A group of Kurdish Internet activists that have been organizing around the #TwitterKurds hashtag on Twitter have come together for the first Kurdish Social Media Gathering earlier this month in London.
The event, which was followed through the #KSMG (Kurdish Social Media Gathering) tag, was live streamed and joined in via Skype and YouTube by those who could not be there physically, although there were participants who had traveled from as far as Australia to participate. It was held on January 21, 2012.
@xoshink: @TaraFatehi speaking at the #KSMG in London! She travelled all the way from Australia! #Bijî!#TwitterKurds
One of the organizers, @kurdishblogger, tweeted a photo of @TaraFatehi speaking to the participants:
@TaraFatehi is here from Australia to talk about Kurdish issues&Kurds in Australia #Twitterkurds#KSMG12 #Kurdistan pic.twitter.com/wVTqS0k3
Others who were not physically there joined in the conversation with how they use the #TwitterKurds tag to communicate.
@xoshink: Social media connected me to amazing people around the globe; helped me find Kurds locally with ambitions to make a change.
Participants focused on social media strategies, Twitter in particular, to attract attention to a given news story, as well as carry out a campaign.
@Shakawan: Q: where do we go from here ? should trending kurdish issues be the top priority?
@B9AcE: Tactics should be chosen from a strategic goal. TT reaches mainly new mainstream. Directed campaigns a #TwitterKurds
@B9AcE: Need new, high impact topic. Send it to large noise makers, asking for it to be spread starting at same time.
@WRyaM: social media tools are also podcasts, Events, collective bookmarking wikis… so let us use them all
Organizers then showed a video sent from Diyarbakır, “sent to them for this gathering by Abdullah Demirbaş, who is the mayor of Sur Municipality in Diyarbakır.” The presenter also noted it was
“worth making a mention at this moment of a very important agency in Amed (Diyarbakır) called @AjansAmed – it's a new social media organization website, a group of social media activists who have put together these videos that you are seeing tonight. Abdullah Demirbaş was part of a campaign to get people tweeting. Every Thursday we were tweeting #abdullahdemirbas, because he has a medical condition he needs to leave America for but he can't travel, because he was taken to court and now he has a travel ban.”
Xende Biradostî tweets:
@Wekhevxwaz Thank you, #KSMG for raising awareness of the plight of #AbdullahDemirbas. #TwitterKurds
One of the speakers was Mehmet, from Halkevi Media, in London. His presentation also included strategies to use social media towards what he saw was beneficial to the Kurdish communities:
This gathering to me is one of the most important events of 2012. I work for Halkevi, the social media part at @halkevimedia, so social media is very important to me. I think we have been lacking in the social media area for quite a while and our numbers are not maximized, there are more Kurds on the internet but they are using it more for their personal stuff, but (social media can also be used) to create awareness and consciousness of Kurdish issues and democratic struggle of Kurdish people and people in the region. I want to talk about the importance of social media in diplomacy – we need to increase the social media effect in diplomatic spheres. We need to determine the agenda rather than having our agenda formed by outside events, such as arrests, operations, etc. We need to have our agenda and initiate to lead rather than be led by political developments that constantly change. Also, we constantly tweet the same thing, it's not getting outside. We need to target certain individuals, for example Middle East correspondents of every single international media organization and MPs. Social media needs to be not separate from grassroots, there are 200,000 Kurds in this country, we needed to have more people here. We need to use different strategies to engage them.
Next, @quzzulqurt from Turkey joined in via Skype. He noted that “this (social media) is a big chance for us around the world to come together. Before there was only Roj TV but now we have this chance and must use it to create awareness, for non-Kurds and Kurds in the region.”
Participants elaborated more on reaching out to professional journalists during breaking news events.
@kurdishblogger: in order to attract the attention of international media, it is extremely important to have a photo, video or witness who can testify. Say, a BBC journalist needs at least 2 witnesses. They don't have that much time, you have to help them. You need to have a photo and you need to give context. People post photos on facebook without any explanation, I am Kurdish and I might know but you can't expect an international journalist to know (what the context is).
Tweeps deemed the gathering an overall success, with many people asking if there will be similar events in the future.
More reactions are available on this Storify compilation by Nigar Hacizade.