Turkey’s media watchdog fines opposition channel for airing Demirtaş’s book

Turkish media watchdog RTÜK has fined Halk TV for promoting jailed former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s story book Dad on the grounds of “praising criminals.”

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Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has fined opposition broadcaster Halk TV on the grounds that it aired renowned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s new story book Dad.

The fine was made public by RTÜK member İlhan Taşçı on social media on March 22.

Taşçı said that the TV channel was given a monetary fine for five percent of their advertisement revenue and suspended their program in which Demirtaş’s book was aired for five episodes on the grounds of “praising criminals.”

RTÜK’s head Ebubekir Şahin said on March 18 that “While the rules that the media should pay attention to as the elections are approaching are clear, provocative broadcasts made by Halk TV are unacceptable. It cannot be claimed that our country is colonialist, and a person convicted of being a member of an armed terrorist organization cannot be praised. The necessary investigation has been launched.”

In response, jailed former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said “There is no such sentence against me. Do not lie. You've kept me in a 12-square-foot cell for seven years, but every time my name is mentioned, you are worried. Because we are the people and we are right.”

Taşçı also said RTÜK fined Halk TV for airing opposition Good (İYİ) Party senior advisor Turhan Çömez’s remarks, who said that people on ventilators died because the electric generator did not work in Hatay’s Iskenderun district after the Feb. 6 earthquakes, on the grounds that it was “contrary to the principle of impartiality.”

Moreover, RTÜK fined Fox TV for criticizing Şanlıurfa Municipality over not preparing the province for floods on the grounds of “humiliating,” and Tele 1 for remarks deeming the ruling AKP “fascist.”

Demirtaş has been in prison since 2016. He faces hundreds of years in prison on charges related to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - designated a terrorist organization by Ankara - despite a previous European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that he was imprisoned on political grounds and should be released immediately.