This article was published on ARA News on 3 May 2017.

Kurdish activists protest against Eutelsat’s submission to the Turkish policies. Getty image/AFP/C.Archam bault

ARA News

The Free Media Union (Yekîtiya Ragihandina Azad, or YRA), based in Qamishli, condemned on Tuesday Turkey’s attempts to pressure the French company Eutelsat to shut down three Kurdish TV-stations.

“Under pressures from the Turkish government, Eutelsat tries to shut down Kurdish channels, including Ronahi,” said Abdulkarim Omer, the head of foreign relations for Cezire Canton in Syria’s Kurdish region-Rojava.

Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) last week asked Eutelsat, one of the world’s leading satellite operators, to shut down Ronahi, Sterk, and the News Channel based in Europe. In response, Eutelsat sent a ‘urgent notice’ to Uplink that hosts the three channels that offers satellite services through Hotbird to the three channels.

It is possible that the satellite operator shuts down these Kurdish channels.

Ekrem Berekat, co-head of the Free Media Union (YRA), told ARA News on Tuesday that the RTÜK has requested this ban without any legal means.

“RTÜK is only responsible for Turkish media and has nothing to do with the broadcasts of Ronahi, Sterk, and the News Channel,” he said.

“The call by Eutelsat to block these three channels is a political decision that shows Eutelsat’s submission to the Turkish policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and these practices are contrary to the freedom of speech,” he said.

“This is not the first time the Eutelsat company follows Turkish policies. On October 8 2016, Eutelsat blocked Med Nuce TV, Newroz TV and the MMC channel in response to requests of the Turkish government,” he said.

“Eutelsat’s actions are contrary to the standards of freedom of press and media companies, and if Eutelsat continues to implement the Turkish policy, it will create distrust for its subscribers,” Berekat told ARA News.

“We strongly condemn this decision which is against the voice of truth. These practices cannot succeed,” he said.

In response, Kurdish activists launched a campaign against the Eutelsat, #EutelsatAgainstKurdishPress.

“We call on Eutelsat to stop the attempt to block the facts from reaching the public opinion,” Berekat said.

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.

The request of the Turkish government to close down the channel came after Turkey increased its attacks on the Kurds, and killed 20 fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG)  in northeastern Syria on April 25. Turkey also bombed Kurdish radio stations on 25 April.

“Turkey is trying to shut down Kurdish TV-stations that broadcast from Europe for years,” the Kurdish institute of Belgium said in a statement.

“In September 2016, Eutelsat also removed Kurdish TV-channels from the Hotbird-sattelite, in response to RTÜK’s request. In the same days, Turkey closed down all Kurdish media in Turkey, including the TV channel Zarok TV, a channel with child programs in Kurdish,” the institute said.

“We ask the Belgian and European authorities not to accept the Turkish attempts to censor the Kurdish press, and to condemn the closure of the Kurdish media as a violation of press freedom and the freedom of speech,” the institute said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News