The migration crisis and false stories run by the state television channel Belarus 1

The migration crisis and false stories run by the state television channel Belarus 1

A quick breakdown of some of the more common fake news stories

ТАСС
17.12.2021 Olga Aleshko-Lessels, Andrei Yeliseyeu

The difficult migration situation on the border of Belarus and EU countries continues, and state propaganda is evolving along with it. The aggressive West overthrew the humane Hussein, thereby triggering the flight of Kurds through Belarus. As a result, Poland has used chemical weapons, opposes the creation of a humanitarian corridor, and is preparing to occupy Belarusian territory. These are among most repeated stories in pro-Kremlin and Belarusian state media lately. This article is based on November 2021 releases of the Belarus 1 television channel, but the same propaganda messages are used by other state media.

 

Manipulation: Western states, which had previously destabilized Iraq and other countries of the Middle East and Asia, are to blame for the increase in refugee flows through Belarus.

 

According to the Belarus 1 television channel, «It was by the hands of the Polish military that houses were destroyed, relatives were killed, and the future of today’s refugees was destroyed.» «Hasn’t the journey of your [European] humanism to the homeland of these people destroyed all infrastructure, ruined economies, and made normal life impossible? Isn’t it this same humanism that gave birth to terrorist cells?», asks commentator Polina Shuba rhetorically.

State propaganda selectively explains the sharp increase in migration flows through Belarus. The fact that the increase in flights from countries that are the sources of migration and the increase in the number of visas issued to residents of the Middle East could not have occurred without the consent from the Belarusian side usually remains behind the scenes. However, this is only part of the problem in accusing the «aggressive West» that overthrew the «humane» Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.

The emphasis on Iraq is not accidental, as most migrants who find themselves in Belarus are Iraqi Kurds. From the propaganda description of events, it follows that the U.S., Poland and other Western countries plunged into chaos the successful and stable state of Iraq under the leadership of Hussein.

With all the complexity and ambiguity in Iraq’s recent history, it would not be an exaggeration to note that many Kurdish migrants who are now stuck in Belarus would probably simply not have been alive if it had not been for the weakening of Hussein during the 1991 military operation and his final overthrow by the Western coalition in 2003. Hussein, during his long reign (1979-2003), consistently and ruthlessly carried out his grandiose plans for the total annihilation and ousting of the Kurds.

If we take only the Kurdish tribe Feili, who lived mainly in the borderlands of Iraq and Iran, then during the reign of Hussein about 15,000 of its representatives disappeared without a trace and more than 350,000 were forced into Iran. Between the overthrow of Hussein in 2003 and 2010, about 100,000 Faili Kurds were restored their Iraqi citizenship.

The fate of many Kurdish tribes under Hussein’s rule was even more tragic. All men of the group of Kurdish Barzan tribes 16 years and older (about 8,000 people) who did not leave their country were executed. During the punitive operation Anfal in the late 1980s in Iraqi Kurdistan, according to some estimates up to 100,000 people were killed. About 4,000 Kurdish villages were wiped off the face of the earth. Iraqi airplanes conducted chemical bombing of Kurdish settlements.

The current socio-economic situation in Iraq is indeed poor and many issues, including in the field of security, remain unresolved. However, the humanization of Hussein against the background of the vilification of the «aggressive West,» given the dramatic history of the Iraqi Kurds, is at the very least manipulative.

 

Manipulation: Poland has used chemical weapons against migrants, journalists, and border guards.

 

«Belarus 1 has received photos and videos – evidence of injuries and burns from chemical weapons in Poland,» the television channel reported scandalously, because the use of chemical weapons would trigger at the very least huge international outrage.

According to the television presenter, «the colored water mixed with toxic substances, which was poured over the refugees, became a litmus test for the situation as a whole, an indicator of the West’s inhumanity towards these people.» One correspondent went even further and drew a parallel with the inhuman actions of the Nazis: «The Nazis sent people to the gas chambers, and the Polish soldiers, it turns out, sent people to gas showers. In the 21st century – a developed democracy, human rights, and so on down the list

Actual chemical weapons (mustard and sarin gas) against the Iraqi Kurds were repeatedly used by Hussein, who was overthrown by the «aggressive West.» Water from Polish cannons, which, according to Belarus, could contain chemical impurities and be used as a «chemical weapon,» is propaganda hyperbole.

 

False statement: Merkel and Lukashenko agreed to create a humanitarian corridor, but Poland is hindering this.

 

«Several German cities have already announced that they are ready to accept refugees from the Belarusian-Polish border, but Warsaw continues to simply spit on international law says Belarus 1.

Guests of the television channel are also convinced that Germany is not fulfilling its promises. Parliamentarian Vitaly Vasyukov claimed the following: «Not so long ago, a conversation took place between the heads of state of Belarus and acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Certain agreements were reached to resolve this critical situation… Unfortunately, we do not see any action from the other side.» The key expectation of Minsk, according to his colleague Marina Shkrob, is «the earliest possible solution to the issue of providing a humanitarian corridor so that these people can get there [to Germany] where they are, in fact, trying to get to.»

However, the German authorities have twice denied Lukashenko’s claims and those of Belarusian state television channels that Merkel agreed to accept 2,000 migrants stranded in Belarus. «On behalf of the Federal Chancellor and on behalf of the Federal Government, I would like to make it very clear that this is a false statement,» said Steffen Seibert, a government spokesman in Berlin, on November 26.

 

Anti-Western propaganda: the migration crisis is a justification for the militarization of Poland and an attempt by the West to hide its plans to attack Belarus.

 

According to TV presenter Olga Makei, it is possible that «Duda and Moravetsky are seriously considering the possibility of occupying a part of Belarus.» Her husband and colleague Sergei Gusachenko drew a favorite parallel between EU countries and Nazi Germany: «Germany, like in ‘41, set up military equipment [in Poland] 60 kilometers from Belarus.»

Propaganda messages regarding Poland’s imperialist military plans are issued side by side with other classic propaganda clichés: Poland’s vassal status relative to the U.S. and grand anti-Russian Western plans.

According to a correspondent from Belarus 1, «the build-up of refugees on the Polish border is a good reason to justify the unhealthy intelligence activity of NATO in the region. And this is only in the context of the broad offensive agenda of the West.» The «Russian political scientist» Vladimir Kireev, who was invited to speak on Belarus 1, said the following: «The Polish leadership is fulfilling an order from Washington to incite a war and it is escalating the preconditions for war… PR is aimed at creating Europeans’ and Americans’ understanding of why the Poles will start a war against Belarus.»

Another Russian commentator, Alexei Mukhin, spoke about Poland and the U.S. in the same spirit: «The Polish authorities, in creating this explosive situation, needed to carry out several measures that were coordinated with the actions of the U.S. in the Black Sea, which created a military group there and conducted unscheduled exercises.»

Clearly, propaganda increasingly depicts the migration situation on the Belarusian-Polish border as one of the West’s insidious puzzles in a large anti-Belarusian and anti-Russian (!) game. How this statement comports with the fact that Belarusian diplomats and aviation authorities had absolute control in regulating the number of flights from individual states and issuing visas to their citizens (which means they could easily manage the severity of the migration situation) is not clear. According to the logic of Russian commentators, to whom Belarus 1 likes to give the floor, these decisions were somehow made not in Minsk, but in Warsaw and Washington.

Материал доступен на русском языке: Миграционный кризис и манипуляции гостелеканала «Беларусь 1»

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