Acts of murder
Up to 38 aircraft have been shot down or crashed. This is suppressed, of course
By John Pilger
Tuesday May 18, 1999
The room is filled with the bodies of children killed by Nato in Surdulica
in Serbia. Several are recognisable only by their sneakers. A
dead infant is cradled in the arms of his father. These pictures and many
others have not been shown in Britain; it will be said they
are too horrific. But minimising the culpability of the British state when
it is engaged in criminal action is normal; censorship is by
omission and misuse of language. The media impression of a series of Nato
'blunders' is false. Anyone scrutinising the unpublished
list of targets hit by Nato is left in little doubt that a deliberate terror
campaign is being waged against the civilian population of
Eighteen hospitals and clinics and at least 200 nurseries, schools, colleges
and students' dormitories have been destroyed or
damaged, together with housing estates, hotels, libraries, youth centres,
theatres, museums, churches and 14th-century
monasteries on the World Heritage list. Farms have been bombed, their crops
set on fire. As Friday's bombing of the Kosovo town of
Korisa shows, there is no discrimination between Serbs and those being
'saved'. Every day, three times more civilians are killed by
Nato than the daily estimate of deaths of Kosovans in the months prior to
The British people are not being told about a policy designed largely by
their government to cause such criminal carnage. The
dissembling of politicians and the lies of 'spokesmen' set much of the news
agenda. There is no sense of the revulsion felt throughout
most of the world for this wholly illegal action, for the punishment of
Milosevic's crime with a greater crime and for the bellicose antics
of Blair, Cook and Robertson, who have made themselves into international
'There was no need of censorship of our dispatches. We were our own
censors,' wrote Philip Gibbs, the Times correspondent in
1914-18. The silence is different now; there is the illusion of saturation
coverage, but the reality is a sameness and repetition and,
above all, political safety for the perpetrators.
A few days before the killing of make-up ladies and camera operators in the
Yugoslav television building, Jamie Shea, Nato's man,
wrote to the International Federation of Journalists: 'There is no policy to
attack television and radio transmitters.' Where were the
cries of disgust from among the famous names at the BBC, John Simpson apart?
Who interrupted the mutual back-slapping at last
week's Royal Television Society awards? Silence. The news from Shepherd's
Bush is that BBC presenters are to wear pinks,
lavender and blues which 'will allow us to be a bit more conversational in
the way we discuss stories'.
Here is some of the news they leave out. The appendix pages of the
Rambouillet 'accords', which have not been published in Britain,
show Nato's agenda was to occupy not just Kosovo, but all of Yugoslavia.
This was rejected, not just by Milosevic, but by the elected
Yugoslav parliament, which proposed a UN force to monitor a peace
settlement: a genuine alternative to bombing. Clinton and Blair
Britain is attacking simultaneously two countries which offer no threat.
Every day Iraq is bombed and almost none of it is news. Last
week, 20 civilians were killed in Mosul, and a shepherd and his family were
bombed. The sheep were bombed. In the last 18 months,
the Blair government has dropped more bombs than the Tories dropped in 18 years.
Nato is suffering significant losses. Reliable alternative sources in
Washington have counted up to 38 aircraft crashed or shot down,
and an undisclosed number of American and British special forces killed.
This is suppressed, of course.
Anti-bombing protests reverberate around the world: 100,000 people in the
streets of Rome (including 182 members of the Italian
parliament), thousands in Greece and Germany, protests taking place every
night in colleges and town halls across Britain. Almost
none of it is reported. Is it not extraordinary that no national opinion
poll on the war has been published since April 30?
'Normalisation,' wrote the American essayist Edward Herman, depends on 'a
division of labour in doing and rationalising the
unthinkable, with the direct brutalising and killing done by one set of
individuals... [and] others working on improved technology (a
better crematory gas, a longer burning and more adhesive Napalm). It is the
function of experts and the mainstream media to
normalise the unthinkable for the general public.'
This week, the unthinkable will again be normalised when Nato triples the
bombing raids to 700 a day. This includes blanket bombing
by B-52s. Blair and Clinton and the opaque-eyed General Clark, apologist for
the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, are killing and
maiming hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent people in the Balkans. No
contortion of intellect and morality, nor silence, will
diminish the truth that these are acts of murder. And until there is a
revolt by journalists and broadcasters, they will continue to get
away with it. That is the news.
© Copyright Guardian Media Group plc. 1999
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