The Turkish media authority RTÜK has banned Kurdish TV channels Ronahi, Sterk and the News Channel and asked satellite operator Eutelsat to stop distributing the channels in Europe.
According to the Turkish authorities, the three channels have ties with the PKK, an organisation deemed illegal by Turkey and the European Union, after which Eutelsat decided to terminate the broadcasts, complying with French and European laws.
Eutelsat sent an ‘urgent notice’ to the Czech-based Uplink to stop the three channels that are available on the Hotbird satellite. However, at this moment of writing the three channels are still on the air.
Following the news, demonstrations in favour of the three channels were held before the Eutelsat offices in Paris.
Ronahî TV is a Kurdish channel mainly focused on events in Syrian Kurdistan. It was launched in 2012 and is seen as being affiliated to the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The channel broadcasts from Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) and the city of Brussels in Belgium.
Ronahi TV director Bnyad Jziry told Iraq-based news website NRT the channel has been informed since April 14 that it is under pressure. “We know the pressure is from the Turkish state under the name of terror but it is a prevention of freedom of speech,” Jziry said. “Turkey doesn’t want freedom of speech to reach people and the world.”
Sterk director Aysal Avesta, also speaking to NRT, expressed concern over the cooperation between French company Eutelsat and the Turkish government. “We consider the decision to close the channels as a political project. We will work through the international organisations to denounce it.” The channel has been informed in a letter sent to Sterk TV to halt its work, the channel’s director added.
In October last year, the satellite operator terminated distribution of two Kurdish channels, Med Nuce TV and Newroz TV, at the request of RTÜK. However, following a court case brought by one of the channels, the Paris commercial court ordered the satellite operator to bring back Newroz TV on the Eutelsat Hotbird.