Reporters Without Borders urges the Radio and TV Supreme Council (RTÜK) to drop the prosecution it has brought against Kanal D, a privately-owned TV station critical of the government, for broadcasting the reactions of the families of ten soldiers who were killed in an ambush by members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The station, which is owned by the Dogan group, is facing a possible fine of between 192,000 and 384,000 euros for allegedly contravening article 4 of the broadcasting law (Law 3984), which forbids showing “the terrifying characteristics of a terrorist organization.”
The reactions of the relatives were shown on Kanal D’s news programmes on 20 and 22 June. The ten soldiers were killed in ambush by armed PKK members in the southeastern province of Semdinli a few days earlier.
Two of the RTÜK’s members, Hülya Alp and Esat Ciplak, have publicly voiced their disagreement with the decision to prosecute. Alp said the broadcast contained no propaganda and just showed “the determination and unity of the Turkish people and soldiers in their defence of the motherland.”
Reporters Without Borders can only agree with the criticism of the prosecution voiced by Kanal D’s leading presenter, Mehmet Ali Birand, on CNN Türk.
Insisting that journalism was becoming impossible and that press freedom was being violated more than ever, he said: “What are we going to show if we cannot show the grief of families who have lost a son? We cannot give them the microphone? Do they want us to censor what they say? Do they want us to stop working so that others can say everything is perfect?”
Turkey was ranked 138th out of 178 countries in the 2010 world press freedom index which Reporters Without Borders released on 20 October.