International Conflicts & the Role of Media

Global Donors Forum, 2014

Gaylord National Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland
April 13-16, 2014
International Conflicts & the Role of Media
  1. Cihangir Isbilir
Coordinator, UNIW & International Rabaa Platform, Istanbul, Turkey

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen. I greet you all respectfully. I hope and pray for the success of the Global Donors Forum of 2014.

Syria: I was at the Turkey-Syrian border last week. I wanted to make an assessment of the life condition of the people in the region. Especially, I wanted to observe personally the situation of Turkmens and Armenians who have been the subject of the media recently. I was deeply moved during my visit to the area. The people there are asking: “How can this happen in todays World and that too in 2014?” Why the death of one hundred sixty thousand innocent people cannot shake the conscience of the humanity? Millions of people had to abandon their country because of the grim condition. The World powers have remained passive to this barbaric situation. They ask, why?

In the past three years, we have seen people starving to death. I ask you, why the world in general and Muslim Ummah in particular are utterly silent? More than half of the population of the country is internally displaced. Hospitals and education system have collapse. Now, hot summer may result in epidemic diseases. These are the questions which need answers.    

A big humanitarian tragedy is occurring in the region. It is a disaster of the century. Mesopotamia, the cradle of ancient civilizations is burning and crying for help. The policies are being made in the name of geo-policy, geo-strategy and geo-economy. This all will lead us closer to a geo-tragedy! Innocent people are being crushed, while a country, a nation, a civilization is perishing.

Although the ongoing crisis for more than 3 years and frightening extent of humanitarian disaster and humanitarian aid campaigns have fallen behind, there is no media coverage of these happenings either in the print or in electronic media. The international media is reviving the political side of the crisis rather than the humanitarian one. Power centers are using the media as an effective weapon and do not care about the ground reality. They want to hide the humanitarian tragedy by portraying some misguided extremist elements of some organizations.    

For instance, massacre of Armenian civilians in Syrias Kesab village by Syrian opponents was in the news just two weeks ago. Keseb is spectacularly beautiful little and historical village which is near to Turkish border. Most of the population is Armenian. There are historical churches in the village. On the other side of the village to the Mediterranean Sea is a virtual paradise with amazing estates. When the news of the massacre was broadcasted, it changed the international public opinion. I witnessed a complete fabrication of the news when I visited to the region last week. There was no relation between the narratives and the event in the field. It was already evacuated at the start of the war. There were just 15 families. The wounded Armenians in the last bombardment were saved by Turkmens. They treated them well and all civilians were brought to Turkey in safety. Churches and private properties of Keseb were under protection of Syrian opposants. We should raise our voice and activate the mechanisms which will put an end to this fabrication and madness.

All these media activities make sense for perception and image sciences. It is being broadcasted to persuade us to recognize their version of the story. Perceptions of the philanthropists are being affected, willingly or unwillingly that resulted in diminishing the charity campaign in Syria. We know that the factual news and correct information service are important elements for philanthropy and donation. The people want to make sure that the aid reaches to the deserving and affected families. Unfortunately, we are witnessing the same vicious circle in Central Africa, Somalia, Burma, Palestine, Darfur, etc.

Kashmir: In particular, precisely the same phenomenon of unstopped and unpunished barbarities is being witnessed in Kashmir. Pankaj Mishra, an Indian scholar wrote in Daily Guardian on August 13, 2010, “Once known for its extraordinary beauty, the valley of Kashmir now hosts the biggest, bloodiest and also the most obscure military occupation in the world. With more than 80,000 people dead in an anti-India insurgency backed by Pakistan, the killings fields of Kashmir dwarf those of Palestine and Tibet. In addition to the everyday regime of arbitrary arrests, curfews, raids, and checkpoints enforced by nearly 700,000 Indian soldiers, the valley’s 4 million Muslims are exposed to extra-judicial execution, rape and torture, with such barbaric variations as live electric wires inserted into penises. Why then does the immense human suffering of Kashmir occupy such an imperceptible place in our moral imagination? After all, the Kashmiris demanding release from the degradations of military rule couldn’t be louder and clearer. India has contained the insurgency provoked in 1989 by its rigged elections and massacres of protestors. The hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that fill the streets of Kashmir’s cities today are overwhelmingly young, many in their teens, and armed with nothing more lethal than stones. Yet the Indian state seems determined to strangle their voices as it did of the old one.
The irony is that the impunity that is thus being granted to the violator of human rights in Kashmir is not in the context of a new dispute, or a civil war where the status, the positions and the actions of the parties remain obscure for sometime and international response lags behind turns in the situation. It is being done in a territory known to be disputed for 67 years. There is no alibi for the international communities’ inaction except that India with its major power pretensions maintains violent occupation of the territory. Furthermore, the dispute is known to have the potential of large-scale international conflict with the possibility of nuclear confrontation. It has produced two wars and a third cannot be ruled out unless a peace process is set in motion between the Governments of India, Pakistan and the genuine leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

As we know that Palestine and Kashmir are the longest conflicts pending on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council.

The Central African Republic: The Central African Republic faces holocaust like conditions as we have seen in Ruanda and Bosnia; on the other hand Somalian situation becomes an academic discussion between natural disasters and international politics. We cannot disregard these facts. Distraction of media does not justify our insensitivity to humanitarian catastrophes. Philanthropists and humanitarian aid activists have a big moral responsibility. Humanitarian aid institutions should create their own news and information service to let the World know the facts as they exist.  

Egypt: Ladies and Gentlemen, as we all know that Eastern Mediterranean is passing from the darkest era. In the worlds most ancient civilization, which we know as Egypt, the army has for the first time since pharaohs, massacred thousands of people in the square of Rabaa al-Adaviyya, on 14 August 2013. Nine months have passed since the coup detat of 3 July 2013 in Egypt, and Egyptian people are demanding nothing but justice and freedom for all inhabitants. The military led government in Egypt decided to execute 529 people in two court sessions. It is a historical record that the decision of the execution of such a large number of people was announced in less than an hour. The New York Times wrote on March 24, 2014, “Legal experts called it the harshest mass conviction in modern Egyptian history, arguing that it disregarded legal procedures, defied plausibility and stood little chance of surviving appeals. A three-judge panel reached its verdict after two sessions of less than an hour each, and about 400 of those convicted were sentenced in absentia.

The United States, the European Union and Islamic countries headed by Turkey spoke against this decision. The dream of millions of people has dashed to the ground under tanks in Rabaa al-Adaviyya square in Egypt. If the World Powers do not react immediately against it, there will be nothing left but chaos for Egypt and the region. The responsibility may not lie only on Egyptian local authorities, but also on powers who choose to keep silent. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Said 45 years ago, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

The Istanbul-based International Rabaa Platform is working on the situations in various international conflict zones. It has representation from 400 NGOs and thousands of volunteers from all over the World. It’s basic objective is to attract attention of the World community to these injustices and inequalities. 

It is a  fact that an enormous duty lies on the shoulders on all Philanthropists irrespective of their religious and cultural background. If handled carefully, these disasters can provide a new hope for humanity. It can also guarantee peace and stability in the world if we  judiciously assess the past and work together for the future. Peace is not just the meaning of Islam, but  also one of the most beautiful attributes of Allah. We should never give up the hope in Allahs compassion. I believe the human conscience will ultimately find the truth. We should  commit ourselves to do all that can be done for the oppressed people of the world no matter to which religion and race they belong.

In conclusion, I want to remind the world leaders what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said 49 years ago, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”
Thank you.