Kurdistan’s current media agencies tend to be deeply rooted to various establishments, some of which are political. Social networking sites can be used as politicised tools to influence policy-making, news-narratives and when the voices of the masses are combined they can become effective tools of mass communication.
Online tools should be exploited by Kurds and used to engage with politicians regionally and internationally. They can be used to put the Kurdish cause at the forefront of discussions, urging accountability and responsible actions from the international community towards the current crisis the Kurdistan region faces or other perceived relevant issues.
The current narrative pertaining to Kurds online is twofold — namely, amidst Kurdish-owned outlets, and non-Kurdish news agencies that report on selective issues, with tainted lenses. These agencies can be challenged when Kurdish people are misrepresented or otherwise falsely depicted on various issues. However, the main concern of this BlogPost is not how Kurdish people are portrayed online, but rather how Kurdish voices can shape the emergence of participatory politics, and democracy in Kurdistan Region (and in fact, other parts of Kurdistan).
While currently, the vast online voices do not necessarily translate into increased democracy in Kurdistan Region, they have the potential to become precisely that. What we lack, at least my generation, is the willpower to withstand the current waves of politicised narratives endorsed by Kurdish politicians.
Democracy can be enhanced when there are outlets to vocalise, connect, and join forces towards a particular cause. Social media allows this to be done, and while different users from Kurdistan are fixated on varying issues — fashion, entertainment, lifestyle and so on. Those who are interested in changing the socio-political dynamics of the region must be able to forge ties on these networking sites, and form a collective voice to challenge outlets — governmental or otherwise, which are counterproductive to the prosperity of the region, and people.
What are the effective ways to achieve this? To begin with, Twitter suffices. One networking site has the ability to connect people across the world. The vast number of Kurdish users use the Hashtag #TwitterKurds, which was started by a Pro-Kurdish activist known as Mark Campbell.
Currently, more focus is given to militants belonging to Islamic State, also known under the acronym of ISIS. However, they are a time-relevant security concern that the region faces. In the long-run, the pressing issues that most users will be discussing online will pertain to local affairs, not international impediments.
The benefit of online discussions is inevitably increased user-knowledge of Kurdish affairs and democracy in Kurdistan. Being part of that process serves to help the people of Kurdistan challenge the status quo, and endorse policies of Kurdistan Regional Government that helps the working class, poor families and those in most need of help, as opposed to elitist-orientated policies.