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 RSF: Eutelsat decision to suspend Roj TV violates freedom of press

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RSF: Eutelsat decision to suspend Roj TV violates freedom of press  21.1.2012  

January 21, 2012

PARIS,— Reporters Without Borders is stunned by Paris-based TV satellite operator Eutelsat’s decision on Thursday to stop carrying the broadcasts of Copenhagen-based Kurdish TV station Roj TV on the grounds that a Danish court found it guilty of supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed separatist group regarded by Turkey as a "terrorist" organization.

“We are shocked by this unilateral and outrageous decision violating freedom of expression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “By suspending carriage of Roj TV’s broadcasts, Eutelsat has done what the Danish court refrained from doing. The Danish did not order the closure of Roj TV, which has appealed against the fine it was ordered to pay.

“From China to Iran and Saudi Arabia, Eutelset has already shown its lack of regard for freedom of information. Now it is helping to promote an ‘anti-terrorist’ rhetoric with broader political implications. This is a favourite argument that repressive regimes use to justify their media freedom violations. It is also the pretext Turkey used to jail 30 journalists a month ago. Is the French government, a shareholder in Eutelsat, ready to take responsibility for this decision?”

Eutelsat announced on Thursday that, because of the Danish court ruling, it had asked its distributors to stop uplinking Roj TV to its satellites “in order to avoid incurring criminal liability as an accomplice to terrorist activities.”

Ruling on 10 January that Roj TV “supported the activities of a terrorist organization” from February 2008 to September 2010, a Copenhagen court ordered the two companies that own it to pay a large fine. But the court did not accede to a request from prosecutors to withdraw its broadcasting licence. The station has appealed against the decision.

Roj TV has repeatedly been accused of links with the PKK. The station’s broadcasts were received in 68 countries.

Since it was established in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

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.

PKK is considered as '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. 

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, Reporters sans frontičres | | | Agencies



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