For the attention of Turkish and Western journalist reporting from Iraq
Please see Hasan Kanbolat's article below:
Iraq’s Turkmen intellectuals searching for their future
The third meeting of the Iraqi Turkmen Press Council was held between April 10 and 12 in İstanbul. The purpose of the meeting, organized under the guidance of Professor Suphi Saatçi, Mehmet Tütüncü and Şükran Kayacı, was to promote the Iraqi Turkmen press.
The Turkish press, intellectuals, bureaucrats and politicians were uninterested in the meeting. Interestingly, even İstanbul deputies and representatives of local party organizations did not pay heed to the meeting. The only notable attendees were Erşat Hürmüzlü, the chief advisor to President Abdullah Gül on the Middle East, and Iraq's consul general in İstanbul. Considering the fact that President Gül met with Turkmen and Arab intellectuals in İstanbul on April 11, one can suggest that the Turkish presidency was the only body that attached importance to the meeting. It is an odd contradiction for Turkish intellectuals and politicians to show close interest in Iraqi Kurds while turning a blind eye to Iraqi Turkmens.
Iraqi Turkmens have always been shadowed by the fact that they are regarded as extensions of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. They could not manage to get their voices heard about the pressure they were subjected to and the losses they suffered both during the time of Saddam and the US occupation. Their cries were always muted. They were always a community living in the shadows. However, Iraqi Turkmens are intellectual people. They do not like conflicts. They always seek to find conciliation with other groups. They believe in their hearts in territorial integrity, increased welfare and democratization. They do not want be a minority, but desire to be a community within the majority and contribute their richness to Iraq by preserving their identity. This is well exemplified in their past.
The first Iraqi Turkmen newspaper was published in 1915. However, it is ironic that there is no Turkmen press association in Iraq. They note that for several months, they have experienced difficulty in their attempts to become members of the Iraqi Press Association and that they are not allowed to establish their own trade unions. In Iraq, there are more than 100 TV channels -- about half of which operate via satellite -- but Turkmens have only one TV channel, namely Türkmeneli TV. Another problem they face is that although they have local papers, they do not have a national newspaper through which they could have their voices heard by the general public in Iraq.
Turkish and Western journalists who go to Iraq are, in general, not specialized in the topic of Iraq. They do not know problems or details. They tend to run analyses without knowing the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites or between Kurmanji or Sorani. They tend to cover groups such as Kurds and organizations that make sure their voices are heard by resorting to the use of arms. They tend to see peace-loving peoples like Turkmens as mere folkloric elements. They do not even try to understand the existing war.
About 75 percent of Iraqi people watch satellite TV channels to stay informed, while 6 percent tend to use Internet news sources. The written press does not have any weight in society. In Iraq, rife with attempts at disinformation, it is hard to say that there is a free press. For this reason, a new press law is in the making. If free and democratic press organizations cannot exist in Iraq, we cannot expect democracy to take root and territorial integrity to be secured.
Turkmens represent a cornerstone for democratic order in Iraq. The place of Turkmens within the integrity of Iraq should be given greater emphasis so that future generations can live in peace. It should not be forgotten that various languages are part of the wealth of Iraq. Iraq needs peace and dialogue. Iraq no longer wants to see more bloodshed.