Media 93: MSM downplays Britain’s role in the latest Yemeni killing & the BBC omits UN experts’ charge
Today, the BBC reports that UN Group of Regional and International Eminent Experts on Yemen will present a report to the UN Human Rights Council next month. It says that the experts believe war crimes may have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.
Yemeni government forces, the Saudi-led coalition backing them, and the rebel Houthi movement have made little effort to minimise civilian casualties and there have been attacks on residential areas in which thousands have died. The warring parties are also accused of arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and recruiting children.
But the BBC failed to mention that the Group of Experts’ report notes that coalition air strikes have caused most direct civilian casualties. The airstrikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities.
Yemenis dig graves for children in the wake of the latest air strike
Lest we forget, the remote-sounding Saudi-led coalition is supported by UK arms sales (including cluster bombs manufactured in the UK) and technical assistance. British military personnel are complicit – deployed in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, giving access to lists of targets.
The Saudi-led coalition struck last Wednesday and Thursday. Following the attacks on Wednesday, four families in northwestern Yemen, who had decided to leave their homes to avoid such danger, were in a vehicle when airstrikes hit again.
Though Britain’s mainstream media fully reported the killings of 9th August, a search finds no reference to those on the 24th.
CNN did full justice to this atrocity, recalling also that earlier this month, a Saudi-led airstrike hit a school bus carrying scores of boys in Yemen. The attack killed 51 people, including 40 children, according to the Health Ministry. CNN has established that the bomb used in that attack was a 500-pound (227 kilogram) MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defence contractors.
CNN adds: “There have been growing calls in the US Congress for Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, to do more to prevent civilian deaths in Yemen, where three years of conflict have taken a terrible toll”.
The latest news: yesterday, Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent, reports that the Pentagon has issued a warning to Saudi Arabia that it is prepared to reduce military and intelligence support for its campaign against rebels in neighbouring Yemen if the Saudis don’t demonstrate they are attempting to limit civilian deaths in airstrikes – adding “It is not clear if President Donald Trump, who views the Saudis as an essential ally, would agree to a reduction of support”.
But, like the proverbial three monkeys, the failing British government hears, sees and speaks no evil.
As Jeremy Corbyn implied: “The West should reflect on its part in prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”
It is the 50th anniversary week of the Six-Day War of 1967 when Israel seized 1,200 square water-rich kilometres of the Golan Heights from Syria and later annexed it – though its right to this land has never been recognised by the international community.
Donald Macintyre, who lived in Jerusalem for many years and won the 2011 Next Century Foundation’s Peace Through Media Award, recalls in the Independent that fifty years ago Shlomo Gazit, head of the Israeli military intelligence’s assessment department, heard detailed reports of the destruction that morning of almost the entire Egyptian air force by Israeli jets – his 23-year-old nephew being among the few missing Israeli pilots. He then started work on a clear-sighted blueprint for the future of the territories Israel had occupied, arguing that “Israel should not humiliate its defeated enemies and their leaders.”
Jerusalem: an open city or UN headquarters?
There were then, as now, many leading Zionist Israelis who believed that occupation was a wholly wrong course. Gazit outlined plans for an independent, non-militarised Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip; the Old City of Jerusalem would become an “open city … with an international status resembling that of the Vatican”.
A British Quaker, Richard Rowntree, advocated moving the UN Headquarters from New York to Jerusalem and years later Sir Sydney Giffard, a former British Ambassador to Japan, presented the social and economic advantages to Israelis and Palestinians of moving the UN Headquarters to the vicinity of Jerusalem (Spectator link only accessible if account created). Whilst recognising difficulties and obstacles, Giffard felt that UN member states giving determined support to this project “could enable the UN to effect a transformation – both of its own and of the region’s character – of historic significance”.
But after 50 years the Palestinians, as Macintyre points out, “a resourceful and mainly well-educated population, are still imprisoned in a maze of checkpoints closures and military zones, deprived of civil and political rights and governed by martial law (denounced by Mehdi Hasan here, destruction of sewage system pictured above). And all this nearly three decades after Yasser Arafat agreed to end the conflict in return for a state on Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem – 22% of historic Palestine (Even Hamas, so long one of many excuses for not reaching a deal, last month issued its qualified support for such an outcome)”.
“The West should reflect on its part in prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”
Under this heading, Macintyre points out that the US provides Israel with over $3bn (£2.3bn) a year in military aid and the EU implements trade agreements which exempt only the most flagrant economic activity in the settlements from its provisions, leading Benjamin Netanyahu to believe he can maintain the occupation with impunity.
He summarises the potential gains of a peace agreement for Israel: “full diplomatic and economic relations with the Arab world, an end to the growing perception of Israel as an apartheid state, the reduction of costs – moral and financial – to its own citizens of using a conscript army to enforce the occupation”.
Co-existence in Iran
In several Stirrer articles, opening with this one, Richard Lutz reports on his visits to Iran – as a Jew, albeit lapsed – and Roger Cohen’s account in the New York Times is not to be missed. He – like Lutz, “treated with such consistent warmth” in Iran, says, “It’s important to decide what’s more significant: the annihilationist anti-Israel ranting, the Holocaust denial and other Iranian provocations — or the fact of a Jewish community living, working and worshipping in relative tranquillity. Perhaps I have a bias toward facts over words, but I say the reality of Iranian civility toward Jews tells us more about Iran — its sophistication and culture — than all the inflammatory rhetoric”.
As so many civilised Israelis and Palestinians work for peace, some details recorded here, and the settlement of Neve Shalom (above) shows what is possible, Macintyre ends by saying that it is not just the Israelis and the Palestinians who should be reflecting this week on the impact of what is surely the longest occupation in modern history:
“It is time for the Western powers to reflect on their part in prolonging a conflict which will never end of its own accord”.
Saudi Arabia, with Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan led a gulf coalition airstrike against Yemen in March. The Obama administration is supporting the Saudi-led air war with intelligence, air refueling operations and expediting weapons deliveries and other crucial support.
Today a Moseley reader draws our attention to the news reported by the Guardian that – eager to follow suit – David Cameron has extolled the ‘defence’ products made by BAE Systems and assured the company that every effort would be made by the UK government to support the selling of their equipment to Saudi Arabia, Oman and other countries.
According to a BBC report, Houthis – aka Shiite Muslim rebels – are seeking change from weak governance, corruption, resource depletion and poor infrastructure, unemployment, high food prices, limited social services and large-scale displacement.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis have taken to the streets of the capital, Sana’a, to voice their anger at the Saudi invasion.
Death and destruction: the fruits of Saudi, UK, USA labour
Admirable and truthful – a searing denunciation of Anglo-Saxon cruelty
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10203724273340046 – perhaps technically better – sight and sound.
Then he asks: “What to do?” and answers:
- Remove the embargo
- Step up EU differentiation policies
- Expel Britain’s Israeli ambassador
- Explore possibility of UN peacekeeping force in Gaza
- Send civilian organisations to restore Gaza’s electricity and meet all basic needs
Migrants? Many are refugees escaping from countries which the British government has helped to destabilise
According to the UN, the overwhelming majority of these people are escaping war. The largest group are fleeing Syria, a country in which an estimated 220,000 to more than 300,000 people have been killed during its appalling and escalating war. Many others come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Eritrea and Somalia – all places from which people are commonly given asylum.
As a reader reminded us today, refugees have rights under The 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol (extract below) and migrants do not – so ‘relabelling’ is advantageous to states who wish to avoid their legal obligations.
A very large number of refugees are fleeing from unimaginable misery and danger and a smaller number of people are trying to escape the sort of poverty that drives some to desperation.
Colin Yeo and other members of the immigration team at London’s Garden Court Chambers set up a blog to cover these subjects, with several graphs, one of which shows how very far from the truth is the media/state conveyed impression that Britain is number one destination and is being ‘swamped’..
So far this year, nearly 340,000 refugees have crossed Europe’s borders. A large number, but still only 0.045% of Europe’s total population of 740 million.
Contrast that with Turkey, which hosts 1.8 million refugees from Syria alone, Lebanon, in which there are more than one million Syrians and even Iraq, struggling with its own ‘war’, is home to more than 200,000 people who have fled its neighbour.
As Barry Malone on Al-Jazeera says: “There are no easy answers and taking in refugees is a difficult challenge for any country but, to find solutions, an honest conversation is necessary”.
But much of that conversation is shaped – distorted – by the media
For reasons of accuracy, the director of news at Al Jazeera English, Salah Negm, has decided that the word migrant will no longer be used in this context. Instead, where appropriate, they will say ‘refugee’.
The wording is correct but – terminology sorted – how can these huge destabilisations be redressed?
Do governments “callously and deliberately neglect” food producers to avoid alienating corporate party funders?
Ms Truss, the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, says British farming is one of the Government’s key successes – though farmers are taking their own lives at a rate of one a week, according to many sources, though officialdom is reticent about this.
The Times of India reports that Maharashtra’s farmer suicide count in the six-month span from January to June this year stood at 1,300 cases, the state’s revenue department figures show.
Respected analyst Devinder Sharma points out that indebtedness and bankruptcy tops the reasons behind these suicides; followed by family problems and farming related issues. In both countries the authorities try to evade the real issue and blame the availability of shotguns, pesticides and so on.
Snapshots from a presentation to the UN summarises the real reasons:
British and Indian governments daren’t offend the party funding middlemen and corporate end-buyers who – without lifting a finger – profit from the food produced at the expense of the hard-working producers who are often obliged to sell at a loss.
More respect from the new Greek government
At least – the Financial Times points out – in Greece, Syriza is allowing some leeway to those producing the most essential goods. They are refusing to increase the financial burdens on farmers, who at present pay 13% per cent income tax, compared with the general 25% rate, and receive special treatment for fuel and fertiliser expenses.
With 12.4% of the country’s labour force employed in producing food and cotton and a thriving fishing industry, the new Greece government is showing some grasp of essentials and priorities – would that the British and Indian governments showed similar respect for their most important workers.
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has recommended action consistent with the ‘humanitarian impulse of many well-intended people’: “There is a responsibility on all of us in the free West to try and help some of those people fleeing Syria, literally in fear of their lives . . . I think this country should honour the 1951 declaration on refugee status that was agreed”.
Andrew Mersman: “Around the world, every minute, another eight people are displaced from their homes, families, villages, cities, nations…no one chooses to be displaced … “
Personal experience, combined with anecdotal evidence volunteered by a doctor and a psychiatrist in Birmingham UK, leads the writer to believe that only the most emotionally stable people can successfully adapt to the change of language, customs and culture on another continent. A search reveals further support for this belief:
Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Special Envoy with the United Nations, writing on the WHO website, says that more than 50% of refugees present mental health problems:
“Present day conflicts intentionally involve civilian populations. Massive human rights violations impose serious risks on millions of people. The cognitive, emotional and socio-economic burden imposed on individuals, the family and the community are enormous. It is established that an average of more than 50% of refugees present mental health problems ranging from chronic mental disorders to trauma, distress and great deal of suffering”. She reports findings that ‘disruption of community and social support networks leads to psychosocial dysfunctioning’ and – through its normative and field activities, and that the WHO in cooperation with concerned ministries of health, other agencies, collaborating centres, academic and research institutions – is trying to address the problem.
“The reasons for and the duration of these migrations put extraordinary stress on individuals and their families”:
When Professor James Nazroo was a reader in sociology at University College London, he was commissioned by the Department of Health to produce a survey. Though it was not named in the source – a BBC report – similar work may be found online. Findings were that immigrant populations in the UK are at higher risk from mental and physical illness. Problems with access to facilities, an inability to speak the language, and racism within the adopted country all contribute to the relatively poor health of minority groups, researchers say.
“Out of six ethnic minority groups, there was only one which had a health equivalent to the general population, which was the Irish group”.
Iman Safi: we are failing to address the reasons that create refugees and to adopt a global approach to solving the problem
In Global Research he concludes: “If the rich world (aka the “Free World”) continues to exploit poorer nations, to ravage their homelands with needless wars, exploit their resources, pollute their land and water, build factories that are best described as slave labour camps, it cannot continue to wipe its hands of, and pretend to be a part of the solution when in fact it is the main cause, instigator and major contributor to the problem.
“If this neo-colonialist “contribution” can be stopped, the world can then turn to face dealing with “real refugees”, environmental refugees, drought, earthquake and other natural disasters refugees. Aid organizations can then be better able to focus on nation-building programs rather than refugee-camp building programs. Thus, the intake of refugee migrants can then be dealt with realistically and effectively”.
In a nutshell, Andrew Brigden Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire – who has consistently advocated rational policies throughout the Syrian conflict – told The World this Weekend:
“These are Syrian people who want to live in Syria. The solution is not taking a few hundred people to make us feel happier. What we need is a politically-negotiated solution to this problem.”
COMMENT BY EMAIL:
From humanitarian aid worker with ten years experience:
“Also with numbers of affected people involved, this is not a viable option for the vast majority of affected people (putting aside the mental issues) … £100 will go much further supporting people where they are/resolving conflict rather than ‘high PR level’ gesture of inviting a few over …
Western governments have – formally and informally – met the compulsive need of the privileged investor community for higher profits
Harry Shutt is an economist who ‘occupies the dissident edge of his profession’. Now, in the midst of the worst global downturn for 70 years, Shutt’s words have an eerie prescience. ‘The lies and financial crimes that have underpinned this evanescent economic ‘miracle’ are only now being exposed as a result of a financial crisis, which, it is already clear, is the most catastrophic to hit the world since that of 1929-3.
”(Capital) is now almost as redundant as the coal industry in the modern economy – especially given the emergence of such phenomena as crowdfunding enabling entrepreneurs to bypass the City and Wall Street.
“Yet so far from facing this glaring truth and cutting the financial sector down to size, western governments have, since the 1980s, allowed it to become the tail that wags the capitalist dog.
“This has led not only to ever more wasteful and/or dangerous misallocation of resources (think funded pensions, privatisation, derivatives, High Speed 2); it has required subsidised diversion of an ever greater share of value added to meet the compulsive need of the privileged investor community for higher profits”.
Since 1979 Mr Shutt has been a consultant mainly to international development agencies, including the World Bank, United Nations (FAO, UNCDF, UNDP, UNIDO), European Commission (EDF, Europeaid), Asian Development Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat, DFID (UK), KfW (Germany).
Read more: http://harryshutt.com/