Denmark: Kurdish ROJ TV appeal trial set to start October 29th

By Naila Bozo – Kurdish Rightsv – 24.8.2012 – COPENHAGEN, Denmark,— The Kurdish television station ROJ TV was ruled guilty of acting as a mouthpiece for the Kurdish rebel group PKK on January 10th 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The verdict was appealed and the new trial is set to start on October 29th, 2012. The trial will consist of forty court sessions of which the last one will take place in the summer of 2013.

ROJ TV is owned by Mesopotamia Broadcast and was launched on March 1, 2004. It broadcasts from Denmark to the entire world in Kurdish and Zaza, Persian, Arabic and Turkish but due to the verdict, satellite providers dissolved their contracts with ROJ TV because they did not want to be associated with “terrorism”.

The Danish online newspaper writes that the Danish court has allowed more of the ROJ TV lawyer’s witnesses to be heard in court though it has again dismissed witnesses like Leyla Zana, three former Kurdish mayors including Osman Baydemir and the head of the independent Danish TV- and Radio Board, Christian Scherfig.

One of the new witnesses is Oluf Joergensen, an expert on press law. Bjoern Elmquist, ROJ TV lawyer, says Oluf Joergensen will be able to explain that different cultures have different ways of conducting interviews and that the reason why ROJ TV can come across as a mouthpiece for PKK with its many interviews with the rebel group is because “the Turkish politicians boycott ROJ TV. There is not the same debate as here [Denmark].”

Among the other witnesses are two Danish journalists who conducted an interview with PKK in the mountains. “They can tell us what criteria PKK puts forward before being interviewed. When TV2 (a Danish television station) did a segment on PKK, there were PKK flags in the background. When one evaluates the case against ROJ TV, it is important to realise that PKK has demands it wants to be fulfilled before it agrees to an interview. These demands must not be perceived as the television station doing terrorism propaganda. Then TV2 would have to be charged with terrorism too,” says Bjoern Elmquist to

Two other important witnesses are Haluk Gerger, former president of Turkey’s biggest human rights organisation, IHD, and Kerim Yildiz, lawyer and director of the human rights organisation Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP).

“They will shed light on the conditions of freedom of speech in Turkey, especially the working conditions for journalists. This will help in showing how much ROJ TV means for democracy and the opportunity to express oneself in Turkey,” says Bjoern Elmquist.Pola Rojan, who is a journalist and author of the book “ERGENEKON – Turkey behind the front”, is also going to witness at the ROJ TV appeal trial.