Just come autumn 2015, and we agreed to meet in the city Alcash (Alqosh), in Northern Kurdistan, the political head of one of the militias, created by the Iraqis, Chaldean-Assyrian origin for the purpose of confront the militants of ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in Russia — approx.ed.).
A political organization that helps out this group of militia (the Assyrian democratic movement or SAVVA), invited by the former Christian officer in the Iraqi army Benham’s Abuse (Behnam Abbush), so he made a handful of rural residents that had no military training, these soldiers. After much persuasion, we eventually managed to make it he showed us the camp, where trained militia.
During our meeting it became obvious that to make these guys real fighters — not an easy job. At the end of September 2015, SAVVY (Zowaa) had neither weapons, nor money, to teach and to keep these militias, which Newsweek magazine without the slightest twinge of conscience overstated to four thousand. This well-known publication claimed in may 2015 with reference to the Catholic Herald that 500 soldiers had already been deployed in several Syrian settlements. Another 500 were trained and the remaining three thousand signed up in the recruiting centres and would soon be a part of this Christian army under the name Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU).
This has been no laughing matter. That the Iraqi Christians have created a military organization with the purpose of the confrontation between Islamic radicals, caused such confusion in the West that it began to write thousands of papers. To prove the veracity of statements and not having other authoritative sources that could confirm their information, the media often simply quoted each other, as in this particular case, did Newsweek, referring to the Catholic Herald.
Among other well-known publications, the Independent also pointed to “several thousand” Assyrians, have joined in the huge Christian army to protect their land from the radical Islamists. Other yellow media, in particular, Glenbeck, relied on the BBC, talking about 100 thousands of volunteers. The stories are generally attached panoramic photos of soldiers lined up in columns and with the emblem of the NPU on the sleeve near the shoulder straps.
The impact of this news was such that its dissemination in the press immediately inspired thousands of volunteers from Western countries to go to Iraq and to defend Christianity. In truth, it is the appeal of Mesopotamia, no one spoke, but their conjectures media reported about the idea of a new crusade.
Before this happened, only LIH and a handful of hardened islamophobes from Europe and North America claimed that ISIS war on Iraq was of a religious nature, forgetting at least two important issues: the majority of victims were Muslims, and the alleged Christian militia has always fought under the flags of the Kurdish and Arab forces.
An avalanche of donations
At the same time, descriptions of brutality committed by ISIS after the occupation of Mosul and Nineveh plains, has caused Spain and other Western countries a large number of financial donations, often bound to military and civilian organizations of questionable character, who claimed that they protect the Christians in Mesopotamia from the Islamists.
When in the early autumn of 2015, our group arrived in Alkash hoping to capture on the spot the hundreds of Chaldean-Assyrian militias, about which wrote Newsweek and the Telegraph, the General himself Behnam was forced to reveal a surprising fact: the great Christian troops of several thousand people was talking about the headlines of Newsweek, the Independent and other media, by that time did not exist!
How could it spread like fiction, and how could take it at face value some of it seems to be the most influential media in the world? At least two Spanish Newspapers — Público and El Models has shed some light on what happened in a series of reports investigating the dark background to the establishment of the above-mentioned militias.
The issue can be summarized as follows: Christian militias in the photo belonged to a small detachment, prepared at the insistence of SAVVY in Kurdistan.
They were prepared by one American company, using light weapons, which they lent to the Peshmerga troops. After a short training period they brought Kalashnikovs and other outdated weapons and dispersed to their homes because of the Assyrian democratic movement was not enough money to pay their soldiers ‘ salaries.
And here pictures taken during this short period of training, was transferred to Newsweek and other media outlets to convince them of the existence of the Christian troops, which in reality was still only in its infancy.
If someone wanted to make a new photo of Christian troops, then turned to the old party members and lined them up in front of the buildings, which SAWA owns on the outskirts Alcala. This, for example, explains the fact that some reports about the militia, written in the end of 2015, there are photos of the same people, dressed in well-worn shape, without a weapon and standing a little too freely, not in the military.
Of course, was the reason why the political leader of the Assyrian democratic movement Yonadam Kanna (Kanna Yonnadam), whose idea of creation of groups NPU, began to manipulate the information destined for the world community, trying to convince her of the existence of the Christian army. Thus, he tried to get donations into the coffers of the Diaspora, particularly from the American Mesopotamian organization (American Mesopotamian Organization). After a few months units NPU in the end, was created thanks to the money obtained by lying.
By the beginning of the offensive in Iraq, these troops had a few hundred fighters who really took part in the liberation of the Christian villages seized by ISIS militants. Whatever it was, their numbers are not even remotely close to a thousand people. In any case, the dissemination of such information has called into question the professionalism of some of the most famous world media.
No crusade has never been, and certainly was not troops, entirely composed of Christians. And still can be counted on the fingers of one hand the media that bothered to describe the circumstances in which arose the militia. And especially their motives, which is much more political than religious.
The NPU units went into battle under the Christian and under their nationalist slogans that Western media systematically suppressed. According to galicias Arkhes Artiaga (Arges Artiaga), one of the Spanish volunteers who joined the Polish forces fighting in the North of Syria, the same press that called “Christian” militias of the Iraqi Chaldean-Assyrian origin, constantly kept silent about the revolution anarchist wing carriers which were Rozhava the Kurds (Rojava), who fought against ISIS.
Whether out of ignorance, or malice, many journalists continued to write about the Kurdish militias of people’s protection units (YPG) as “the Syrian partners of the Marxist terrorists of the Kurdistan workers ‘party”. At the same time completely ignored the successes of the Kurds in overcoming the schism and the establishment of its statehood.
Media coverage — worse
All these facts prove what some of the media, particularly the Boston Globe, warned several years ago: “Never such a number of Newspapers so badly did not cover the conflict.” Never a number of media do not readily reproduced the theses emanating from Washington’s “Ministry of Truth”, and the various half-truths, which is trying to impose on the warring parties.
Confusion Boston Globe called not even the fact that the conflicts in Syria and Iraq was conducted in a parallel propaganda war, but a proven fact that most reputable world media, including Spanish, reproduced the lies that were distributed to all participants of the conflict: from the most modest, as the aforementioned Christian nationalists Yonadam Kanna, to the most powerful, such as Russia and the United States.
In this new environment everyday journalistic work, which had not participated experienced professionals, it is the same weight had some anonymous rumor appeared on the Internet forum and the official UN statement, or any report, concocted one of the NGOs that the government came up with for their propaganda purposes. Strictly speaking, the story of the militia is only clear evidence in the papers is the substitution of reality (that is specified by the employee of the Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer /Stephen Kinzer/) insidious lies, fabricated facts, in a careless manner, pulling out of context of the episodes one of the most complex conflicts of the last century.
Following in the footsteps of the official version of Washington, of the Western press began to share — it is in the spirit of Manichaeism White house — opposing parties into “good” and “bad”, depending on the extent to which they meet the interests of the Obama administration. Mimic the American approach, one of the journalists of news Agency EFE in the title used a meaningless combination of “moderate jihadist”, which was then repeated so often that it came into use. Even the Islamists of the so-called al-Nusra Front, the Syrian wing “al-Qaeda” (both organizations are banned in Russia — approx.ed.) for some time called “moderate”.
How did it happen that the great bearers of universal truth, began to sing with the voice of strangers? Why do they blindly repeat Washington’s explanation of the Syrian conflict? “The way the American media covered the war in Syria will be one of the most shameful pages in the history of the US media,” — said the journalist Stephen Kinzer, commenting on reports from Aleppo. And then he adds: “under heavy financial pressure, Newspapers and television channels have greatly reduced the number of correspondents covering conflicts in the field. Many international news now come from journalists stationed in Washington,” and their main sources are the White house, the state Department, the Pentagon and influential research centers.
In such circumstances, in his opinion, distributed by the leading media information became a kind of hologram, projected from the global political centres of power.
Not to mention that this new perverse incarnation of Big Brother caused some resistance. There are a significant number of independent journalists and small media, including the Spanish, who tried to clarify what is happening there, but their voices were lost in the maelstrom of the Internet or suppressed in a consistent onslaught of major Western publications, being at the service centers of power.
One such knowledgeable competent journalists, often serving in high risk environment, is to bask Carlos Zurutuza (Karlos Zurutuza), collaborating with such reputable media as Al Jazeera and Inter Press Service (IPS) and knows the reality of the Syrian, Libyan and Iraqi reality.
Sunset professional journalism
According to Zurutuza, dissemination of false and fragmented information is a natural consequence of structural changes caused by the invasion of the Internet in journalism.
“Media all use less than full-time journalists. The offices are closed, and instead they are freelance workers are often young and inexperienced, sometimes even willing to work without compensation. They need only to satisfy his vanity, saying that they wrote the stories about the conflict. A question arises over whether it is the fact that professional journalists will replace the ‘Facebook generation’,” says Zurutuza.
Basque journalist believes that the first consequence is the deterioration of working conditions, and the second is a decrease in the quality of journalism. “To go to Iraq or Libya, to witness any conflict is of little use if the journalist does not possess a deep professional knowledge on the issue lights”. “Of course, those who have more experience, less willing on the terms that we offer. Independent journalists now receive less than 10 years ago. Why goes far beyond the examples? I got into an unpleasant situation. I often can’t sell their materials for low prices, and others they agree. But if the customer pays crap, as a rule, nonsense and gets in return”.
The conflicts in Syria and Iraq with unprecedented clarity, as the era of the Internet and the so-called “free press” eliminated the ability of the media to question the official truth. This process affected even prominent members of the press. Also two years ago, the Getty Press Agency published a photo essay about another famous formation of the Assyrian militias NPF, offering some of the fighters, including the commander of the militia, Jamro Safaa (Safaa Jamro), photographed on the background of buildings of the city Teleskop (Teleskoff). Images had to show the military tension in this area a long time ago was not more than twelve months were not marked by any serious firefight. As explained by our group in November 2015 American volunteer Justin Garfield (by Garfield), who became one of the heroes of the aforementioned report, he was taken to the front of the Press and journalist Getty invited him to take a picture with sandbags to give credibility to the story.
At the end of last year in the barracks of the Christian militia NPF in Teleskop visited more than 350 journalists.
For more than a year, the only serious task Assyrian soldiers NPF stationed in Telescope was to organize the tour for Western journalists, overwhelmed with the desire to return to their countries with impressive military images.
The tour was organized by a parade of another detachment of militia Assyrian Christians, known as “the Two Nave” (Dwekh Nawsha). Included in him the volunteers did not even have the right to participate in hostilities, they did not possess any military power. Until recently it was the only paramilitary Kurdistan, which took in its ranks foreigners, and chained it to the attention of the Western media.
Indeed, even the attack on Mosul in the autumn of last year almost all the “reputable” mainstream press sought to portray his countrymen on the front lines, fighting with ISIS somewhere in Iraqi Kurdistan.
West of these volunteers caused in their countries such sympathy that few media have managed to refrain from boasting in their address. “Half a dozen of the heroes who fought in Iraq against ISIS, are the Anglo-Saxons,” claimed the headlines Express in June 2015, as if it was about the Paralympic games for soldier of fortune.
The press was always given to understand that all the burden of combat fell on the shoulders of a handful of white people who have entrusted the difficult job of training the disability of the Kurds and the Arabs and the salvation of Christianity in the middle East.
Spain, of course, this issue is also not lagging behind. After the reporters found that the presence in Iraq of several Spaniards, and in radio broadcasts and newspaper publications were full of praise to the “national heroes”.
Very few Newspapers have reviewed the appropriateness of the foreign presence, and even fewer had bothered to check, and whether or not these “heroes” were at the front and participated in actual combat until the end of last year.
Those who joined the militia “the Two Nave”, had no official permission to get closer to the front, located just over three kilometers from their barracks shogun’s (Bakufa), although many people strutted claiming the opposite in the social networking accounts.
In the midst of all this turmoil, some Spanish media have presented as the hero, a former convict, associated with groups of Falangists and the Nazis, whose identity is revealed by the newspaper Público. Similarly, the English press have published extensive stories about the Englishman Jim Atherton (Jim Atherton), calling it an example of true altruism, not bothering to investigate his involvement in the skinhead groups and Islamophobic views.
Other European volunteers signed up to “the Two Navsa” in the past, participated in various radical groups, but the media is of little interest, their main task was to tell representatives of which countries took part in this conflict.
“While most Western journalists were in the rear or have directed their efforts to the search for the compatriots, the events at the front is often covered Kurdish reporters or a few reputable journalists,” says one well known us presenter, located in Dhoke (Dahok).
“If you take a look at the list of journalists killed or wounded in the Kurdish front in the last two years, you will see that almost all, if not all, locals. It is clear that we are also not very surprising that many of the Europeans decided not to put themselves at risk. We know that most freelancers work in much worse economic conditions, and much worse equipped than we are.”
The journalist Turkmen origin not exaggerating. Some online publications pay up to 50 euros for the report, said the Spanish journalist, Antonio Pampliega (Antonio Pampliega) before his abduction. And some freelance workers even gave free of charge their articles.
“I took advantage of my stay in the South-East Anatolia, Gaziantep, thanks to the project, with the participation of volunteers to prepare a number of reports about the interesting facts that are found, but I have not been able to find media that would be willing to pay me for them,” said a young journalist from Malaga Olalia the Negret (Olalla Negrete).
“Yes, indeed, the economic downturn has put our profession in a very difficult position, and the media blatantly took advantage of this situation to get free labor. But let them not forget that we are the future generation of journalists and we were deprived of even the right professional growth.”
It is not difficult to establish the relationship between the [bad] quality of the materials produced in war zones, and almost slave-like working conditions of journalists.
In place of the “reliable sources” came the compilation and clippings from other articles. And the few freelance workers who are still working in the field events, are often forced to focus on the “action history”, able to compete in the information mess, consisting of atrocities and funny pictures in tweets.
If you read, do support
Given the current circumstances, the main editor of the weekly CTXT Miguel Mora (Miguel Mora) believes that the profession of journalism in its classical sense disappears, while the market is turning a whole generation of reporters in the manipulators of information, thus ensuring the dissemination of official lies and out of context messages, in order to excite the minds of the readership and increase the number of likes. Who cares about the reasons that led to the creation of the militia, when there is a photo of the fighter, leading fire on the front line?
“The deterioration of working conditions — says Mora — started ten years ago, when Newspapers decided to replace journalists with experience young inexperienced staff who, in fact, performed the functions of decorators materials.
At the time this change coincided with the economic downturn spawned by brutal capitalism. In the end, this decline has affected all spheres of life. Then the case turned so that the user has received fabulous salaries, at that time, there were massive layoffs and reduced wages for the rest of employees.
I worked under an Agency agreement, which the employers terminated unilaterally. This whole situation has caused the creation of new electronic media, for example, CTXT, founded by journalists”. To maintain a professional level of journalism, to defend the media and journalists are still willing to withstand major state agencies involved in the manipulation of public opinion required the support of the readers of these new Newspapers, not wanting to obey the dictates of the authorities.
“We should not forget that the right press can easily implement hidden advertisement indices, the IBEX. As a friend of mine says, unemployment affects only journalists on the left, because conservatives generously financed by the current government,” he adds.
As editor in chief CTXT, journalist Carlos Zurutuza believes that in order for the voice of the people has been heard, in the circumstances, the best way is to help and support those media, which act as a tribune of the masses. “We Basques know it well. In the Basque Country there is a well-organized society, which from the beginning have realized the need to support projects like Egin, Gara and then in the face of constant restriction of freedom of speech, to which we are accustomed long before the Spaniards disgraced with the Law on censorship,” — said the journalist.