, 29 May 2010.

More PKK connections to Kurdish station exposed. The Copenhagen Post Online, 31 May 2010.

Roj TV vil ikke sagsøge Berlingske. Politiken.dk, 01 June 2010.

Danish investigation on Roj-TV will soon draw to an end. ANF News Agency, 04 August 2010.

Ex-Roj TV head in hiding. The Copenhagen Post Online, 16 August 2010.

Danish Daily reveals one officer handling Roj-TV inquiry. Today’s Zaman, 27 August 2010.

Olsen, Jan. Denmark alleges Kurdish TV station promoted terror. AP News, 31 August 2010.

Roj-TV charged under anti-terrorism laws. Politiken.dk, 31 August 2010.

Ingen risikerer fængsel i ROJ-sag. Politiken.dk, 31 August 2010

Danîmarka qedexebûna Roj tv xwest. Rojeva Kurd, 31 August 2010.

Bendtsen, Simon, Karl Stougaard, and Lene Frøslev. Historisk terrortiltale mod ROJ TV. Berlingske Tidene, 31 August 2010.

Bendtsen, Simon. Enhedslisten: ROJ-sag er trussel mod ytringsfrihed. Berlingske Tidene, 01 September 2010.

Turkey Welcomes Denmark’s Case against Roj-TV. Journal of the Turkish Weekly, 01 September 2010.

Stougaard, Karl and Simon Bendtsen. ROJ-tiltale trækker overskrifter. Berlingske Tidene, 01 September 2010.

Stougaard, Karl and Simon Bendtsen. Terrorsag uden terrorister. Berlingske Tidene, 01 September 2010.

Racisme og terror sløres bag ytringsfriheden. Politiken.dk, 02 September 2010.

Danish prosecutors charge ROJ-TV with promoting terrorism

Prosecutors in Denmark cave to Turkish pressure!

Danish prosecutors charge ROJ-TV with promoting terrorism

Jan M. Olsen, Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Kurdish-language TV station with a Danish broadcasting license has been charged with promoting a group linked to terrorism, Danish prosecutors said Tuesday.

Top prosecutor Joergen Steen Soerensen said that Roj-TV is helping promote the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

PKK rebels have been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984. Turkey accuses Roj-TV of being a mouthpiece for the PKK.

According to Soerensen, Roj-TV has “persistently” aired shows with interviews of PKK members and supporters but also about skirmishes between Kurds and Turkish forces. The station’s content was “aimed at promoting and supporting the activities of the terrorist organization PKK” and its political wing, Kongra-Gel, the prosecutor said.

The programs “must be regarded as having the characteristics of propaganda in support of PKK,” Soerensen said. The charges came after “extremely comprehensive investigations” of the connections between Roj-TV and PKK, he added.

The charges also include Mesopotamia Broadcast A/S METV, a company behind Roj-TV.

Roj-TV has a Danish broadcasting license but has no studios in Denmark. Calls to the station were not answered, but Roj-TV officials have previously denied terror links.

In Turkey, a senior Foreign Ministry official called the decision “a very positive development” and said “it’s something Turkey has been asking for all along.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with Turkish rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.

Under Denmark’s anti-terror law, a person can face prison up to 10 years for supporting a terrorist organization.

Justice Minister Lars Barfoed welcomed the decision, saying it now was up to a court of law to consider Roj-TV’s activities.

No date has been set for the trial, which will take place at Copenhagen City Court.

Prosecutors also said they would ask the Danish Radio and Television Board to revoke the station’s license, which was issued over six years ago, based on criminal violations.

Danish-Turkish relations have long been strained over Kurdish groups based in Denmark.

In 1995, a political arm of the PKK opened its fourth European office in Copenhagen, sparking protests from the Turkish Embassy. The office later closed because of a lack of funding.

In 2000, Turkey protested that a Kurdish-language satellite TV station, Mesopotamia TV, was allowed to broadcast from Denmark to Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa.

And in 2005, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan boycotted a news conference in Copenhagen to protest the presence of Roj-TV journalists.

__

Associated Press writer Susan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

ROJ-TV offices raided in Belgium

Reminiscent of operations carried out in Turkey, Belgian police yesterday raided ROJ-TV offices in Denderleeuw, smashing computers and broadcasting equipment. Balaclava-hooded agents handcuffed ROJ-TV staff and removed them from the premises.  Those arrested include head of ROJ-TV Gülşen Emsiz, and journalists Burhan Erdem, Devrim Akçadağ and Murat Yaklav. The rest of station’s staff gathered outside of the building to protest the degrading raid.  Some reports say several of the balaclava-clad police that took part in the raid were Turkish-speaking.

ROJ-TV, an international Kurdish satellite station, began operations in 2004 and broadcasts with a licence from Denmark.

Police outside ROJ-TV offices in Denderleeuw

The international satellite station’s management said that they were informed that the raid was carried out in the framework of anti-terror operations, which have swept through Italy and France in recent weeks. There are two primary allegations directed against the station.  One is financial fraud and tax evasion while the other is distributing PKK propaganda, educating PKK members, and recruiting members for the PKK.

An AFP correspondent in Diyarbakir, largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey where ROJ-TV is widely watched, said that the channel’s broadcast was cut on Thursday.  ROJ-TV has now begun broadcasting from Sweden.

Amid Dicle, a ROJ-TV journalist, claimed that this raid was carried out at the behest of the Turkish government. Turkey has long sought to silence ROJ-TV in Europe, using diplomatic pressure to force European governments to stop its broadcasting. This operation was, in fact, launched in coordination with Turkish intelligence.

Last month ROJ-TV won its court case today against the German government, which had tried to close down the channel after a request from the Turkish government.  Germany and Denmark have had strained relations with Turkey in recent years over ROJ-TV.

Police and ROJ-TV supporters clash

Belgian public radio RTBF said some 300 officers took part in raids in Denderleeuw, Brussels, Antwerp and other Belgian cities, raiding 24 Kurdish community centres and  arresting a number of prominent Kurdish politicians including Dr. Remzi Kartal, Zobeyer Aydar, Adem Ozun and Ayub Doru.

In a statement carried by Firat News Agency ‘all Kurds living in Europe’ were urged to ‘come together in Brussels and mount actions of protest against this hostile attack.’

sources:

Belgian police swoop on high-profile Kurds, AFP, 04 March 2010.

ROJ-TV raided, Remzi Kartal and colleagues arrested. Rojhelat, 04 March 2010.