ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Turkey's state regulator of media decided on Monday to shut down the transmission of three Kurdistan Region-based news channels from the national satellite provider Turksat. Among them are Kurdistan 24, Rudaw and Waar TV.
Ankara’s move to deny the news outlets an audience of some 20 million Kurds in Turkey came as the Kurdistan Region went ahead with its referendum on independence from Iraq.
Turkey has been staunchly opposed and called for a cancellation of the vote "for good or else face repercussions," including military action.
A copy of the decision relayed by the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) to Kurdistan 24's Ankara bureau said the Kurdish TV's content was "a threat to the indivisibility of the country and public order."
"The channels in question broadcast against the Republic of Turkey," it read.
"We are very concerned and surprised. Turkey is essential for our coverage. We try our best to be neutral, therefore we hope the RTUK will review its decision," Kurdistan 24's General Manager Noreldin Waisy said in a statement.
Kurdistan 24 has offices in Ankara, Istanbul, and the Kurdish cities of Van and Diyarbakir.
The RTUK also argued that it could not determine if the Kurdistan Region was party to any international media treaty, and thus ruled the broadcasters based there "could not be allowed to air anymore."
A viewer in the Kurdish province of Mardin who did not want to be named told Kurdistan 24 over the phone that he could still view the channel via Turksat at the time of publishing this report.
The RTUK’s notification to the Kurdistan 24 Ankara bureau stated the decision would take effect once Turksat officials receive the order.
Last year, Turkey successfully pressured French satellite provider Eutelsat to cut the transmission of Kurdish Television channels Newroz and MedNuce, which were said to have ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting the Turkish troops for greater Kurdish rights.
In the aftermath of last year’s failed military coup against the government, an ongoing crackdown on large segments of civil society, including the media, saw the closure of scores of radio and TV stations, among them the country’s first Kurdish-language children’s channel, Zarok TV.
Zarok was allowed to go back on air two months later after citizens and opposition politicians pressed Turkish authorities.
Editing by G.H. Renaud