PEACE IN KURDISTAN CAMPAIGN
We are concerned about the BBC’s coverage of the Raqqa operation, which oscillates between false and negligent.
We urge the BBC to stick to rigorous fact checking, and not base its news coverage on incomplete and biased reports, before spreading news such as seen last week, claiming that ‘it is problematic that the predominantly Kurdish forces, with the help of the US, are making a push for Raqqa, which is mainly Arab, as the Kurds have been known to expel Arabs from the villages that they have liberated.’ This claim is based on a report by Amnesty International from October 2015. If the BBC references this report, it should also consider the Rojava administration’s response to it and consult other experts on the issue.
To clarify: the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched the ‘Wrath of Euphrates’ operation to liberate Raqqa on 5 November. The groups participating in the Raqqa operation alongside the YPG and YPJ are Liwa Suqur Raqqa, Liwa Tahrir, Liwa Shuhada Raqqa, Katibat Shuhada Hamam al-Turkman, Liwa Ahrar Raqqa, Liwa Thuwwar Tel Abyad and the Syriac Military Council. This means Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Assyrians are fighting alongside each other. An important number of those participating in the operation are people from Raqqa. The post-liberation process of the city will be directed by the Raqqa Military Council. The Kurds are going to withdraw after liberation. Hence, Raqqa is going to be governed by Raqqans. Just like al-Hawl, al-Shaddadi and Tal-Abyad are governed by their local populations.
Rojava is not only the most stable region of Syria, but also the most inclusive (gender, ethnic, religious, refugees), open and transparent for academics, journalists and others who wish to visit to get a more nuanced account of its internal dynamics.
The BBC has an important role in shaping public opinion, and spreading false and incomplete information about the practices of the SDF is extremely counter-productive for those involved in this existential fight, and those supporting these efforts abroad.
We urge the BBC to consult with experts and double check its primary and secondary sources used, before spreading false news and harming information when covering the Raqqa operation.
Julie Ward MEP; Lord Rea; Hywel Williams MP; Elfyn Llwyd; Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru; Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director, John Berger, writer; James Kelman, writer; Margaret Owen OBE, barrister; Prof Mary Davis; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Cambridge University; Dr Federico Venturini, Leeds University; Prof Brendan Hogen, New York University; Mark Thomas, writer/journalist; Nick Hildyard, policy advisor; Stephen Smellie, Deputy convenor, UNISON; Dr Derek Wall, International Co-Ordinator of Green Party of England and Wales; Prof Mehmet Ugur, Greenwich University; Melanie Gingell, barrister; Steve Sweeney, journalist, NUJ; Isabel Kaeser, Phd candidate SOAS; Fatih Seyhanoglu , Kurdish journalist; Rahila Gupta, writer; David Morgan journalist; John Hunt, journalist; Katherine Wright; Jo Magpie, journalist; Amber Huff, Sussex University; Dr Patrick Huff, Birkbeck College; Brighton Kurdish Solidarity; Mehmet Aksoy, editor kurdishquestion.com; Yagmur Sutcu PhD candidate, University of Bradford; Trevor Rawnsley, City and Islington College.
10 November 2106
Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890
Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Kate Osamor MP, Elfyn Llwyd, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, John Austin, Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary, Simon Dubbins. UNITE International Director, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, James Kelman, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall, Melanie Gingell, Steve Sweeney