Sunday, October 24, 2004


SBS - now embedded with terrorists

SBS - now embedded with terrorists

The SBS's Dateline piece on the terrorist group PKK was one of the most subservient pieces of journalism I'd seen.

Apart from troubles elsewhere in Iraq, the north of that country is bracing itself for a another guerilla war - this time between Turkey and the Kurdish independence fighters of the PKK.

Except they say they don't want independence anymore - does SBS think "militant" is too harsh a word?

Matt Carney gained exclusive access to the PKK base inside northern Iraq and he discovers quite an anachronism for the region - a guerilla group that shuns religion and treats women as equals.

Treating women as equals isn't the anachronism, the rest of the region is the anachronism.

High in the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq, near the Iranian border, a volleyball game is under way. These are the woman guerillas of the PKK or Kurdistan Workers Party.

Governments can send olympic teams, but terrorist organisations can't. This is so unfair...

WOMAN (TRANSLATION): The only thing you want to do as you approach the enemy or as the enemy approaches you is to kill so as not to get killed yourself.

Try to think of the government's "root causes". Why do they want to kill you?

America and Europe call them terrorists, but to many of the 20 million Kurds of the Middle East, they are freedom fighters.

Yeah, and America claimed that Saddam had WMDs, and we know the truth about that, don't we?

This is the first time in five years they’ve let a camera in to film their mountain sanctuary.

The obvious question is "Why was the SBS the first in five years?"

The PKK is surrounded on all sides - Iran, Turkey and Syria all want to wipe them out.

The mention of Iran and Syria is news to me. A google of "PKK Iran" (without quotes) have some hits saying Iran supports the PKK, and some saying it is cracking down on the PKK.

Very often the enemy of your enemy is also your enemy. The PKK stays in that category for me regardless of their alleged opposition to Syria and Iran.

Even the other Kurdish parties in Iraq, along with their American allies, want to see the back of them.

Dare I suggest that to many of the 20 million Kurds of the Middle East, they are not freedom fighters?

RECRUITS’ PLEDGE (TRANSLATION): Our slogan is freedom for our leader Apo, peace for Kurdistan, my people, my martyrs, my flag, my party. On my honour, I swear, I swear.

The first and last things mentioned are the leader and the party. It appears loyalty to the organisation is more important than loyalty to the cause.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the PKK was involved in a bloody struggle for Kurdish liberation inside Turkey. 30,000 people lost their lives.

A prime example of the passive voice if ever I have seen one.

The PKK has spent the last five years building up its ranks. There’s about 10,000 fighters in these mountains. Half of them are women.

Half of them female? Perhaps. All of them 18 or older? Nope.

Unlike most of the Middle East, there is absolute equality between the sexes here.

Sure, the PKK has been accused of raising money from prostitution (by pimping, not by PKK members offering sex themselves, that is), but business is business, no?

LEYLA ZIREK (TRANSLATION): When I was a child I used to see women in my neighbourhood. Indeed even, my mother. At home they would force her. She could do nothing without my fathers permission. I used to think, why should women be controlled by men? When I found the PKK through friends, I knew I’d found my dream. This was the "better place" I’d always hoped to find.

The way SBS portrays it, it's almost like running away to join the circus.

What can a girl in such a situation do? Getting documentation would be difficult, and she can't sneak into a country as she isn't fleeing for her life.

Murad admits that abandoning the armed struggle and the movement’s Marxist orientation has not been easy. ... A paradigm has been developed based on democratic, ecological and gender revolution.

What? No mention of gay rights?

George Bush has already labelled them evil terrorists

If he did, google indicates that he didn't use that precise phrase.

Cicek is barely 5-foot high but she says, in her 10 years of fighting, she has killed countless Turkish soldiers. Cicek joined the movement when she was just 11.

SBS didn't comment on her young age. Kill early and kill often!

I started googling for the youngest girl soldier known, but when I came across one description of a girl being abducted into service (the organisation was not PKK-related) at the age of five, I decided I'd found out more than enough.

CICEK (TRANSLATION): When I was a child, we had no schools and no roads. We were deprived of everything.

This is the kind of thing SBS would have you believe is the "root cause" of terrorism. I guess it'd be inconvenient to mention that the PKK destroys schools and attacks teachers, and blows up bridges and plants mines on roads, wouldn't it?

The ideology here seems such a throwback to last century that it’s easy to forget the PKK is still a fanatically disciplined group that demands sacrifices.

Is that a polite way of saying "dictatorial"?

Marriage is banned because, according to the party program, it’s a bourgeois concept based on ownership and is an instrument of patriarchal and imperialist power. Sex is also forbidden until truly free gender relations exist and that won’t happen until the revolution arrives.

Well, I can't accuse the PKK of not knowing about sex and exploitation.

His ideas are paramount, even though they do study other feminist theories.

ZILAR SIBARK (TRANSLATION): We don’t consider it quite right that they consider the problem only within the context of being anti-male, opposing men. That’s not our philosophy. We even aim to include men and to transform them in the process.

Being told by terrorists that our idea of feminism is too combative. Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

But there is another reading to Murad’s optimism. America is committed to its war on terror and it’s probably only a matter of time before America moves with Turkey to destroy the PKK, the Kongra Gel and everything else here. The only cause for delay is America’s battle in the rest of Iraq.

Hasta la vista, PKK? One can only hope that now that Saddam is gone, the PKK will disintergrate without too much bloodshed.

It is reasonable to accuse SBS of being objectively pro-terrorist.

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