Germany bans Kurdish TV despite decisions in Denmark that the station is acting lawfully


The Danish-based television broadcaster, Roj-TV, was recently banned in Germany after officials declared that they believe the station shows support for the conflict between the Turkish military and Kurdish rebels in Turkey.  The German Interior Ministry said Roj-TV was serving as a mouthpiece for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK, which is outlawed in Turkey and Europe.  Such German claims come despite investigations by the government in Denmark that Roj-TV is in compliant with all laws and that there is no proof to such connections with the Kurdish rebel movement nor does the station demonstrate any “incitement to hatred”.

On June 19, the German government issued a ban on Roj-TV and all affiliates including its production company in Germany, VIKO Fernseh Produktion GmbH.  The Mesopotamia Broadcast A/S, a Danish-based private broadcasting company, was also banned from operating in Germany.  German officials claimed that the station has been encouraging viewers to become guerrillas, a claim that the Turkish government has been actively pursuing for several years.

However, separate decisions made after investigations in Denmark have denied such claims. After multiple requests from the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTSC), the Denmark Media Secretariat – an institution of the Denmark Ministry of Culture – issued a document that concluded that none of the complaints justified closure of the Kurdish broadcast station.  Denmark authorities concluded in the document that although the station often shows violent footage in it’s broadcasts as claimed, “they represent the violence that actually exists in Turkey and in Kurdish areas.” They concluded that although the broadcasts may have an “unpleasant effect on the Turkish authorities,” they are completely “unexaggerated” and there are no proofs that the station is causing “incitement” through their reporting.

The RTSC had submitted several clips from the television broadcastings to the Danish government as part of their official request for shutting down the station. Footage included various riots and demonstrations that have taken place in Turkey as well as clashes between citizens and police. However, the Board of the Denmark Media Secretariat dismissed the complaints explaining that there is no evidence that Roj-TV was the cause of any of the riots, and that solely passing on information through various news reports using sources and direct coverage “is not encompassed by the term incitement”.

Instead, the Board stated that shutting down the station “would inhibit a free press from notifying and informing about the conditions and events in society and in the world that it deems relevant to communicate.”  The Board concluded that the contested clips showed no evidence of incitement to hatred, and in fact, even contained mentions of “democratic solutions” for the regions of the world it reports on.

Despite such decisions by the Danish government to allow Roj-TV to continue operating, the German Interior Ministry has moved to enforce the ban on the television broadcaster.

by Goran Sadjadi