Saturday, November 21, 2009

“Turkish media forbidden to discuss Kurdish issues freely”


London - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hails the lifting of the last restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language by the Turkish news media. “This is an important and symbolically-charged step but its impact will be very limited as long as the media cannot tackle Kurdish issues without risking prosecution,” the press freedom organization said.

The government lifted on 13 November all remaining restrictions on the broadcast media’s use of minority languages, but according to RSF this is not enough “What is the point of broadcasting in Kurdish if coverage of Kurdish issues from an independent or activist viewpoint is banned in practice,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The lifting of language restrictions must not be allowed to eclipse the fact that the media are still the victims of intimidation and self-censorship when they try to tackle sensitive issues.”

The press freedom organization added: “There will be no real progress for free expression in Turkey until the repressive legislation has been repealed and the media are finally allowed to tackle the subjects that the Turkish state has declared off limits.”

According to RSF Turkish legislation ‘imposes considerable restrictions on the democratic debate by defining the limits that cannot be crossed as regards such subjects as the armed forces, police, judicial system, torture, secularism and the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’.

The RSF says pro-Kurdish pro-Kurdish publications are even silenced online and that ‘media that show little sign of sympathizing with Kurdish autonomy demands are exposed to repression’. RSF also notes, that aside from Kurdish issues, it is still very difficult for Turkish journalists to criticize the behavior of the judicial system, armed forces or police.

© Rudaw