News International Turkey shuts down children's channel for subversive content

Turkey shuts down children's channel for subversive content

Children in south-eastern Turkey will no longer be allowed to watch television in their mother tongue, the government abruptly shut down ten Kurdish channels over the past week, reports said. 

Using sweeping emergency powers granted in the wake of the July 15 coup bid, authorities issued a decree ordering state-run TURKSAT to halt satellite broadcast of the ten, mostly-Kurdish television channels, including Zarok (Child) TV, Deutsche Welle reported.

Specifically, Zarok TV broadcasts international favourites such as SpongeBob, The Smurfs and Garfield, in Kurdish.  The channel also teaches Kurdish songs and provides other educational programming that would be found on any children's network around the world.

Dilek Demirel, Zarok TV's executive producer, told Deutsche Welle the channel was abruptly shut down on Wednesday night without any notice or explanation from the government.

Through lawyers, she was told broadcasting was cut because Zarok TV was a "separatist and subversive media organization." However, the government has not yet provided an official notice that would allow a legal response, she said.

"What kind of separatist activities are we involved in?" Demirel asked. "We take internationally watched cartoons and provide dubbing." She added: "We want to believe we made a mistake that we can correct, in order to get back on television."

Multi-language television in country banning mother-tongue education

Turkey, does not allow education to be conducted in any other language except for Turkish in state schools, leaving the television channels as one of the only methods left to help teach Kurdish children their mother tongue.

Ankara is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but with reservations for three articles: 17, 29 and 30.

Article 17, among other things, obliges parties to "encourage the mass media to have particular regard to the linguistic needs of the child who belongs to a minority group or who is indigenous."

In the early years of his rule, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan implemented reforms that expanded Kurdish language and cultural rights. An ambitious "Kurdish opening" created optimism as private Kurdish language schools blossomed, channels like Zarok TV emerged and the state opened its own Kurdish channel.

The breakdown of a two-year ceasefire and peace process between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the state last year has led to a spike in violence and clampdown on the Kurdish movement and freedom of expression among Kurds.

Source: Deutsche Welle