Kurdish media outlets targeted in Europe condemn ‘double standards’ on free speech

Belgian authorities carried out overnight raids on two Brussels-based Kurdish TV studios. The media outlets condemned the attacks, and vowed to continue free, fair and transparent reporting.

Belgian authorities carried out overnight raids on two Brussels-based Kurdish TV studios. The media outlets condemned the attacks, and vowed to continue free, fair and transparent reporting.

In response to the overnight raids against Kurdish TV stations in Belgium and simultaneous journalist arrests in Turkey, Kurdish media outlets released a joint press statement condemning the “unlawful and undemocratic attacks” against Kurdish media.

European States “sell themselves very well when it comes to human rights, freedom of speech and democracy,” the outlet’s representative speaker said, “but when it comes to Kurds, and Kurdish freedom, they have double standards.”

The statement outlined the tactics used by police, raiding the building in the early hours in the absence of employees and damaging the property, destroying equipment and seizing computers. The timing of the raid indicates an “organised attack against the Kurdish press” as a result of diplomatic pressure from Turkey’s Erdoğan government, the press outlets said.

The activities of the media outlets remain transparent, the organisations reiterated, and purely journalistic in nature. An invitation was extended to the Belgian authorities and relevant institutions to visit the studios and follow their activities. The outlets pledged to continue to provide fair and well-sourced reporting in representation of marginalised and oppressed peoples.

Read the full statement:

Belgian police raided the premises of the Sterk, Roj and Hevron public companies in Denderleeuw, Belgium at around 1:30 am on 23 April. The raid against Kurdish tv stations, carried out by the Belgian Federal Police, occurred without prior notification to our lawyers and company officials. In the late hours of the night, when nobody was in the building, police forcibly entered the offices, destroying broadcasting tools and press materials, notably computers.

We condemn this unlawful and anti-democratic attack, which targeted our Free Media institutions, representing the voice of the Kurdish people. The timing of the raid, coinciding with Kurdish Journalism Day and the 126th anniversary of Kurdish media, is particularly significant, marking a continuation of organized attacks against the Kurdish press – particularly since the Turkish police raided the homes of Kurdish journalists in Turkey at the same time.

This is not the first time our studios have been targeted; Belgian police previously raided them in March 2010, seizing all our computers and hard drives. The investigations and lawsuits were inconclusive and our companies were not subjected to any sanctions, operating in compliance with Belgian law, as evidenced by the lack of outcome from prior raids on our offices.

We emphasize that this attack infringes upon the freedom of the Kurdish media and the Kurdish people’s right to information. Despite hundreds of attempts by the Turkish state and its allies to suppress Kurdish media, we remain steadfast in our commitment to journalistic integrity and freedom of expression, and Turkey has been unable to achieve its goal of silencing the Turkish media. Turkey has murdered dozens of our colleagues over the years, but neither they nor any other actor can stop us from reporting freely on the situation in Kurdistan and Turkey.

We have no doubt that this attack was the result of clandestine relations with the Erdogan regime in Turkey. We therefore call upon the Belgian government to clarify the nature of its relations and negotiations with Turkey. We consider these raids, conducted without a warrant, to be a violation of the law, and our lawyers will immediately open proceedings against this unlawful incursion.

We would further like to extend an invitation to the Belgian media, non-governmental organizations and political parties; we are doing press activities here. Our work is public and transparent, and our studio doors are open to everyone. Anyone, especially the police, can come to our studios and offices at any time and follow our activities here. There is nothing secret or hidden here.

At the same time then we, as employees of the Kurdish media, will continue to be the voice of our people. No power will be able to silence us in this task.

We will conclude with this simple message – “we are here.” We see ourselves as responsible for informing the Kurdish people and keeping our language and culture alive. In the face of all kinds of oppression, including deadly attacks against our colleagues, our pens will continue to write and our cameras will continue to capture the truth.

Kurdistan journalists have reported on the Turkish state’s massacres, immolations, and summary executions, even at the risk of their lives. It was the sacrifices made by the free Kurdish press which revealed the atrocities committed by ISIS to the world, as our colleagues lost their lives in pursuit of truth on behalf of the world. The world knows this, and we will accordingly continue to pursue truth, and high ethical standards, and report on what is really happening in Kurdistan and the world.



This news was originally published by Medyanews. 

Photo: ANF 


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