Former Plaid Cymru President Dafydd Iwan warns ROJ-TV trial threatens democratic principle of freedom of press

PEACE IN KURDISTAN PRESS RELEASE, 15 November 2011

Former president of Plaid Cymru, Dafydd Iwan, has warned that the ongoing trial of ROJ TV, currently taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark, is challenging fundamental democratic principles. Mr. Iwan, who has just returned from an observer mission to Copenhagen to attend a hearing of the ROJ TV trial, goes on: ‘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.’

The Kurdish language ROJ TV, based in Copenhagen and with studios is Belgium, has been accused by Danish courts of ‘promoting terrorist activity’ and having links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which was named as a terrorist organisation by the EU in 2002. The trial against the channel began in August 2011 and is due to continue through December.

The satellite channel broadcasts in over 70 countries and has become an important voice for the Kurdish people since it began operations in 2004, but has found its license threatened on more than one occasion. This trial appears to have begun after significant pressure was placed on the Danish government by Turkish authorities to revoke ROJ TV’s license.

Dafydd Iwan’s full quote:

“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. One of the fundamental principles of democratic freedom is that the legal system is completely independent of political influence, and it seems to me blatantly obvious that there is no case in law for closing down a TV service like ROJ-TV.

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. It is my fervent hope that the Danish judicial system will prevail on the side of freedom and the right to public information. As a member of a “minority culture” myself, the importance of a free press, and an independent TV and radio service in our own language in Wales has long been recognized, and hundreds of people have campaigned, at great cost to themselves, to ensure such a service for our people. The Kurdish people deserve the same freedom, and I deem it an honour to support their cause”.

Download a copy of the summary of proceedings against Roj TV here (pdf)

For further information, please contact:

Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk
Estella Schmid – Tel: 020 7586 5892  & Melanie Sirinathsingh Tel: 020 7272 4131

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