VVJ and EFJ condemn raid on Kurdish TVs

Ronî Riha

The Flemish Union of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists have condemned the raid on the Kurdish media.

The Flemish Union of Journalists (VVJ) has issued a press release condemning the illegal raid by the Belgian Federal Police on the Kurdish TV channels Stêrk Tv and Medya Haber TV in Denderleeuw on the night of 22-23 April and demanding an immediate public statement from the authorities.

“Requests to release sources of information can only be made subject to prior assessment by a judge, and only to “prevent crimes that pose a serious threat to physical integrity” reads the text of the press release signed by VVJ General Secretary Charlotte Michils.

“Apparently, this raid and search was carried out at the request of the French National Anti-Terrorist Office (PNAT). This office is investigating the financing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is on the European Union’s list of terrorist organisations, but is no longer considered a terrorist organisation in Belgium.”

VVJ General Secretary Michils, who visited Stêrk TV and Medya Haber TV after the raid, underlined that during the illegal raid with more than 100 police officers, unauthorised searches were carried out throughout the night and reported her observations:

“The doors of the Kurdish media companies were broken. In several rooms, suspended ceilings were broken and large LED screens were damaged. Finally, the prosecutor’s office took away two computers used for accounting and banking, as well as for journalistic work”.

In its press release, the VVJ drew attention to the guarantees of press freedom in Belgium:

“Kurdish channels are based in Belgium and any interference is subject to strict conditions. The protection of the confidentiality of journalistic sources also applies to their journalists. Violations of the confidentiality of sources are subject to strict criteria according to the law of 5 April 2005. Requests to reveal sources of information can only be made after prior assessment by a judge and only for the purpose of “preventing crimes that pose a serious threat to physical integrity”. The VVJ calls on the authorities to clarify this issue”.

Secretary General Charlotte Michils, who signed the text on behalf of the board, said that the Kurdish TV stations in Denderleeuw had previously been the target of police raids in 1996 and 2010.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) also condemned the attack on Kurdish media.

In a statement on its social media accounts, the European Federation of Journalists said ‘Belgian police raided the Kurdish TV channels Stêrk TV and Medya Haber under the pretext of financing terrorism. We condemn this raid. We join the Flemish Union of Journalists (VVJ) in asking the Belgian Federal Police to clarify the matter and call on the authorities to ensure that the confidentiality of journalists’ sources is respected.’

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Photo: Image of a broken door in Kurdish TV stations in Denderleeuw, Belgium/Europeanjournalists.org (Credit: Charlotte Michils/VVJ) 

 

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