Media watchdog launches new investigation against opposition Halk TV, cites ‘provocative’ broadcasts

In a new move targeting the opposition Halk TV, the head of Turkey’s media watchdog has argued that the TV channel was undertaking "provocative broadcasts" and announced a fresh investigation against it ahead of the elections.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), Ebubekir Şahin, has said that they have launched an investigation into opposition Halk TV, citing its “provocative” broadcasts.

“When the elections are nearing, when the rules that the media needs to pay attention are determined, the provocative broadcasts undertaken by Halk TV cannot be accepted. It cannot be alleged that our country is imperialist or someone convicted of being a member of an armed terror group cannot be praised. The necessary investigation has been launched,” Şahin tweeted on March 18.

Şahin's remarks came a day after Holloway London University academic Mashuq Kurt joined a program of Halk TV and commented on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s aspiration to extend its alliance to include the Kurdish Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA PAR).

Kurt compared the AKP’s policies to those of “imperialist powers” in terms of establishing its dominance. “There is always something similar in the policy of the state towards Kurds, not just the Turkish Republic but also the Ottoman (Empire): a support on the dichotomy axis of the weaker interest group toward the stronger interest group. The imperialist powers have also done this in Africa, Asia and similar places. In the last analysis, I can say this: The AKP missed the Kurdish train.”

When asked when the AKP “missed the Kurdish train,” Kurt said: “It missed it when it demolished the Kurdish neighborhoods, villages, cities and their houses on top of them in 2016. What else?”

Other remarks that RTÜK head Şahin probably referred to concerned Halk TV journalist Serhan Asker's comments. During a program on Halk TV aired from the quake-hit Adıyaman province early on March 18, Asker said that he read jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s latest storybook “Dad” and very much liked it.

“We thank Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş for his courtesy (writing the book). And at the same time, we embrace from here everyone who is jailed and is giving a struggle of freedom. From the quake region, we send the whole of nation’s greetings to prisoners and convicts that are searching for freedom,” Asker said.

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.