Foreign Policy Blogs

The Information Conflict

The Information Conflict

The Documentary Film 752 Is Not A Number (2022) Chronicles Canadian dentist Hamed Esmaeilion’s quest for justice in the aftermath of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, shot down in 2020 by the Iranian military.


It has become very difficult to find reliable information on topics often essentially important in making life decisions. Many years ago there was a push to convert Opinion Editorials into the realm of mainstream news articles. This was done intentionally in order to raise interest in News as a form of media that would grab the attention of the public. The next wave of transformation for journalism came in the form of advertising that would look like an article, but was created to push a specific product or service. Distinguishing what is actual useful information may require a fair bit of knowledge and research, as much of the information found in 2022 has been corrupted by opinion and ads.

As a basis for determining which journalists and news organisation were reliable, it might be useful to read stories on issues where you have personal, in-depth experience. If a media organisation is misrepresenting something you know to be true, they are likely not a reliable source on other pieces of information. This occurred in my own community when the police brutalised someone we know personally, and it was very evident which reporters were seeking the truth, and which were representing other interest groups in folding the narrative away from justice and the rights of the victim under the national Constitution.

A strategy that has developed in the last few years has been the ignore some topics and stories altogether, and only mentioning them when necessary with opinion shading much of the topic. The recent protests in Iran demonstrates how this has been applied, and unfortunately it is often applied against protesters from Iran and against those seeking justice in the region as a whole. In 2009, a young Iranian protester by the name of Neda was assassinated and died on camera after being shot by security forces. The 2009 protests were massive in scale, but the end result after a few short weeks was silence from international media while those promoting human rights in Iran were silently arrested at night and disappeared. Western governments did little to mention what was occurring, only pushing negotiations with the regime.

In 2020, flight 752 was shot down by two TOR-M1 missiles after taking off from Teheran’s international airport. This brutal murder of mostly Canadian and International passengers and crew never received the level of justice owed to the victims from Canada despite Canada being their representative under International Law. Canada told the victim’s families they needed to seek justice from the prosecutors in Ukraine while the world rapidly moved on from this human rights atrocity, leaving the grieving families with no justice and no direction on how to get justice from their own Government. Even after a court in Ontario, Canada set a decision confirming that the missiles were shot at the plane intentionally by the regime, Canada did little to help the victims. When Ukraine was invaded by Russia and seeking justice through Ukraine became exceedingly difficult, Canada did not advise the victim’s families how to proceed.

In the last few days where Iranians have been protesting, little attention beyond simple Tweets have been paid to the families of Flight 752 and the Iranian community by the Canadian Government. Despite promising to label the IRGC a terror group and blocking IRGC families from coming to Canada to their benefit, a recent vote to label the group currently killing young women and men in Iran a terror group was shut down by the same Government. It is likely the case that the silence from 2009 will become the norm again in 2022, and more negotiations will commence promptly.

Information on the Russia-Ukraine conflict is very available, but information from either side is focused on promoting their own narrative of the conflict. This does not mean that most of the information is false or misleading, but it does require a certain level of between-the-lines reading and knowledge of the source of information being presented. In order to interpret success or losses on the battlefield, it is useful to find sources of information that attempt to quantify losses so a conclusion or hypothesis can be made from as much raw data as possible on the conflict itself. Even through sources may seem biased, you can often see images that reveal more information than the text being spoken while viewing the source in media. It must be noted that media sources are part of the conflict as well, as tactics used by organisations like Radio Free Europe were very effectively used against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and are a detailed source of information still in 2022. This information war might be more advanced as it is actively putting out information in order to damage the other side, whereas general media is passively adjusting information of the message to benefit a small group of interested people. Unfortunately, both strategies are now being used in order to deny rights from those who are being persecuted by a system that will extinguish them for wanting basic justice.



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration