We had the honor to interview Eva Karene Bartlett. She is well known independent writer and rights activist with extensive experience in Syria and in the Gaza Strip, where she lived a cumulative three years (from late 2008 to early 2013). She documented the 2008/9 and 2012 Israeli war crimes and attacks on Gaza while riding in ambulances and reporting from hospitals.
Since April 2014, she has visited Syria 6 times, including two months in summer 2016 and once month in Oct/Nov 2016. Her early visits included interviewing residents of the Old City of Homs, which had just been secured from militants, and visiting historic Maaloula after the Aramaic village had been liberated of militants. In December 2015, Eva returned to old Homs to find life returning, small shops opened, some of the damaged historic churches holding worship anew, and citizens preparing to celebrate Christmas once again.
On her 5th visit in June-August 2016, she went twice to Aleppo, also visiting Palmyra, Masyaf, Jableh, Tartous, and Barzeh district of Damascus, as well as returning again to Maaloula and Latakia. On her sixth visit to Syria, in October and November, she visited Aleppo twice more, as well as areas around Damascus. The testimonies Eva gathered in Aleppo starkly contrasted narratives corporate media had been asserting. Many of her published Syria writings, videos, photos can be found at this link.
GLOBAL CIR: You come from Canada, a country which is in relation to the US a symbol peacefulness and regulated country. What was the decisive influence for you to begin with the social activism and independent journalism in the most turbulent and bloodiest part of the world, the Middle East?
-Actually, while Canada is portrayed as a benevolent and peaceful country, not many people realize the extent to which Canada has: supported the Zionists’ ethnic cleansing of Palestinians while also turning a blind eye to the murder of Palestinians; taken part in the NATO alliance war on Syria; sold weapons to the despotic Saudi regime (latest deal: US$11 billion), including anti-tank cannons and combat vehicles with machine guns; and ethnically-cleansed and slaughtered the indigenous people.
With regard to Canada’s role in the war on Syria, it includes imposing criminal and crippling sanctions on Syria; supporting and funding (millions of dollars) the so-called armed ‘opposition’ in Syria and their propagandists; closing Syrian embassies in Canada; demonizing the legitimate Syrian government and Syrian army; and legitimizing the illegitimate, Saudi-backed, so-called ‘Syrian National Council’.
Growing up in Canada, I was completely ignorant to world politics. In my late twenties I started to become aware of some of the most basic continuing atrocities, like the Zionist colonization of Palestine, and was moved to learn more first-hand. I did so as a solidarity activist and volunteer in occupied Palestine, seeing over a period of six years some of the worst crimes by Zionist soldiers and colonists against Palestinian civilians, including children.
When the criminal war on Syria physically began in early 2011, I was equally ignorant about that country, and was at that time living in the Gaza Strip. However, very quickly I became suspicious of what corporate media was alleging was happening in Syria, and began researching via independent sources, ultimately going to the country to see for myself.
I used to think that Palestine was one of the most difficult issues to talk about, with so much media distortion and whitewashing in the favour of Israel. However, I now believe that getting the truth out on Syria is one of the most difficult things to do, as nearly all in the Western world, as well as the Gulf states and all corporate media, have conspired to lie about events in Syria and about the will of the Syrian people.
Canadian state and corporate media is as guilty of war propaganda as American, British, and Gulf media. Canada’s politicians and corporate media have Syrian blood on their hands.
*In the old city of Homs, June 2014, speaking with Zeinat and Aymen al-Akhras who endured years of hell under the rule of militant factions. In May 2014, an agreement saw the reportedly 1,200 militants bussed out of Homs (as recently happened in Aleppo), bringing peace to the neighbourhoods they’d occupied and terrorized. Excerpt from my article on this visit and interviewing residents of the old city of Homs: “I dropped to 34 kilos. Aymen told me to weigh myself. I got on the scale and said, ‘What’s 34 kilos?’. A ten-year-old weighs more than that! And Aymen was 43 kilos. For a man, 43 kilos…”
“We were twelve siblings with eight houses in the area, and the family house. We all had stores of food.”
“Thirty-eight times they came to steal our food. The first couple of times, they knocked on the door, after that they just entered with guns. The last things they took were our dried peas, our cracked wheat, our olives, finally our za’atar (wild thyme). We started to eat grass and whatever greens we could find in February, 2014, and that’s all we had till Homs was liberated,”–Zeinat al-Akhras. Read: Liberated Homs Residents Challenge Notion of “Revolution”
Since it is a theme that those who report differently than the MSM war propaganda on Syria must therefore work for either/both Syria or Russia, I’ll address that in this brief post, drawing on some interviews and related material, since I continue to be incredibly busy.
Some excerpts from: ‘If I write in line with Russian media, it’s because we both tell the truth’ – Eva Bartlett to RT, 17 Dec, 2016, RT
“Some people have taken issue with the things I said because I was basically criticizing much of the corporate media reporting on Syria, and instead of actually digesting what I said and criticizing the details of what I said, people have gone to the usual tactic of trying to smear who I am and imply that I am an agent of either or both Syria and Russia,” Bartlett said, adding that it’s been openly implied she is on the payroll of the Syrian and Russian governments. The fact that she is an active contributor to RT’s op-edge section has also been jumped all over.
“The fact that I do contribute to the RT op-edge section apparently, in some people’s eyes, makes me compromised. I began contributing to the RT op-edge section when I lived in Gaza, and this was not an issue for people who then appreciated my writing,” she stated.
“What I am writing, and what I’m reporting, and who I am citing are Syrian civilians whom I’ve encountered in Syria.
“If people do not wish to hear the voices of Syrian civilians and if they want to maintain their narrative which is in line with the NATO narrative – which is in line with destabilizing Syria and vilifying the government of Syria and ignoring the overwhelming wishes of the people of Syria – then they do this by accusing me of spreading propaganda,” the journalist stressed.
“The fact that my writing is in line with the Syrian people… in some respect aligns with Russian media reports, does not mean that I’m reporting Russian propaganda, and it does not mean that what Russian media is reporting is propaganda. It happened to be that I report the truth as I see it on the ground, and some Russian media happen to report the truth as they see it on the ground.
“Why do we not see these accusations when a BBC journalist goes to Syria and reports what I often believe to be not the full story? Why are they not accused of working for the State of England? Why are Al Jazeera journalists not accused of working for Qatar?”
My Related Comments:
*Please note, I do not have ‘my own blog’ on RT, as written in the RT overview of an interview I gave to the site (and as also alleged by a factually-challenged ‘fact check’ by Channel 4 News, the debunking of which will be out soon). In fact, the RT disclaimer at the bottom of Op-Edge contributions is clear: “The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.” How did the fact checkers at Channel 4 miss that?
*photo: Resilience of Syrians, Old City of Homs, December 2015.
As many readers will know, I have visited Syria four times, between April 2014 and December 2015—independently on a journalist’s visa and as part of two peace delegations. When in Syria as a writer, I visited key places—including liberated Homs and Ma’loula, terror-bombed regions of Homs, and the Yarmouk district, which has been focus of slick propaganda by anti-Syria corporate media and so-called human rights groups—and have conducted numerous interviews, with Syrian political and religious leaders, as well as Syrian civilians.
I have taken many photographs and videos, collected numerous personal testimonies, undertaken my own research and investigations, visited hospitals and refugee centres, and—in every area that I visited—have conversed with Syrians about what they feel is the cause of the problems in Syria, the solution, and on their insistence for Syria’s sovereignty, and on their support for the Syrian Arab Army and their president.
In the months since my last trip, I have been transcribing interviews and testimonies and writing articles based on them, writing about my personal impressions based on my visits to Syria, and challenging the latest corporate media lies and propaganda campaigns.
I will be returning to Syria, as soon as possible, and for that I must ask for financial assistance to make this trip possible. [see: Syrian Voices Book Project on GoFundMe ]
Why am I compelled to go to Syria?
In order to write a book that prioritizes Syrian voices from Syria: truths from some of the most highly-misrepresented, lied about or plainly ignored areas of Syria.
To do justice to the full spectrum of the stories of Syrians as told by them, it is essential that I visit areas I not previously been to, areas that have been liberated since I was last there and areas that are enduring especially egregious suffering—such as in Aleppo under terrorist bombs.
Mar 7, 2016, SOTT.net (in Spanish; in German; re-published at: Off Guardian, Dissident Voice, Strategic Culture, Global Research) (cited in: “Western Reporter in Syria Finds U.S.-Backed Fighters Are Jihadists”, Washington’s Blog; “Contrary to West’s Humpty-Dumpty Allusion Syria is ‘Coming Together Again'”, Sputnik News)
In April 2014 I first visited Syria, going to Homs and Latakia, in addition to Damascus. On each of my three subsequent trips to Syria, speaking moderate colloquial Arabic (or with a translator when necessary), I have been able to interact one-on-one with Syrians there, whether in markets, taxis, on the streets or in areas I visited.
In Latakia, many of the the over 1 million Internally Displaced Persons from Idlib, Aleppo and surrounding areas who are being housed and supported by the Syrian government spoke of the same heinous kidnappings, beheadings, and other crimes that most media currently only associate with Da’esh (ISIS), but which were perpetrated (with Turkish support) by the so-called FSA and other terrorist factions.
A man from Harem, near the Turkish border, spoke of being kidnapped by FSA terrorists and of the decapitations of Harem residents, with their heads sent home in boxes.
“The terrorists attacked us, terrorists from Turkey, from Chechnya, and from Arab and other foreign countries. They had tanks and guns, like an army, just like an army. For 73 days we were surrounded in the citadel of Harem. They hit us with all kinds of weapons. We had women and children with us. They showed no mercy. When they caught any of us, they slaughtered him, and then send his head back to us. They killed over 100 people, and kidnapped around 150… children, civilians, soldiers. Until now, we don’t know what’s happened to them,” he said.