Gutsy Women: Eva Bartlett

In a conversation with Eva Bartlett, now based in the countryside outside a snow-covered Moscow, Brian Gerrish learns what takes a young woman from Canada to travel to explore the world. Having devoured her Ontario school curriculum early, Bartlett spent time working on the Aran Islands in the West of Ireland and went on to travel in Asia, visit Korea, achieve an overseas major degree in music and a minor in French, and then to pay for herself to visit the West Bank and Gaza to understand what was really happening. 

Amongst the turmoil, suffering and violence, this gutsy young lady went to the front lines to see, experience and later report for herself. Eva paid a price for her courage on the front lines: she suffered physical harm in scuffles between Palestinians and Israeli troops; she endured arrest, shackling and custody by the Israeli police; and she experienced the trauma of being in the firing line when Israeli troops targeted live rounds against unarmed Palestinian protestors—a frequent occurrence. Around her, in this new environment, she witnessed the harsh reality of the trauma, injury and deaths impacting Palestinians, but which went variously unreported or misreported by the token handful of Western journalists who expressed any interest. Bartlett says:

I had never really taken in this sort of manipulated Western media in my earlier life, and therefore my own observations and experiences on the ground were unaffected. It was only later that I encountered the full scale of their manipulation.

In speaking about these events, Eva Bartlett shows a deep emotional bond with the people of Palestine and concern for their plight. She says she cannot imagine the scale of their suffering now in the present (post-7 October 2023) conflict, with mass Israeli bombing of civilian areas in Gaza when the families there have nowhere to hide and cannot escape. She is clearly very frustrated by the fact that the present war prevents anyone from entering Gaza to report from the ground and it seems certain that were she able, she would be there. Slight in stature, Bartlett has more than enough guts to go.

Her initial journeys into Gaza led Eva to meet Vanessa Beeley, and later Eva was also to visit Syria to experience the war and civilian life in country herself, rather than relying on the reports of others while observing from a distance. She stresses that her travel was always “on her own dime” and she paid her own way to achieve her own reports. Once again, from 2011 onwards, she was to discover that Western media reports on the Syrian war—its realities, causes and effects—were heavily distorted to meet what she clearly regards as a US-UK-NATO official line.

In more recent years, Eva Bartlett was motivated to visit Eastern Europe, with the specific intention of experiencing and reporting on events in the war between Russia and Ukraine. She was particularly keen to see and experience the reality of life in both the Crimea and Donbass. Without question, Donbass was challenging for her, and again placed her at great risk during the ongoing Ukrainian shelling within that area, and particularly Donetsk. She was offered the protection of body armour for the very first time, but she knew that this was no real protection against heavy projectile shelling. 

It was in the Donetsk environs that Eva was to understand the horrors of the Ukrainian shelling and rocket attacks that the Russian civilian population has endured for nearly a decade. She spoke with local families, she witnessed the destruction, and she filmed and reported the reality of the dead bodies and parts of bodies of those killed in recent attacks. In speaking with Russian troops, she was surprised to hear little animosity for the Ukrainians. Russian soldiers said that they should not be fighting with their brothers, the Ukrainians; and there was recognition that they were embroiled in a manipulated war between Russia and Ukraine.

Placing herself at risk on the front line of conflict zones, using her own money and her own endeavours to report facts and truth to a wider international public, Eva Bartlett has then had to defend herself against vile and dangerous social media and related attacks. Abuse ranges from accusations of cowardice by armchair social media warriors to her being placed on Myrotvorets (‘Peacemaker’), the supposedly non-official Ukrainian death list. The latter was done with the help of Canadian state-aligned media journalists, who were clearly intent on undermining her Donbas reporting in whatever manner they could. Their despicable lack of journalistic and moral standards now means that Eva Bartlett no longer feels safe to return to her country of upbringing and citizenship, with its significant and radicalised Ukrainian population. Not to be silenced, this very gutsy woman remains under the protection of a home and professional life now situated in the Moscow community.

Please join us for the fascinating interview.