The trial of Roj TV


It begins Monday.

The trial of the Kurdish satellite channel Roj TV begins Monday in Copenhagen, Denmark and will end with a verdict that either confirms or repudiates the alleged links between Roj TV and PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party or Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan).

Seeing as the USA, EU and Turkey have listed PKK as a terror organization, they are not thrilled that Roj TV broadcasts interviews with members of PKK.

In 2005 the Turkish embassy in Denmark reported Roj TV to the police for propaganda but not until the end of August 2010 did the public prosecutor in Denmark charge the channel with encouragement and support of terror.

The same year, in 2005, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Erdogan, was to hold a press conference with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was then the Prime Minister of Denmark. But when Erdogan saw two journalists from Roj TV in the conference room he demanded that they should be excluded from the press conference.

This happened not even two months after the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten printed the drawings of the Muslim prophet, Mohammed. This international crisis did not exactly make Denmark and Turkey the best of friends, seeing as Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party did not get an apology from Denmark for publishing the “blasphemic cartoons.”

Fogh, who had been advocating the freedom of speech, denied excluding the two Kurdish journalists and so Erdogan left in rage.
Fogh shrugged his shoulder and did not run after him, offering excuses and apologies.

Roj TV for sale

The question is: why did it take Denmark 5 years to act upon the allegation against Roj TV from Turkey?

Well, the government does not quite know, but it does blame the massive amount of paperwork that had to be taken care of by the (only!) one person who worked on the case of Roj TV.

What we do know is that WikiLeaks confirm that an agreement about Roj TV was made between a Turkish representative and Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

You see, our dear Fogh wanted to resign as Prime Minister to take over the job as Secretary General of NATO. Unfortunately, Erdogan and Turkey were still mad about the Roj TV incident in 2005, so they were not keen on helping Fogh to the post as head of NATO.

Subsequent to Fogh, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy’s failure at convincing Erdogan and President Abdullah Gül that Fogh was the right man for the job, Obama swooped in and with a phone call was able to change the minds of Erdogan and Gül.

We do not know what was exactly said in the conversation but we have an idea.

When Obama presented Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the new Secretary General on the 4th of April 2009 he said: “I will especially thank Turkey for raising attention to matters regarding the safety of their country and for their trust in the new Secretary General and his determination to address these issues.”

The following is an extract of a summary from the meeting between Turkey and the US Vice Secretary of State on February 18 2010, almost a year after Fogh was elected Secretary General of NATO:

“Tacan Ildem (Turkish ambassador in the US) added that, as part of the 2009 POTUS-brokered deal that had overcome Turkish objections to the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO Secretary General, Denmark had promised to clarify its legal requirements prerequisite to acceding to Turkey’s request for the closure of Roj TV, a PKK mouthpiece. This still needed to be done, Ildem said.”

Freedom of speech

Is Roj TV really “a PKK mouthpiece”? Does it encourage terrorism and violence?

No, not according to the Danish Television and Radio Board that subsequent to investigations lead by lawyer Christian Scherfig (chosen by Fogh’s government) in 2005, 2007 and 2008 has rejected any encouragement to violence in the Roj TV broadcasting. The board has quite on the contrary concluded every time that the broadcasting considers all parts in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict and allows them to express their views and opinions without encouraging hatred.

Scherfig said that the news broadcast on Roj TV reminds of those broadcast on Danish news channels. He is therefore surprised that the Danish public prosecutor is taking the matter to court.
And only a few days ago the board once again dismissed the accusations about Roj TV broadcasting programs, which encourages terrorism.

In my opinion these 4 investigations are enough to dismiss the last part of the indictment by the Public Prosecutor.

The indictment reads that Roj TV several times “from 2006 to 2010 has broadcast programs and interviews with PKK sympathizers and PKK leaders and aired reports from clashes. The station has become a mouthpiece for PKK with encouragements to join the PKK and participate in terror actions carried out by PKK.”

Well, are the Danish news channels facing lawsuits, too, seeing as they have broadcast several interviews with members of the PKK?

Or is it just the Kurdish news channels?

I find that it is natural for a Kurdish channel to interview members of a Kurdish rebel group fighting against the oppression of the Kurdish people.

I am Kurdish, the PKK is Kurdish and Roj TV is the link between us that provides me with knowledge about them and I do want to know about every aspect of the Kurdish culture, history and people even if they are considered terrorists by some.

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon this article from 2010:

“Human rights defender Tahmaz, Birgün newspaper editorial manager Çeşmecioğlu and Yılmaz, owner of the daily, stand accused of “publishing statements of PKK/KONGRAGEL” according to article 6/2 of the Anti-Terror Act (TMY). Reason for the prosecution is the interview entitled “Unilateral Ceasefire Amplifies the Problem” published in the Turkish left-wing daily on 9 August 2008.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

In my opinion it is not an anti-terror act when you force human beings to be quiet. No, that is terrorism. These human right defenders did not join the PKK, they merely interviewed the leader of KCK, the umbrella organization to which PKK belong.

Everyone should have a voice, an opportunity to express his or her views and be heard, even if some considers them “evil”.

It is through communication and dialogues that one solves problems, not by isolating and with force silencing the opponent.

It begins Monday and will never end:

The discussion about when you are a terrorist or a freedom fighter.