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Eutelsat pulls plug on Kurdish satellite TV stations in Europe

Photograph courtesy of Eutelsat.
Photograph courtesy of Eutelsat.

Allegedly at the request of the Turkish government, Eutelsat has ceased broadcasting two Kurdish satellite television stations in Belgium and Sweden.

The Turkish government has shut down several Kurdish media outlets, to include television channels, in Turkey over the past few weeks and it would appear that it is now applying pressure to foreign satellite providers to do the same.

One of the channels removed from Eutelsat is Newroz that broadcasts from Stockholm in Sweden. When asked by Swedish public radio news about the Eutelsat decision, the CEO of Newroz, Faruk Nozhatzadeh, said, “They called two days ago and said that Eutelsat had decided to close our channel. I demanded a written confirmation yesterday that they would close our channel today, and they did.”

The decision to remove Newroz, and the Belgian-based Kurdish channel, from Eutelsat has drawn criticism from groups such as the European Journalist Federation and Reporters Without Borders.

“Here’s a regime that has gone very far in its hunt on journalists and is trying to silence the free exchange of ideas. And here is also a company listening to this regime and closing down a TV-channel that does not even target Turkish citizens, which of course is very problematic,” said Jonathan Lundqvist, Chairman of the Swedish chapter of Reporters Without Borders.

“We have not broken any laws or rules regarding television broadcasts in Europe,” said Faruk Nozhatzadeh of Newroz, who told Swedish public radio that he intends to sue Eutelsat in the French courts.

Turkey is clamping down on Kurdish groups operating in Syria against Daesh and the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and has launched military operations called Operation Euphrates Shield deep into Syrian territory to attack, among others, Kurdish fighters. The shutting down of Kurdish media outlets in and outside of Turkey is probably part of this effort, coupled with the febrile political atmosphere inside Turkey after the 15 July 2016 coup attempt against the government of President Erdogan.

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