War on Free Press

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Afghanistan, Al Jazeera, Conflicts And War, Iraq, War Views: 4756
4756

Those leading a war on the press have claimed yet another victory with the arrest of one of today's most prominent war reporters, Aljazeera's Taysir Alouni.

Spanish police detained Alouni, as he spent a quiet vacation with his family in the Spanish city of Granada. He is recognized for his outstanding war coverage from Afghanistan during the US war  two years ago. The Syrian journalist is also a Spanish citizen. 

Alouni worked as Aljazeera's correspondent in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, and was in the process of setting up an office for the famed pan-Arab news agency in Madrid. Prior to his work with Aljazeera, he worked as a translator for Spain's EFE news agency. 

This indisputably politically motivated arrest is nothing out of the ordinary for the veteran journalist. His daring missions in the past have evoked more than angry words from top American and other officials, ever resentful to having the uncontrolled press meddle in their war business. 

Just hours after the Taliban defeat and departure from Kabul, US warplanes bombed Aljazeera's offices, shortly after Alouni left, miraculously unharmed. 

When US missiles rained in and around Aljazeera's offices, this time in Baghdad during the March invasion, Alouni was still in the building, conducting a live interview. 

I remember watching him on television in his black, dusty coat while hauling the body of his dead colleague, Tariq, who was not lucky enough to escape by another miracle. 

One of the last few decisions made by the ousted Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein was deporting Alouni out of the country. He reported the war with dignity that made every authority unhappy with him, all but the Arab masses, and masses around the world, who found in him and his colleagues a few honest voices in dishonest wars. 

After the disastrous experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, where military options failed short from achieving their declared objectives and where war pretexts were found fallacious, the so called "collation" is seeking to silence the only honest voices remaining. 

Osama bin Laden is still on the run, al-Qaeda regrouping, Taliban is back full-speed ahead, Afghanistan is in shambles, no weapons of mass destruction were uncovered in Iraq, Iraqis are occupied, and bitterness is growing everywhere in the supposedly liberated Arab country. Since neither the US budget can cover the cost of war, nor the British and Spanish governments, the best way out is to hush those who are stubbornly pointing the finger at the travesty. Aljazeera is one of them. 

The arrest of Alouni will hardly bring peace to those leading a crusade against the world, seeking strategic control and hefty contracts for big companies. It is, in fact, just another pathetic attempt to silence the truth that is no longer a hidden secret. 

Unlike other countries that supported the US war, but ironically requested to keep their names anonymous, the conservative cabinet of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar is a staunch supporter of the US war, going as far as sending troops to Iraq, some were already killed and others wounded. 

And like the situation in the United States and Britain, Aznar also lied about the bogus pretexts that led him to fight the unjust war. 

He told the mostly discontented Spanish people through a televised speech last February, "You can be sure that I am telling you the truth. The Iraqi regime has weapons of mass destruction." 

Well, according to one of Spain's most respected newspapers EI Pais, last June, citing the country's CNI intelligence service, the Spanish leadership also forged its way into the war. There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor is there a link between the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda, CNI revealed. 

Aznar's government is little interested in seeing Alouni reporting from Madrid, at a time when the right wing government had a great deal of lies and distortion to hide. 

While the so-called war on terror has been used to fight unjustifiable wars throughout the globe, the same pretext was used to justify Alouni's arrest. Alouni is held under anti-terrorist legislation as a terrorism suspect without access to lawyers or family. 

If journalists ought to stand trail for interviewing individuals suspected of terrorism or war crimes, then hundreds of American and European journalists should also line up in courts, and we might as well throw the bit about "the freedom of the press" out the window. 

But many of us already know that Alouni did his job with unparalleled journalistic integrity. He put his life on the line on many occasions, so that we can be informed of a reality that otherwise would've remained veiled for decades. 

Journalists continue to be a target, not a random target however. Silencing the messenger is the best way to block the message altogether. But Alouni's message has already made it to the world. Even in his arrest there is a lesson to be learned. Indeed, such a shameful action by the Spanish authorities shall open more eyes to the disturbing trend, led by the US government and mimicked by others.

The hope is that Alouni will soon be released. But even if such awaited freedom takes place, one is certain that the war on honest journalism is still on. It has already claimed 15 lives in Iraq, mostly killed in "unfortunate mistakes" that demanded no punishment. 

The Spanish people, who stood vigorously against their government war quest, must also stand up for Alouni and the principals he represents. This is not a war on journalists alone, but a war on all of us, on our right to think freely, our right to be free from controlled information, disseminated carefully by the same individuals who want us to believe that slaughter and massacres are synonyms for democracy and liberty. 

If truth shall set us free, then silencing the free press and the courageous voices like that of Taysir Alouni shall keep us in the chains of corporate media deception and government treachery forever.

 

Ramzy Baroud is the editor-in-chief of http://PalestineChronicle.com and the editor of the anthology entitled "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion," now available at: www.palestinebooks.com

To buy "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion" CLICK HERE

 


  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Afghanistan, Al Jazeera, Conflicts And War, Iraq, War
Views: 4756

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Older Comments:
BH FROM UNITED STATES OF AMERICA said:
The United States is NOT the country it was fifty years. Its people are petty, ignorant, and vindictive whose only concern for the most part is to fill their gluttonous bellies with delicacies.

The country has been sold out with its industrial output about equal with that of Japan (which is only twice as small population wise). It is gradually and rather quickly turning back into a domestic and service sector economy and will not be able to fund its military industrial complex as it is now.

The United States will go back to being a second or third rate power like it was before World War Two.
2003-09-22

SADAT FROM US said:
I would like to commend the writer for his support for a free press. Good Work.
2003-09-21

KIM FROM AUSTRALIA said:
Speaking of freedom of the press, some of you might find this Reporters Sans Frontieres list very interesting.

http://www.rsf.fr/article.php3?id_article=4116

Kim...
2003-09-18

H.A. FROM SATAN COUNTY, USA said:
NO WONDER AMERICAN GOV'T IS THE GREAT SATANIC GOV'T

NO WONDER AMERICANS WHO SUPPORT THE SATAN'S GOV'T ARE CALLED THE GREAT SATANS

NO WONDER 9-11 HAPPENED

NO WONDER CHINEESE HATES AMERICAN

NO WONDER FRENCH IS BECOMING THE #1 ENEMY of USA

NO WONDER USSR WANTED TO DESTROY USA

NO WONDER JAPANEESE HIT PEARL HARBOR

NO WONDER SUCCESSFUL SLAVERY TOOK PLACE ON SATAN LANDS

NO WONDER SINCITY EXISTS IN USA

NO WONDER ZIONISTS ARE CLOSELY AFFILIATED WITH THE SATANS of US GOV'T

NO WONDER AMERICA IS DECAYING DAY AND DAY

NO WONDER HURRICANE ISABEL IS GOING TO HAVE A CLOSE ENCOUNTER W/ THE COWBOY WHO IS HIDING IN CAMP DAVID LATER TONIGHT

NO WONDER I AM AFRAID TO TRAVEL WITH US PASSPORT ABROAD

NO WONDER NORTH KOREA IS THE SAFEST PLACE ON EARTH
2003-09-18

RICHARD FROM USA said:
Asalaam Alaikum and congatulations on a well done article. You stated very well the actions that are being taken against the true "free" press. The last thing the United States and its cronies need is someone pointing out the illegal and horrible crimes that they commit against humanity in the name of big corporations and ultimately, money. They will protect their god (money) at all costs. They rightly deserve to burn in hell along with their money.
2003-09-18

SHARIF FROM UK said:
Good article. As the saying goes, 'the first victim of war, is the truth'. Numerous journalists were killed by 'coalition' forces in 'friendly fire'. The Reuters hotel, which housed independent journalists, was hit by an American tank shell killing 2 journalists. The ITV jounalist Terry Loyd went 'missing', it was found out lator that he had been killed by American fire. Decent jounalists such as James Pilger and Robert Fisk are frowned upon. Instead, we are forced fed weapons of mass deception by 'renouned' writers such as Thomas Friedman and William Kristol. Free Press? I think not... Matters are made worse when we have Rupert Murdoch buying up all the news corporations.
2003-09-18

ACKLIMA FROM TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO said:
They are covering up the true news on war all
over the world.
2003-09-18