What Is the Role of the Media in Promoting a Solution to Kurdish Problem in Turkey?
Actually It Is Time for the Kurds to Counter Gulenists’ Media and the Zaman’s Lies against the Kurds
Kurdishaspect.com Dr. Aland Mizell
The editor of the Zaman newspaper, Ekrem Dumanli, wrote in his column, “It is time to counter the global lies.” Ekrem Dumanli confessed that the Turkish media would write lies, distort stories, and mislead the public, but that no one would be able to say anything against them. Some people have been jailed, and other individuals have been defamed by those lies. For many years the public was misguided because there were no alternative news sources, he says. Mr. Dumanli doth protest too much, methinks. Even with some non-state sources on the scene, Mr. Dumanli again failed to mention how the Kurdish people have been demonized. He failed to mention why the Turkish government closed Roj TV. Mr. Dumanli
failed to mention about Zaman and Gulenists media’s smear campaign against Osman Baydemeir and BDP party. It is true that the Zaman may have the appearance of promoting peace and tolerance and advocating democratic values, but in reality vast bias and inaccuracy make it mostly an ideologically-driven, narrow-minded news media. It is the disinformation tool to praise the AKP and Fethullah Gulen. Mr. Dumanli rightly says that it is impossible for lies to go on forever.
I do agree with him on this point, but when will he end the
practice of false journalism and inaccurate information against the Kurds and specially the BDP? When will he end the demonizing of the Kurds and of the more than 20 democratically elected representatives? On the contrary to his claim that Turkey “was able to put an end to false journalism,” accurate and tolerant media will provide accurate, non-biased information, but not his diatribe. Mr.Dumanli mentioned that the Zaman newspaper was an alternative voice. How many times has the Zaman reported positive news about the Kurds or the BDP party? How many times have the Gulenists invited alternative viewpoints to their conferences? Mr. Dumanli’s analysis conflicts with reality. He argues that some have changed their strategies and sets forth a litany of ways this has occurred. In his view, now false information and distorted analyses are being made abroad,
and some people are knocking on the doors of think tanks and reporting
developments in Turkey incorrectly. He continues by contending that some people are providing analyses to prominent newspaper and magazines based on groundless information, and some are disclosing information about Turkey’s foreign diplomats even though they know it is untrue. I would like to ask to Mr.Dumanli who knocks on the doors of Europe to close down the Kurdish news media Roj TV? Who knocks on the doors of politicians in the USA to give them free tours in Turkey to promote Gulen’s ideas? Who spends thousands of dollars to buy lobbyists in the USA? I think Mr. Dumanli expects that people should just sit, watch or read, and believe those lies that have become a part of the routine.
Rather, their tactics expose readers to a one-sided story and
ill-informed views of what is really taking place on the ground. Why does
Mr.Dumanli not report against the AKP’s policies of putting most of the Kurdish intellectuals and leaders in jails, demonizing the Kurdish people, and constantly seeing them as “the other”? Why does Mr. Dumanli not explain their fascination with the PKK and Ergenekon, while Zaman has provided relatively sparse information on other Kurdish topics, such as the Kurdish right to have education in the mother language? How many times did the Zaman conduct investigative reporting about the razing of 4000 villages? How many times did the Zaman newspaper report about the kidnapping of Kurdish leaders and intellectuals? How many times did the Zaman reporters ask for a full investigation about military and State murder cases against the Kurds? Absolutely, I am also like Mr. Dumanli --fed up with and oversaturated by the immorality of the media, specifically the lies about the Kurdish people. Kurds should not tolerate these lies and fabrication of facts; they should counter them, ironically as Dumanli’s article calls for. Why does the Zaman always link the BDP with the PKK and publish Ocalan’s statement, even though we are not really sure that these statements were really made by Oçalan? For example, who really attacked the AKP party’s camping convoy on May 4 after a rally in which Prime Minster Erdogan addressed the listeners in the Black Sea province of
Kastamonu? One policeman was killed. There was no claim of responsibility, but the Zaman wrote that it was the Kurdish rebels who were responsible for the attacks, because it wants to spread animosity towards the BDP among the public, so that people will not vote for this party. Yes, Mr. Dumanli, Kurdish consciences will always see the truth sooner or later. Right, the mud that is thrown leaves a stain. So I would ask you to stop throwing the mud at the Kurds and their democratically elected leaders in the BDP.
Does the Zaman-Gulenists’ media have the right to call another
Muslim “kafir” or (“Dinsiz”)? Another example of the Zaman’s distorting
characterizations and demonizing of the Kurdish people is the Kurdish campaign’s sit-down protests and the Kurdish worshipers praying in the open air, refusing to pray under the Turkish movement’s appointed Imams in the mosques. Gulen’s Media did not waste any time denigrating the Kurdish religious leaders and accusing them of not being true Muslims; this is a very serious situation. Where do you get the right to charge that respected Kurdish religious leaders do not know anything about Islam and do not have any faith? According to true Islam, this is slander of a Muslim, and accordingly Muslims cannot claim that another Muslim is not a Muslim. Someone who believes in Islam holds that God is one, and that Mohammed is the Messenger. If a person believes this, he or she is a Muslim. How can the Gulenists’ Media charge that those thousands of people who read the namaz are associated with the PKK and label them, as they do the PKK, a
kafir organization? Is this slander? According to the teaching of Islam, if
someone called another “kafir,” one of them is absolutely so. For many years the Turkish media has indeed promoted lies, fabricated stories, and erroneous information against the Kurdish people. Now it is time for the Kurds to hunt down the perpetrators of the lies and distortions regardless of what part of the world they are from and how powerful they are.
The power of the media plays a pivotal role in shaping public opinion and is
growing day by day. Its influences cannot be overemphasized. This role has
further intensified as newspapers, television stations, magazines, the internet, and computers become part of our everyday lives. They have the power to make the guilty seem innocent and to make the innocent look guilty. Whoever controls the media controls the minds of the population. What would be the impact of 24-hour television stations promoting biased and untrue information against Kurdish groups? The public should raise questions about the accuracy and objectivity and wonder how the media could be balanced by airing such hate speech and information that they promote. The reason that the Zaman and the Gulenists’ movement are successful today is because of the falsehoods and lies they produce; they have been experts at these machinations. They never look at their
lies, biases, and misperceptions as they blatantly divide the society into camps in Turkey. Furthermore, even the government could use the media to reduce the crisis and promote truthful ideology, for example, as America did during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Voice of America countered Communism. Also, if the media does not accurately report out of journalistic integrity, it could be misled by the government and promote war, such as the Vietnam War, or later create anti-veteran sentiment. The role of the media is to report the news accurately and objectively. In addition, the media should question themselves and ask what the consequences of the inaccurate and biased reporting could be. Is the Turkish government using the Gulen media to counter the Kurdish problem? For the last 30 years, how has the Kurdish question been framedby the media? There is no question that the Media is the most powerful machine. Since the Kurdish people do not have freedom of the press and media to frame their issues, these issues in the past have been shaped by the state ideological media as
merely terrorism. Now that there has been a shift of power to an Islamic
government, their media also constructs the Kurdish issues in terms of bad and good Kurds. Bad Kurds are those who are in line with the BDP and reject the influence of Gulen and his version of Islam in the region and who are labeled as the friend of the PKK. The Good Kurds are those who have been recruited by the Gulenists and get support from the AKP. The Gulenists’ media has its own agenda. They do not want to point to facts. They have bias against the Kurds. The Kurds have no freedom to express their own view, select their own themes, or influence their own public image; instead, this public image is always shaped by the biased mainstream media. It never truly reflects the true nature of the issues, but instead uses mostly distorted and inaccurate terms designed to dehumanize the Kurds.
An examination of the role of media on Kurdish problems should query whether its role should be preventing or exacerbating the Kurdish conflicts. I think the true role should be a true and independent media to reflect the reality, not to represent a certain ideology or party. Accuracy in reporting is of prime importance, especially when dealing with the Kurdish conflict. Media should promote the truth factually without fear, bias, or censorship in order to educate the people about truth. The question remains: how do the Zaman and other Turkish media shape public opinion about the Kurds? Can the Turkish media participate in the search for peace regarding the Kurdish problem? How do they educate the Turkish public about Kurdish issues? How do Gulen’s media view Kurdish problems? Can you see any positive report from the Zaman on the Kurdish movement or their problems? If the Kurdish problem has been Turkey’s most critical concern for three decades, could it have been prolonged in part by the state-owned media’s labeling them as terrorists, thereby provoking some of the forces? It has been an issue consisting of social, cultural, economical, political and ethnic dimensions. So how does the Zaman differ from any other media? The Turkish State tried to make some changes but did not bring about
results. Some of these changes did not meet the Kurdish demands. It is true that the State launched the Kurdish channel, but it will only promote the view of State, yet at the same time the government will close down the Kurds’ TV channel Roj TV that is broadcast from Europe. The Kurdish question is a historic problem requiring an effort to achieve a sincere, not biased, solution, as well as integrity on the part of Turkish political parties, State bureaucrats, NGOs, Kurdish and Turkish intellectuals, writers, and, of course, fair and balanced media. The Turkish readers’ whole political thinking is manipulated against the PKK and Ergenekon. This is a dehumanization of the Kurdish people and it is the biggest crime of the Zaman Gulenists’ media against the Kurds. If one person is corrupt, they can blame the whole of the Kurds, borrowing the guilt by association tactic and consequently deny the Kurds’ rights. According to the Qur’an, if there were nine guilty and one innocent in a boat, for the sake of one innocent person, that boat cannot be sunk or destroyed. So how can someone who claims to bring peace and justice and to champion Islam, associate
everybody who does not agree with them with the PKK line or Ergenekon?
In conclusion, we all know the facts about mass media forming our
image of the community, certain groups, political parties and even particular individuals for us, and then telling us how to make decisions about that image they have created for us. The Kurdish issue has been framed mostly as Terrorism by the biased media rather than as a struggle for basic rights, one against the Turkish regime’s oppression and injustice. Whoever controls the image and language controls the race. Sometimes appearances overpower even the truth. We all know based on facts that the Zaman controls opinions, thereby molding media to be nearly monolithic. By having all of the control, Gulenists’ media speaks
with a single voice, each writer reinforcing the others’ views. Despite the
appearance of promoting peace and tolerance, in their camp there can be no real dissent, no alternative voice or facts about the Kurdish issues and problems, to allow het people to form their own ideas and to make their own decisions. Also, Mr. Dumanli should put his house in order, before he criticizes others. Mr.Dumanli’s and Gulen‘s statement about it being the time to counter lies more rightly applies to their adversaries: it is also time for Western media, Kurds, and all intellectuals to counter Gulenists’ lies and propaganda. Mr. Ekrem Dumanli should understand that free speech in American is part of its framework, and it will not be threatened. Is it not Turkey, fabricating lies, tapping civilians’ phones, eavesdropping on conversations, harassing innocent civilians, and putting writers in jails? That’s how tolerant this movement is. It cannot even tolerate different views in society. This is called despotism.