Turkey: The role of Europe in promoting democratic changes

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Mon Feb 2 16:50:35 UTC 2009

The role of Europe in promoting democratic changes

Kurdishaspect.com - By Amed Dichle

Dear Guests,

Before beginning to my speech, I would like to commemorate
respectfully our colleague, writer, thinker and also one of the hosts
of this conference Harold Pinter.

In my speech I'll have another view on the subject "THE ROLE OF EUROPE
IN PROMOTING DEMOCRATIC CHANGES". Thereby I'll focus on the 'Freedom
of Press' and democratisation itself.

Please allow me to make an initial statement.

AKP government has never seen the Accession process to the European
Union as a strategic ambition. AKP instead considered it as a tactical
manoeuvre opportunity. That is why when AKP thought it is in its
interests, it pushed reforms forwards, when not it decelerated reform
process and sometimes as it was the case in the last two years, it
forgot the reform process completely. Now, when the local elections
come close, AKP government remembered again EU Accession process and
democratisation, which doesn't seem to be honest, fair minded and
stable since democracy can not be compatible with nationalist, racist
and religious slogans. In my opinion, difficulties that Kurdish media
is facing in Turkey , also politics that Turkish state is leading
against Kurdish Media will draw a very serious and understandable
picture of that, where Turkey on his journey of accession to the
European Union is situated.

Despite of wars and intern conflicts in Kurdistan, Middle East and in
different part of our world, it is evident that 21st century is in the
same time a century of progress in Democracy and Human Rights. It is a
shame for humanity that in this century a people consisting of
millions individuals is still considered as without identity. At this
point, in spite of values of this era, as a member of a people whose
language, culture and identity is denied, as a journalist of this
people I would like to point to the violence and oppression that
Kurdish media is facing.

Kurdish Media begun with the newspaper ' Kurdistan ' which was
published for the first time on the 22nd April 1898 by Miqtat Mithat
and Bedirxan. Despite of more than hundred years passed by, violence
and terror of denier, monist and racist states against Kurdish media
and its labours still continues in our days. In the last 15 years only
in Turkey including writers and journalists as Hafız Akdemir, Musa
Anter, Hüseyin  Deniz, Ferhat Tepe and dozens of journalists, labours
of newspapers and newspaper distributors are murdered. Between 1992
and 1994, 19 friends and colleague of ours lost their life as a result
of assassinations by Turkish Contra-Guerrilla organisation. First time
in the history a Prime Minister ordered bombing of a Central Building
of a Newspaper, namely Ozgur Ulke. The Building is totally destroyed
and journalist Ersin Yildiz lost his life. Also official notices
distributed which ordered to mute journalists.

Even today censorship in Turkey practised in a very strict and a very
rude way. Particularly against Kurdish Media a very strict politic is
pursued. Print of Kurdish Media's publications is one by one halted;
their magazines are closed down, their television channels are
declared illegal by the state censorship. For instance between 4th
August 2006 and 27th December 2008 the print of 22 Kurdish Newspaper
is halted 49 times. Yes, these are happened in Turkey governed by AKP,
and they continue to happen. This picture shows how Kurdish Media and
the opinions about Kurdish Question are oppressed in Turkey . Kurds
are forced to issue almost each day a new Newspaper. They now have
difficulties to name their Newspapers. Gundem which is published in
Turkish and Azadiya Welat which is published in Kurdish are two
Kurdish daily newspapers facing a in the whole world unprecedented
censorship. Because they printed W, Q and X letters they are closed
down several times. I suppose such a tyrannous practise of a similar
oppression is not seen anywhere else in the world. On the one hand
Turkish state is using all opportunities and instruments to mute
Kurdish Media, on other hand it always tried to mute first
multilingual Kurdish satellite television MED TV, then MEDYA TV and
now our television channel ROJ TV, which were and are forced to
broadcast in exile. It is still trying to mute our television Channel.

Let me please make some others statements. From outside AKP government
looks partly like a 'reformist' government, but today the same
government is developed into a wholly war and denier government. After
general election on the 22nd July 2007 it forgot all its promises. It
betrayed Kurdish votes it became. As a result of secret and open
agreements with army generals, it said 'yes' to the militarist
politics. It gave all authority which army needed for air assaults and
land offensive against South of Kurdistan, and encouraged cruel
attacks against Kurdish people.

10th November 2008 Turkish defense minister Vecdî Gonul has here in
the heart of European Union in Brussels advocated openly one of the
greatest crimes against humanity, namely genocide of Turkish state
against Armenian, Pontus-Greeks and Assyrian people. In the same days,
during a trip to cities of North Kurdistan , Turkish Prime Minister
Tayyip Erdogan has threatened Kurds with deportation and genocide,
saying 'love it or leave it'.

It is Erdogan, who in Germany sad 'asimilation is a crime against
humanity', it is the same Erdogan who says daily 'one homeland, one
people, one language and one state'. If really he considers
assimilation as a crime against humanity, why is mayor of Sur because
of his project of 'multilingual municipality' removed from his duty?

It may seem strange for Europeans that still when Kurdish deputies of
Turkish Parliament spoke some Kurdish words, these words are written
down into the official protocol as an unknown language. Three months
before it was written down as unknown language, and since one month
instead of Kurdish words, three points are taken into the protocol. Is
there any bigger insult, any bigger denying against a people, against
a nation imaginable?

That is why, in face of closer coming local elections, we naturally
doubt all steps made by AKP. TRT 6 begun without to have its name
broadcasting, this is why Kurdish community, its political and
intellectual dynamics didn't find TRT 6 as a credible and sincere
step. This is a maneuver of AKP, which has severe difficulties facing
intern and extern public opinion, and in the same time can't find a
durable and peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.

Dear participants,

I would like to point to the oppression against Kurdish television
channel ROJ TV, for which I work. I would clearly state that ROJ TV is
an objective sign of practicing the right of Kurdish people, to have
access to news and information in its own language. Now what Turkish
state tries to hinder is the right of a nation to have access to the
information in its own language. ROJ TV renders very valuable services
in order to protect and develop Kurdish culture, to create a visual
Kurdish national archive and to protect from diminishing Kurdish
dialects and also to protect and develop Assyrian languages. In
addition to this ROJ TV is a solely laic Institution for faith
communities such as Alevits, Yezidis and Christians which suffer under
the oppression of dominant political Islam, where they can express
themselves freely.

For the preparation of Turkey and Kurds for EU, it is doubtless that
ROJ TV is the broadest communication and news source. Millions of
people have heard EU-criteria for the first time from ROJ TV. ROJ TV
is an important channel that communicates steps on the way reaching
peace and democracy to the community and which also strengthens these
steps. ROJ TV is the television channel which most broadcasts
discussions in this conference.

On one hand Turkish State don't recognize the rights of Kurds and
other ethnic minorities in Turkey , on the other hand it tries to mute
and determine them beyond its borders. These efforts of Turkey
contrivance totally values of our era and are in conflict with them.
Turkish State 's approach is anti-democratic and outdated.

I have unfortunately to state that some member states of EU are
supporting this anti democratic and outdated approach of Turkish State
. This situation is not compatible with democratic values of EU.
Germany has banned our television channel ROJ TV, and this is a very
clear example of this very contradiction. Germany had earlier banned
Ozgur Polîtika (daily newspaper) and News Agency Mesopotamia.

The attack against ROJ TV in Germany is part of a wider campaign
against press freedom and the Kurdish Media. Mostly Kurdish, ROJ TV
has an audience of millions of Kurdish viewers who consider this as an
attack against their language, culture, songs, history, values and
future aspirations and are following the events with concern.

The German Interior Minister's 'justifications' for the decision
against Roj TV mirror the Turkish States attacks of freedom of
expression. These spurious grounds have been several times refuted by
the High Secretariat of Broadcasting in Denmark . It has been stated
forcefully that ROJ TV did not and does not abuse broadcasting codes
and regulations. The German Interior Minister has already stated that
the decision to ban was not juridical but rather political. From this,
we see very clearly that the European states such as Germany are not
sincere in pursuing the required reforms by Turkey as laid out by the
Copenhagen Criteria.

Kurds, who escaped oppression of Turkey and other states in the region
and was obliged to flee to European countries, had benefited from the
juridical system and democracy of these countries. In order to defend
their cultural existence, they established very important
institutions. These institutions are not only for democratic rights of
Kurds, but also for European Democracy's progress important signs.
Unfortunately, first of all Germany and France, some members of
European Union criminalize Kurdish Institutions mainly for their own
economic, military and political interests. These practices were
legitimated by 'anti-terror-laws' and are criminalization of Kurds.
These practices have limited rights and freedom of Kurds living in
Europe . We observe that these practices have changed into durable
policies. These policies of EU encourage Turkey and other states in
the region and tragically let Kurdish people stay alone in front of
their oppression.

Kurdish people has the impression that oppressions practiced by Turkey
and other states in the region are supported by EU. And naturally this
situation decreases credibility and sustains disillusion among Kurdish

The European countries should abandon this policy of aiding Turkey in
its denial and assimilationist policies and rather help Turkey to
comply with European laws by ensuring compliance with the Copenhagen
Criteria. The United States of America and the EU should forcefully
encourage Turkey to undertake steps for solving the Kurdish Question
in a democratic and durable way. Every support that is given to the
racist and denial policies of the Turkish state will mean the
encouragement of war and more unnecessary deaths. Unfortunately this
is the situation at this moment. We hope that this given situation
will change. We hope that the day will come, in which the rights of
the Kurdish language, of the Kurdish media, of the Kurdish identity
and the right of Kurdish people to decide its own future will come. If
we all work together for this aim, in the words of the newly elected
US President, "Yes, we can!"


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