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 Kurdish TRT TV launched against PKK 

 Source : Van Wilgenburg blogspot  - opinion
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Kurdish TRT TV launched against PKK  2.1.2009
By Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

January 2, 2009

I argued a few years before that the only way for Turkey to combat PKK's tv-station Roj TV, is to open a Kurdish tv-channel. It seems that the AKP finally decided to follow this cultural strategy to combat the influence of the PKK-media. The Associated Press reported that the channel is directed against the rebels.

According to the Star the channel is being billed as a Kurdish version of the main Turkish language channel TRT 1, with films, soap operas and talk shows. It will not initially carry advertising.

Why Turkey does this?
1] AKP is losing support among Kurds due to a more nationalist stance Turkish media reported. A Kurdish TRT channel will result in more Kurdish votes, but the launch of the channel was already planned before. Elections will start in march 2009.
2] There are several Kurdish channels now from the political parties PUK, PKK, KDP, Komala, KDP-I from the various Kurdish regions in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. The Kurdish institute Paris is also setting up a Kurdish channel (Kurd 1). It's only logical for Turkey to trying to give a more positive view of Turkey towards the Kurds in general.
3] It will give a good image to the EU.
4] It will be good for counterpropaganda against the PKK. It's clear that the PKK is not amused. PKK media called for a boycot of the TRT channel and labelled it as a tv-station for traitors (Kurdish ‘jash’) and an 'assimilation channel'. DTP-officials said the TRT will be state propaganda in Kurdish. DTP Batman mayoral candidate Nejdet Atalay even said that they will use this channel to say that there are no 'such thing as Kurds in Kurdish. Some nationalistic Kurds from Iraq compared it to Saddam Hussein's Kurdish tv-channel.

The American-Turkish lobby website Journal of Turkish Weekly quoted expert Ihsan Bal: “The problems nourishes the PKK. The Kurdish TV is like an anti-dote against the PKK terrorism, that’s why they are fully against anything to improve Kurdish language by the State”.

Soft power of PKK

A Kurdish TRT channel could result in a weakening of the soft power of the PKK: music. The PKK is quite dominant among Kurdish cultural institutions from Turkey and has a policy of trying to support Kurdish artists and tie them to their political goals. Since Kurdish artists faced severe restrictions in Turkey and even punishment, several of them were forced to go to the PKK (Aynur, Ciwan Haco, etc). Several PKK-artists sing praises to the PKK-leader Ocalan. Both Roj TV and the Mesopotamia Music Channel hosts PKK-supported artists.

An example of PKK's power is Siwan Perwer. Siwan Perwer switched his support from the PKK to the KDP. In return he faced a boycott from PKK-related media and was even attacked by PKK loyalists in 2003. Although the tensions between PKK and Perwer seemed to have decreased, there are indications that Perwer had secret meetings with AKP officials in Germany and that his company Tewlo will produce programs for TRT. Soon he will hold a press conference about his official stance.

If a Kurdish TRT channel is established, this could establish financial opportunities for Kurdish artists to become independent from PKK institutions. TRT is already trying to convince Ciwan Haco to support it's channel. Haco performed on PKK festivals before. TRT also used the music of the DTP-supported Rojda. Kurdish artist Nilufer Akbal said that Kurdish artists can now come to TRT, now Kurds have Kurdish tv, what do they want more? She will have her own program on TRT. The KDP-supported Netkurd website is quite positive about the new TRT test broadcasts.

Criticism: Kurdish still forbidden

According to the independent Turkish journalist Cengiz Candar the impact of the channel will be minimal

Kurdish intellectual Tarik Ziya Ekinci told Today's Zaman that there are still cultural restrictions. "This is an important step, but the legal basis should also be provided. You do this at one point, but in some other place, a judge convicts someone for singing a song in Kurdish. Steps that would establish this as the overall state mentality in the citizens' viewpoints are needed. Without doing these, Kurdish TV is starting from the end."

Some argue that Turkey first has to accept Kurdish identity before broadcasting in Kurdish. Still the Kurdish letters (Q, X and W), political speeches in Kurdish are forbidden, there is no state education in Kurdish and Kurdish villages and cities cannot have Kurdish names. Sometimes there also problems with Kurdish names for children. Ex-mayor Abdullah Demirbas argued that Turkey used to offend Kurds in Turkish and will now offend Kurds in Turkish. He also cynically noticed that there are still no Kurdish education opportunities.

According to the pro-PKK op-ed on Kurdmania Kurds are still discriminated. Also the EU MP Joost Lagendijk thinks that 'Kurdish is still forbidden'. Mustafa Akyol claims that you cannot say in Kurdish 'happy Ramadan'.

Göksel Bozkurt wrote in Hurriyet that 'whatever efforts Parliament has made on strengthening Kurdish culture, the prevailing mentality has been exposed in an official record that referred to a Kurdish greeting as, "A statement made in an unknown language."' Despite the fact that AKP was working on a Kurdish tv-channel.

The test broadcasts can be seen live here.

Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a former Turkology and History student. Currently busy with minor Journalism in Leiden and Language and Culture studies in Utrecht. Experience with lectures, conferences and articles.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, vvanwilgenburg

** 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 Turkey.

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.

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" 

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia    


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