Turkey takes down Kurdish children's TV

Zarok TV's Twitter feed bid farewell to "the cheerful, beautiful kids with the hope of coming back on in another spring."
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkish Prime Ministry took down 12 television and 11 radio stations on Wednesday evening, including the country's only Kurdish children's channel from the national satellite network, Turksat.

Four of the channels were entirely in the Kurdish language, three more were partly in Kurdish and the three others were in Turkish but considered pro-Kurdish, a Turkish official not identified told AFP.

Among the stations shut down are Van TV, Hayatin Sesi, Jiyan TV, Govend TV, Azadi TV and Zarok TV.

The Diyarbakir-based children's channel Zarok TV, whose name means "child" used to broadcast in the Zazaki, Sorani and Kurmanji dialects of Kurdish.

“Now Kurdish kids will be able to watch Smurfs, SpongeBob SquarePants, Gumball and Adventure Time in Zazaki," announced Zarok TV in a statement when it was launched in the Kurdish new year of Newroz, on March 21, 2015.

Zarok TV's general coordinator Dilek Demirel said in a press release that their only crime was broadcasting cartoons in Kurdish.

The TV's Twitter feed bid farewell to "the cheerful, beautiful kids with the hope of coming back on in another spring," reminding them that they could still watch Zarok TV online.

Another Diyarbakir-based channel, Jiyan TV was broadcasting solely in Zazaki that is considered by the UNESCO to be vulnerable to extinction, according to a September 2015 report.

Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the failed July 15 coup attempt by a clique within the Turkish Army.

Acting on a government decree, Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) halted the channels' broadcast.

The decree was issued as part of a state of emergency rule in Turkey which accused the stations of spreading propaganda for "terrorist" organizations.

The channels taken off the satellite service are also facing a complete closure, according to the leftist and pro-Kurdish IMC TV.


Turkey's Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) harshly criticized the government's decision to take Kurdish channels off the air, calling it assimilationist, racist and a blow to democracy.

At a press conference in Ankara, HDP's chair of the parliamentary group Idris Baluken said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government were afraid of the prospects of Kurdish children's learning their mother tongue.

"Zazaki Kurdish is under threat of extinction. The fact that they took Zarok TV down shows how afraid they are of the kids," stated Baluken accusing the government of implementing a cultural genocide, reported Kurdistan 24 bureau in Ankara.

"Did the Kurdish kids watching Zarok TV stage the July 15 coup?" asked the HDP MP.

Meanwhile, the Turkey's only Ezidi (Yezidi) Kurdish MP Feleknas Uca took the issue to the Parliament and submitted the Prime Minister Binali Yildirim with written question, demanding the reasons why Kurdish language, children's and cultural TVs were down.

Turkey banned the Kurdish language in public, media and education since its inception in 1923 until the late 1990s when the laws were liberalized.


Editing by Ava Homa