Turkey takes pro-Kurdish channel off air for 'terror propaganda'

AFP , Saturday 27 Feb 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (File Photo: Reuters)

An independent pro-Kurdish television channel in Turkey said Saturday the authorities had ordered it to be taken off air on accusations that it broadcast "terrorist propaganda" for militants.

IMC TV said in a statement that Ankara prosecutors had sent a letter to Turkey's leading satellite operator Turksat ordering it to drop the channel and the request was immediately fulfilled.

It said that the grounds for the order was "making propaganda for a terror organisation". In Turkey, this usually means publishing or broadcasting information deemed supportive of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

But IMC TV, which was founded in 2011 and also focuses on women's, leftist and environmental issues, said it was not connected with "any party or organisation".

"We will of course use all legal means to defend ourselves against these baseless accusations," it added.

Having lost its sole means of satellite broadcasting, the channel is meanwhile continuing to broadcast via its website.

The channel's general manager, Eyup Burc, meanwhile denounced the order from the prosecutors to Turksat as illegal, saying it should have been made via the broadcasting watchdog RTUK.

IMC TV was seen as the only pro-Kurdish channel in Turkey with an anti-government line. After recent reforms, state broadcasting company TRT now has a Kurdish-language channel, TRT Kurdi.

Pro-Kurdish media have come under greater scrutiny from the authorities in the last months after a two-and-a-half year ceasefire with the PKK collapsed in July.

But there is also growing alarm over the state of freedom of expression in Turkey with several journalists and other public figures facing legal action on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Reports said that the channel's broadcasts were cut Friday afternoon during a live interview with journalists from the Cumhuriyet daily Erdem Gul and Can Dundar who had been released from prison earlier that day.

Gul and Dundar had been held in jail for three months in a case that has become a lightning rod for concerns about freedom of expression in Turkey. They still face trial in March.

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