Freelance journalist Eva Bartlett is no stranger to the Syrian conflict, having visited the country repeatedly since the conflict began to get a sense of the realities on the ground. This week, confronted by a mainstream journalist regarding the lies presented in media coverage of Syria, Bartlett succinctly laid out exactly what the problem was.
On Friday, the Canadian journalist and human rights activist took part in a press conference organized by the Syrian mission to the United Nations. After delivering her remarks regarding the current situation in Aleppo and throughout the country, in which she pointed out Western media bias regarding the conflict, Bartlett was asked by a journalist from the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten what the incentive was for Western media to spin a false narrative.
The Norwegian journalist asked her about “the agenda from us in the Western media, and why we should lie –why the international organizations on the ground should lie?…How can you justify calling all of us liars?”
Pointing out that there are “certainly honest journalists among the very compromised establishment media,” Bartlett started off by challenging the assertion about the ‘international organizations’ on the ground in eastern Aleppo. The reality, she noted, is that “there are none.”
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“These organizations are relying on the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights [SOHR], which is based in Coventry, UK, which is one man. They’re relying on compromised groups like the White Helmets. Let’s talk about the White Helmets: They were founded in 2013 by a British ex-military officer, they have been funded to the tune of $100 million by the US, UK, Europe and other states.”
Bartlett also recalled that while the White Helmets “purport to be rescuing civilians in eastern Aleppo and Idlib…no one in eastern Aleppo has heard of them; and I say ‘no one’ bearing in mind that now 95% of these areas of eastern Aleppo are liberated.” At the same time, “The White Helmets purport to be neutral, and yet they can be found carrying guns and standing on the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers.”
Furthermore, she noted, “their video footage actually contains children that have been ‘recycled’ in different reports; so you can find a girl named Aya who turns up in a report in say August, and she turns up in the next month in two different locations.”
Isn’t that lucky?.. #WhiteHelmets rescue the same girl 3 times!..
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“So they [the White Helmets] are not credible. The SOHR are not credible. ‘Unnamed activists’ are not credible. Once or twice maybe, but every time? Not credible. So your sources on the ground – you don’t have them,” Bartlett said.
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Bartlett then turned to the Norwegian journalist’s second question. “As for…the agenda of some corporate media: it is the agenda of regime change. How can the New York Times…[or] Democracy Now…maintain until this day that this is a civil war in Syria? How can they maintain until this day that the protests were unarmed and non-violent until say 2012? That is absolutely not true. How can they maintain that the Syrian government is attacking civilians in Aleppo, when every person that’s coming out of these areas occupied by terrorists is saying the opposite?”
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A second journalist asked the panel about the disconnect between Western and Syrian/Russian media coverage of the situation in Aleppo in recent days, including the terrorists’ tendency to mine areas they have left, and the joint Syrian-Russian effort to evacuate civilians from militant-controlled areas.
“You ask why we aren’t seeing this,” Bartlett chimed in. “This relates to the other gentleman’s question about why most of the corporate media are telling lies about Syria. It’s because this is the agenda; if they had told the truth about Syria from the beginning, we wouldn’t be here now. We wouldn’t have seen so many people killed.”
“In fact,” she noted, “what the Russian media…is [showing] is exactly what the Syrian media is saying, and it shows what independent people in Syria are saying.”
With regard to other flaws in mainstream media coverage, including the sensitive topic of alleged Syrian and Russian air force attacks on hospitals, Bartlett offered another example of media manipulation. “They have manufactured stories, and I can give you a precise account,” she said.
“In April this year,” there was a story about “a hospital called the Al-Quds Hospital – which in a concerted effort all media said was attacked, targeted and badly damaged by either the Syrians or the Russians. In fact the Russians had satellite imagery showing that this hospital was in the shame shape that it was in in October 2015. No difference; it was not attacked.”
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Continuing, Bartlett recalled that “months later, the Guardian, a prominent British newspaper, actually said that the Al-Quds hospital that it had alleged months prior to be attacked and destroyed, was treating victims of so-called chemical weapons attacks. So even the media that is lying is inconsistent in their lies.” In the meantime, she added, unfortunately, Western governments and the media have ignored real attacks on hospitals throughout Syria by anti-government rebels and terrorists.
The full press conference can be found below: