#GreeceMistreatingRefugees - this became one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter in Pakistan yesterday.
With the Turkish lira 7.13 to the dollar, the famous state-funded AK Trolls, the "online army" of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have been awfully quiet on social media lately. Perhaps they have not been getting paid as Turkey's economy continues to slump amidst deeply-rooted corruption and embarrassing and costly failed military adventures in Syria and Libya.
It now appears that a Pakistani Non-Governmental Organization with Turkish connections, has taken on the torch to take off where the AK Trolls failed. However, just like their Turkish counterparts, the Million Smiles NGO has been exposed spreading fake news in their anti-Greek campaign.
The hashtag first began with Million Smiles CEO and Co-Founder Zeshan Afzal, who has since restricted his Twitter account.
As the starter of the hashtag, the lack of research is evident in the very fact that the bottom right photo he used is clearly in Turkey, and not in Greece.
This is seen from the police shield that says "POLİS," the Turkish word for police, as of opposed to the Greek "ΑΣΤΥΝΟΜΙΑ."
Even ignoring the fact that a refugee is someone seeking, quite obviously, refuge and safety, therefore meaning the people trying to enter Greece are illegal immigrants since they already found safety and refuge in Turkey, the deceit of Million Smiles continues.
The real idiocy of Afzal's propaganda campaign reached a peak with Twitter user @Nayabgul7648070, whose account biography said they are a team member of Million Smiles. This cannot be shown now because their account was suspended some hours earlier. The team member of Million Smiles used photos from 1996 in Cyprus and disrespected the genocide of 2.5 million Greeks and Armenians at the hands of the Turks.
Not only are the photos from 1996 in Cyprus, but they are of the moment Solomos Solomou, a Greek, was martyred when he was shot by Turkish soldiers on the United Nations Administered Buffer Zone between the Republic of Cyprus and occupied northern Cyprus.
These are the people associated with Million Smiles, those who make a mockery on the extermination of 2.5 million Greeks and Armenians by the Turks and the murder of a civilian on a United Nations Buffer Zone. Of course we don't expect Million Smiles to understand the generational torment and pain of genocide, but fellow South Asian country Bangladesh would certainly sympathise with the Greek Genocide considering they were the victims of the 1971 genocide orchestrated by the Pakistani military that killed as many as 3 million Bangladeshis in an 8-month campaign of terror.
How do we know the now suspended account is a team member of Million Smiles?
There are many references to this fact on Twitter by others "working with Million Smiles." Here is one of these many references.
It is still not known why Pakistan, a South Asian country, is choosing to involve itself in East Mediterranean issues. Perhaps they still have not forgiven Alexander the Great's conquest of the Punjab and Sindh 2,300 years earlier?
But what we do know is that there is there is a clear Turkish connection to Million Smiles, but to what extent is not exactly known. Earlier this year the NGO "proudly" announced Mian Waqar Badshah as the Million Smiles Turkey country director.
Badshah is also the Pakistan-Turkey Friendship Association Chairman, whose website lists its supporters as the Turkish Consulate General in Karachi and the Turkish Embassy in Islamabad.
Shehroz Tahir of the Million Smiles Lahore team also tweeted that the Turkish ambassador in Pakistan, Mustafa Yurdakul, supports the Million Smiles Turkey Chapter.
Whether this includes financial support or not is not known but is highly suspect.
We can now see where this is going and where the NGO's anti-Greek agenda comes from - they are aggressively serving Turkish interests even though Athens and Islamabad officially do not have, and have no reason to have, hostile relations.
There is little doubt that it was a Million Smiles led initiative to make the hashtag trending as the majority of the tweets came from their own team members. Not many tweets came from people not associated with the NGO.
These are just some of the very few Million Smile team members that Greek City Times could find who each tweeted the hashtag tens of times each.
Many accounts linked to Million Smiles have since been suspended by Twitter, or restricted by the account owners choice. In fact, most of the tweets with the hashtags by the Million Smiles team were deleted after Afzal was contacted by Greek City Times. Shortly after we contacted him, his and the NGO's very own Twitter accounts became restricted.
We attempted to reach out to Afzal so he could offer comments on his propaganda campaign, but he had not responded to this request at time of publication of this article.
What the NGO fails to realise is that Greece has no responsibility for the illegal immigrants.
Turkey has millions of refugees, mostly Syrians. It was not Greece who bombed their country like Turkey did, nor was it Greece that funded, armed and/or financed terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria - that was Turkey, so the onus is on them to support the refugees they helped create.
The same could be said for Pakistan. Just as Pakistan has supported radical Islamist groups in Afghanistan since the 1980's and to this day still supports the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network, they have a responsibility for the near 3 million Afghani refugees they contributed in creating.
Let's not forget that in 2017, Human Rights Watch called Pakistan's treatment of Afghani refugees a "campaign of abuse."
But even setting aside Pakistan's support for terrorism and abuse of refugees, because that can be an extremely long article in itself, we remind our readers that Turkey's claims of Greece's "mistreatment" of illegal immigrants has already been debunked in an article by Greek City Times.
Turkey is one of the lowest ranked countries for media freedoms in the world, is the second most susceptible country surveyed on the European continent and its surroundings to fake news, has the most journalists jailed in the whole world, and 90% of media is government controlled.
Pakistan Turkey Friendship with a #MillionSmiles forever...!The Honorable Turkish Ambassador Ihsan Mustafa Yardukul with our Co Founder Zeshan Afzal & Umme Muhammad at the Pakistan Turkey Flag ceremony & the youth roared & roared for the Two Nations. #PakistanZindabad #Turkey
Posted by Million Smiles on Sunday, 16 February 2020
Pakistan is ranked right near Turkey in media freedoms - towards the bottom the list. As reported, dozens of rights defenders and journalists critical of Pakistani authorities have been detained, arrested, or fled the country out of fear for their safety in recent years.
It is estimated 40% of Pakistanis will live in poverty by June 2020, 69 babies out of every 1,000 die before their fifth birthday, and the country has a literacy rate of only 62.3%, among a plethora of other problems. Perhaps the NGO should focus on these issues instead of fake news against Greece.
Greece does not forget the words of former Turkish President Turgut Özal:
“We do not need to make war with Greece. We just need to send them a few million immigrants and be finished with them.”