Arms dealer banned Kurdish TV station

Issue 

By Norm Dixon

"Despite the great sympathy in the UK for the Kurdish people, it is not in the public interest for any broadcaster to use the UK as a platform from which to incite people to violence", intoned the chairperson of Britain's Independent Television Commission (ITC), Sir Robin Biggam, on April 23. He was revoking the broadcasting licence of the Kurdish satellite television station Med TV. Biggam denied the decision was political or influenced by pressure from the governments of Britain, Turkey or the United States.

Biggam failed to mention that he is a director of British Aerospace (BAe), which has signed a multimillion-pound deal — with the approval of the British Labour government — to produce 500,000 assault rifles and 1500 grenade launchers for the Turkish military. BAe has sold Turkey missiles and tanks in the past, weapons that have been used to kill more than 30,000 Kurds in Ankara's war.

Rachel Harford of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said, "It is hypocrisy for Sir Robin to accuse Med TV of incitement to violence when he is a director of a company selling arms to a security force which tortures and kills Kurds".

US ambassador to Turkey Mark Parris, speaking at a function in Washington on May 6, could hardly contain his glee as he described the kidnapping of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and the "closing of assets like Med TV" as "blows to the PKK [which] bring within reach victory in Turkey's long struggle against terrorism".

It is no coincidence that the pro-imperialist Kurdistan Democratic Party, which rules northern Iraq under the protection of the US/British enforced "no-fly" zone, has established, in collaboration with the US and Turkish governments, a satellite TV station to fill the void left by the banning of Med TV.

On April 7, the US Congress approved the sale to Turkey of the first shipment of 84 short-range, laser-guided, helicopter-fired missiles. On May 17, Congress gave permission for the sale of 50 Black Hawk military helicopters to Ankara by the Sikorsky Aircraft company worth $560 million. Turkey already has 45 Black Hawks from a deal approved in 1992.