Fw: [JPN] NY Times Mis-Information on Turkey

Jay Moore pieinsky at igc.org
Sat Feb 8 09:17:19 MST 2003

A voice from Turkey + criticism of NY Times coverage of anti-war activioty
there.. TYhe NY Times, of course and unfortunately, never prints letters
speaking in such a voice, or at such length. Woprth circulating, I think.
"Jewish peace News," by the way, is unfailing in its editorial judgement
about What to Pass On. And their occasional introductions to the materials
they transmit are of a very high order.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jewish Peace News" <rel at inter.net.il>
To: <jewishpeacenews at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2003 5:28 PM
Subject: [JPN] NY Times Mis-Information on Turkey

[Ayse Gul Altinay, who wrote the following, expects it won't be published
by the NY Times. RM]

----- Forwarded message from Ayse Gul Altinay
<altinay at sabanciuniv.edu -----

Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 20:22:42 +0200
From: Ayse Gul Altinay <altinay at sabanciuniv.edu
Reply-To: Ayse Gul Altinay <altinay at sabanciuniv.edu
Subject: Your coverage of Turkey
To: filkins at nytimes.com

Dear Mr. Filkins,

I have been reading your articles on Turkey's position in relation to Iraq
with great surprise and disappointment. I understand that you are based in
Turkey, yet there is little evidence of that in your articles. Your piece on
February 4, for instance, reads more like the press briefing of an anonymous
US diplomat in Ankara' than an informed understanding of Turkey's reaction
to the current situation. I do not understand journalism to be a one-sided
coverage of government policies and statements. Unfortunately, your
coverage of the current situation in Turkey has been damaging the
credibility of the New York Times --in my eyes and in the eyes of many
people I know.

Particularly troubling is the 'misinformation' you provide regarding the
anti-war sentiments of Turkish citizens. Here are two quotations from your
recent pieces:

"There have been few sizable public demonstrations against war in Iraq. Many
Turks say they would like nothing more than to see Saddam Hussein ousted
from Iraq, and in recent days, a number of journalists and business leaders
warned of lasting damage to the crucial alliance with America."

"Still, opposition to the war has been mostly muted here. There have been
relatively few public demonstrations, and even fewer that have drawn sizable
crowds. Many Turks say they would like nothing more than to see Saddam
Hussein ousted from Iraq, and in recent days, there was a growing chorus
among Turkish journalists and business leaders that Turkey was running the
of seriously damaging its half-century-old alliance with the United States."

Unfortunately, you have missed the very significant point that the 'growing
chorus' in Turkey has not been that of mainstream journalists and certain
businessmen, it has been that of organized as well as individual opposition
to the war. The people you cite in making your claim have remained in the
small minority and have faced serious criticism from all fronts.

Are you aware of or have you reported the recent polls which suggest that
94% of the population strongly oppose this war?

Have you interviewed ANYONE among this 94%?

Have you reported the fact that there are DAILY protests all around Turkey
coming from all sections of the population? The massive protests in
Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Mersin? The Assembly of the 100s last week where
more than 2000 people, among them Turkey's most prominent names (academics,
writers, artists, actors-actresses, businesspeople, doctors, lawyers), made
a joint peace declaration?

Have you been reading the numerous press statements issued by the Turkish
Barr Association, Doctors Association, Academic associations, human rights
organizations, labour unions, the Anti-War Platform of 162 NGOs, the Peace
Initiative of Turkey, etc.?
Have you reported the four-day visit of your fellow citizen Ryan Amundson
who lost a brother in the Sept 11 attacks and represents 'Seprember Eleventh
Families for Peaceful Tomorrows' in Turkey? He was on at least 3 national
televisions (including CNN-TURK, NTV, and TV 8, at least one primetime live
interview)and all major newspapers last week. He met with the Deputy Prime
Minister Yalcinbayir and the Speaker of the Parliament Arinc in Ankara and
asked them to oppose the war IN THE INTERESTS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, as
well as those of Turkish and Iraqi people. Have you interviewed him about
views of the Turkish peace movement and learned about how surprised he was
to see the union of such a diverse group of people from all over the country
being so active together?

Amundson reads the NY Times regularly. One reason why he was surprised is
because none of this has been reported in the NYTimes (by you or anybody

Let me go back to your remark regarding anti-war opposition in Turkey having
been 'mute': Have you, Mr Filkins, asked the politicians in Ankara how they
feel about the thousand messages they have been getting in their mobile
phones in the last three days? Or the faxes and emails? Have you asked them
what they say to the senders of these messages when they call or write them
back? Have you asked them whether they felt like they were representing
their voters and the citizens of Turkey as they voted for the modernization
of Turkish airports for US use today? Have you asked them about the HUNDREDS
OF THOUSANDS of anti-war signatures that were presented to them in the last
couple of weeks? Have you interviewed the telephone operators of the Turkish
Grand National Assembly who are overwhelmed with the protest messages they
receive via the phone every day? Most importantly, have you asked ANYONE if
they have seen such grassroots political activism coming from all sectors of
Turkey's diverse population since the military coup in 1980?

You are right about one thing, Mr. Filkins. The majority of the Turkish
people could not care less about Saddam, if anything they know what a cruel
dictator he was. They are well aware of the biological weapons he used only
10 years ago (which had met no opposition from the US at that time). Yet,
they are STILL overwhelmingly against this war because they know that war is
the answer to this problem, that war will only trigger the use of the
weapons he is believed to have, that the hundreds of thousands of deaths
that this war will incur provide a more imminent threat to peace and
security in the region than Saddam's regime who has begun to collaborate
with the UN. --This is my interpretation, perhaps you have a better one. But
you ARE obligated to provide an explanation as to the fact that 94% of the
population in Turkey oppose this war WHILE AT THE SAME TIME opposing Saddam
and his cruel regime.

You are also obligated, I believe, to present an OBJECTIVE account of
Turkey's response (both the government AND the people) to the current
situation whether this picture suits US government's interests or not.
Otherwise, we will all conclude that the New York Times is nothing but an
official news agency of the US government.

For your information, I am attaching to this message a summary of last
week's peace events (only a selection of them over the weekend of 25-27
January), the Peace Declaration of "the Assembly of the 100s", and the
letter that I sent individually to 550 parliamentarians in Ankara. Mine was
among the thousands of such letters.


Ayse Gul Altinay
Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology
Sabanci University
Istanbul - Turkey

----- End forwarded message -----

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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