Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) announced on Wednesday that it launched an investigation on Fox TV over comments made by Başak Demirtaş, the wife of jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş.
On Wednesday morning, Başak Demirtaş appeared on journalist İsmail Küçükkaya’s morning news show for a 40-minute-long segment where she spoke about the state of her husband’s imprisonment, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on society and on prisons, the rising cost of living, and current events in the country.
Demirtaş also sent her greetings to those she called political prisoners, including imprisoned members of her husband’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Gültan Kışanak, Figen Yüksekdağ, İdris Baluken and Selçuk Mızraklı. She also called for the release of all sick prisoners, including prominent Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk who is battling a severe condition according to her lawyers.
In protest, Demirtaş tweeted on Thursday:
“It is allowed to slander and accuse Selahattin and his colleagues on all channels every day for five years, but is it a crime for me to speak a little bit about my husband, whose lack of guilt has been certified by a European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber decision? Unfortunately, this is a situation both shameful and upsetting.
“This means that five years’ worth of lies and slander can shatter into a million pieces in the face of an hour of truth. This much of an attack is not necessary, it should have been known that in the face of truth, all the lies and the manufactured perceptions could not have lasted forever.”
Selahattin Demirtaş has been behind bars since November 2016 over alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for some four decades.
In December 2018, the ECHR Grand Chamber issued a decision saying the Kurdish politician’s imprisonment was politically-motivated and called for his immediate release.
Turks on social media have been asking RTÜK why state broadcaster TRT had not faced a similar investigation for platforming Osman Öcalan, who is wanted in Turkey with a red notice over terrorism charges and the brother of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK.
In 2019, Osman Öcalan appeared on the state broadcaster to call on Kurds to not follow the HDP in the upcoming local elections. State-run Anadolu Agency also published his message. Later that year, a prosecutor in Ankara dismissed charges against the TRT, saying Öcalan’s appearance was protected under freedom of expression, Yeni Çağ newspaper reported at the time.
Earlier in the week, Hacı Yakışıklı, columnist for the pro-government Yeni Akit, wrote about the platforming of Öcalan.
“Osman Öcalan did not go on TRT evening news, but on TRT Kurdish. He spoke in Kurdish, there weren’t even any Turkish subtitles, and he said PKK does not represent Kurds,” Yakışıklı wrote.