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 Trial starts against Kurdish ROJ TV Station in Denmark

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Trial starts against Kurdish ROJ TV Station in Denmark  15.8.2011  

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August 15, 2011

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, — A Kurdish-language TV station broadcasting from Europe is promoting a terrorist organization and should be fined and pulled from the air, a prosecutor said Monday.

Jakob Buch-Jepsen said Roj-TV is "glorifying" the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. PKK rebels have waged a campaign for autonomy in Turkey's southeast since 1984 in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.

The station is accused of broadcasting material "with PKK sympathizers, PKK people and skirmishes between Kurds and Turkish forces," Buch-Jepsen told Copenhagen's City Court.
Roj-TV has a Danish broadcasting license, although its studios are in Belgium. The charges are directed at two Denmark-based companies — Roj-TV and parent company Mesopotamia Broadcast A/S METV.

"Roj-TV is working as a mouthpiece for the PKK.        

Around one hundred people gather in front of the City Court of Copenhagen, Denmark, Monday, Aug. 15. 2011, in support of Kurdish-language TV station Roj-TV. A trial against a Kurdish-language TV station with a Danish broadcasting license has started with the prosecution arguing the channel is promoting a terrorist organization. Photo: AP
They have made glorifying reviews about the PKK that can be characterized as propaganda," Buch-Jepsen said, adding the charges cover the period from 2006 to 2010.

Prosecutors are demanding fines and that Roj-TV's Danish broadcasting license be revoked.

Defense lawyer Bjoern Elmquist said the TV station has denied the accusations.

"Just because a newspaper in Denmark interviews a Taliban chief doesn't make the daily a mouthpiece for the Taliban," he told The Associated Press.

The trial was attended by three Kurdish lawmakers and Turkey's Ambassador to Denmark Berki Dibek.
"We expect this lawsuit to be concluded as expeditiously as possible so this terror propaganda organ of the PKK is sentenced in accordance with the Danish penal code," Dibek told the AP.

Some 30 Kurds staged a peaceful demonstration outside the courtside Monday.

A verdict is expected in November.

Danish-Turkish relations have long been strained over Kurdish groups based in Denmark.

In 1995, a political arm of the PKK opened its fourth European office in Copenhagen, sparking protests from the Turkish Embassy. The office later closed because of a lack of funding.

In 2000, Turkey decried a Kurdish-language satellite TV station, Mesopotamia TV, that was allowed to broadcast from Denmark to Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa. And in 2005,
www.ekurd.netTurkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan boycotted a news conference in Copenhagen to protest the presence of Roj-TV journalists.

Since it was established in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.  
  

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