KHRAG media release: Closure of Roj TV an attack on fundamental freedoms

The Kurdish Human Rights Action Group has released a statement condemning Eutelsat’s decision to close down Roj TV. You can read the statement below, and its also available in pdf here.

KHRAG Media Release
Friday 26 January 2012

The Kurdish Human Rights Action Group condemns unequivocally the decision by French satellite
provider Eutelsat, to close down Kurdish TV station ROJ TV, by denying it satellite services.

We are shocked by this blatant attack on freedom of expression and dismayed that a critical Kurdish
voice is being silenced.

The decision by Eutelsat comes in the wake of a controversial judgement by a Danish court that found
ROJ TV guilty of promoting terrorism and fined the station 894 800 dollars. This decision is being
appealed by ROJ TV.

We wish to add our voice to human rights bodies and anti-censorship groups from around the world
who have expressed alarm at the decision of the court and the subsequent action of the satellite provider.

The Denmark judgment holds a potential threat to all media in Europe who report on any activities of
an organisation that is declared a “terrorist” organisation. This constitutes a serious threat to freedom
of expression.

The shutting down of this important Kurdish voice removes an important forum of expression for millions
of oppressed and displaced Kurds worldwide and reduces the possibilities for a peaceful resolution of
the Kurdish question in Turkey and beyond.

Strong perceptions that the action against ROJ TV is politically motivated are cause for deep concern.
The irony that much of the action is at the behest of Turkey, currently one of the world’s worst violators
of media freedom, does not escape us.

The clampdown against the Kurdish media is taking place across Europe. Now the German authorities,
also responding to a request from the Turkish authorities, are about to embark on legal proceedings
against Yeni Ozgur Politieka, a Kurdish daily paper based near Frankfurt. Again, anti-terror laws are
being invoked.

Reporters Without Borders said on Monday that it was ìstunned by Eutelsat’s decision to stop carrying
the broadcasts of ROJ TV.

We are shocked by this unilateral and outrageous decision violating freedom of expression, Reporters
Without Borders said. “By suspending ROJ TV’s broadcasts, Eutelsat have 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, Eutelsat 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?”

Swedish Member of Parliament Hans Linde said last year that the action against ROJ TV represented
‘a litmus test for the freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Europe’.

Former president of plaid Cymru in Wales, Dafydd Iwan, said: “I believe the ROJ-TV trial is of very
great significance. I cannot think of another case where the freedom of the press, and the public’s right
to information, has been so starkly challenged. And the fact that it is so politically motivated makes it
all the more worrying.”

He added: “The fact that Denmark, a country noted for its openness and freedom of thought, has been
caught up in this political attempt at silencing what is essentially the voice of the Kurdish people is
particularly sad.”

The political attempt he refers to emerges from a Wikileaks diplomatic cable which suggests the action
against ROJ TV was a condition for Turkey supporting the election of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as Nato
Secretary General.

We call on Eutelsat to reverse its decision and we will support ROJ TV in its legal appeal efforts.
KHRAG is having discussions with pro-democracy groups from around the world to launch an anticensorship
and Freedom of Expression campaign in support of ROJ TV and Yeni Ozgur Politieka.

We have attached an article which provides more context and detail of the ROJ TV matter. It is entitled
Minority media rights, terrorism laws at issue in ROJ TV case and written by Magnus Ag, Advocacy
and Communications Associate of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Issued by the Kurdish Human Rights Action Group 82 Kloof Street Sea Point
Chairperson: Judge Essa Moosa 0834148328; Vice-Chair: Rev Matt Esau 0824684189.

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