ROJ TV in the Land of the Snow Queen
Once upon a time there was a troll, Hans Christian Andersen wrote. This troll was the worst of the trolls, he was the Devil and the Devil had a mirror.
It was a wicked invention; everything good and beautiful became revolting and disgusting when reflected by the mirror.
One day, the Devil flew around in the air with his mirror, reflecting the divine sky but it was too much beauty for the mirror to handle. It broke into millions of pieces, some as small as grains of sand. They fell onto the ground, but also into the hearts and eyes of men, women and children whose heart froze to ice and whose eyes could now only see that which was unpleasant and evil.
The Verdict Of ROJ TV
Not many miles away from the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen and merely 137 years and a few months after his death, the verdict of the trial of the Kurdish TV-channel ROJ TV was announced.
We were 500 snowmen outside the court in Copenhagen, paralysed and silenced by the cold gushes of wind. Then, we heard a scream of joy; we all melted and became a sea of flames.
I was burning and freezing when I turned my back to the dancing crowd, bowed my head and tweeted ”we won.”
We did not win. Yes, ROJ TV was allowed to keep broadcasting from Denmark but only because of formalities in the Danish penal law; a penal law so vague and obscure that the satellite provider, Eutelsat, suspended its agreement with ROJ TV and shut down its satellite signal to avoid being part of ”terrorist activities.”
The Danish court ruled that ROJ TV has acted as a mouthpiece for terror. This ruling was based on the judge’s conviction that ROJ TV is controlled by PKK, a Kurdish rebel group listed as a terror organisation by the European Union, the United States and Turkey, in regard to both finance and content. Therefore, the court sentenced the two companies behind ROJ TV to pay a fine of approximately 900,000 dollars, a verdict that was appealed to High Court three days later.
The verdict of ROJ TV is 190 pages long. The following section will present the essential conclusions that were summarised by the Danish newspaper, Jyllandsposten.
1 – From February 7, 2008 to February 10, 2010 ROJ TV has acted as a mouthpiece for the terror organisation, PKK.
2 – The TV-station has repeated messages from PKK without presenting other views. The guerrilla is portrayed in a positive way and manner that indicates more than sympathy for PKK.
3 – There is however no proof of these links between ROJ TV and PKK in the period June 10, 2006 to February, 2008 which had also been a count in the charge against ROJ TV.
4 – PKK has ”to a great extent” supported ROJ TV financially from 2006 to 2010
5 – The decision about what ROJ TV is allowed to broadcast is made by a media company in Belgium. The department in Denmark has no influence on what programmes to broadcast.
6 – Documents found in Belgium show that individuals with close relations to PKK have had the final word in regard to what ROJ TV should or should not broadcast about PKK.
7 – The two companies, ROJ TV A/S and Mesopotamia Broadcast A/S, have promoted PKK activities and are therefore sentenced to pay a combined fine of approximately 900,000 dollars.
8 – The companies are acquitted prosecutors’ demand of suspending the broadcasting license in Denmark. The Danish penal law cannot on legal basis confiscate the rights of companies, associations, etc.
One Man’s Terrorist
When the trial of ROJ TV started in August 2011, the court not only had to decide whether ROJ TV was a mouthpiece for terror or not, but also if PKK was indeed a terror organisation as Turkey, the European Union and the United States have listed it to be.
The judge looked at the terror lists, she looked at the extracts from ROJ TV’s programmes selected by the prosecutors and then found herself enlightened enough to declare PKK a terror organisation.
Now, this can nothing but enrage people seeking justice and expecting nothing but justice from a court in Denmark that holds its freedom so dear, so dear.
How can anyone regard Turkey’s terror list trustworthy when Turkey is infamous for its treatment of journalists and its restrictions on freedom of press and freedom of speech all the while referring to its terror law?
How can anyone regard the US’ terror list trustworthy when the US only removed Nelson Mandela from the list 4 years ago, when the US is ignorant enough to think that “by killing people who has killed people we can teach people not to kill people” and when the US still has not closed the most terrifying man-made institution on this Earth, Guantanamo Bay?
How can anyone regard the EU terror list trustworthy when the European Union Court in 2008 annulled its ruling that PKK was a terror group?
How can anyone regard terror lists trustworthy when it is common knowledge that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter?
How can anyone regard terror lists trustworthy when it is always the ”state”, ”the richest and the biggest” that has enough money and power to make up a list, put people on it and say: ”There you go, one terror list, please follow it or I will make your life a living Hell.”
The judge did not even allow for ROJ TV lawyer, Bjoern Elmquist, to present his material about ROJ TV to the same extent as the prosecutors. This has given the prosecutors, who have been criticised for their close and friendly relationship with the authorities in Ankara, plenty of opportunities to portray ROJ TV and PKK as terrorists without the risk of being proven wrong by Elmquist.
An Unjust Law
The entire trial of ROJ TV has been a curious one. This has caused many experts to comment upon the fact that the judge did not take into consideration that she was dealing with a TV-channel and should therefore judge ROJ TV by the rules that apply for the media.
If the media is not allowed to interview the part in a conflict called the terrorist, then who is? Yes, ROJ TV may have portrayed the Kurdish guerrillas as freedom fighters, but PKK is after all the resistance movement that was formed as a re-action to Turkey’s oppression of the Kurdish people, a tyranny and brutality only condemned in vague words by the rest of the world.
The Kurdish people and ROJ TV are puppets in a play dominated by world leaders. If the Kurdish people do not speak up, it is massacred by the Turkish state, but if it does speak up, it is silenced by the European Union and United States.
Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862), author of the essay “Civil Disobedience”, wrote:
Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his con science to the legislator? Why has every man a con science, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. […] Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well disposed are daily made the agents of in justice.
If the law is seeking to silence the rightful rebellion of the Kurdish people against the barbaric and heartless oppression, then the law is unjust; then the governments are what Thoreau calls the agents of injustice.
ROJ TV has a conscience that cannot remain silent under Turkey’s oppressive regime and is therefore offering itself as being the mouthpiece for the Kurdish people, dwell on this for a moment: mouthpiece for the Kurdish people.
The Kurdish people consist of freedom fighters, only freedom fighters. Kurdistan is freedom for it is borderless and those who fight for freedom are Kurds.
We Face Death
Everything is relative and has to be seen in its context. ROJ TV is not the average TV-channel whose viewers are safe at home and free to speak the language they want, read the books they want, sing the songs they want or even wear the clothes they want.
There was an incident during one court session. The prosecutors were showing an excerpt from ROJ TV and they pointed out that the journalists were wearing PKK-clothing. The looks from the Kurdish audience in the courtroom must have been those of incredulity and astonishment; this was merely another ignorant comment from the prosecutors who, if they had done their research properly and if the judge had not dismissed all Elmquist’s witnesses including Leyla Zana, would have known more about the Kurdish culture and understood that the ROJ TV journalists were wearing Kurdish clothes.
ROJ TV is much more than the average TV-channel; it gives the Kurdish people a sense of unity that one rarely feels because of the brutal division and oppression of Kurdistan. It is the symbol of the peaceful Kurdish struggle for freedom; it is a mouthpiece for freedom, a mouthpiece for our freedom fighters like members of BDP, the pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, and the passionate Kurdish youth fighting for its identity.
ROJ TV is perceived a mouthpiece for terrorism because the world does not know what terrorism is.
ROJ TV is perceived a mouthpiece for terrorism because the human being is a suppressor of oppression.
ROJ TV is perceived a mouthpiece for terrorism because it is alive, it is not afraid of man-made institutions or death.
To be a freedom fighter is to be alive because being constant aware of death makes you kiss the earth softly, rest your cheek on the scabrous bark of a tree and lay your head on sweet smelling moss. To be alive is what the rest of the world fails to be because being safe and comfortable is to be dead. You are only alive if life tastes like the salty sweat that evaporates from your body when you are fighting in what seems to be Hell.
Denmark is the kingdom of the Snow Queen and the West is her empire; she reigns it with a coldness that renders her vassals motionless and speechless. The cold winds carry flakes of snow, which the Snow Queen weaves into the clothes of her subjects, thereby hindering the small pieces of the Devil’s wicked mirror from leaving the eyes and hearts of men.
The Snow Queen’s most loyal servant, the vicious and despicable troll, the worst of trolls, the Devil is laughing, his plan is working: Every single one of the cold, dead vassals see only a distortion of that which is beautiful, stunning, ravishing, alive!
The troll and his empress have a weakness, though, Hans Christian Andersen revealed: the small pieces of the troll’s wicked mirror can be melted and oh, who is better to melt ice than the burning Kurd with the boiling blood?
The Snow Queen and the wickedest of trolls can easily be defeated. Every Kurdish freedom fighter has flames shooting from his fingertips, flames kept alive by the blazing, roaring Sun.
As long as the Sun is burning so long will ROJ TV burn; because ROJ TV is the mirror in which the Sun reflects itself.