Turkey's public broadcaster will on January 1
inaugurate a television channel in Kurdish, a
language banned in the country until the early
1990s, marking a fresh milestone in Ankara's
fence-mending efforts towards the restive Kurdish
The new station,www.ekurd.net
which will be Channel
Six of the state-run Turkish Radio and Television (TRT),
will broadcast round the clock in Kurdish "without
imposing the state ideology while offering
comprehensive informational programmes," according
to TRT director Ibrahim Sahin.
The channel, whose preparations continue behind
closed doors, will initially begin broadcasting in
Kurmanci, the dialect spoken by the majority of
The ambitious project will face tough competition
from Kurdish-language channels based abroad which
have a solid audience in Turkey's mainly Kurdish
southeast, where, despite rampant poverty, satellite
dishes are an invariable fixture of the landscape.
Turkish authorities hope the new station will help
erode the popularity of the militant Denmark-based
which continues to
broadcast despite Ankara's vigorous protests to
Copenhagen that the channel is a mouthpiece of the
Turkeys' separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Channel Six has set the bar high, hunting, according
to the Turkish press, for high-calibre Kurdish stars
to host some of its programmes such as singers Ciwan
whose records once circulated clandestinely in
Ankara had long restricted Kurdish cultural rights,
fearing that such freedoms would play into the hands
of the PKK, which took up arms for self-rule in the
southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has
claimed about 44,000 lives.
But eager to boost its bid to join the European
Union and under growing criticism that heavy-handed
policies serve only to radicalise the Kurds, Ankara
has undertaken a series of taboo-breaking moves in
Legal reforms paved the way for TRT to launch
30-minute weekly broadcasts in Kurdish in 2004,
followed two years later by the green light for
private broadcasters to follow suit.
The reforms set a landmark in the Kurdish struggle
for cultural freedoms, but were widely criticised as
shallow and far from meeting demands for genuine
freedom of expression.
And even before going to air, the new channel has
been denounced by activists as a sop to the Kurds
from a government which has no serious intention of
resolving the Kurdish problem.
Kurdish lawmaker Sirri Sakik dismissed the project
as a "cosmetic" gesture ahead of local elections in
March, in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development
Party (AKP) hopes to take control of major
Kurdish-held municipalities in the southeast. Turkey
Kurds say Erdogan's
economic package not enough
to solve Kurdish issue.
"There is no political
debate about this channel. The government wants to
use it for propaganda," Sakik, a senior
member of the Democratic Society Party, Turkey's
main Kurdish political movement, told AFP.
He charged that the AKP, which enjoys notable
popularity among the Kurds, "has done nothing to
resolve the Kurdish problem" since it came to power
in 2002, pointing at tougher nationalist rhetoric
from Erdogan in recent months.
The prime minister triggered a wave of criticism in
November when he said in comments about Kurdish
unrest at the time that Turkey has "one nation, one
flag and one state" and pointedly added that "those
who do not agree should go."
Since 1984 the Turkey's
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
took up arms for self-rule in the mainly
Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority.
The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds'
identity in its constitution and of their language
as a native language along with Turkish in the
country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded
an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and
constitution against Kurds, ranting them full
The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel
group PKK and its political wing on
the European Union's terror list.
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians
say the measures fall short of their expectations.
Turkey has never, and still does not, recognize the
Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) and refuses to
meet with its representatives in any official
capacity. That reflects Ankara's fear that any
international respect shown to the autonomous Iraqi
Kurdistan region would only embolden Turkey's own
large Kurdish minority to seek similar home-rule
Copyright, respective author or news agency,
AFP | Agencies
** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority
in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other
minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently
granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and
education in the Kurdish language, but critics say
the measures do not go far enough.
The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously
rejected due to its alleged political implications
by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize
the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast
Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big
Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia),
which covers an area as big as France, about half of
all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in
Turkey is home to 25 million ethnic Kurds, a large
Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with
the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the
country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.
Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed
severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language,
prohibiting the language in education and broadcast
media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized
in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q
which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led
to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003
The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan
but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag
is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it
is a criminal offence"
North Kurdistan (