“Letters from Yugoslavia” consist of translation of previous articles published in different portals whichare piled in "Yugoslavya Mektupları". The current articles are published in İleri Portal, the press agency of TKP (Communist Party of Turkey).

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Friday, 17 February 2017

ALEPPO AND SREBRENICA

(Original text: Published in December 19, 2016)

In Turkish language we have a proverb that any comparison is free of any failure. Indeed, most of the comparisons are likely to have conceptual or factual failures. Especially, in contemporary political milieu when it is in the hands of political Islamists who are famous of deceit and exploitation of emotions, especially the religious sentiments. Even to a degree that they would not feel ashamed of exploiting the tearful memory of Srebrenica genocide.

Political Islamists have huge track of creating false stories, hoax news which requires pages of documentations. No doubt, Chetniks (Serbian nationalists) like any other ultra-right wing political group are quite competitive with the political Islamists. Those fake news created during the Bosnian War in 1992-95 by Serbian nationalists broadcasted through TV channels were quite competitive with those actual ones of our age distributed through social media. Some fantastic fictive stories were remarkable. For example, that one about sterilization of Serbian women by vaccines in Prijedor, Bosnia, or like the those about the Serbian babies who are used as food for the lions in the Sarajevo Zoo. Those and similar fake news found quite a large place in Serbian media just before the war, which provided a huge advantage against the anti-war opposition. An average citizen of Serbia would easily believe that an Islamic fundamentalist government was formed in Sarajevo and started to slaughter Serbs.

After almost a quarter century, hypocrisy and deceitfulness have reached to another stage with the new era of internet. Formerly, the fake news were constructed by those disrespectful journalists who would be easily bought by money or offering some other privileges. Today, it is done voluntarily by millions of social media users even usually without being aware of it.

“Social media illiteracy” is a destructive sickness of our society.

I use “social media illiteracy” in quotation marks since it is different than “illiteracy” and does not have any contextual relationship with diplomas gathered through formal education. I think I do not need to give examples on how it is does not. Since you are reading this article (in web) probably most of your news resources are web portals. It is also probably that from time time you get mad by those awkward social media sharings even by those who have PhD degrees. In the beginning of December 2016, we faced with a similar situation during the operation of Syrian Arab Army which ended with liberation of Aleppo from Islamist opposition.

The pro-government media became crazy when it became obvious that jihadists were losing the battle and they –once again- proved that there is no limit in fictive fake journalism. We witnessed how Al Jazeera, which was the address of true journalism during the Iraq War, became a machine to distribute fake news. Later on it was proved that all those photos and stories from “besieged Aleppo” were fake but who cares? The photos were already in circulation in social media.

On the other side, things are not as easy as it was quarter a century ago. It does not take long for a lie to come to light since “fact checking” is right there. In fact “fact checking” is a technical term of journalism, which refers to confirm a news from other resources. However, in contemporary society, or better to say in “post-truth” era, we use this term to confirm those shared information and news in social media. Those fact-checking web pages become more widespread. Even Facebook decided to imply fact-checking tools in struggle against information pollution. In our contemporary society, in post-truth society, the search for the truth is becomes a more virtuous and a more revolutionary action. The more we search for truth, the more we feel as human. It is not a coincidence that the motto of İleri Portal is “Truth is Revolutionary” –where the original Turkish version of this article is published.

Once we began to reveal Aleppo lies, than we found ourselves in another galaxy of accusations: We are Essadist, Russophile. In fact, this is not alien to us. Weren’t we occupier in Afghanistan, Saddamist in Iraq, Qaddafi supporter in Libya? The most surprising fact was that, those or similar accusations were directed to us even by those intellectually developed people, whom we thought that they believed in truth. There is really a serious epistemological problem: It does not mean that you propagate one side when you are revealing the lies of the other side, when you point the false claims of other side. If we did so, instead of revealing the lies, we would be sharing the footages on how “People of Aleppo welcome Syrian Army with tears” or “People of Aleppo greeted Syrian Army with fireworks”. Above all, it is very much clear that, especially after the experience in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, statements like “Opposition jihadists slaughters people but Essad is also not a democrat” or “Neither FSA nor Essad” are nothing but just saucy foolishness.

As lies are revealed, then we face with exploitation of facts and events which symbolize the evil, which aches every heart like Srebrenica genocide. In social media, it was commonly emphasized that Aleppo was new Srebrenica, without paying attention to factual, historical and even political irrelevancies between the two. Is it the limit of idiocy? Those thousands of disarmed civilians who were slaughtered in Srebrenica were considered to be equal with those barbarians who exploited civilians as human shields, who enjoyed cutting throats and selling women in slave markets for four years!

In 2011, RTS, the State Television of Serbia declared apology for those fake news which were broadcasted in 90’s on War in Bosnia. The documentary film titled “Godine koje su pojeli lavovi” (The year which was eaten by the lions) directed by Sarajevo journalist Boro Kontiç and projected in Sarajevo Film Festival in 2011 is like a lesson by including interviews made with those journalists who produced those fake news. Those who watched the documentary could see how wretched a journalist can become. Surely they were all regretful of what they did and they all apologized. But some were still defending the evil, still defending the fake news they reported. (1)

It would be a bit naïve to expect that those jihadists who turned Aleppo into hell will apologize. It is even a bit naïve dream that those pathologically stubborn “social media illiterates” who do not hesitate to share hoax news to make a self-criticism and to apologize for what they did. However, those who are searching for the truth should never give up their struggle. Our most effective weapon against that illiteracy is the “truth”. Truth is revolutionary and revolutionaries are fearless fighters for the search of the truth.

(1)
   
For the trailer of the documentary film of Boro Kontiç: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY10R7l_1Cw

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