Voices of violence

By | January 11, 2012 at 10:39 am | One comment | Featured, Freedom of Expression, News, Opinion | Tags: , , , , ,

The verdict is there: RojTV, the Kurdish TVchannel broadcasting from Belgium with a Danish license, will not be closed. Good news! A victory for the freedom of speech.

Having said that, I deeply wish for RojTV to disappear naturally, or at least to radically change.

I have the same wish for many Turkish TV channels. They all glorify violence.

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched RojTV, but I have. I have friends in Diyarbakir and when I visit them, RojTV is the channel being watched. There are news broadcasts, nature and music programmes, the boring weather stuff, in short, just what you expect on a TV channel. All spiced up with some good old-fashioned PKK glorification. Groups of PKK fighters strolling through the mountains, images of guerillas who died in battle, historic footage of PKK leader Öcalan leading meetings, all accompanied by patriotic Kurdish music and flag waving.


I have to say I was kind of flabbergasted when I heard that a campaign on Twitter supporting RojTV has the slogan: ‘The voice of peace, RojTV’. They claim RojTV promotes peace, for example because it broadcasts in all languages spoken in the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran: (several dialects of) Kurdish, Syriac, Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Armenian and English. That’s great, and I mean it, but does that make it a voice of peace? The armed struggle is glorified, and however you look at it, an armed struggle is not peaceful. Period.

Then again, I’m also flabbergasted when I hear Turkish officials speak about why they find it so important to close down RojTV. It’s promoting terrorism, they say, spreading hatred, etc. I prefer not to use the label ‘terrorism’ because I believe it’s a political term, but yes, violence is being glorified. But if that is a problem, shall we then also close down a few Turkish channels? Look at any Turkish news channel when the army has wiped out some PKK camp, or when a soldier has died: the army’s violence is being glorified, the funerals of soldiers are over-dramatized and repeated again and again, accompanied by patriotic music and flag waving.  Just like on RojTV, but with other music, and another flag.


Both RojTV and Turkish channels are voices of violence. Via satellite dishes, they reach millions of people in Turkey and its wider region and in Europe. They are a perfect reflection of what is going on in Turkey: a bitter, long-lasting conflict, causing loss of precious human lives on both sides. Both RojTV and Turkish channels are symptoms of these conflicts. If you criticize RojTV, you can’t refrain from criticizing Turkish media as well. If you forbid RojTV, than take Turkish channels off the air too.

But of course, closing TV stations down for what they broadcast is never a good idea.  It violates the freedom of speech, one of the most basic human rights. The trick is to nullify the reason why they apparently feel the need to glorify violence. If the Kurdish question is solved through political means, I bet RojTV will change, and Turkish channels too. But the stations have a responsibility of their own too. They could actually contribute to peace. By reducing nationalism, but most of all by stopping the glorification of violence, the flag waving, the nationalism.


The licence of RojTV has not been withdrawn. I strongly agree with the judges’ decision. And I deeply hope RojTV has the courage to change.

About the Author

Fréderike Geerdink

After almost 15 years of journalism in the Netherlands, at the end of 2006 I moved my office to Turkey. The first story I made in Turkey, in the fall of 2004, was about different generations of Turkish women in a central-Anatolian town. Since living and working in the country, I’ve written for a wide range of media in the Netherlands. Among the most important are the national Dutch news agency (ANP), several weekly opinion magazines and monthly magazines about human rights and environmental issues, as well as women’s magazines. Besides that, I’m a fixer for TV-stations that come to Turkey and need all their work to be arranged before they actually fly in.

One Comment

  1. kasım taşdan (6 years ago)

    Dear Fredericke,
    I am positive that what you want is a peaceful, democratic world which respects freedom of speech, so you look the matter at this angle, but as a Turkish citizen i want to say a few words.
    First of all, Roj TV is not a channel that aims to serve and acknowledge Kurdish people, as they admit and be proud, it is the official media speaker of PKK.
    What is PKK?PKK is the terrorist organisation against Turkish nation and Turkiye. These terrorists had killed more than 35.000 turkish and kurdish citizen (%60 kurdish citizen).So this channel is not a channel that wants to defend Kurdish rights.
    Second, if a country officially announces PKK as a terrorist organisation, than should do anything (of course on a legal base)to stop their activities.So, again knowing Roj TV accepts that they are the official channel of PKK, the governments who says PKK is a terrorist organisation, should also take meausures against Roj TV.
    You always look at the same angle, you say that you went to Diyarbakir and have friends there who support PKK (bcoz of watching Roj TV) why dont you come to visit me next time, and ill show you the other angle, will take you the families whose their son or father or brother had been murdered by PKK.
    And please dont forget, the drugs, the heroin which have been distributing in Denmark is probably coming from PKK. PKK is the second heroin supplier and distributer in the whole world after Colombiand, in they have the first position in Europe, if u dont believe me, as having a journalist soul, research interpol database and talk international police, especially interpol.
    PKK’s leader Ocalan even doesnt know kurdish, u cant even find 1 declaration of his given by Kurdish, he was married with the 80s Turkish national investigation agency president’s daughter.
    So PKK is an organisation that founded by Turkish deep state (the gladio).
    PKK’s leader of armed forces is a Syrian (even not Kurdish)
    PKK’s armed forces has been worked and learned by Israeli authorities.
    So dont tell me that Roj TV is a normal media organistaion and shouldnt be closed.
    And i couldnt understand your criticism against Turkish media that showing Turkish Army’s operation and funeral of the murdered soldiers. This is Turkish Republic, and there is an unlegitimate terrorist organisation against it.so the army is fighting it, so THİS Country’s media has to enligthen the public about this operations and funerals. This is not a war between two uncooperated parties.this is a war between a country and a terrorist organisation which wants to break up it.
    Altough, again i have to say that you are sincere, no doubt, just want you to look the matter in all angles.thanks


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