mardi 28 mai 2013

Merry Fitzgerald's Speech at the 5th Iraqi Turkmen Media Conference – Istanbul


Speech at the 5th Iraqi Turkmen Media Conference – Istanbul 
18-19  May 2013

With the dramatic expansion of various forms of electronic interchange, including electronic mail and the Internet, opportunities for communication across national boundaries, and cross-fertilization of ideas are greater than ever before.
The Internet's greatest strength is its ability to support simultaneous, interactive communications among many people, the Net allows information to flow back and forth among millions of sources at practically the same time.

The implication is that millions of people can be exposed to a medium in which they have an active role to play and can influence political as well as other outcomes. International social media such as Facebook permit interaction with the world and information can spread fast.

However, like newspapers, active use of the Internet requires literacy in English, for the most part, to enjoy the benefits.

We all know that the voices of the Turkmens have been completely stifled for decades in Iraq and that the Turkmens were not given equal opportunities to complete their studies at Universities in Iraq, this of course has seriously hampered their ability to compete with other Iraqis (Arabs and Kurds) and reduced their visibility with regard to the outside world.

I remember that 10 years ago when I was searching “Iraqi Turkmen” on the Net in order to find information on the subject, I was frustrated to find only a few inactive Turkmen websites, some poorly  written articles in English and nothing in French, Spanish, Dutch, etc. Ten years later however, things have changed, several Iraqi Turkmen websites and a few blogs dedicated to the Iraqi Turkmens are now present on the Net, thus facilitating the task of those who are interested in the subject.

Personally I started three blogs* in English and French about the Turkmens back in 2007, and I am glad and feel rewarded when people write to me and say: “before reading your blog I had never heard about the Turkmens of Iraq.

I am not a professional journalist, but I did my best to inform people in Europe and the U.S. about the Turkmens, their culture, history and their plight in Iraq.  .

In order to have a greater impact and have more visibility on the Net, Turkmens need more qualified journalists who are fluent in the most internationally spoken languages, like English,  French, Spanish, German etc. and who can write about the Turkmen cause in international media and websites.

I still remember the days when Iraqi Turkmens were not mentioned at all, they were at best referred to as:  ‘the others’, i.e. ‘among the non Arab and non Kurdish ethnic groups of Iraq’.

An example which comes to my mind, is when in one of its programs about Iraq the French/German TV Channel ARTE when talking about the Iraqi people mentioned all Iraq’s ethnic groups except the Turkmens.

Dr. Aydinli, ITF EU Representative wrote to Madame Laurène L’Allinec, Director of TV Channel ARTE, to complain, saying that it was inadmissible on the part of a well known international TV Channel like ARTE to omit mentioning the Turkmens who are Iraq’s third main ethnic community and asking her to publish a correction concerning the Turkmens of Iraq on ARTE’s website.

Turkmens are lagging behind in communicating and in spreading their news, reports, editorials and books in English and other European languages and they need to catch up with their Arab and Kurdish compatriots and competitors, who have either trained their own journalists or are employing Western journalists to spread their news and write editorials or books about their causes and history.

Experience has proven that Turkmens can only rely on themselves, therefore young Turkmens should be encouraged to study journalism and/or write theses about the role and the importance - past and present - of the Turkmens in Iraqi society. 

We have had several young French graduates who contacted us and who came to visit us in Belgium, saying they wanted to make their thesis on the Iraqi Turkmens, unfortunately it seems that they have all abandoned their project after a few months, because they did not have the possibility – mainly due to lack of security - to spend some time in Turkmeneli (the Turkmen region in Iraq), to meet with Turkmens there who are competent to pass on accurate information, and to make some researches in Kirkuk and other Iraqi Turkmen cities.  Some of them did travel to Iraq, but unfortunately they stopped in Erbil or Suleymaniya and they started to write some papers about the Kurdish region instead.

To-day, we have here among us, Mr. Guy Munier, who is a well known French journalist/writer who has written articles about Iraq and about the Iraqi Turkmens and who has interviewed ITF EU’s representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli on several occasions.

Mr. Munier’s articles were published namely in the magazine Afrique-Asie, in Mondialisation Canada and on his website France-Irak Actualité.

Electronic Media development in Iraq should of course continue to be led and inspired by the Iraqis themselves.

We have all seen that in the Arab world, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria etc.  the role of bloggers and internet activists, in what is called ‘The Electronic Arab Spring’ was important to cover the events because of the restrictions the regimes imposed on journalists working in the mainstream media.

Electronic Media is a powerful tool of communication, it is the most dynamic form of all interactive media. In modern times it stands as the most powerful means of accessing information. It has changed the way people live and relate to each other. 

When most of the monopolistic media owned by some well known billionaires are spreading fake or partisan news, the electronic media are a very effective means to denounce such misinformation.

Electronic media has touched every sphere of the human aspect. In the present times, information and technology are interwoven with the society’s economic progress. The evolution of electronic media has had an overwhelming impact on the society. Nearly everybody is dependent upon technology, whether one is located in far off rural areas or is a part of the cosmopolitan circle, technology is ubiquitous.

Opportunities of communication have broken all barriers across national boundaries and have led to the germination of new ideas through the cross pollination of cultures. Electronic media has reduced distances, discrimination and disparities.

‘Interaction’ is the key element to good communication which is provided through the internet. The Information Revolution has helped level the global differences in terms of opportunities and economic development.

Telling the untold or little told story, giving voice to those whose stories have been overlooked is I think the positive aspect of the Electronic Media in our societies and it should be encouraged.



Letters of Dr. Hassan Aydinli to French/German ARTE TV Channel:

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