Turkish pro-govt broadcaster ATV slanders pro-Kurdish HDP with violent imagery

Pro-government broadcaster ATV slandered pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) with a manipulation of their party logo that included violent imagery including grenades and bullets. The HDP made an official complaint about the broadcaster, noting that their biased coverage qualified as multiple constitutional crimes.

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Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) made an official complaint to the Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK) against the pro-government broadcaster ATV. The complaint was about the channel insulting them by manipulating their party logo.

ATV manipulated the HDP logo during a Dec. 12 broadcast, in which they swapped out the leaves and stars in the logo for grenades, bullets, and Molotov cocktails. 

"The leaves and stars which represent the unification of all classes and colors, were turned into grenades, bullets and Molotov cocktails," the official complaint to RTÜK said. 

ATV's broadcast focused on statements by the leader of the ultranationalist ruling alliance parter Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, who said that Turkish politics had reached their "capacity to carry and accept the HDP."

"Justice and law must take action and shut the HDP down in a way that it can't be reestablished. This den of terror and separatism needs to be shut down," Bahçeli said on Twitter on Dec. 11. 

While reporting on Bahçeli's harsh rhetoric, the pro-government broadcaster further aggravated the narrative of shutting down the HDP by placing a closure seal on top of the manipulated logo.

"Depicting Turkey's third largest party, which received six million votes, using symbols of violence and death is not simply a broadcast activity," the HDP said.

The party also said that ATV had committed a constitutional crime by "placing themselves in the judiciary's place" and taking the liberty to depict the HDP's fate as being "sealed" with the red closure seal they used in their broadcast. 

The HDP cited a Turkish law which states, "Media outlets can not incite hate or hostility among the public in the context of race, language, religion, gender, class, region, or sect," as the first law that ATV broke.

"Media outlets can not violate the principles of law, justice, and objectivity," and "media outlets must respect neutrality, truth and facts, and must not hinder the public's free will," were sections from other legal articles that ATV is accused of violating. 

A Haber calls slain Diyarbakır Bar Association head a 'terrorist'

Separately, pro-government news broadcaster A Haber reported on the 2015 funeral of slain Diyarbakır Bar Association Head Tahir Elçi, calling it a "terrorist's funeral" and saying the Diyarbakır Bar Association flag is a "PKK rag."

The PKK, short for Kurdistan Workers' Party, is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, Washington, and the European Union (EU). It is often the subject of terrorism charges in Turkey, as the judiciary often labels criticism from anyone with Kurdish ties as "PKK propaganda" or supportive of the PKK.

A former deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), attorney Mahmut Tanal, protested A Haber's biased content in a statement where he noted the effect it would have on Elçi's family. 

"Despicable! They are attacking the late Tahir Elçi, calling it a 'terrorist funeral', calling the Diyarbakır Bar flag a 'PKK rag' and saying the people  attended a terrorist's funeral," Tanal said in a tweet on Nov. 28. 

"A Haber should attempt to find Elçi's assassin if they want to do any real reporting. It would be the first time since they were established. They should investigate the identity of Elçi's assassins," Tanal added.