ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s state media regulator fined a Kurdish-language children’s TV for having aired two songs that contained the word “Kurdistan,” Kurdistan 24 Turkish website reported on Saturday.
The songs “Gula min Cizîra Botan e” (My rose is Cizîra Botan), a popular song about a Kurdish region in Turkey, and “Kurdistan pirr şêrîn e” (Kurdistan is very pleasant), by the late folk singer Mihemed Şêxo from Syrian Kurdistan, constituted propaganda for terrorism, the Turkish media watchdog argued.
Zarok TV, the Diyarbakir-based kids’ channel, the first in Kurdish, broadcast the two songs on March 17 and 20.
It had to pay up to five percent of its annual advertisement income and cease the airing of the two programs that played the songs for the next five times.
“Terrorist organizations resort to various means to strengthen their ideological structures. In doing so, they use arms or unarmed methods. Television broadcasts can become the most effective means of propaganda. It has been observed that [Zarok TV] has praised a geographic region they call Kurdistan that is not recognized by the Republic of Turkey,” the Turkish media regulator said.
“The program, prepared in such a way as to serve the purpose of the terrorist organization is promoting and propagating terror by abusing defenseless children for this aim,” the RTUK statement read.
There was no response by Zarok TV that broadcasts in the two main dialects of Kurdish spoken in Turkey, Zazaki, and Kurmanji.
It did not mention the “terrorist organization” by name. However, Turkish authorities often use the designation with no specifics for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group leading a four-decades-long insurgency against Ankara for the recognition of Kurdish rights and a form of self-rule for a part of the Kurdish homeland inside Turkey’s borders.
Turkey shut down Zarok TV in 2016 after a military coup attempt to overthrow the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but allowed it to relaunch before the end of that year after pressure from Kurdish and European politicians.
Uttering the word “Kurdistan” remains contentious for Turks almost a century after the republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk outlawed it following the independence and Kurds’ demands for recognition.
The Parliament dominated by Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) and his far-right nationalist allies passed a motion banning lawmakers from saying “Kurdistan” along with the term “genocide” about the systematic massacres and deportations of the Armenian people in the early 20th century.
Parliament Speakers have fined and banished opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MPs for saying Kurdistan as judicial authorities in Ankara have ordered the small Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), officially registered at the Interior Ministry, to drop the word from its name.
Last month, police arrested and sent to prison an emerging singer, Jiyan, for having sung a song about Kurdistan during a rally for the HDP just days before the general and presidential elections which Erdogan and his right-wing allies won.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany