Reporting from a conflict zone is always a tricky task and war correspondents across the globe, an eyewitness to such destructive events, are permanently at risk, mostly because of lack of training, life-saving techniques and necessary equipment.
The concept “first train then assign”, taken seriously in some western countries including Turkey but rare in Asian, African and Middle Eastern regions despite prone to conflicts, wars and terrorism, these regions, least bothered in having fully trained, well equipped and equally well-resourced journalists.
War journalists are the one, who have the first-hand and real-time account of any kind of conflict zone, they report events and actions through write-ups, photos or video footages, and this is considered to the most dangerous form of journalism. It’s a bitter reality that majority of third world countries including Pakistan, media entities lack interest, knowledge and infrastructure for the safety of their media persons.
The absence of relevant training, safety procedures and equipment for journalists is the main reason why, reporting from treacherous zones become difficult or even impossible, as generally, such volatile conditions throw journalists in life-threatening situations.
South Asia is one of the prime examples, where the majority in the field have not even the knowledge, what they are doing, why, where and media organizations have no idea, how much sessions of training and refresher courses are imperative for their field reporters, camera crew and others mainly the people covering defence or war scenarios.
The queries like journalists gone through sessions of training or not, whether state, government or media entities, focuses on such important aspects, whether they encourage journalists to avail such opportunities… lots of question marks…. means, there is no concept. Even majority media entities discourage their journalist from availing such opportunities. This third-world attitude and ill-influence over the journalistic community, make the profession riskier and raises doubts – how to survive? In such a situation.
In such a dark scenario, Turkey emerged as hope and one of the top countries that have not only made military training mandatory for its own citizens but also taken revolutionary steps to train foreign journalists/media persons on how to survive during critical times. Turkey doing it all, despite hosting more than 4 million refugees, facing terrorism, separatist movements, volatile borders, US pressure tactics and as a result economic crunch.
It’s really a blessing that Turkish state institutions are actively involved to train journalists across the world not only in war journalism but also in journalism, diplomacy, economy and finance, effective and public speaking, phonetics – Diction training, corporation, new generation journalism, training of photo and camera crews.
Keeping the same momentum, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency’s (TİKA) in, one of the most effective, partnership with the Anadolu Agency (AA), Turkish National Police Academy, Turkish Red Crescent, Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey has selected 24 journalists from 12 countries and organized “13th War Journalism Training” from 3rd to 14th September 2018.
Turkey’s leading journalist training campaign is now an icon worldwide, and they strongly believe, to first train and then send journalists to troubled areas, rather creating trouble for them. Turkey has the aims to equip journalists with the latest survival techniques, familiarize them with real weapons, explosives, and situations, to protect their-selves and if possible, their fellows as well. This is specially designed to support journalists across the world to perform well being safe in war zones, during natural calamities and in extraordinary situations.
Countries like the US and England have started the war journalism training but Turkey is leading the way. During training, instructors focus on safety first, stay at safe distance, use helmets and bulletproof jackets, cloth depicts media, masks and filters against gases and chemical agents while tutors stresses to behave responsibly in a war zone with bobby traps, mines and improvised explosive devices, imparted the first aid techniques includes respiration recovery, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), tackling burns and broken bones, and how to survive at sea/water particularly from hypothermia and dehydration.
Armed Forces of Turkey had given intense briefings on air, land and sea operations, combat, ammo and fire effects on people while Police has given extensive ideas and intense training on bomb/missile attacks and effects of fragmentations, suicide bombers, use of protective wears and gears against nuclear, biological and chemical agents, crawling, long walk with weight and safety gadgets, survival at hilltop and fighting against cold with sudden terrorist attacks trying to kidnap, professionals in disaster management taught safe existence during disasters particularly earthquake, climbing and lowering safely, rope lowering through helicopter, specialist police drivers instructed safe driving skills during war, meteorological experts and police officials given lessons on map reading, finding direction and use of compass.
Theory of war was also elaborated and clearly portrayed, “war starts when diplomacy fails”… ingredients of national power, triggering factors and effects, nature and factors of conflicts, operations, war zone scenarios, information and rumours, law of armed conflict and role of media during war, how to react during riots and protests, really matters and difference in asylum seekers, refugees, immigrants and internally displaced people (IDP) and their traumas, persuasion strategies and geopolitics of middle east.
On 14th September, graduation ceremony held at Anadolu Agency, participants awarded internationally recognized certificates on successful completion of very hard but equally valuable training. Speaking at the occasion, Anadolu Agency’s Deputy Director General and Editor-in-Chief Metin Mutanoglu stressed that the training was based on human lives. “In order to protect others, you must first protect yourself and the aim of this program is that,” he elaborated the real aspects of training.
Police Academy Vice President Fatih İnal expressed that seeing all the colours and cultures of the world together is a perfect indicator of the project’s success. He articulates “Turkey is the best possible country for war journalism training, as the bloodshed continues around the world, it’s the responsibility of the war correspondents to let the world know about the news from the war zones in an accurate and fair manner”.
TiKA’s Manager for Training Projects Mustafa Hasim Polat, open-heartedly, offered that the doors of TIKA’s offices in the home countries of the participants were“always wide open” for them. Though Turkey has hosted in past, this and several other war journalism training sessions ahead but many experts call to end conflicts/war, because it inflicts discomfort, death, destruction and darkness everywhere. So, one can hope that no one will ever see or be in war or in such kind of situation, as we are witnessing in Indian Occupied Kashmir, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere, are heartbreaking examples of such devastation.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.