“They shoot journalists, don’t they?”

April 6, 2010

So, the American military has what it calls “rules of engagement” when active in a combat zone.

Normally these “rules” are to protect the lives of non-combatants, but in the urban battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq there is sometimes very little difference.

At least according to the US military. But how far does the American war machine go to distinguish between friendlies and civilians and the so-called “enemy” – the Taleban in Afghanistan or “insurgents” in Iraq?

Really, it doesn’t go very far at all. In a recent Vanity Fair article about snipers in Afghanistan, one US soldier is quoted as calling the Afghan interpreter in his unit a “stinky”.

A Special Forces sergeant came up and said, “Hey, dude, I got some bad news. I gotta put a Stinky in your truck.” Afghans are Stinkies because they don’t wash.

We’ve all heard the term “raghead” used in relation to Iraqis. When this level of embedded racism is in play, the rules of engagement are not worth wiping your stinky on.

Whenever civilians are killed by “mistake” there are major efforts to cover it up. Details are only released when the families of the dead – you should always make sure there are no survivors – make a fuss, or the media starts nosing around.

But what happens when reporters and news workers are killed? Then the cover up goes into overdrive!

The Wikileaks site has just released some very disturbing video footage of two Reuters correspondents being gunned down in Baghdad. According to the army’s statement, the action that led to their murder was within the rules of engagement.

The attack took place on the morning of 12 July 2007 in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. Two children were also wounded.

Reuters had been seeking access to the video – shot from one of the Apache helicopters that also gunned down the men – for more than two years.

The murdered newsworkers  were local Reuters staff; Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen. Chmagh was a 40-year-old Reuters driver and assistant; Noor-Eldeen was a 22-year-old war photographer.

Rule #1: It’s OK to shoot journalists.

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A new low in New Zealand journalism – Napier siege coverage

May 8, 2009

I was so angry last night that I tweeted.

I could not believe what I was seeing on Close Up. A police officer’s body lying in a Napier street and the vultures of the media circulating, sniffing out a tasty morsel or two.

In the case of Close Up the tasty morsels were the mother and the brother of the alleged gunman.

Then again this morning,  the brother, Peter Molenaar, was back on air. This time on Morning Report and the questioning was sickening.

“Do you think you’ll see your brother alive again”

“Why did he open fire? Did you know he had guns in the house?”

“Did you know he was doing drugs? Was he using P?”

These are questions for the coronial inquest, not for radio hosts. The news media is overstepping the boundaries of public decency in relation to this story. It’s not over yet. The siege is ongoing, there’s likely to be more blood on the streets of Napier. The way things are going, we’ll get it live at 6pm tonight and again at 7pm.

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Release Alan Johnston

April 14, 2007
The BBC’s Gaza Correspondent, Alan Johnston, missing presumed kidnapped
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Friday [13 April] repeated its call for the immediate and unconditional release of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston who was kidnapped over a month ago in Gaza by a group that has yet to make any public statement about holding him.

On Monday the IFJ will participate in a vigil being held by the BBC in Brussels to urge his captors to free him. IFJ affiliates in Gaza, the West Bank, the UK and elsewhere have been demonstrating for Johnston’s release. “We are extremely worried about Alan and we call on the Palestinian government to do everything in its power to make sure he is released immediately,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “These types of kidnappings are doing great harm not just to journalism but to the development of the region in general by making it impossible for journalists to work safely and report on developments there.” The IFJ is working with journalists of the BBC and their union based in the UK and Ireland, the National Union of Journalists, in a series of events highlighting the case of Johnston. The IFJ is asking journalists, media workers and supporters in Brussels to come to the demonstration on Monday, which will be held at 3:15 p.m. local time in front of the Berlaymont Building in Brussels. It will mark exactly 5 weeks from the date he was kidnapped by unknown men in Gaza.

This is the media statement from the IFJ, it is a tragic situation when a journalist is kidnapped or killed and it happens all too often in the Middle East. But it also happens in Russia Africa, Latin and South America, China and many other parts of the world.

The IFJ keeps an updated list of disappearances, murders and beatings of journalists.
Don’t shoot the messenger!