Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

BBC Bias: The Gaza Freedom Flotilla

September 13, 2010

By Anthony Lawson, Foreign Policy Journal, Sep 13, 2010

Whatever happened on the Mavi Marmara on the morning of May 31st, 2010, the BBC’s Panorama team failed to give a balanced view of it in its so-called documentary, Death in the Med. Even the title sounds more like that of a paperback mystery, rather than a serious analysis of Israel’s worst atrocity since Operation Cast Lead.

Continues >>

Britain shames BBC over Gaza

January 26, 2009

Morning Star Online

(Sunday 25 January 2009)

UNITED: Thousands of protesters demonstrating against Israeli terror and the BBC ban on Saturday in Trafalgar Square. pic: INDYMEDIA.ORG.UK

DONATE now – that was the message on Sunday from charities left reeling by a BBC ban on an urgent TV appeal for Gaza.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) estimated that the BBC decision could rob up to £10 million in aid from civilians living in medieval conditions following a three-week Israeli bombardment.

But donations were already pouring in as British people showed their contempt for the Beeb’s blatant censorship.

Blistering criticism rained down on the broadcaster from all sides at the weekend after corporation bosses claimed that broadcasting an appeal to raise cash for desperately needed food and medicine “could be interpreted as taking a political stance.”

Chief executive Mark Thompson asserted that BBC “impartiality” could be “compromised” if the appeal went ahead. And the chairman of the corporation’s trustees Michael Lyons claimed that any government criticism of the ban would itself “come close to constituting undue interference in the editorial independence of the BBC.”

But anti-war activists, who staged a mass protest at the Beeb’s London HQ on Saturday, attacked these excuses as “unconvincing and incoherent.”

And rivals ITV, Channel 4 and Five increased the pressure on the state broadcaster on Sunday by pledging to show the DEC broadcast on Monday evening.

Labour MP Richard Burden, who launched an early day motion criticising BBC bosses signed by over 50 MPs, said that “the need to get aid to the people of Gaza is recognised by almost everyone – including the government.

“The BBC seems to be the only one who has a problem seeing this,” he said.

Former minister Tony Benn took his criticism into the TV studios over the weekend, telling a BBC News presenter live on air that “this ban is a betrayal of the BBC obligation to be a public service.”

Dismissing the presenter’s suggestion that aid cash could end up with Hamas, Mr Benn retorted: “Hamas is Palestine’s elected government!”

“People will die because of the BBC,” Mr Benn stormed, before defying corporation executives by telling viewers how to contact the DEC to donate to the appeal.

Government ministers and senior Church of England figures added their condemnation of the ban, with International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander pointing out that “the public can distinguish between support for humanitarian aid and perceived partiality in a conflict.

“I really struggle to see, in the face of the immense human suffering in Gaza, that this is in any way a credible argument,” he said.

And Britain’s first Muslim minister Shahid Malik warned that the decision would be seen as “one which inflicts still further misery on the beleaguered and suffering people of Gaza.”

Stop the War Coalition activist Chris Nineham dismissed corporation bosses’ claim of trying maintain “impartiality” by highlighting how the ban “proves the BBC is not neutral when it comes to coverage of the Palestinian struggle.”

A spokesman for the DEC, which represents charities including the Red Cross, Islamic Relief and Save The Children, revealed that “£5 to £10 million could be lost” as a result of the BBC ban.

He explained: “We are sure that the three criteria agreed with the BBC for our appeals – that the scale of the disaster is huge, that the aid agencies have the ability to get assistance to those who need it and that there is sufficient public awareness – have been met.

“But the DEC regrets that senior BBC managers do not share this view.”

See also:
Star comment: Blood on the BBC’s hands

Broken town shows Gaza destruction

January 19, 2009

BBC, January 18, 2009

Gazans returning to their homes in Beit Lahiya were shocked

The BBC’s Paul Wood is part of the first group of journalists to gain independent access to Gaza from Israel. He reports from Gaza City on his impressions as he entered northern Gaza hours after Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire.

The Erez crossing from Israel into Gaza is an eerie place at the best of times.

The first hours of a shaky ceasefire are not “the best of times”.

As we stepped out of the concrete tunnel which leads from Israeli passport control, we could hear tanks manoeuvring nearby.

Their spent shells were on the ground. Israeli drones – un-manned aircraft – were circling overhead.

Unsurprisingly, the road was completely deserted, save for a couple of wild dogs and a donkey whose owner had long since fled.

The Hamas customs post, too, was abandoned – destroyed by Israeli fire.

Residents in Gaza describe their ordeal

But it was in the nearby town of Beit Lahiya that we saw the first real destruction and a hint of how so many lives have been lost here.

There were streets churned up by Israeli heavy armour; overturned cars; a lake of raw sewage in the street and a mosque left as a broken, charred ruin and smoke was still rising from a large school building across the way.

A Palestinian man carrying a white cane told me how his 13-year-old son had been killed by a tank shell.

“We were sleeping in our beds,” he says, “I am nearly blind. We were no threat to the Israelis.”

Everyone here denied there were military targets in the homes fired on by the Israeli forces.

But Hamas officials stopped us from filming at one site where bodies were still being removed.

This was a sign, perhaps, that there had indeed been some kind of military target if not in the houses then nearby.

Who is to blame for the loss of life in Gaza will be fiercely disputed between Israel and Hamas even as the final death toll is calculated.

Children hit hard as Gaza toll rises

January 7, 2009

BBC News, January 7, 2009

A Palestinian man carries an injured child in Gaza

Injuries could have a lasting effect on Palestinian children, doctors say

By Heather Sharp
BBC News, Jerusalem

The pictures keep coming. The blood-spattered young faces, the glazed eyes, the limp small bodies.

The latest figures from Palestinian health officials say 205 children are among some 600 people who have died in the Gaza war. In the chaos, there are no statistics for how many are among the at least 2,900 injured.

As medics work flat out to save as many young lives as they can, child psychiatrists in both Gaza and southern Israel fear some children will never recover from the psychological damage done as the bombs, shells and rockets fall.

Dr Iyad Sarraj, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, says “so many people” are telephoning his workers – although the organisation’s headquarters lies abandoned with shattered windows and broken furniture after it was damaged in an Israeli air strike.

“It’s really terrible for children here now,” he says. “I have been through so many of these kinds of things and this is the worst”.

Long-term impact

He talks of a boy he treated five years ago. Grappling in the dark after his house was hit in an air strike on a Hamas militant next door, he felt something wet.

“He realised it was the flesh of his sister who was blown into pieces. He was in such a state. He couldn’t eat or smell meat for three years after that. I am sure he will suffer some kind of long-term psychological impact.”

“This sort of thing must be happening right now as we speak,” he says.

He can barely leave his home for fear of the fighting, and has been unable to visit the hospitals where he has watched television pictures of traumatised, badly injured children arriving.

“These children need help more than anyone. They look frightened, horrified, bewildered. They need a lot of attention but they can’t receive it because their families are so terrified,” he says.

WARNING: This image contains graphic content

But the effects of the war are plain even among his own family.

His stepdaughter Nour Kharma, 14, barely spoke in the days immediately after she heard her school friend and basketball partner, Christina, 15 had been killed in an Israeli airstrike.

“She was in such turmoil, in a depressive mood, in really bad shape. She was always in tears,” he says. “In the end I asked her to write about it.”

“[When I heard,] I threw the phone and started crying…” Nour reads, in crisp English. “Her parents did the best they can do. But it wasn’t enough, so the result was dying. What if my parents can’t protect me…? Will I die too?”

She weeps quietly on the other end of the phone. “I feel very sad. I keep remembering her. I really miss her,” she says simply.

Salwi Tibi of Save the Children, who lives in the north of Gaza City close to some of the most intense ground clashes, has also been monitoring the impact on children.

She talks of a two-and-a-half year old boy from Beit Lahiya, scene of heavy fighting, who was taken lifeless to the local hospital.

“He was not injured, his health was OK. The doctors told me the child died because of the shock from the sound of the shelling,” she said.

And she thinks her own daughter, Malak, 7, is typical of many children affected by the war.

Palestinian children have lived with a fear of sirens for months

Palestinian children have lived with a fear of sirens for months

She began wetting her bed on the first day of the airstrikes.

“Wherever I go she follows me – even to the bathroom. As soon as she hears the shelling she puts her fingers and closes her eyes and shouts “stop them, stop them,” says Ms Tibi.

“She can’t sleep alone, she wants to sleep close to me and she puts her arms around my neck.”

“If I had a computer I would let her listen to music and play games so she would forget, but there is no electricity, everything is silent, so all she can hear is shelling and bombing.”

It is exactly these symptoms that are also prevalent among the children of Sderot.

The Israeli town close to Gaza has been hit by many of the 10,000 Palestinian rockets fired into southern Israel over the past eight years.

Four people have been killed and 100 people injured in the region since the start of the air campaign. No figures are available for the number of children, although one victim was a baby injured in the face.

Dalia Yosef, a psychotherapist and Director of the Resilience Centre, says her workload has increased with the rocket fire in the run-up to and during the war.

Any child under eight in the town has only known a life with just 15 seconds to reach shelter whenever the warning siren sounds.

“He has experienced the world as not safe – his house is not safe, his yard, his daycare centre is not safe… it influences the whole circle of the child’s life,” she says.

Yossi Haimov, 10, had gone out to play after school with his eight-year-old sister when he was hit by a qassam rocket in February 2008.

“It splintered his hand and now he can’t use it,” his father, Tashkent, said. “The bone was completely destroyed from the shoulder down. Only half of his shoulder is still there.”

“He is definitely still traumatised,” says Mr Haimov.

Previously a keen footballer, Yossi is no longer always outside with his friends.

“Now he’s scared all the time… he’s afraid to get hurt or get knocked over. Sometimes he gets very upset and nervous and he has panic attacks.”

Research from Sderot says about 30% of children there show signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Mr Sarraj says about a third of Gazan children are suffering from psychological symptoms that needed intervention.

“Your mind doesn’t ask from where the stress is coming. It doesn’t matter if you live in Sderot, Gaza or in New York. This is the reaction of the human,” says Ms Yosef.

Gordon Brown and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

September 24, 2008

George Barnsby, Sept 24, 2008

I’ve said it often enough, it is on the front of every one of my 580
BLOGS, the only way to revive the corpse of this New Labour monstrosity would be to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our troops home and stop the slaughter of Iraqi and Afghan civilians. Yet Brown and all of his squabbling cabinet have responsibility for these wars, have financed them and refuse to see that Bush, Blair and Brown are the terrorists and if the wars were ended terrorism would virtually cease overnight.

Now Brown has made his speech to the Labour Party Conference and said nothing about the war in Iraq. Millions of words, cascades of promises to listen and learn, but not a single word on Iraq. And Labour MPs and media barons such as Paxman and Jon Snow seem joined in a conspiracy to deceive, each of them interviewing Brown and neither raising the issue of Iraq.

The conspiracy to avoid even the broadest of issues of Foreign Policy in the run up to this Labour Party Conference began for me on Thursday when David Dimblebury’s ‘Any Questions’ returned to the BBC and neither he, nor the speakers, nor the audience uttered a word on Iraq. Then today old has been’s like Mandelsohn, Blunkett, Prescott and others have been interviewed yet not a word has been said about the war. This is a complete denial of civil rights for the majority of the population who are opposed to the war and makes Britain a dictatorship, as bad as that of Mugabe and other dictatorships we claim to deplore. This cannot continue and when Brown is inevitably brought before the Court of Human Rights at The Hague for Crimes against Humanity all those who have been a party to these crimes will find themselves like the Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials after World War II called to account.


Fortunately not all MPs and journalists and activists are ninnies who gave Brown a standing ovation today. The Stop the War Newsletter No. 1058 of 23 September 2008 reports on the anti-War demonstration at the Labour Party Conference. Thousands of activists marched through Manchester and delivered a letter to Brown demanding the withdrawal of all British troops from the catastrophic and unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The parallel Convention that will meet while the phoney New Labour set up sits and supports the carnage which these war criminals create. Activities are being planned for the autumn which assumes that Brown is not stopped by a Citizen’s Arrest, which it now seems that George Galloway and Ken Purchase will sit idly by and twiddle their thumbs. It looks therefore as if other anti-war MPs such as Jon Cruddas, Dianne Abbott and other MPs of the Socialist Campaign group will have to act to bring the wars to an end NOW.

Another event supported by Stop the War will be an international
anti-Nato demonstration in Strasbourg next April (for which funds are needed and also recruits) as well as anti-war campaigns at army bases.

US ‘killed 47 Afghan civilians’

July 11, 2008

BBC NEWS, July 11, 2008

Medical staff help a boy injured in Sunday's attack

Medical staff help a boy injured in Sunday’s attack

A US air strike in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday killed 47 civilians, 39 of them women and children, an Afghan government investigating team says.

Reports at the time said that 20 people were killed in the airstrike in Nangarhar province. The US military said they were militants.

But local people said the dead were wedding party guests.

Correspondents say the issue of civilian casualties is hugely sensitive in Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai has said that no civilian casualty is acceptable.

Demand for trial

Mr Karzai set up a nine-man commission to look into Sunday’s incident.

The commission is headed by Senate deputy speaker, Burhanullah Shinwari whose constituency is in Nangarhar province. He told the BBC: ”Our investigation found out that 47 civilians (were killed) by the American bombing and nine others injured.

Map showing Nangarhar province

“There are 39 women and children” among those killed, he said. The eight other people who died were “between the ages of 14 and 18”.

A spokeswoman for the US coalition, Lt Rumi Nielson-Green told the AFP news agency that the force was also investigating the incident and regretted any loss of civilian life. “We never target non-combatants. We do go to great length to avoid civilian casualties,” she said.

At the time the US said that those killed were militants involved in previous mortar attacks on a Nato base.

The incident happened in the remote district of Deh Bala, close to the Afghan border.

Mirwais Yasini, deputy speaker for the lower house of parliament, also has his constituency in Nangarhar. ”We are very sad about the killings in Deh Bala. People should be compensated,” he told the BBC.

“These operations widen the gap between the people and the government.”

He said that those who passed on intelligence to the US military ahead of the air strike should be tried, “as well as those who carried out the bombing”.

Mr Yasini demanded that “all operations should be conducted in full co-operation with our security forces in the future”.

Continued . . .

250 Afghan civilians killed, injured in last 6 days

July 10, 2008

Alarm over Afghan civilian deaths

British troops in Afghanistan

Troops and militants are blamed for civilian deaths

At least 250 Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded in insurgent attacks or military action in the past six days, the Red Cross says.

It has called on all parties to the conflict to avoid civilian casualties.

Nato said separately that more than 900 people including civilians had died in Afghanistan since the start of 2008.

On Monday a suicide bombing in Kabul killed more than 40 people, while officials say two coalition air strikes killed dozens at the weekend.

The issue of civilian casualties is hugely sensitive in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly urged foreign forces to exercise more care.

‘Constant care’

The statement released by the International Committee of the Red Cross say that civilians “must never be the target of an attack, unless they take a direct part in the fighting”.

The coffin of an Indian official killed in Monday's Kabul suicide attack

More and more civilians are being killed in Afghanistan

The organisation’s chief representative in Kabul, Franz Rauchenstein, made his findings public following Monday’s suicide car bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul and reports that a US-led coalition air strike had killed members of a wedding party in the east of the country.

“We call on all parties to the conflict, in the conduct of their military operations, to distinguish at all times between civilians and fighters and to take constant care to spare civilians,” Mr Rauchenstein said.

His report said that parties to the conflict “must take all necessary precautions to verify that targets are indeed military objectives and that attacks will not cause excessive civilian casualties and damage”.

The statement also expressed concern “about the reportedly high number of civilian casualties resulting from the recent [coalition] air strikes in the east of the country”.

The Taleban has denied involvement in Monday’s bombing, which killed 41 people, while the US-led coalition has disputed claims that its recent airstrikes killed civilians.

Mr Karzai has ordered an investigation into one of the bombings, in eastern Nangarhar province. Locals there said at least 20 people had been killed on Sunday at a wedding party.

US forces rejected the claims, saying those killed were militants involved in previous mortar attacks on a Nato base.

The UN said recently that the number of civilians killed in fighting in Afghanistan had jumped by nearly two thirds compared to last year.

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