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The harassment of BBC Persian journalists

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Mark Thompson Mark Thompson | 12:05 UK time, Friday, 3 February 2012

For those working for the BBC Persian service, interference and harassment from the Iranian authorities has become a challenging fact of life.

I am hugely proud of how they deal with that relentless pressure, and their unswerving commitment to delivering high quality, impartial journalism.

They arguably have the most difficult jobs in the BBC. They carry them out with unstinting dedication and in the knowledge that their work makes a critical difference to the lives of millions who crave access to free and accurate information, in a part of the world where it is scarce and extremely precious.

In recent months, we have witnessed increased levels of intimidation alongside disturbing new tactics. This includes an attempt to put pressure on those who work for BBC Persian outside Iran, by targeting family members who still live inside the country.

We remain extremely concerned about these actions by the Iranian authorities and the latest case only serves to underline this.

Last week the sister of a BBC Persian member of staff was arrested. She was detained and held in solitary confinement on unspecified charges at Evin Prison in Tehran. Although she has now been released on bail, her treatment was utterly deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

It is just the latest in a campaign of bullying and harrassment by the Iranian authorities, putting pressure on the BBC for the impartial and balanced coverage of events in Iran and the wider region.

It follows the repeated jamming of international TV stations such as BBC Persian TV, preventing the Iranian people from accessing a vital source of free information.

In recent months a number of relatives of members of BBC Persian staff have been detained for short periods of time by the Iranian authorities and urged to get their relatives in London to either stop working for the BBC, or to "co-operate" with Iranian intelligence officials.

In other instances, passports of family members have been confiscated, preventing them from leaving Iran. This has left many BBC Persian staff too afraid to return to the country, even to visit sick or elderly relatives. Some have had their Facebook and email accounts hacked.

In addition, there has been a consistent stream of false and slanderous accusations against BBC Persian staff in the official Iranian media, ranging from allegations of serious sexual assault, drug trafficking, and criminal financial behaviour.

It has also included claims that staff have converted from Islam to Christianity or Baha'ism - potentially a capital offence in Iran as it is considered to be apostasy. This has put our staff, who in most cases left their families behind to come to London and work for the BBC, under immense pressure.

This issue is wider than the BBC - other international media face similar challenges. But it is behaviour that all people who believe in free and independent media should be deeply concerned about.

The BBC calls on the Iranian government to repudiate the actions of its officials.

We also ask governments and international regulatory bodies to put maximum pressure on Iran to desist in this campaign of intimidation, persistent censorship and a disturbing abuse of power.

Mark Thompson is BBC director general.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    '..campaign of intimidation, persistent censorship and a disturbing abuse of power '

    This is terrible and to be deplored.

    As is any action by those in, or supported by authority trying to impose the promotion of views that may not be be shared by others.

    Even, or more especially if excused, as can be the case, by being deemed 'unique'.

  • Comment number 2.

    We have all read about the assassination of nuclear scientists in Iran. Sometimes, I wonder if the west is not trying to goad Iran. I wonder how Iranian journalists might do in Britain or the US. Might there not be "campaign of bullying & harassment" by the western government - maybe even charges, imprisonment or extradition?
    International activists are beginning to wise-up. The Persian service of the Fars news agency reported on Wednesday: More than 40 US cities & some other countries, including Canada, India, Ireland, Bangladesh, & Norway, have announced that they will hold pro-Iran rallies on Saturday, February 4th.
    The rallies will be held in more than 40 cities across the US with the aim of condemning the anti-Iran measures of the US governments. and its allies in the European Union, military threats by Israel, assassinations, & propaganda - the continual lies spread by the Western media against the Islamic Republic.
    Following are excerpts of the petition (not exact quotes, but from my memory):
    - In many ways, the U.S. war on Iran has already begun.
    - US government is shaping public opinion to accept military intervention in Iran in the name of “national security.” Fabricated stories that claim evidence of Iran pursuing nuclear weapons is being broadcast through mainstream media & repeated & repeated & repeated...
    - The US has authorized harsh economic sanctions that could literally destroy and devastate the lives of millions of Iranian CIVILIANS. In addition to the sanctions, there have been targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists & US surveillance drones were discovered in violation of Iranian sovereignty/airspace.
    No side, Iran or the west, is absolutely innocent, but I believe the west has done far more damage for far more covert purposes.

  • Comment number 3.

    Mr. Thompson i am daniyal from Iran. well as you know the Iraninan goverment every they much forceing the Iraninan journalist inside and outside of Iran for testemony against the Media and west goverment. unfourtuntly . i suggest the bbc speak to UN and find real soultion on this matter not just speaking about it. the 70% of Iraninan people are fully trusted BBC please don't break our trust . tnx.

  • Comment number 4.

    The level of hypocrisy shown in this article is truly astounding!! Whilst I feel for the individuals concerned, and their families, I find it rather absurd that you, and the western media in general, are outraged by Iranian measures to prevent and block the dissemination of "impartial and balanced coverage of events in Iran and the wider region" - please do not try and tell me that the BBC and the western media are impartial - it is laughable!

    The western media is in the process of a campaign of defamation against Iran (following successful campaigns in Egypt, Libya and the ongoing Syrian campaign), accusing the regime of largely unfounded accusations, including the supposed nuclear programme. This is the new modern warfare - media disinformation aimed at convincing the general (western) public of a need for intervention.

    Also, just to show the ultimate hypocrisy, I must mention that Iran's Press TV was shut down and taken off the air only 2 weeks ago. how can we expect the Iranian authorities to act in any way other than retaliation against the likes of the BBC.

    The very fact that you not only do not show both sides of the argument, but never even mention the 'other side of the coin' makes me question that the abhorrence that you show is nothing more than part of the same media game designed to increase public dislike and distrust of the Iranians.

    Again, I want to reiterate that of course any violence or harrassment against individuals and their families is abhorrent and not to be excused. My point is one of pots, kettles and the colour black!

  • Comment number 5.

    I agree with everything Tom Halstead wrote, an excellent retort. The hypocrisy of this article is now typical in British / American culture. The reality is that both Britain & America are the two greatest evils in this world, always were and always will be.

    An Irishman.

  • Comment number 6.

    BluesBerry wrote: "I wonder how Iranian journalists might do in Britain or the US. Might there not be "campaign of bullying & harassment" by the western government - maybe even charges, imprisonment or extradition?"
    If they had a proper work permit, they could say and report what they wanted. That's freedom of speach, which seems to be missing in Iran. Further, even if they said something truely bad (inciting religous harted for example), then they would deported after a fair trial. They would certainly be nothing done to their relatives.

  • Comment number 7.

    Can I thank Mr Thompson for giving me a chance to laugh, by his assertion that BBC is an impartial news organisation, giving an impartial view of the world events to the people. What a joke. If BBC tell me that today is Friday 3rd February, I will double check it some where else.

    Of course any violence against any individual is unacceptable, but Mr Thompson would do better if he broadened his condemnation to all such acts, and all acts of censorship. And just in case he has forgotten the Iranian news channel Press Tv was taken off air in UK recently. Would that be censorship? I don't think BBC offered the people an opinion on the matter.

    Mr Thompson will do better by doing a bit of the research before letting his finger do the talking.

  • Comment number 8.

    We all Know the role played by the BBC in the 1953 CIA iran coup

    or the self censoring the BBC did in the Libya war, not showing the massive support Gaddafi had

    Information warefare is all around us, if Iran deems that the Foreign Office and foreign Aid funded BBC is promoting the Imperalist Agenda

    then the BBC should explain it self

  • Comment number 9.

    When the US Military arrested an arab AP Photographer in Kabul and held him with out trail for 6 years ?

    where was the BBC and "international bodies" then ? is the BBC actively calling for more sanctions and war on IRan ? so much for being impartial

  • Comment number 10.

    oh dear. Why is it, any time somebody makes any comment on the middle east, immediately somebody pipes up to remind us all of how deplorable the west is and everything therein.
    You would be hard pressed to find any truly impartial new organisation in the world. We are after all a product of our society, but i cant name a world organisation that can hold a candle to the BBC for how hard they try. Al Jazeera / Fox News / News International, are they global alternatives? though not....

    This article remarks on the deplorable treatment of journalists (and their families) in Iran. Is that really such a controversial statement....

    Also, on the point of press tv. If you had done your home work, you would know they were closed down by Ofcom. Not the BBC / UK government. They were closed down for not paying a fine levied by Ofcom for showing an interview with Mazair Bahari under duress. Which is wholly illegal in any country. Maybe when the BBC starts conducting interviews while waterboarding andrew marr, you might have a point. It would probably make sunday mornings a bit more interesting though....

  • Comment number 11.

    A thanks to you and and far more so your staff Mr Thompson.
    If by attempting to present a balanced view, means you are not towing a Government line (any government), intimidation is all too often the result.
    Power has history disliking opposition.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm afraid Mr Thompson's "stiffly worded letter" will be laughed at by the thuggish, malign regime in Tehran. I sympathise for the journalists and their families, but there's nothing to do about it. Issues with the Iranian regime will eventually be sorted out at a higher level, involving loud bangs and puffs of smoke.

  • Comment number 13.

    Does the bbc not want people to have their say any more. No matter how many answers you receive you should give your followers time to give their opinion. This week seems to have been particularly bad and is really putting me off. It's 17.50 on Friday and the main news page looks as though you closed for the weekend at lunchtime but as I tried to make cooment this morning I don't know where the later comments came from. Come on bbc be fair it's not asking a lot and you soon ask the public if you want help!

  • Comment number 14.

    If people are genuinely interested in defining an unbiased line it's useful to frame the discussion in a generic form:

    What are the general conditions necessary to seriously consider taking action or applying maximum pressure against a particular country?

    After answering this question in a comprehensive and non-country specific manner you can then, as the second part of the analysis, list the countries that in your opinion fit the agreed criteria.

  • Comment number 15.

    The treatment described of BBC staff families by elements of Iranian authority is of course contemptible, and tragic for all concerned.

    If BBC staff fear for their families, imagine the predicament of those innocently committed to Iranian security, or awaiting their chance to emulate Gorbachev.

    Overwhelming popular pressure for democracy within Iran, and in many other sad cases, may come only when genuine democracy has been proved possible by the 'more advanced'.

    The BBC, and in particular the World Service, continues to shed light on our common human predicament, such that the 'next step' will be clear to all who wish democratic government, Of, For, By The People.

    There is unfortunately no depth to which the anti-democratic will not go, to defend and promote their paymasters, themselves puppets of Mammon. In the wealthy West, foreign wars, internal surveillance, and mass disinformation have sufficed of late: in the poorer South and East, soon in the poorer West, the indefensible must be defended by terror.

    Tragic stories, and brave resistance, have been 'with us always'. IF 'we' wish to live together in peace, ABLE to trust in each other's good faith, we will have to renounce our false 'dreams' of dominance, accept a democratic social contract, make our escape from Fear & Greed, allow freedom of conscience to All of the Willing, all secure in Income-Share Equality, the 'next step' for whichever nation would lead for People & Planet.

    We are bound to 'protest as able', but it is surely naive - if not disingenuous - to expect 'progress' abroad if we, in privilege and division, cannot or will not ourselves advance further towards democracy.

  • Comment number 16.

    I agree with Mr Thompson that any act based on stopping other viewpoints is unacceptable. I find it appalling that others have decided to Beeb bash on a post of this importance and seriousness.

    It is well known the BBC has always aimed for free press and even if they don't quite get there, their coverage is often more equal than some other networks.

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 18.

    I agree with Mark Thompson, to an extent. While media censorship and harrassment are serious issues, there are reasons why it occurs. Iranian sites have been shut down or refused service from outside providers, pro-government news organizations are shut out or refused licenses, and western media has been particularly antagonistic of Iran. From siding with anti-government protesters to claiming it has a nuke program and 'must be bombed back to the stone age'. I think the terrible treatment of foreign media is primarily a reaction against foreign media treatment of their country, and the threatening stance taken against them by their western governments, not only through damaging sanctions but with war drums banging in some states, with leaders declaring that no options are off the table. So yes, I condemn the actions of Iran in regard to treatment of BBC staff. But it's not exactly a one-way conflict.

  • Comment number 19.

    I do not like the Iranian regime and their attitude towards basic democratic values including their bahavour towards journalists and media. However, the propaganda machine and war mongering of BBC Persian is quit appalling to watch and/or listen to.
    I wish BBC Persian would speak on behalf of all those who are against sanctions and aggression against innocent people of Iran. As much as Iranians hate the regime, no Iranian will ever approve the sanctions imposed by Israel and the west.
    Having said that the harassment of innocent journalists is quite appalling and should not be tolerated.

  • Comment number 20.

    Mark Thompson.

    "It is just the latest in a campaign of bullying and harrassment by the Iranian authorities, putting pressure on the BBC for the impartial and balanced coverage of events in Iran and the wider region."

    you cannot seriously argue that the BBC provides a "balanced coverage of events", for instance, a quick search for 'petrodollar' and/or 'dollar hegemony' on the BBC's sites does not yield a single result relating to Iran, even though oil is clearly a major factor in the current situation. I could cite quite a few more examples of unbalanced and partial coverage of events (and not just with respect to Iran) but I think (i) you are not interested nor (ii) have the integrity required to admit it. IMO it is people like you, people in a position to make themselves heard, who bear the greatest responsibility for the unecessary suffering of civilians in the current conflicts because you do not do your job -- report truthfully, disclosing all facts. and I shall not resort to personal insult of any kind, I suspect you know well enough what I (and many others) think.

  • Comment number 21.

    I can not believe the arrogance of some posters on this blog, the hearts of my friends in Iran would drop if they were allowed to read the comments of some people coming out against the BBC for speaking up against the intimidation of the brave reporters risking their lives for their fellow countrymen for reporting the truth about the Iranian government. Democracy truely is wasted on some of the peoples in the west including the UK. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

  • Comment number 22.

    hmmm-lets think-the short list
    1) The UK has recently assisted in the destruction of an adjoining state with a large Shiite majority-Iraq.
    2) The UK maintains weapons and troops in close proximity to Iran
    3) The UK has consistently threatened Iran with attack over the past 20 years
    4) The UK was instrumental in the overthrow of a democratic government in Iran in the 1950s.
    5)The UK was instrumental in the installation of a new state Israel in the 1948 - displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Nabka; a state which is deeply hostile to neighboring Muslim states and constantly threatens Iran with nuclear and conventional attack.
    6) The UK is a likely source of the ongoing murder of Iranians scientists and others associated with their nuclear programme.

    I simply cant understand why so many Iranians would be hostile to the UK and its "official" and decidedly one-sided media outlet !!

  • Comment number 23.

    22.At 03:15 4th Feb 2012, Paul wrote:
    "hmmm-lets think-the short list"
    Yeah! Let's do that Paul


    1) "The UK has recently assisted in the destruction of an adjoining state with a large Shiite majority-Iraq."
    Thereby transfering power to the majority Shiite's from the minority Suni's and installing democracy.

    2) "The UK maintains weapons and troops in close proximity to Iran"
    That will be because they are part of the UN security council and NATO and do not act autonomously.

    3) "The UK has consistently threatened Iran with attack over the past 20 years"
    Hot air! Some evidence please.

    4) "The UK was instrumental in the overthrow of a democratic government in Iran in the 1950s."
    You can have that one.

    5)"The UK was instrumental in the installation of a new state Israel in the 1948 - displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Nabka; a state which is deeply hostile to neighboring Muslim states and constantly threatens Iran with nuclear and conventional attack."
    Really? Rewriting history here Paul. Some exerts from Wikipedia for you:

    1. The invading Arab armies had initially been successful but the Israelis soon recovered from the initial shock of being invaded on all sides. On May 29, 1948, the British initiated United Nations Security Council Resolution 50 and declared an arms embargo on the region. Czechoslovakia violated the resolution supplying the Jewish state with critical military hardware to match the (mainly British) heavy equipment and planes already owned by the invading Arab states.

    2.Many Arab Legion forces were already in Palestine when the British left. Arab Legion commanders were high-ranking British officers (who resigned from the British Army in 1948) and the commander-in-chief was a British General, John Glubb Pasha.

    3.Arab–Jewish violence increased in the spring of 1948 as the British gradually withdrew. Britain imposed an arms embargo, which only really affected the Jews as supplies reached the Palestinian Arabs from neighbouring Arab states across the land borders of Palestine.

    Continued:

  • Comment number 24.

    23 continued:

    4.The UN resolution called upon Britain to evacuate a seaport and sufficient hinterland to support substantial Jewish migration, by February 1, 1948. Neither Britain nor the UN Security Council acted to implement the resolution and Britain continued detaining Jews attempting to enter Palestine. Concerned that partition would severely damage Anglo-Arab relations, Britain refused to cooperate with the UN, denying the UN access to Palestine during the interim period (a requirement of the partition decision). The British withdrawal was finally completed in May 1948. However, Britain continued to hold Jews of "fighting age" and their families on Cyprus until March 1949.[52]

    6) "The UK is a likely source of the ongoing murder of Iranians scientists and others associated with their nuclear programme."
    Some evidence please. If in doubt just make it up would seem to be your modus operandi.


    "I simply cant understand........"
    Let me stop you there!

    You really need to read through the Jewish Palestinian affair Paul.

  • Comment number 25.

    I used to really believe the BBC made as honest an effort as could be made in being unbiased.

    Then Greg Dyke left and it seems zionist 'harrassment' is now completely acceptable.

    When will your editors start ending all your articles with 'Iran disputes this', the same way 'Israel disputes this' follows every article highlighting Israel's mischief?

  • Comment number 26.

    Violence against journalists and their families is unacceptable. But there are other things which are unacceptable. How about murdering scientists in broad daylight and cold blood? How about the vile and breathtaking hypocrisy of the "impartial" BBC, beating the drums of war yet again on behalf of their masters. If US, British or Israeli scientists were being murdered on the streets of, say, London, I wonder how Iranian journalists in the UK would be treated ? Shot by Mossad no doubt, with the British politely looking away. Not much reportage on the BBC in recent years regarding Israel's "nuclear ambitions". I wonder why not? Impartial BBC? A truly bad joke.

  • Comment number 27.

    www.whatdotheyknow.com

  • Comment number 28.

    my wife works for the bbc at a low level (low paid) position.
    They are currently sacking her because she is unable to leave our 16month breastfed daughter for 15 hrs a day .
    The bbc has NO right in my eyes to lecture Iran or anyone else The BBC calling on the Iranian government to repudiate the actions of its officials is crazy when they wont repudiate there own staff.ONCE AGAIN THE BBC ARE NOT THE SHINING LIGHT THEY PORTRAY

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm afraid that Mr Thompson is only telling us what we already know: the Mullah regime in Iran are just a bunch of cowardly thugs afraid of the truth.

    BTW. Mr Thompson may also wish to look into the matter raised on posting no.28 - this is a very disturbing allegation.

  • Comment number 30.

    From those who write here to criticise the 'out-of-touch', it would be good to know of positive endorsement for being 'in-touch'.

    We will not have reliably 'representative' comment, in journalism or politics, until we are all 'in it together', equal shareholders in the world we make.

    To 'emulate' democratic comment only as far as condemning brutality, to fail to note the tyranny of Fear & Greed over us all, comes close to complicity. Who will 'dare' acknowledge our need for Income-Share Equality - anonymously, of course, for the time being?

    On narratives, in passion and emergency, we can be be 'forced' into judgement and action, forced to await hindsight as to whether our actions were vindicated, unfortunate or deplorable. Here though, in reflective anonymity, rather than 'take sides' behind different narratives, we should recognise the infinite complexity of past, present and future.

    No individual, let alone any class, creed or state, should be treated as a cartoon-character, all good or bad, all wise or stupid, all open or clandestine. Rather than dwell on human frailty, and past demonstrations, we should think how to afford each other freedom, "to be the best we can be".

    The answer is not difficult, or hitherto 'Unknown to Man': simply, our freedom will be in Assurance of Belonging, from security of place, with Full Employment and Equal Sharing of Income, with certain reservation of sub-equality ONLY for the fairly judged as unwilling to contribute or criminal.

    Democracy or Complicity? A hard choice? Not really: not as allegedly put to the Rich Young Man, not to sell all and abandon family / community responsibilities, simply to follow love / compassion / honour, in equal fellowship.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    The BBC has been acting as the political mouth piece of the british government and worked very hard at inciting disorder and descent in Iran in the past and now in Syria with its criminally biased coverage of the events in Syria.

    Its always easy to point out your opponents faults and completely forget about your own. An Iranian channel was just very recently banned from the SKY satellite. Al Manar station has been banned from several european and American satellites using the "witch hunt" rules of anti terrorism etc. Its always ok when a "first world" country practices sensorship but god forbid if anyone else tries it...

  • Comment number 33.

    A WELL MADE POINT post 32
    please contact me .

  • Comment number 34.

    not to sell all and abandon family / community responsibilities, simply to follow love / compassion / honour, in equal fellowship

  • Comment number 35.

    The BBC is 'too complex', beyond monolithic 'subservience to the establishment', even that of 'the British government' (a fissile coalition of fissile parties) let alone of 'the Zionist conspiracy'.

    Accepting this, AND YET that all elements of speculation MAY have 'some truth', we should appreciate that 'behind the smoke' there is a 'bigger picture' to attend to.

    Behind the harassment of journalists, intimidation of families, internet trolling, playing of geopolitical conflicts, even the disregard of an infant's need for her mother, are not so much people as 'people possessed'. We are ruled by Mammon, not democracy.

    For the avoidance of any doubt: a democratic 'equal fellowship' does not mean a ludicrous or oppressive 'identity', or a ritual of lip-service.

    It DOES mean an agreed enduring substantive equality, of access for all to all, a true sharing, a liberation of conscience, a belonging together, made possible and meaningful by educated understanding.

  • Comment number 36.

    If a British born journalist went to live in Iran, and wrote anti British government propaganda , would we in Britain not consider him a traitor to his country and his statements treasonable ? Would it not then be reasonable to make every effort to silence him ?

  • Comment number 37.

    This is absolutely unacceptable! Bullying, incredible! What the Iranians should have done is fight democracy with democracy. Specifically, they should have done much the same as the civilized, democratic world does when they do not like what you say: bomb you. If NATO can bomb Yugoslav TV (23/04/99), so can Iran bomb BBC. A few dozen BBC workers dead and it would be a job well done...in a proper and civilized manner, of course. None of that nasty bullying.

  • Comment number 38.

    So following my post at #14, is anyone up for the challenge of posting the generic case, describing all the valid conditions necessary for taking action or applying pressure against a country?

  • Comment number 39.

    Anyone who doubts the brutal intentions of the Iranian leadership towards journalists should reflect on the fact that only a few years ago an Iranian-Canadian journalist was raped and tortured to death in an Iranian prison for the "crime" of taking a photograph of some protesters outside the prison and then refusing to hand over the film.

    Good to know that courageous BBC journalists are exposing the regime on the Persian Service. And it's understandable that they are doing so from outside the country. However the English coverage of Iran by the BBC has been timid, ineffectual and obedient towards the regime - with the one exception of the journalist who wrote a cutting article exposing Ahmedinejad's Holocaust denial conference some years back. She is no longer based in Iran.

    The BBC has been strangely quiet, at least in English, about Supreme Leader Khameini's statement that, "Israel is a cancer that must be cut out and will be cut out." This is a major news story and the BBC's silence here is totally incomprehensible.

  • Comment number 40.

    As an Anglo-Iranian of some 37 years; I do miss Robin Day! He may have been many things, but he kept the "politicians" honest. PressTV's closure and the lack of any reporting or debate on the subject, at the BBC under its current "management". I mean apre Alistair Campbell and the Rambonites's rise to World Domination through very hightech AND violent means. The BBC has been a great source of world news minus the gory details. Their coverage of the Massacres of 2005 and 6 by those innocent zionists against the indigenous inhabitants of a Mediterranean enclave called Gaza and the other one that likes to keep Littany River for their own people... well, the BBC made sure that we did not get disgusted by bits of body parts all over the place. But showed lovely starry fireworks that worked top down, instead of the normal bottom up. As an Iranians, I find BBC being no match for PressTV or any other group of "forieners" who have learnt to speak English. It should not be allowed. I speak not only as One plumber; but for the 75% silent majority

  • Comment number 41.

    Trying to respond to the challenges of marko@14/38, need will be found to ask "Who or What are We?", to be thinking of "applying maximum pressure", and calculating "the valid conditions", of action "against a particular country".

    Though in a sense called-upon to decide (and take some blame or credit), in opinion polls and elections, we do rely much on 'our representatives', and they in turn will rely much on accumulated lore / case-law, not least in defence and pre-emptive attack.

    As already suggested, @15,30,35, example would arguably be our best gift to the people of other countries, as well as our own: leading to democracy (not abusing the term as if 'civilised democracy' has anywhere already been achieved, or as if 'democracy' were responsible for the arming and bombing of dictators amok).

    GIVEN understanding of the nature and promise of genuine democracy, IF equal income-sharing is adopted, THEN we The People - of Britain and the world - will be free to act in conscience in all respects, confident that we share 'belonging', in the common human endeavour: 'Love God & Neighbour As Self'.

    Until 'that day', we muddle along, inevitably having to confront the consequences of our own and others' subjection to Mammon, hoping for 'the best' though aware of 'regrettable' costs, pursuing education for democracy, for self and others and each new generation.

    'Emulation' is our guide, but we cannot expect to live 'as if equally free', without being equally free, as equal shareholders.

  • Comment number 42.

    Impartial ? dont make laugh
    The BBC believes in the modern day white mans burden

    You western centric bias is Clear

  • Comment number 43.

    BBC staff are being harrassed ?- well anyone working for the BBC as one of the working plebs is subject to harrasssment on a daily basis, so they shoud all be thick skinned by now, or have left or about to be sacked.
    Sorry that there appears to be outside influences that add to the already intolerable bullying that goes on in the BBC, thats what happens when you overpay public sector managers who fool themselves into thinking they must act more as they belive a private sector organisation would behave. As none of them have ever worked in the real world they dont know that bullying and harrassement is an ancient management style.

  • Comment number 44.

    Those of us north of the border listening/watching/reading BBC Scotland
    can identify with the Persian audience as we have also got to put up with constant interference, bias (and unionist) propaganda. At least ose of you living abroad can "enjoy" the BBC for free, in Scotland we have to pay a fee for the priviledge of getting slanted headlines, dodgy statistics and unionist politicians giving us false information.

  • Comment number 45.

    Does the BBC really think it is some guardian of free speech? Ha ha ha, laughable stuff!

    The Iranians have obviously had enough of your war drums propaganda. Funnily enough most British people with a couple of brain cells to rub together can see through it as well.

    The BBC is just a puppet propaganda station.

  • Comment number 46.

    44. At 17:09 5th Feb 2012, rhymer wrote:

    Spot on, plus those overseas at least get the occasional relevant blog they can comment on. All the Scotland blogs closed for comments months ago (funny they're still called blogs, isn't it).

  • Comment number 47.

    When can we expect Mr Thompson to respond to the negative BBC viewed expressed here. He is pretty good at using BBC ( I saw him at Andrew Marr show this morning) and twitting his rubbish but not very good at responding to the majority view which say BBC is not an unbiased organisation. Come on then Mr Thompson lets hear you. We have given you example after example of how biased BBC is .

  • Comment number 48.

    23.

    you claim the UK helped "installing democracy" in Iraq. risible. Iraq was turned from a reasonably well-working country into a bombed-out basketcase increasingly riven with religious intolerance. on the upside, you now can buy US American porn for much less.

    and on "Rewriting history": you conveniently forgot to mnetion a key figure in the establishment of modern Israel - Chaim Weizman. I'm confident you know of him, and not surprised you constructed your argument against Paul without mentioning Weizman.

    your arguments in 21/23/24 read like they were paid for, are you a professional lobbyist, Kane?

  • Comment number 49.

    36. "Would it not then be reasonable to make every effort to silence him ?"

    I'm troubled by the idea of 'silencing' anyone. do you not believe in freedom of speech? and if you disagree with someone's point of view, well, you're free to ignore them.

  • Comment number 50.

    In December 2011 the British Government revoked the PressTV's permission to broadcast in the UK.
    Given that part of the offensive against Iran is through Western propaganda, and in particular by the UK government through the BBC, the Iranian government should not be criticised for responding in kind.
    If freedom of the press is really of paramount importance to the British establishment, they should start by practicing what they preach and stop discriminating against those broadcasters who provide an alternative and a more factual coverage of the issues/events than the BBC.

  • Comment number 51.

    50.

    well said.

    here in the UK, ironically, we cannot even get EuroNews on Freeview.

  • Comment number 52.

    This tiny little island still can't come to terms with the fact that we are no longer an Empire. The day's of sending a GUNBOAT up the Yanktsee river to teach the natives a lesson are long-gone, probably the reason that our hier to the throne was sent to the south atlantic instead of this little hot zone of activity! Listen, Israel alongwith USA will between them arrange a suitable accident in this one particular region. many moons ago I suggested to the BBC to change to the EBC, have still not be proven wrong on that one!

  • Comment number 53.

    Response to 40.At 13:32 5th Feb 2012, humsaeidxiii:

    One difference, of course, is that the Israelis don't display the body parts of victims blown up by Palestinian suicide bombers, for example during the Second Intifada. And even if they did, the BBC would not publish such material. And rightly so, unless you think the viewing public should be exposed to such sights.

    Another difference is that those killed by Israel in Gaza were the result of Hamas' insistence on increasing rocket attacks on Israeli civilians to close to a hundred per day and Israel did its best to target only Hamas. In stark contrast the Israelis killed by Palestinians in the Second Intifada were innocents going about their daily lives in restaurants, on buses and in clubs and were deliberately targetted by suicide bombers anbd in drive-by shootings.

    I haven't noticed the BBC filming the hanging of innocent teenagers by the despicable Iranian regime. And I also see little or nothing on the BBC about the obsession on the part of Iran's leaders to destroy the Jewish state. I also see nothing about the ongoing attempt by Argentina and Interpol to extradite the Iranian leaders responsible for the massacre of innocent Jews at the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires in the '90s. Well over a hundred were brutally murdered.

    Why would anyone want to defend the Iranian regime?

    This would validate Israel's concerns about the very real Iranian threat. And of course we can't have that.

  • Comment number 54.

    This short clip from the BBC shows Supreme Leader Khameini blustering and threatening the West and Ehud Barak indicating that if sanctions fail Israel would have to consider other options.

    What is extraordinary about this piece is this: although it deals directly with two leaders of Iran and Israel, it says absolutely nothing about Khameini's direct threat that "Israel is a cancer that must be cut out and will be cut out." And it's all the more extraordinary since Khameini made the threat in the same speech.

  • Comment number 55.

    How about some real facts to add to your list, Mr TrueToo (post 53).

    1.The ratio of Palestinian civilians killed by Israel, to Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians is greater than 10 to 1.
    2. The only nuclear armed state in the region is Israel- a very real Israeli threat to all other states in the region.
    3. You say that the BBC doesn't cover the execution of "innocent" teenagers in Iran. Are you judge and jury in these cases? Is everyone innocent who you say is innocent? Just like the poor innocent IDF in Gaza? Perhaps Palestinians can never be innocent, and Israelis never guilty? That is certainly the basis the BBC works on.
    4. If you want the BBC to report executions, why not mention the USA?
    5. Or the cold-blooded murder of innocent Iranian scientists by Mossad?
    6. Like all Israel apologists on these blogs, your starting point is that the BBC must always support Israel absolutely without question and in all circumstances. The BBC has caved in completely to this orchestrated campaign and is completely corrupted by it.
    7. People might defend the Iranian regime, not because they like it, but because they do not like being spoon fed propaganda by their national broadcaster at the behest of a foreign power, or they maybe just don't like lying, aggressive bullies throwing their weight around in the world we all have to live in.

  • Comment number 56.

    Here's the link to the BBC clip that omitted any mention of Khameini's statement that Israel is a cancer that must be cut out:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-16883200

    And here's a link to the Telegraph article that reported the statement as it should be reported:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9059179/Iran-We-will-help-cut-out-the-cancer-of-Israel.html

  • Comment number 57.

    54. At 08:42 6th Feb 2012, TrueToo

    Well how about the BBC just employ you to edit all such clips, then we can have a truly balanced view presented to us? I love your choice of language, by the way- the Iranian "blusters and threatens", the Israeli simply "indicates". Very dispassionate- your job on the BBC pro-war propaganda machine is assured. I am sure you could beat the drums of war even louder than the present incumbents.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    '57. At 09:08 6th Feb 2012, jammydodger -
    Well how about the BBC just employ you to edit all such clips, then we can have a truly balanced view presented to us?


    Interesting, isn't it, that someone evidently has to and is 'editting' the clips, often after 'inviting' on the 'experts' who are called upon to share their 'views'.

    There are those who might feel that is open to abuse. You appear to be content, if perhaps because the views shared are shared by you?

    Very dispassionate- your job on the BBC pro-war propaganda machine is assured.

    There's a can of worms opened there. It might be interesting how many times those in control of the mics, the edit suite or the live 'debate' already have gainful employ at our unique media monopoly doing just that, using the emotive negative terms to quote those they don't approve of, and soothing neutral or even approbatory ones for those they do.

    I'd hazard if it is in areas you share, you'd suddenly become very supportive.

    Any guesses why the editorial at the BBC may have opted to omit the aspect TrueToo cites in #56 which, at the very least, may have been factual news germane to making one's mind up?

    "Some reports suggest..' that relying on certain media for full reporting, may be a less than sensible option. Shame it still has to be uniquely funded as such.

    It appears a broad spread may agree, but as with the man with his head in the oven and feet in the freezer, the odd notion that he must be feeling 'about right' inbetween will doubtless prevail.

  • Comment number 60.

    I am sorry that the "moderators" found my reply to truet00 "offensive". These conversations were taken into an "regime change" direction against Iranians by that reply! Either the BBC as an entity can take an impartial approach to "this blog" vis-a-vi my response however "brutally honest" is in the context of an "Intellectual equivalent" to a holy war! where sticks and bombs still kill me but my words shall always be spoken as if they were my last!

    Now the Question is: In this War of intellect, where do the Real British Intellectuals reside? Is a Blog on the BBC a good place to speak some bitter truth about world events that affect all of us; isit OK here to call what has been going on as a HOLY WAR? isit OK to say who are the Anti-Christs and the UnHoly Warriors?? If they CALL US IRANIANS can we call them Zionits; what English Terms are acceptable to the BBC and those who sail in her? please teach me the English word for Sanity and Royalty?

  • Comment number 61.

    59. At 10:04 6th Feb 2012, JunkkMale wrote:"I'd hazard if it is in areas you share, you'd suddenly become very supportive."

    That is a completely unwarranted assumption, and wrong. I do not want the BBC to be a propaganda machine of any hue. What I expect is a news service. What I get is a rolling campaign for regime change.

    As regards the video clip, there was a very short excerpt from what I guess was a very long speech. The excerpt seemed to me relevant to the heading of the article. I have also looked at the Telegraph report which TrueToo pointed to as an example of how the matter "should" be reported, I anticipated a full transcript. What I got was a cherrypicked summary, picking out bits that appeal to the armchair warriors who read the Telegraph. But then I don't expect impartiality from the Telegraph.

    It is unreasonable to expect the BBC to publish both speeches in full, so they have to be edited in a way that extracts what is relevant to a UK audience. You seem to believe that threats by Iran against Israel should matter more to me than threats by Israel against Iran. Why exactly should that be ?

  • Comment number 62.

    JunkkMale 59 - Good comment.

    As I expected, jammydodger glided past most of the points I made. To compare Israel's to Israel and then come to the conclusion that they are either equally civilised or Israel is worse takes a distorted world view that is truly staggering.

    The Telegraph is not a pro-Israel publication. Yet it saw the obvious newsworthiness in the fact of the Supreme Leader of Iran directly threatening to destroy Israel. The BBC, in not reporting that, proved once again its extreme reluctance to publish facts which demonstrate the validity of Israeli concerns. The BBC is not a news-gathering organisation but rather a news-laundering one. Even vital news is washed and ironed out if it doesn't fit the BBC's agenda.

  • Comment number 63.

    "The Telegraph is not a pro-israel publication. "

    is this the comedy channel?

  • Comment number 64.

    62. At 11:57 6th Feb 2012, TrueToo wrote:
    The Telegraph is not a pro-Israel publication.
    ==
    Really? When has it ever taken an "anti-israeli " line? Examples less than 50 years old would be helpful.
    You say that I have "glided past most of the points I made". Which of your points did I not address? And which of the points that I made have YOU addressed?. As always, one law for you, another for all others.

  • Comment number 65.

    62. At 11:57 6th Feb 2012, TrueToo wrote:
    To compare Israel's to Israel and then come to the conclusion that they are either equally civilised or Israel is worse takes a distorted world view that is truly staggering.
    ==
    What is this utter nonsense supposed to mean? If you want a response, please repost.

  • Comment number 66.

    Big thanks to those brave journalists bringing the BBC's balanced coverage to parts of the world that badly need it.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 67.

    '61. At 11:00 6th Feb 2012, jammydodger
    That is a completely unwarranted assumption, and wrong. I do not want the BBC to be a propaganda machine of any hue.


    If that's the case, I will immediately revise my already stated hazard to something even less definitive, but what follows makes the support hard to sustain.

    What I expect is a news service. What I get is a rolling campaign for regime change.

    What you seem to be expecting is what you want. Tuned specifically to every nuance of your belief set. Interestingly, Mr. Thompson is making the same leap and also in so doing avoiding the bigger picture.

    You don't like this aspect of BBC news reporting as you think it does not reflect your world view. Mr. Thompson doesn't like how the Iranian regime is reacting to the BBC's ME coverage. Fair enough. Thing is, I don't like pretty much all of how the BBC covers, or rather selectively covers most topics, based on corporate agenda. You think the BBC is suppressing a view here, and in fact not going far enough in censure of Israel. But others think it is already too sympathetic to those who could hardly be deemed to hold the state of Israel or its people in high regard. Hence an artificial 'we must be getting about right; everyone is unhappy' is created, already pretty skewed, and just in one niche area.

    I would not presume to guess too much, but I wonder if you are equally convinced that the BBC is not going far enough on, say, EU membership, or climate change correctives. Or just about right... no need to change there? Or totally off beam? Devoted to Ed Miliband's Labour no matter what, and only the Lib Dems when Chris Huhne was the true poster boy?

    As regards the video clip, there was a very short excerpt from what I guess was a very long speech. The excerpt seemed to me relevant to the heading of the article.

    Guessing and seeming is fine, but rather gets into 'wot I fink' territory. Interesting. Valid. But hardly going to sway on substance.

    I have also looked at the Telegraph report which TrueToo pointed to as an example of how the matter "should" be reported, I anticipated a full transcript. What I got was a cherrypicked summary, picking out bits that appeal to the armchair warriors who read the Telegraph. But then I don't expect impartiality from the Telegraph.

    And I don't expect it any more from the BBC. It is a cherry-picking masterclass, which makes it funny to find it accused of not cherry-picking enough by those who are turning it into an art form. The Telegraph can do what it likes, as I don't have to pay for it. But that said, at least I got better understanding what's at play from their summary compared to the BBC one, and lord alone knows what your ideal edit would be.

    By what quaint blinkered process of thought would it seem not relevant in discussing two armed and hyper ME military powers squaring off to not know why they are each justified by getting wound up by the other? You seriously think it's OK to yell about hawkish Israeli language and then quietly mumble away to oblivion things that might be on record from other quarters that has provoked it?

    I don't know what is going to go down out there, but looking at history, if surrounded by a bunch of nations hostile to sovereignty and even existence, and prepared to pull triggers to try and alter that, I'd say there at least is some reason to get defensive if being described as a cancer. Especially when nukes get in the frame. Even more when the concept of MAD depends on both sides not having a nihilistic desire to meet their makers, and take their voting public with them, asked or not.

    It is unreasonable to expect the BBC to publish both speeches in full

    Cause creates effect, so no, it is not. I already have complaints in to the BBC for the trend to editing down material 'to fit'. There is no excuse here.

    so they have to be edited in a way that extracts what is relevant to a UK audience.

    This audience being by your measure, as far as I can judge, you. Leave out the bits that don't suit, and stamp feet any if any that you think should have been included get passed over. I simply want all that is relevant to the issue. And without the famous 'interpreting' of 'events' that is simply code for personal agenda.

    You seem to believe that threats by Iran against Israel should matter more to me than threats by Israel against Iran. Why exactly should that be ?

    I'm not as I think each is of equal relevance, and heft, but challenge because you are passionately defending the notion of only hearing what you wish to, and wish others to as well. I am interested in the threats against Iran. I am also interested in the threats against Israel.

    It can all get a bit schoolyard 'they did it first' and 'two wrongs', but often this is inevitable, needs to be accepted and worked with.

    The BBC is already not serving my required standard of factual information and impartial education, so when they get nagged for not being even more unbalanced than it is already I take notice, and reserve the right to have my view represented too. It may not be one you hold, but that, for now, is the beauty of free speech.

  • Comment number 68.

    63. At 12:20 6th Feb 2012, humsaeidxiii
    is this the comedy channel?


    Whilst possibly appealing to the home crowd, in matters of debate such serves little purpose.

    64. At 13:31 6th Feb 2012, jammydodger
    Really? When has it ever taken an "anti-israeli " line? Examples less than 50 years old would be helpful.


    It always intrigues when demands are made for 'examples', when often any request back is met with further demands.

    It doesn't matter that much, as the Telegraph follows most metro-media views on almost all things these days, and what is being discussed gets to angels on a pin levels of distraction once the semanticists see an opportunity to pound away on definitions. At least it has a spread of contributors who can cover a broader church than many others. Perhaps that's why so few Telegraph editors seem invited onto the BBC to 'analyse' things. Suffice to say that, having surfed it a fair bit, in my opinion the Telegraph does not always seem as pro the views you hold dear as I imagine you'd like, but on occasion I have seen it called out for what can best be described as 'sensitive understanding' of what others of a more passionate and involved nature may view less neutrally. And no, I am not running off to get what you will doubtless demand of me too. It is pointless.

    As always, one law for you, another for all others.

    Not alone in that, to be sure, self-evidently. Robbie Burns had a phrase for that.

    65. At 14:17 6th Feb 2012, jammydodger :
    To compare Israel's to Israel
    ==
    What is this utter nonsense supposed to mean?


    Agreed, this is not the easiest of phrasing, being evidently a mistyping error. But you know, I think I gathered what was meant anyway without the high horsing around.

  • Comment number 69.

    Want the beebs support, call yourself a rebel.

  • Comment number 70.

    Mark Thompson has made a convincing case for intimidation by Iran of the BBC. However this is not well balanced in the light of Israeli intimidation and threats to the BBC when it started to report atrocities by the Israeli administration in Gaza in 2002 and at every report of the nuclear arms secreted by Israel. There is little doubt that the Jewish Lobby has the upper hand in the propaganda battle to influence the BBC.

  • Comment number 71.

    67.At 17:46 6th Feb 2012, JunkkMale:

    That's a comprehensive rebuttal and there isn't much I can add.

    As you realised, I made a mistake when I wrote this:

    To compare Israel's to Israel and then come to the conclusion that they are either equally civilised or Israel is worse takes a distorted world view that is truly staggering.

    I meant this:

    To compare Israel to Israel's enemies and then come to the conclusion that they are either equally civilised or Israel is worse takes a distorted world view that is truly staggering.

    Like you, I'm not going on a Google hunt to prove anything to jammydodger.
    It's unproductive.

    While I agree with a good deal that Mark Thompson says here, my main gripe, as I've indicated, is the BBC's careful censoring of news that would show or tend to show Israel in a good light and provide justification for Israel's concerns about Iran.

    Francis Harrison, who reported on Ahmedinejad's Holocaust denial conference, had no such agenda; there was no filtering out of unpleasant facts about Iran in the report and as such it was really unusual for the BBC:

    In the BBC there's a lot of talk about impartial broadcasting. I've always wondered how that would work if you were the BBC correspondent in Nazi Germany reporting on Hitler.

    Would you not have to take sides? Well I got closer than ever before to this problem reporting on Iran's Holocaust conference.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6183061.stm

    It really is a pity that the BBC does not have journalists like Harrison. The current crew simply follow an agenda set out for them by their editors back in London.

  • Comment number 72.

    70.At 19:23 6th Feb 2012, Naag wrote:

    However this is not well balanced in the light of Israeli intimidation and threats to the BBC when it started to report atrocities by the Israeli administration in Gaza in 2002...

    That's just pure fantasy. The BBC could not get enough Israel-bashing in after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. It was 24/7.

  • Comment number 73.

    So in summary, we're all agreed that a foreign country or entity is justified in attacking or putting pressure on your country if:

    a) Your government is applying interference, censorship, intimidation, harassment, bullying to media, extending tactics to targeting family members, including imprisonment and making false or slanderous accusations.

    b) Your country wants or secretly possesses nukes for tactical reasons.

    c) Your government is heavily influenced by religious principles.

    d) Your society is regarded in some way as primitive and generally less civilised or your authorities are labelled as thuggish and malign, perhaps illustrated by activity such as torture or humiliation of dead victims.

    e) Your country's representatives have expressed an objective to threaten large portions of the world, to dominate and spread some kind of political or religious philiosophy that the victims do not wish to agree to. The threat of worldwide domination by the country is credible and being geographically close is seen as particularly strong indicator of this threat.

    f) Your government representatives have declared in some metaphorical or literal way the destruction of another country or countries or incited religious hatred or encouraged other deeply offensive cultural attacks.

    g) A foreign government have declared that the political structures in your country are about to fail. (If leaders declare something you tend to assume what they say is true and interpret this as a threat)

    h) The policies or laws of your government or religiously influenced body result in actions that others find highly offensive or barbaric.

    i) Your government has heavily supported terror activity for the last three decades (as defined in Wikipedia)

    j) Your government or security body has taken offensive action against, imprisoned or killed innocent individuals including women, with the loss of many innocent lives.

    k) An expert professor or person of high status who studies your country warns that your leader's minds may have a disastrous global impact and declares your country a real threat.

  • Comment number 74.

    Hello Mr Thomson -- Since the BBC is no longer accepting "Have Your Say" on the events of Syria -- I am choosing to make a comment here on Syria (in a relative way it is not entirely inappropriate since Syria-Iran are almost synonymous in the western press). There is a lot of condemnation that is pouring in from the West about the Syrian Government's reponse to the resident of Homs -- whereas it is always right and duty for any government to respond in the strongest terms to civil disobedience accompanied by violence. If there are designated nude beaches/ nudist camps/nudist available in public parts of the US-UK-European countries, isn't it unlawful to practise nudity in public beyond those areas? One has to live within the laws of the country of his residence. Did not UK deal in the strongest way and means to the violence on the street during the London riots of last year? Apply the same yardstick to armed guys sitting in Homs -- why are these guys armed and taking potshots at legitimately armed government forces? is that an acceptable civilian behavior? would UK-US accept it in their country from its citizens? Every citizen of every country has to take the liberties and rights that are offered to him by the establishment and conduct himself accordingly. Citizens shoot, the response will be met with the fullest might of the establishment.

  • Comment number 75.

    Aspraso, you claim,

    "Citizens shoot, the response will be met with the fullest might of the establishment."

    That is just being dishonest. You know as well as anyone else that the protest in Syria was peaceful and remained peaceful until Assad's regime went on a wild killing spree.

    Eventually the citizens had to try to fight back out of pure self defence. Why do you think so many soldiers have deserted and joined the protest? They simply cannot in good conscience continue with the slaughter of their own people.

  • Comment number 76.

    _marko old chap, if you can manage to put away your clipboard and hang up your white coat for a few minutes I'll try to help you with your survey by explaining why Israel would be justified in a pre-emptive attack on Iran.

  • Comment number 77.

    72. At 22:01 6th Feb 2012, TrueToo wrote:
    70.At 19:23 6th Feb 2012, Naag wrote:

    However this is not well balanced in the light of Israeli intimidation and threats to the BBC when it started to report atrocities by the Israeli administration in Gaza in 2002...

    That's just pure fantasy. The BBC could not get enough Israel-bashing in after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. It was 24/7.
    ==
    Another prime example of incisive logic from TrueToo. Naag says the Israelis threatened the BBC because the BBC was critical of Israel. TrueToo says- that's fantasy, because the BBC was critical of Israel! Well, I'm sorry to criticise, TrueToo, but it is simple good manners to address the point the other person makes, before accusing them of "fantasy".

  • Comment number 78.

    'impartial journalism'?! Those who watch or read BBC know well that BBC news reporting is almost always terribly partial, and which is used by US and Israel to invade middle east countries. Any BBC reader can show you 1000 examples justifying this argument. Being a BBC reader, i request you to abstain from insulting our intelligence by denying the facts. Please stop dancing to the tune of America and Israel like a clown.

  • Comment number 79.

    Thompson acusing Iran of a 'campaign of intimidation, persistent censorship and a disturbing abuse of power' is a bit rich.

    The BBC is the US and UK governments' biggest apologist, turning a blind eye to their 'campaigns of intimidation' that have resulted in a decade of pointless wars, hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths around the world and hundreds of British boys losing their lives, many before the age of 20. The BBC is the mouthpiece of those in positions of power, incessantly beating their drums, which directly leads to 'censorship' of all other views. There is no greater example of 'abuses of power' than those committed by the US and UK governments with the necessary assistance of the BBC. Now Thompson and the BBC are leading the march to war with Iran. And it's the Licence Fee that is funding this propaganda.

  • Comment number 80.

    "This has left many BBC Persian staff too afraid to return to the country, even to visit sick or elderly relatives. Some have had their Facebook and email accounts hacked."

    US and UK citizens have their 'Facebook and email accounts hacked' by their own governments as a matter of routine now, not to mention Twitter accounts and phone lines hacked. Of course 'hacked' isn't the proper word, this is all done with the cooperation of Facebook, Twitter, ISPs and leading media organisations under the guise of protecting 'national security' - the information is just freely handed over. Everything Thompson says about Iran could and should be turned around and said about ourselves. People need to recognise what our own warmongering governments and media outlets are doing and how their own societies are being turned into the police states that Thompson so readily pretends to condemn. As for Iran's claim that BBC staff have been co-opted by UK intelligence services, you'd have to be a fool to not believe that this is true. Of course intelligence services use BBC operatives to gather information. Naturally Iran knows this. Naturally Iran would prefer not to be overrun by foreign government operatives posing as 'impartial' reporters. The sad fact is there is more truth coming from the governments of Iran and Syria these days than there is from our beloved BBC.

  • Comment number 81.

    To TrueToo #76

    So you've labelled me an "old chap" and painted a scientific metaphor but what do you feel is preventing you from stating whether you agree or disagree with the points listed in #73?

  • Comment number 82.

    The BBC are banned from entering Iran. So why are BBC journalist there? If i were running the Iranian government i wouldn't let the BBC enter either because the BBC continually misrepresents the news regarding Iran's nuclear program.

    The BBC fails to demonstrate how isolated the EU and US are on this issue, how Israel have caused this middle eastern nuclear arms race and does not allow weapons inspections of any kind.

    The BBC, as usual, fail to present the news in historical context and ensures that a pro EU and US slant if given under the guise of impartiality.

    Do you have any idea how close we are to a major world war over this issue? Do you even care?

    If the BBC actually reported the news far more people in the UK would want to do something to stop this imminent invasion and resulting economic and environmental catastrophe.

  • Comment number 83.

    '73. At 23:49 6th Feb 2012, _marko wrote:
    So in summary, we're all agreed


    At risk of incurring a raft of demands for answers (spare yourself; I won't be biting again), may I simply offer that plonking that at the start of a piece does not make what follows a fair representation of the various issues, especially a dainty stroll through the Morello orchards, and hence the only 'we' are probably only those who already agree with 'you' on everything. There may well be many. There may also be others who do not. At least some concede the possibility of other views and even feel comfortable that they exist. A few seem keener on the 'crush all dissent' model.

    '77. At 07:58 7th Feb 2012, jammydodger
    However this is not well balanced in the light of Israeli intimidation and threats to the BBC when it started to report atrocities by the Israeli administration in Gaza in 2002...'


    Not going to demand them, but I would be interested in seeing examples of threats and intimidation by the Israelis that equate to what the Iranians are accused of deploying.

    Also, I might be interested in where many BBC reporters and Editors feel most comfy being based when dealing with ME matters, vs. where... not so much. One is sure being in one of the few genuine, functioning democracies in the region is a comfort, even when taking it to task.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2011/06/story_removal.html

    79. At 09:03 7th Feb 2012, irk
    And it's the Licence Fee that is funding this propaganda.


    And a very rich Mr. Thompson and colleagues see much of that from intimidation and a disturbing abuse of power in getting that fee from the UK public.

  • Comment number 84.

    It is extremely sad and disturbing to hear of the shocking treatment meted out to the families of BBC Persian staff by the Iranian authorities. The world is watching with growing concern as Iranian authorities continue to target and abuse innocent civilians. These abuses need to be nipped in the bud. Stiffer sanctions on the Iranian government will have to be imposed. But how does one do this without targeting innocent people who are mere pawns in the machinations of evil leaders. The mind boggles!

  • Comment number 85.

    @84 - "Stiffer sanctions on the Iranian government will have to be imposed. But how does one do this without targeting innocent people who are mere pawns in the machinations of evil leaders. The mind boggles!"

    What 'evil leaders' are you speaking of? Bush? Blair? Netanyahu? The ones responsible for starting the wars and civil unrest that has gripped so much of the world for the past decade? Yes, the mind certainly does boggle, at such ignorance. More sanctions? Yes, that's the answer, just like the sanctions that resulted in over a million deaths in Iraq in the 90's. Just wipe out a huge swath of the Iranian population, that'll show them. There's a word for that - genocide. State-sponsored genocide at that.

    John Simpson from the BBC said in a report in January that the Iranian regime is committed to developing nuclear weapons because it feels a nuclear weapon will serve as a deterrent against American aggression. However the 'Iranian regime' has always and consistently said it is not developing nuclear weapons. So where does Mr Simpson get his information from - that the regime not only wants a nucelar weapon but also the reasons for taking this position? Answer: Simpson and the BBC are making it up as they go along. Unless Simpson can provide a source from inside the Iranian government whom he spoke with and received his information from, his report was nothing more than propaganda. But we're just meant to take his word for it, because he's John Simpson, and because it's the BBC saying it. Just like we all took their word for it when Blair and Colin Powell stood up and told us Iraq posed some sort of monster threat, when in fact that country had been decimated by 10 years of economic sanctions and no-fly zones and restrictions on its oil revenues. They had been reduced to a third-world country and yet we bombed them back to the dark ages anyway. But not to worry. We'll just come up with another excuse after the fact and the BBC will dutifully report THAT as fact.

    Who are the 'evil leaders' again?

  • Comment number 86.

    "But we're just meant to take his word for it, because he's John Simpson, and because it's the BBC saying it"

    Different reasons maybe, but some commonality in discomfort at the claims being made, which hardly justifies the 'averaging-out' attempts made to justify failures in any news media direction.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2oEmPP5dTM

    There's a lot more to the lyrics in context of many points raised here!

  • Comment number 87.

    To JunkkMale #83

    If I've understood you correctly, you do not wish to express an opinion on the points listed in #73 (perhaps to add to or refine them to make it a fair representation of the various issues) or express a general agreement or disagreement about justification for action or pressure against a country.

    The theory is that if many people from a wide range of perspectives are not afraid to express opinions and disagree with opinions then the information that remains should be quite useful and persuasive. I believe this challenging process is essential for rational analysis.

    I guess it's easier to just buy justification rather than post it here in an open forum.

  • Comment number 88.

    '87. At 12:56 7th Feb 2012, _marko wrote:
    If I've understood you correctly,


    What you understand, choose to or not is no longer my concern.

    I used to indulge your endless demands for answers, mostly in distraction, and seldom had the courtesy of many answers to those back.

    If you feel you speak for all, great. Sadly, I can cite one, at least, for whom you don't, and wasting time dancing to your tune is no longer worthwhile.

    Guess what you want. But deal with the consequences of too many wastes of opportunity in the past.

  • Comment number 89.

    "Loving our neighbours", West and East, "as our Selves"?

    ANYONE here in favour of Government Of, For, BY The People?

    ANYONE recognise that only as Equals can 'The People' be One?

    How sad, made to squabble over money, we squabble over 'policy'!

    As if 'our' government 'for us', & governments together 'for humanity'

    Until we recognise OUR 'powerlessness', we will remain effectively COMPLICIT in the rule of Mammon over ALL, degrading our 'civilised morality', failing those 'less fortunate', betraying the peace and prosperity that could and should be our children's.

    Anyone here ready to speak for Equal Democracy?

    Who trusts advice from the naive or Quisling?

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    Re Blog 72 by TooTrue (If only he was!!) -
    "That's just pure fantasy. The BBC could not get enough Israel-bashing in after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. It was 24/7."
    I presume that it would be preferable to the friends of Israel if the BBC had remained silent over the Gaza Massacre. The BBC tends to report 24/7 on all crimes against humanity as it is doing with the current Syria Massacre. This comes from a feeling of humanity, compassion and a longing for justice.
    It is a shame that the international community which was quite vocal over the GAza Massacre is strangely silent about the current atrocity.

  • Comment number 92.

    The BBC and 'reporting'. Which does indeed seem to be 'variable'.

    By coincidence. I just had a reply to a question (back in November) on how this is conducted, from the "Middle East Desk". Here, with my replies inserted:

    --

    Thank you for your comments regarding this report http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15591860. I am sorry not to reply sooner.

    If it was about an event in November of last year, that is quite a period.

    It was widely reported at the time, by the main international news agencies, and claimed by the activists on the boats that they were carrying medical aid.

    Until I see my original complaint it's hard to be sure, but I'd think I was interested in how activist claims got translated into BBC headlines.

    The video of the conversation between the Israeli Navy and the boats is indeed perplexing. This video suggests that the boat was carrying medical supplies http://www.tahrir.ca/content/video-showing-medical-aid-tahrir-labeled-food-stuff. It is not our video and we are not able to verify it independently.

    I'd suggest therefore that rushing to broadcast news, and headlines such as:
    'Israel boards protest boats taking medical aid to Gaza'
    ... when the actual facts are in such doubt, is hardly optimal on the trust and integrity front, much less professionally sound.

    Would you agree? Or not?


    --

    I simply wish to know what happened. All aspects. Unadorned. Others appear to wish certain things in, or out, certain words (such as 'massacre') used or not depending on how these 'reporting' devices suit their particular prejudices.

    As the BBC seems unable to manage any form of impartiality at any level, it appears at least to be equal in failing on all grounds.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 95.

    BBC calls on government to put pressure on Iranian authorities to stop 'campaign of intimidation, persistent censorship and a disturbing abuse of power' against journalists at BBC Persian TV service [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 96.

    Good Evening,

    After careful following of this "blog"; it seems that the conversations are drifting into the ever Anglo-Saxon come yidish love of "semantics". As an English speaking Anglo-Iranian, I find it quite American. Not what one expects in a place like the BBC.

    The elephant in the room is of course the "hostilities" that have now escalated as a result of One side "Leaving All Options on the Table". The side that as a collective has thousands of WMD's. The side that has used on at least two occasions, such options and off of such tables. Now the other side is telling you (truetoo and his ilk) that in fact Israel is a cancerous tumour that needs to be removed. He happens to be a Grand Ayatollah. That like a pope type figure for Shia moslems of some 150 million. A minority I know, but still accounting for 54% of the middle-east. Now the question is, do you disagree? and if yes please explain!

    Now before you become overheated and call him a hitler or some other european criminal; please rest assured that he does not mean All Jews should be annihilated. That would be against the teaching of Isalm. That indeed it would be a mortal offence for any "islamic" nation to go to war with any nation that also believes in god. As such, Iranians would not be allowed to do the "removal" themselves. And of course Israelis know this. Now, the Soviet Union was also a Cancerous Boil that needed piercing and "removing". Ayatollah Khomeini (The Leader of the Islamic mahdi Revolution) predicted the down fall of the Soviet Empire and within 10 years it fell apart. Now will Israel survive in its current form beyond 2012?? Thats the question. What you call it, becomes less important

  • Comment number 97.

    In 1981 Israel took out Sadam Hussein's nuclear reactor to exclamations of shock and horror and condemnation from the "international community." Was the Israeli attack justified?

    Let's see:

    *Iraq was part of the wave of unprovoked Arab attacks on the newborn state in 1948, had supported subsequent attacks through the years and was still on a war footing with Israel.

    *Saddam Hussein was encouraging terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians by rewarding the families of suicide bombers with large sums of cash.

    *Hussein was a murderous maniac who took pleasure in torturing his opponents to death.

    *The nuclear reactor was on the verge of producing nuclear weapons.


    Now _marko, since after all these years you still insist on approaching these debates as if they are psychological experiments, with your fellow debaters as the subjects, you can do a penance: see if you can find correspondences between Iraq then and Iran now in terms of their threat to Israel.

    To do so, you will have to look for sources beyond the BBC since the BBC is very quiet indeed about the reality of Iran's threat to Israel.

  • Comment number 98.

    The game is an old one, of 'prophesy against one's enemies'.

    Even if 'moral fate' is rejected by tyrants, yet they must see the power of 'fortune'.

    Perhaps amongst us are some 'driven towards' or even employed by 'established parties', reluctant to offend 'the nation' as a whole, cautious then to criticise 'the world' as a whole, to risk losing friends and gaining enemies.

    But what if it is recognised that 'our' parties need to escape the trap of politics, to be able to teach clear aims to inform their grappling with 'practicality', to counter focus on only limited objectives?

    The world's population in mounting billions, the Earth's 'miraculous' resources at risk of exhaustion or insufficiency or degradation, we The People must eventually speak For Equality - not merely in Fear & Greed stalemate, but for liberation of Conscience worldwide.

    Who can blame people in Iran, masters or slaves, for some resentments and fears with respect to at least elements in power in 'the West'? Easier to 'blame' people in the West, long beneficiaries of circumstance, easily marshalled 'by Fear, for Greed'?

    In Syria today, peaceful family protest has given way to sacrifice by the young, soon to be of all 'with nothing to lose', until the very stones of Damascus cry out in anger, until all are weakened enough no longer to be 'part of a bigger game'. Not just Syria, but all, People and Planet, are suffering - maybe dying - from the same 'disease'.

    Prophecies of doom, historically so reliable for states, may come deservedly true for a Global Culture that effectively worships Mammon.

    Independent of parties, WE need to claim Freedom for Conscience, to choose Secure Equality, to reject subjection under Fear & Greed.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    Still no access to comments on the Scoottish newsweb site,whereas England, Wales and NI are not censored. AND speaking of censorship, why was the excuse of "increased tensions" used by a BBC london-based PR person to ban the Scottish First Minister from commenting on a rugby game ? Surely when BBC Scotland invites somebody to comment, then their decision should not be ignored and overturned by somebody in the London.

 

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