Turkey tunes out Kurdish TV stations

Turkey tunes out Kurdish TV stations
At least four Kurdish TV channels were taken off the air on Wednesday, amid growing concerns about media restrictions following the failed 15 July coup.
2 min read
29 September, 2016
Turkey is set to extend emergency rule enforced after the July 15 coop [Getty]
Turkey's communications satellite operator has removed several Kurdish channels from the air according to reports from other Turkish media and the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party. 

At least four channels – Jiyan TV, Zarok TV, Hayatin Sesi TV, and Van TV – were taken off air by Turksat on Wednesday in accordance with emergency power regulations imposed by the Turkish government, Rudaw reported.

These came into place following the failed coup attempt on 15 July.

In a statement released on Wednesday the People's Democratic Party accused Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party of placing restrictions on free speech.

"The AKP government is trying to shut down different voices. The voice of the free expression cannot be stopped," it read.

In addition to cutting the feeds of a number of Kurdish TV channels the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Wednesday that Turkey's telecommunications regulator BTK had also censored the website of Dicle New Agency, a pro-Kurdish site, for 46th time since July last year. 

Turkey has faced wide criticism from media watchdogs and humanitarian organisations for restrictions on freedom of the press.

In 2015 the independent watchdog Freedom House reported that media freedom in Turkey was deteriorating "at an alarming rate" with the Erdogan government accustomed to using the penal code, criminal defamation legislation, and the country's anti-terrorism law to punish critical reporting.

Freedom House also observed that journalists faced growing violence, harassment and intimidation from both states and non-state actors.

Restrictions on journalists in Turkey have become even more severe since the failed 15 July coup with over 40 journalists reportedly arrested and detained in its immediate aftermath.

Turkey's restive relationship with its own Kurdish population has been further strained by the realisation of greater autonomy for Kurdish communities in Syria since the outbreak of civil war in that country in 2011.

A ceasefire between the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish government collapsed last year, and hundreds have died in clashes since.

Meanwhile, Syrian Kurds continue to establish a self-proclaimed autonomous region known as Rojava within Syria, gaining international support in the process, but leading to Turkish troops entering Syria and fighting Kurdish militant.

On Wednesday Turkey's top national security body called for an extension to the state of emergency enforced following the 15 July coup that has seen at least 32,000 people placed under arrest.