ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Turkish authorities are to allow the country’s only Kurdish children’s channel Zarok TV, that was shuttered late September, to broadcast again, revealed the TV’s owner on Wednesday.
“We will be allowed to resume our broadcast, hopefully on Friday,” Zarok TVs owner Behcet Sevim told Kurdistan24 in a phone call from the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in Turkey.
The Diyarbakir-based Zarok TV, whose name means “child,” was a first in Turkey to air cartoons 24/7 in the Zazaki, Sorani, and Kurmanji dialects of Kurdish.
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) harshly criticized the government, calling the taking down of the kids’ channel assimilationist, racist, and a blow to democracy.
Stating that Zazaki Kurdish was under threat of extinction according to UNESCO, HDP’s chair of the parliamentary group Idris Baluken questioned whether “the Kurdish kids watching Zarok TV [staged] the July 15 coup.”
Baluken is now in prison along with 10 other party lawmakers and leaders since last week.
Sevim, a businessman who owns several other cultural Kurdish TVs, estimated his company had lost 125-150 thousand dollars in October because of the closures.
The owner revealed that after finishing with bureaucratic hurdles, Zarok TV would once again be on the air with the same frequency on Turkey’s national satellite network TURKSAT.
Regarding the claims by some Turkish and Kurdish media outlets that the content of the kids’ channel would have to be 40 percent in Turkish, Sevim said he had not received any official order from the authorities.
Sevim noted his company’s objections to Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK), as well as a wave of criticism by members of the European Parliament, affected Turkey’s decision to broadcast Zarok TV again.
“Seriously concerned” about the September closure of Zarok TV and 14 other Kurdish TV stations, 59 lawmakers at the EP called on Turkey to reopen the channels in mid-October.
The EP condemned Turkish authorities who “were misusing” law to appoint trustees to private media organizations in the aftermath of the failed July 15 military coup attempt.
“The Turkish Government has started considering even children as a threat to national security in its so-called war on terrorism; even Mickey Mouse has been silenced in Turkey,” said EP lawmaker Mark Demesmaeker.
“Kurdish kids will now grow up thinking watching cartoons in their mother tongue is a crime,” he added.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany