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When journalism comes under fire

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Jon Williams Jon Williams | 11:05 UK time, Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Earlier this month, my colleagues Paul Wood, Fred Scott and Kevin Sweeney were smuggled into Syria.

Abdullah Ghorab

The BBC's Abdullah Ghorab was attacked in Yemen

Their reports made headlines around the world - they were the only international news team in Homs as President Assad's forces began bombarding the city.

Last week, a remarkable documentary on the World Service captured the courage and commitment needed to bring such stories to international attention. But too many in our profession pay a heavy price.

During 2011, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says 46 journalists lost their lives, covering conflicts from Pakistan to Somalia, Mexico to Libya.

Tragically, 2012 is already on course to outstrip that grim toll: a further six journalists have been killed in the first six weeks of this year.

We can never eliminate the risk of operating in places like Libya or Syria - only try to manage it to an acceptable level.

But in their annual report published today, the CPJ warns of a new risk - one that is more difficult to manage. It suggests regimes are finding new ways to censor the media and silence dissent.

During the uprisings across the Arab World, the internet has been a vital newsgathering tool.

Twitter and Facebook have been a source of information and video in places like Bahrain and Yemen, as well as Libya and Syria where the authorities have refused to allow access to the international media. But censorship is still alive and well.

In Homs, it became clear that the Syrian military were trying to jam our satellite equipment to prevent us reporting from the besieged city.

Earlier this month, we revealed how the Iranian government was trying to intimidate colleagues working for the BBC's Persian Service outside Iran by targeting family members who still live inside the country.

Passports of family members have been confiscated, preventing them from leaving Iran. Some of my colleagues have had their Facebook and email accounts hacked.

Ten days ago BBC Arabic reporter Abdullah Ghorab was attacked in Yemen, by a gang thought to be supporters of the outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh. His two brothers, who were with him, were badly beaten.

It was the third time Ghorab had been assaulted in Yemen, and he's also been verbally attacked by the country's deputy information minister.

Today, the CPJ warns that regimes may try to crack down further, precisely because they fear their ability to control the flow of information is weakening.

A year ago in Libya - two days after the start of the uprising that would bring down Colonel Gaddafi - an internet TV station started webcasting from Benghazi.

Long before international reporters made it to Libya, Alhurra TV (Free TV) was streaming footage online, allowing the world to see what was going on inside the country.

The authorities tried to shut down the internet to silence the station but, thanks to the ingenuity of its founder Mo Nabbous and his colleagues, government blocks were bypassed and the webcast was able to continue.

A month later, Nabbous was dead - killed by pro-Gaddafi troops in the battle for Benghazi.

A year on, those in Syria are following in Nabbous's footsteps. In Homs, activists have been using the Swedish website Bambuser to live stream pictures from inside the besieged city.

On Friday, the company said the Syrian government had blocked the site, a day after it broadcast images of an oil pipeline that campaigners claimed had been bombed by the Syrian military.

The CPJ is calling for the creation of a worldwide coalition against censorship made up of pressure groups, governments and businesses.

It's not just the BBC that faces difficulties - and not just Syria and Iran where we have problems. The internet has enabled millions to communicate more openly.

But that new-found freedom cannot be taken for granted.

Jon Williams is the BBC World News editor.


  • Comment number 1.

    Jon, having personally covered some of the uprisings in Libya and the Middle East as a photographer last year, my heart goes out to my fellow journalists currently in the region. I do not think the public realises the very real danger that the press face when reporting from such places - much of it is often taken for granted as par for the course but this is hardly the case when you're quite literally under fire at ground zero.

    Actually it was interesting to review the spectator commentary prior to the military intervention in Libya having experienced what it was like when Gadaffi had launched his offensive against the then rebels. Had any of these commentators been there, or now in Syria for that matter and witnessed the reality of it, their opinion on what foreign intervention should take place I'm sure would be quite different! And I am not just talking about individuals watching the news - even countries, notably the likes of South Africa and many other members of the AU, dragged their feet, completely ignoring the harsh reality of the situation.

    Oli (Czech journalist and blogger)

  • Comment number 2.

    Heartfelt condolences to everyone who knew and loved Marie & Remi... God rest their souls! Hats off to all of you in this vital, essential profession... Angels protect you! I live for the day when the tragic deaths of journalists & other reporters in the service of their vocation receives the same amount of attention, concern, respect & universal lamentation as those of a popular athlete or singer...

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

    French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said: American journalist Marie Colvin, who reported for London's Sunday Times and French freelance photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed in the bombing of Baba Amr. France's President Nicolas Sarkozy said the deaths of the journalists showed that "this regime must go."
    Activist Omar Shaker from inside Baba Amr told AFP that two were killed and three others wounded as a shell crashed into a makeshift media centre set up by ANTI-REGIME militants.

  • Comment number 5.

    I do hope the media houses these journalists represent (including the BBC) do a tribute of sorts more than just a blog post in honour of...

    @Oli (#1) - I agree that the public do tend to take the source of their news for granted. I do believe part of the problem with that is that the media houses themselves don't raise the profile of just how difficult (and life-threatening!) it is to report from some of these locations.

    There is no shortage of criticism of the coverage itself despite this (if you read many of the other blog comments on similar topics on this very site). Came across this limerick verse on journalists in war which I thought was very apt for this article - perhaps funny on the surface, but certainly touching on a deeper truth about the often tough profession that is journalism.

  • Comment number 6.

    The problem is that some people including myself are highly skeptical of news reports. Just because a journalist or photographer has gotten into a war torn country - even gotten himself killed - does not mean that he failed to take his bigotry with him. There is so much spinning, so much bias; the media oftentimes acts like just another weapon to attack a country from a western perspective. What is the truth? Who can we trust? How did we get to this point? What can be done to fix it?

  • Comment number 7.

    UK has played a role in consolidating relations between disparate opposition groups in Syria. Why? Not because British officials want genuine democracy, but because Syria’s President Assad will not acquiesce to western economic policies of Broader Middle East & North Africa Initiative (BMENAI).
    Unlike Iraq & Libya, Syria does not have significant quantities of strategic resources to make worthwhile a NATO-led invasion. As a result, Assad’s country must be destroyed via UK-trained militias so that it can be rebuilt along Euro-American-approved lines.
    However, a UK House of Commons Library update in 2011 lamented that Syria’s President Assad, was thought to be a reformer, limited cooperation has been achieved, but a visit in 2000 by Tony Blair to Damascus went badly wrong when Assad made some very critical remarks to Mr Blair’s face (on camera).

  • Comment number 8.

    I do not believe there exists genuine concern for Syrians; but rather, it means no taxes for collection by the likes of the UK’s Department for International Development (which is grabbing land in Rwanda & collecting taxes in Afghanistan, like all good instruments of colonialism). In October 2011, the UK’s Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said the establishment of the Syrian National Council (SNC), an organisation which opposes Assad, marked a POSITIVE STEP in bringing together a broad range of Syrian opposition. He was pleased to meet SNC members … out the importance of establishing a shared vision for the future of Syria & credible plan of how to move peacefully to an alternative political system. In addition, Burt said ANY change should be Syrian-led & non-violent. It is crucial for all Syrian groups to be represented in any future opposition body in Syria. The Syrian National Council was announced August 23, 2011. One month later, the Telegraph newspaper reported that “At the meeting” between the SNC & the UK-installed Libyan puppet government, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives. They were offered arms & volunteers. There was evidently a plan afoot to send weapons & even Libyan fighters to Syria. The "Libyans" (whoever they might be) were offering money, training & weapons to the Syrian National Council. The disclosure was not free; it came as rebels raided an air force base outside the city of Homs ... Rebel attacks have become daily occurrences since the onset of the insurrection.

  • Comment number 9.

    Rebel attacks have been barely reported in the West. Assad’s brutal responses & murder of civilians have been overwhelmingly covered. By contrast, comparable atrocities committed by Yemen’s President Saleh, for instance, are whitewashed & even vindicated. This is because Saleh agreed to the economic liberalisation plans of the BMENAI back in 1997, but Assad - that stupid, stubborn fool - will not condone US' Greater Middle East project.
    January 5, 2012, post, gen3rally ignored by media:
    British Special forces have met up with members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. Goal - to establish the rebel forces’ strength & pave the way for any future training operations. More recent reports have stated that British & French Special Forces have been actively training members of the FSA, from a base in Turkey. Some reports indicate that training is also taking place in locations in Libya & Northern Lebanon. British MI6 operatives and UKSF (UK Special Forces) personnel have reportedly been training the rebels in urban warfare as well as supplying them with arms & equipment. US CIA operatives & special forces are believed to be providing communications assistance to the rebels.

  • Comment number 10.

    Turkey PM Erdogan (who never struck me as particularly fearful) seems afraid that if he doesn’t appease his Euro-American counterparts he may well be next for targeting. This explains both his acquiescence in allowing UK forces to train Syrian rebels in Turkey, and his U-turn position of condemnation against Assad’s violence.
    What average Syrians of all ethnic groups say about this is that they are being shot at by snipers. People complained that there are terrorist snipers who are shooting at civilians, blind terrorism simply for the purpose of destabilizing the country. I would not call this civil war; that's misleading. What we are dealing with are death squads, terrorist snipers; this is characteristic of CIA. In this case I believe it is a joint production of CIA, MI6, Mossad with money coming from Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
    Libya is a conduit for UK arms and money. MI6 operatives had been training anti-Gaddafi opposition forces at least 6 months before the armed uprising in Benghazi. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group are largely terrorist holdovers from the 1980s, when MI6 and the SAS were training and arming them in Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 11.

    Britain’s links with UNpopular but Western-friendly Syrian opposition forces goes way back. The most verifiable is the exile of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni in 2000. Former Chatham House Fellow Mark Curtis wrote in 2010: Opposition activities in Syria are mounted from London.
    The Syria atrocities & turmoil are part of the Broader Middle East & North Africa Initiative. BMENAI is itself just a small part of the quest for the west's New World Order.

  • Comment number 12.

    US military officials HAVE confirmed US drones are flying over Syria, as fighting spreads inside the country & US officials discuss military or “humanitarian” intervention to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
    The drone flights, which flagrantly violate Syrian air space, include both military & US intelligence drones. These officials said the drones’ mission is to obtain “intercepts of Syrian govt & military communications in an effort to MAKE A CASE FOR WIDESPREAD INTERNAL RESPONSE.
    The Israeli daily Ha’aretz also reported Saturday that Syrian forces had captured 40 Turkish intelligence operatives working with the “opposition” inside Syria. It said the Turkish operatives confessed to working with the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to train the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), & claimed that Mossad operatives were working with Al Qaeda operatives in Jordan planning operations in Syria.
    This echoes testimony Thursday before the US Senate Armed Services Committee by US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He said that recent bombings in Damascus & Aleppo had all the earmarks of an al Qaeda-like attack. So we believe that al Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria. As in last year’s war in Libya, Washington is seizing on violence between the Assad regime & US-backed opposition forces—which are organizing protests and killings inside Syria—to justify military intervention.

  • Comment number 13.

    Gunmen in the city of Idlib killed a senior state prosecutor, Idlib Attorney General Nidal Ghazal, as well as Judge Mohammed Ziyadeh & their driver in an ambush. On Saturday gunmen also killed Jamal al-Bish, a member of the city council of Aleppo—Syria’s largest city, which has seen no significant protests against Assad.
    The killings follow a series of assassinations of Syrian officials, including the February 11 killing of Brigadier General Issa al-Khouli and last month’s shooting of the head of the Idlib branch of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Abdulrazak Jbero.
    According to Syrian state news agency SANA, fighting near the city of Hama yesterday left two Syrian policemen, three “opposition” fighters, and four civilians dead.
    Even reports by the US-backed Syrian “opposition” and in the US media suggest that the Free Syrian Army and similar forces have little support outside of a few cities such as Deraa, Homs, and Hama. Aided and supplied by Turkey, European powers, and the United States, they are instead using terrorist actions to undermine the Assad regime and facilitate foreign military intervention.
    US media report quite openly that Washington’s FSA proxies are preparing bombs for use against Syrian forces. According to a February 15 article, Time reporter Rania Abouzeid visited an FSA safe house in Syria, where she saw defectors from the Syrian army assembling Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) manufactured from yellow granular explosives. She noted that this “crop of IEDs isn’t the first to be aimed against loyalist forces in the area.”

  • Comment number 14.

    BluesBerry: Don't you think a simple, straightforward vote would clarify the relative strengths of the respective camps in Syria? And don't you think Assad would allow a vote that he was not in fact terrified of being ousted by?

    The fact that it has come to such savage assaults on civilians using powerful weapons gleefully supplied by a Russian government itself terrified of challenging the wishes & biases of Vladimir Putin tells me everything about who is right & who is wrong in Syria.

    Perhaps you seek "better" evidence.

    Be that as it may, it takes enormous courage & a desire to Know to become a member of the foreign journalists' contingent. Spun or not, edited or not, the reports sent back by these intrepid souls tell a compelling tale of our time.

    Personally, I trust them. And I can be a very tough critic (ask Putin, whom I once defended before the ridiculousness got completely brazen)...

    To paraphrase a certain dictum: "Let those without bias be first to denounce the biased offenders..." Are you free from bias, entirely, BluesBerry?

  • Comment number 15.

    Cynical pose of concern of Western Govts & media was exemplified by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who said he was “worried that Syria is going to slide into civil war.” At the same time as officials from NATO countries express concerns about civil war in Syria, they are actively fanning flames of conflict. Two Republican US Senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, called for arming Syrian “rebels”.
    McCain said he believed there are ways to get weapons to the opposition without direct United States involvement. So he wasn't opposed, but was in favour of weapons being obtained by the opposition. He suggested that Washington would not need to send weapons directly to the opposition, but could work through THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES.
    Graham made clear that US moves against Syria are part of a broad regional confrontation by US AGAINST IRAN. He said if the Syrian regime is replaced with another form of govt that doesn’t tie its future to the Iranians, THE WORLD WILL BE A BETTER PLACE. Graham said that the Cairo-based Arab League could be a “conduit”. So it appears Washington is still closely tied to Egyptian military junta.
    Senators’ detailed remarks on arming pro-US Syrian forces is a sure signal these were topics that would be addressed when they visited Cairo. The United States gives $1.3B per year in subsidies to the Egyptian army junta. Over the past year, the junta used these resources both to support NATO-backed rebels in Libya & to suppress the revolutionary struggles of the Egyptian working class.

  • Comment number 16.

    It would seem to me that brave, even courageous journalists and photographers may be risking their lives, may even die, in support of western propaganda, and I find this the unkindest cut of all. It makes them heroes, but what does it say about the media for which they work?

  • Comment number 17.

    BluesBerry, Syrians went out on the streets, even facing down bullets from snipers, long before anyone in the "West" began to "stir things up" (as you would suggest).

    Assad inherited from his father. For decades & decades, dissent in Syria was kept to a minimum, suppressed by the same brutal means that have always been used to suppress dissent in countries where freedom of conscience is not tolerated.

    Then, as has happened in history before, along came a generation that would no longer keep quiet. Maybe it is due to the availability of online networks, and the smartphones that make it impossible for a society to shut itself away from others indefinitely.

    A remember a time when Albania was the North Korea of the Balkans -- and I am witnessing with considerable astonishment the opening up of Burma before our very eyes.

    Every dictator that ever lived has to expect that one day people will get fed up with totalitarianism. You would not accept life in a totalitarian society, BluesBerry: why should anyone else?

    The Western institutions you accuse of meddling are following the story, not driving it. The people of Syria are in the driving seat.

    There are Syrian soldiers defecting to the Free Syrian Army even as we speak. Neither the BBC, nor Hague, nor any journalist is making them take that risk.

    On the other hand, I know that tragically some foolish mercenaries from Russia & Ukraine may already be on the ground, armed with masses of Putin-supplied weapons, to fill in the ranks & engage in flagrant genocide against the Syrian people. They did the same thing for Gaddaffi (and lost!). I find such murder-for-hire a particularly disgraceful crime against humanity.

    Russians & Ukrainians & Belorussians have absolutely no business taking the side of Assad in Syria today, and there is no excuse for even one of them being there, or a single weapon being supplied to support a dictatorship torturing kids!

    The way to end escalating violence is not with dishonest calls for "two-hour ceasefires" that no one actually observes, but with a phone call from the Kremlin to Assad saying he will no longer be protected. Withdraw the shameful veto in the Security Council & send in a force of UN peacekeepers to stop all violence; set up safety zones for the various factions; then hold a verifiable, transparent, orderly vote. It may be necessary to break up Syria, even, much as formerly Yugoslavia was broken up.

    The present arrangement is untenable. It is a crime to shoot at people based on their political differences with you! Assad is ready to commit Genocide to stay in power. What a fool!

  • Comment number 18.

    In Colombia we are having a terrible situation as the Government shows the world its good face but well inside Colombia, where people have no access to Internet and where medias simply do not go there are human right's violations. The Government is attacking people and we cannot do anything. Someone needs to do something about it, we need reactions outside country in the media. Here is the link where the a special group of the military forces force people to abandon what belongs to them. I am colombian, I am a student who cannot do anything but scream and use the media to show how rights are violated here secretly.

  • Comment number 19.

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

  • Comment number 20.

    I have worked with journalists as a security advisor "backwatch" in the UK and the middle east, so I know first hand what these guys go through. I'm appalled that some people have used this oportunity to express personal "political" views when our thoughts should be with the families

  • Comment number 21.

    It is a tragic event when a journalist dies trying to report a story for the rest of us. Our lives would be lessened if we did not have people willing to risk theirs just so we could see the events of the world.

    Hopefully we all have heartfelt symphony for all their loved ones who are suffering at the moment.

    But I still find it a shame that the BBC and other British news fail to show the same symphony and consideration when a British soldier dies doing their job in a war zone.

    For a British soldiers death there is usually just one line late in the news bulletin squeezed in before the weather.
    For a journalists death it is headline news, the tragedy is reported as a tragedy and the pain of the family is all to real to us all.
    It is a shame that the BBC cannot see the same tragedy in the death of a soldier.

    I do not criticise the BBC for covering the deaths of a French and US journalist, but I do criticise them for their failure to show enough concern and symphony with the death of British soldiers.
    Journalists and soldiers are doing their jobs and risking their lives and both make us safer.

  • Comment number 22.

    having been brought up with pillinger and kate aidy along with so many other great journalist,i'm ashamed to admit my igonorance of the unfournate lady journalist who gave her life in the pursuit of truth.i support the call 100% for greater recognition for the peole who do this amazing work,the reason i did not read the times,is it's murdoch connection,i wish now i had not been so petty and sincere condolences to her family..

  • Comment number 23.

    We know all about the possible bias of a single reporter. Why? Because it is impossible to view some chaotic event neutrally. That does not mean that there is a deliberate intention to deceive, but anyone who says that what they see is the truth and everyone should believe them is deluded. What gives truth to a situation is a whole range of observers with known perspectives filing reports. Then and only then is soething approaching the truth can be deduced. That is why the notion of selected reporters is awful. They should be free to move where they want.

  • Comment number 24.

    About 14,600,000 Syrians will participate in Feb 26th referendum in which new draft constitution will be submitted for the approval of Syrians (Info from Deputy Minister of the Interior for Civil Affairs, General Hassan Jalali.) Highlight of Jalali's press statement was 13,000 schools & 850 classrooms will have voting stations installed, incl border crossings & airports, to facilitate exercising vote.
    He explained election will be overseen by a central committee to be chaired by Interior Minister & his 2 vice-ministers.
    New Constitution is cornerstone of a comprehensive reform package that President Bashar al-Assad offers. It will legitimize creation of other parties - 7 have already been authorized, as well as separation of state powers, conduct of elections & decentralization of local governments.
    Draft stipulates President henceforth will be elected by universal, secret ballot every 7 years & can only serve 1 2cd term. Candidates above 40 have to register with the Supreme Court & have written support of at least 35 National Assembly deputies. Legislators also will be elected in national elections for four year terms.
    It also provides society will be based on solidarity & respect for the principles of social justice, freedom, equality & preservation of the human dignity of each individual, & that all citizens have equal rights without discrimination on the grounds of sex, origin, language, religion or creed. State will also ensure freedom of the press, as well as independence of the media. Similarly, the State must provide women equal opportunities.
    Some western media have ignored this important news entirely; some western media have mocked this news. I think anyone seeing the exact provisions detailed here (or in the draft itself) can determine the importance, the compromise of Assad.
    Will the west ship in more terrorists to kill people, stomp & shout Assad must go?

  • Comment number 25.

    I would like to ask Turkey, whose nation, quite recently, was master of these lands, and aspires to be a member of the European Union: As a member of Nato, an Islamic state, and the leading power in the region with the wherewithal to end Assad's reign of extreme terror: Take on this mission, and be the heroes of the day!

    In the end, it will take an Islamic force, and broad cooperation between enlightened Muslims, to tell this delusional criminal, Assad, that he is merely sealing his own doom, and harming all Islam, by persisting in the gruesome persecution of those who oppose him -- or merely happen to live near some of his foes.

    It will take a strong declaration of resolve & will to get the butchery to end. By all rights, Turkey should be in the lead -- especially because your current commercial relations with the Russians who are shielding Assad for no good reason, out of petty spite and vindictiveness on the part of a teetering Putin who imagines by asserting his "leadership," he proves he still has it.

    If it is true, as I would like it to be, that Turkey in 2012 deserves everyone's affection and respect, then I think we shall witness a new chapter in European history being written out of the many positives that shall flow forth from the liberation of Syrian lands from a bloodthirsty despot.

    All the Syrian people are asking for is a proper election and the right to determine their own future, and to sleep safely at night with their families, in their homes.

  • Comment number 26.

    High-Tech Trickery in Syria?
    What was meant to be display of media-friendly visuals to show Syrian Regime violence in Homs, has RAISED QUESTIONS. US State Department satellite images of embattled city were posted on Facebook by US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. He bewailed: “A terrible & tragic development in Syria is the use of heavy weaponry by the Assad regime against residential neighborhoods.”
    24 hours later - blog Moon of Alabama hammered ambassador’s claims. A detailed examination of satellite imagery by bloggers revealed numerous discrepancies in US' allegations. Mainly, their investigations point to the fact that Ford’s satellite images were of guns training within military barracks or well known training areas - NOT actively deployed.
    Moon of Alabama posts its own satellite images, graphics & these are well worth a look.
    Now to CNN’s Jonathan King: broadcast satellite images of Homs February 9, the day before the State Department loaded their photos on the web. King’s images of Homs are dated February 5, two days after violence erupted in city, focusing heavily in the Baba Amr Neighborhood where opposition gunmen are allegedly present:
    King’s presentation of Homs shows destruction of property consistent with heavy weapons. Zooming in on 3 different sections of the same Homs neighborhood to show before-and-after images of the destruction, King says: powerful satellite imagery tends to support the accounts from activists that there’s a lot of shelling going on, a lot of fires. BIG PROBLEM:. Most of the alleged fighting & killing reported in western media took place in the Baba Amr Neighborhood of Homs, S.W. of city, & an anti-regime stronghold. BUT all 3 satellite images shown by King are in al-Zahra Neighborhood, a pro-regime area consisting mainly of Alawis, who belong to the same Muslim minority sect as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Stunning?
    When you can't believe what you see - what is reported - what are you to believe?
    An image is no longer worth a thousand words
    People on both sides of conflict are manipulating visual media to propagandize their political goals. Govts & media should be taken to task for their complicity in the dissemination of false information. There are lives at stake – the very lives that fuel media outrage.

  • Comment number 27.

    BluesBerry, I will leave it to the specialists to sort out your allegations.

    Tomorrow there is an important international pow-wow on ending the tragic atrocities in Syria.

    There is no disputing the fact that Assad is to blame. There is no disputing the fact that Putin is disgracefully shielding Assad, and also arming his vicious forces with the most advanced weapons the Russian arsenal has available.

    There is no disputing the fact that today the Syrian government blamed the wounded and slain journalists for their own suffering. Such brazen indifference & even gloating over the bereavement of their families is beyond the pale even of the most primitive kind of humanity.

    Feel free to carry on splitting hairs, BluesBerry: the truth is out there, and let it be definitively demonstrated for all the world to see. Meanwhile, a gravely wounded French journalist, Edith Bouvier, requires evacuation.

    Surely you would not begrudge medical assistance to a wounded person whilst satellite images are mapped and cross-referenced?

    And really, the shooting must cease. There can be no two ways about that.

    Assad & his supporters have assets abroad. Someone should go after those, with the same relentless fury that is being directed by Assad against those Syrians who are asking for their basic human rights, and an election.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think it would be justified for a country, Turkey for example, to act unilaterally and go into Syria to stop Assad.

  • Comment number 29.

    Unless you want 24/7 exposure aka Big Brother, choosing to show a specific image is, in a way, editing the 'truth.' Governments and broadcasters do this on a daily basis. Nonetheless it must be obvious that a crisis is developing in Syria that demands international response. Whatever your view of Assad, it cannot be said that he is being effective in protecting the citizens of his country. Think the BBC have covered this well and impartially. How the Leader of The House's support for Adele's truncated acceptance at the Brit Awards even gets a mention simply beggars belief. Sublime to the ridiculous I guess.

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    Crossing limit has a price, specially in others countries, home owner has every right to shoot an intruder, even though intruder may have changed his dress to look like holy man. Who knows what their real motives were, declared or some thing else in their heart.

  • Comment number 32.

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  • Comment number 33.

    Firstly I am always saddened to hear the death of a journalist/cameraperson who are simply doing their job.

    It is however a sad fact of life that since the early 1990`s investigative journalism seems to be almost non-existent. Instead we are bombarded with propaganda from `embedded reporters` who simply spin out UK-USA objectives as good & anything else as bad. That they are largely preaching to poorly educated populations back home makes this all the more damming.
    In the 21st century you would expect that at least the UN would be an impartial & fair minded organisation with aspirations for the greater good. Instead, the murderous interventions by UK-USA-France in Libya have shown that international law no longer exists. Libya has changed from being the most developed country in Africa to a lawless state run by wild gangs. It will almost be impossible to get any further UN-resolutions to address major conflicts in the world. As such, China & Russia have become the world`s police by default.

  • Comment number 34.

    No. 28, David: I agree with you because the intensifying violence in Syria is increasingly a threat to Turkey. It is also a threat to Jordan. But Turkey's situation is especially threatened due to the Kurdish demands for land. A flow of arms into the region beyond what is already unfortunately being stockpiled is bound to find its way from Syrian Kurds to Turkish Kurds. (The only area able to accommodate Kurdish aspirations within some limited terms predicated on disarmament & peace is within the borders of Iraq, and that is how things are likely to stay for a long, long time. Even that would take extensive negotiations and trust-building to achieve.)

    The fact is, Turkey has made progress as a society and so long as it continues to soften its position away from militancy towards dissenters and peaceful, law-abiding minorities, there is no reason why it should not continue to flourish. These are very much challenging times & it would be better if realism, pragmatism, tolerance for differences, a recognition of diverse viewpoints -- and an insistence on human rights -- strengthened as the foundation of a 21st century Turkey.

    In recent years, Turkey's relations with Israel have become strained due to disagreements over the future of 4 million Palestinians.

    Yet today the plight of 22 million Syrians at the mercy of one sociopathic tyrant should restore perspective for everyone. There is a very serious & important reason for Turkey's existence, success, and vital role in Nato, and that is the extreme volatility of this region of the world; the large & growing population of Arabs & other ethnic groups living in these areas who find themselves trapped under utterly untenable governments hellbent on exploiting passions, factionalism & paranoia to serve a tiny minority of sadistic dictators who sole claim to power is the ability to torture someone's children into a zombie-like state of acceptance of anything.

    Turkey's proper & extremely beneficial role today is as a counterweight to such gruesome violence as we see played out daily in Syria -- as we saw recently successfully overcome in Libya with help from the leading Western powers (say what you will, even as there are bound to be some flare-ups in Libya after such a long period under the monstrous Gaddaffis, Libya on the whole today is well on its way to developing a far more normal political, economic and social life than it was in 2011, or 2010).

    I do not see why Turkey would require a lot of permission from others to handle what is a clear threat along its borders. I doubt very much, if scenes such as we witness from besieged Homs, were taking place in a Mexican city, that the US would wait for permission from someone to send in a force for a quick operation to restore order.

    Given that we have on the scene an unapologetically bellicose Iranian regime with the capacity to plunge the entire developed world into a nuclear confrontation over its blind hatred for a small nation, which for very good reason enjoys the protection of the world's major powers, and indeed occupies a very small area, a prolonged deterioration of the Syrian situation due to the obduracy of a single narcissist should not be tolerated by anyone.

    Yes, there are many kinds of enclaves in Syria. All these enclaves have women & children and frail elderly members. None of them wishes to see these vulnerable people suffering. A strong law-and-order enforcing contingent needs to be injected into Syria, to enforce Peace & ordinary life. Then, a robust electoral process needs to take place, in a stable environment, leading to a highly pluralistic representative government with a lot of powers being decentralised and vested in locales. Technology facilitates oversight; the participation of women in the day-to-day administration of municipalities will ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are not overlooked by power-hungry interests.

    The first step is to put an end to the obsessive extermination of foes (real & imaginary) that Assad has instigated & funded. Freeze Syrian & Assad assets abroad as a step to ensure they cannot be used to buy more weapons.

    I am impressed by the bravery of the Free Syrian Army, all those fighting for basic freedoms for the people Assad treats as worse than slaves, and the Syrian National Council. Given the history of the region, I think it is unrealistic to expect any sample of the local population to have no Islamists within its ranks; however, there is a world of difference between the kinds of Islamists whose lack of experience with democratic secularism leads them to associate any kind of kindness with being "a devout Muslim" -- and the kinds of unhinged putatively-Islamic warmongers as those who preside in Tehran, who opportunistically exploit the beliefs & piety of ordinary Muslims to promulgate a doctrine of hatred, extermination of others & obsessive militarism.

  • Comment number 35.

    I was moved by a CBS Reporter last week.
    She was in a town being shelled by Assad &Co, and if anyone thinks that all Arabs are anti American, as frequently is portrayed in our determinedly neutral media, what was shown was quite significant.
    The interpreter informed the people that the reporter was "American".
    As one, the immediate group came up to her and showed that they thught that America was the only one they could trust.
    There is a lot of good will in the mid east at the moment, the brave journos covering it deserve a medal.
    As for solutions without invasion?
    An American cruise missile on the Presidential palace would do for a start.
    Assad needs reminding that there are consequences for barbarity. The Americans should deliver those consequences and ignore Putin and the despicable China.
    I see the Left Wing RentaMob managed to demo against tuiton fees and the NHS.
    Where are they when a boycott of Chinese goods would come in handy, along with the Left wing publicity? Absent without leave as usual.
    Still I forgot Rentamob only aims its wrath at Western targets, they are part of the International Socialist Movement after all!

  • Comment number 36.

    Syrians will vote next in a NATIONWIDE "yes or no" referendum on a new draft constitution that could effectively end five decades of single-party rule, but the OPPOSITION IS CALLING FOR SYRIANS TO BOYCOTT THE REFERENDUM.
    More than 14M eligible voters from Syria's total population of 24 million are invited to cast their ballots at 835 polling stations across the nation. The polls are set to open at 7 a.m. on Sunday.
    The 157-article proposed charter would drop Article 8 of the Syrian constitution, which declares President Bashar Assad's ruling Ba'ath Party the "leader of the state and society". Under the new constitution, authored by a 29-member Constitutional Committee, other parties would have the "right" to name their own candidates for the presidency, which would be set at a maximum of two consecutive seven-year terms.

  • Comment number 37.

    Under the new constitution, freedom would be "a sacred right" and "the people will govern the people" in a multi-party democracy. Article 3 of the new draft, however, states that the president of Syria must be a Muslim over 40 years of age. This seems undemocratic - a flaw - that Constitutional Committee couldn't manage to get removed. While Christians and secular Muslims did raise red flags over the clause, they haven't said they will boycott the referendum.
    OPPOSITION leaders have entirely rejected the Assad regime's plan to hold the referendum on the new draft constitution, which is to be followed by multi-party elections within 90 days.
    Amendments to Syria's constitution were a key demand by the opposition at the beginning of the country's uprising against the Assad regime, but OPPOSITION LEADERS are now demanding nothing less than President Assad's departure.
    Forget the polls, I eagerly await Sunday's results and the western interpretation thereof.

  • Comment number 38.

    Whatever the conflict, and whoever appears right, the slaughter of the messenger of such incidents should be universally condemned. We should all mourn for these journalists/reporters and never condone their killing by any force. We should also remember and mourn the loss of other innocents such as Rachel Corrie who may be described as the Jeanne D'Arc from the USA.

  • Comment number 39.

    "During the uprisings across the Arab World, the internet has been a vital newsgathering tool."

    Still BBC and all the mainstream media is not reporting what is really happening and are creating fictions about what is happening.

    BBC did a terrible job at Libya and is still doing. Where is the coverage of the bloodshed? Where is the report about the UK journalist that was raped to death in Benghazi?

    You don't care about this woman because it would make you have to tell the truth and what happened to those journalists who wanted to tell the truth like Susan Lindauer and Lizzie Phelan?

    They were threatened to death by CNN.

    You are helping the massacre of people and crimes against humanity.
    BBC did a report about an alleged celebration on Tripoli and showed the image of a crowd. The flag was almost the same color of the Libyan flag but it was in India.

    You are accomplice of these crimes and these journalists were killed by NATO.

    Will you report that?

    This is shameful.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm reading the comments and it is amazing that there's not a single comment of those who know some facts that BBC and all the mainstream media is not reporting.

    Maybe mu comment will not be published.
    Well, Al Jazeera is not different from BBC but at least they publish all comments without this draconian moderation.

    I did read the House Rules and: "Are considered to be off-topic for the blog discussion"

    can be used as an excuse not to publish many comments.

    Who reads this comments anyway?

  • Comment number 41.

    I am surprised that there are not more references as comment 21.
    While it is tragic and our hearts go out to the victimes loved ones, we must realise that the risk goes with the job. There are many dangerous jobs that people take on, knowing the associated risks. (Soldier, fireman, policeman etc etc.)
    Even though tragic I cannot understand why we give so much attention to the death of a journalist, whereas a soldier gets a one liner on page 2, or one sentence near the end of the news.

  • Comment number 42.

    34. "those who preside in Tehran, who opportunistically exploit the beliefs & piety of ordinary Muslims to promulgate a doctrine of hatred, extermination of others & obsessive militarism."

    I can only assume that the reference to obsessive militarism is what currently passes for irony in the United States?

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't question for a second the bravery of war correspondents, be they print, television or photo-journalists. That said, the smuggling out of an injured journalist from a war zone is not front page news. The war itself is the news, not one person's challenges within it. Please can you bring some impartial editorial balance to this. If you can be questioned on this obvious impartiality, where else is your balance falling short?

  • Comment number 44.

    I support the idea of the creation of a worldwide CPJ.

    The fate of the journalists trapped in Syria, as well as anywhere else, deeply concerns me. I would like to see much greater pressure applied directly to the Assad brothers to end immediately the aggressive "cleansing" of Homs & the persecution of anyone believed to be an "opponent" of Assad. I applaud the apparent evolution of China's position to one of more positive engagement in the defence of civilians and ordinary human beings caught up in unspeakable violence.

    Even the unexpected is possible, as we can see from the newly breaking news of North Korea's sudden moratorium on further nuclear projects, uranium enrichment, etc. Yesterday, this would have seemed far-fetched. Today, it has come about.

    Editors, in a similar vein, I remind you that there may very well be unexpected and newsworthy developments over the weekend during the Russian voting process and in its immediate aftermath. I do not doubt for a second that BBC will be on top of this story before anyone else, and will provide comprehensive coverage not only in its Russian-language functionalities, but -- equally important, for the rest of the world -- in English.

    Self-interest & common sense dictate that we all recognise, wherever we may be & whatever philosophies we align with, that the entire planet faces serious global challenges which can only be addressed when sitting governments are: (1) Legitimate (2) Committed (3) Effective & Efficient (4) Trustworthy & Transparent and (5) Working Constructively with everyone else to overcome the challenges and crises, instead of merely to serve a narrow political agenda, or even worse: the enrichment of a privileged few insiders.

    In the great litmus tests of 2011 & now 2012, the democratic movements standing up against dictatorships in Tunis, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and now Syria, the Putin-Medvedev "tandem" has proven itself to be self-serving, dishonourable, opportunistic, unconstructive and ultimately on the wrong side of history.

    And also remarkably thick!

    As it finds itself now quite openly on a collision course with Russian citizens who wish only to enjoy the same rights and freedoms that we all take for granted, and that they have been denied for a full 95 years since the Russian Empire was first brought crashing down, it is very likely that we are looking at a very interesting news story unfolding in the next week, that will once again demand the utmost of every serious journalist.

    Rest up, get ready for it, and stay safe!

  • Comment number 45.

    On Sunday, Syria’s state TV showed huge pro-Assad crowds in Damascus’ Saba Bahrat Square. By national referendum, they were eager to support constitutional reforms. They also backed state security force efforts against Western-backed killer gangs. Russian Eurasian Institution head Alexander Doglen also endorsed draft constitutional changes. Islamic scholar Abdul-Rahman Ali al-Dalaa said they boost human dignity and religious freedom.
    On February 27, Syria’s Interior Ministry announced Sunday’s impressive results. From 7AM, 14,185 polling centers opened across Syria’s governorates, as well as at border crossings, airports, mobile desert areas, and other locations.
    Syrians are enthusiastic for change. Despite opposition boycotts, threats, anti-Assad media campaigns, and turnout hampered in violence-torn areas, 89.4% of eligible voters approved it. Another 9% opposed, and 1.2% of ballots were invalid.
    Overall, 57.4% of Syrians participated. The total was impressive, given the risks voters took to show up.
    Raw numbers included 8,376,447 voting among 14,589,954 eligible. Those for totaled 7,490,319 compared to 753,208 against.

  • Comment number 46.

    The Constitution includes 157 articles. From its initial draft, 14 are new, 37 were amended, and another 34 reformulated. Among other reforms, political pluralism was established for the first time, as well as presidential term limits, and press freedom.
    Reporting it, The New York Times headlined, “Syrians Said to Approve New Charter as Battles Continue”.
    Fighting keeps raging. Critics called it “too little too late", and Western leaders labeled a farce, which was totally expected.
    Even before the result was announced, after a morning of new shelling in the beleaguered city of Homs and elsewhere, some Western leaders had disparaged the vote as having no credibility, which was to be expected.
    UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said it “fooled nobody". To open polling stations but continue to open fire on the civilians of the country has no credibility in the eyes of the world.
    In fact, Western-backed insurgents bear most responsibility for violence and instability to impose regime change most Syrians oppose. Their impressive turnout showed it. Huge crowds voted in Damascus and other less violent areas. Voting continued until 7PM, and in high turnout areas until 10PM. Only then were centers closed.
    Hillary Clinton called Sunday’s vote an empty gesture, saying the referendum was phony; it's going to be used by Assad to justify what he is doing to other Syrians. So it’s a cynical ploy to say the least.
    Anti-Assad Syrian National Council (SNC) member Bassma Kodmani said:
    It is not going to work because the repression is continuing. They are caught up in this cycle, and it is simply to late.

  • Comment number 47.

    After this very pro-Assas referendum, EU nations imposed new Syrian sanctions. They include freezing central bank assets and those of certain government officials. Importing precious metals, diamonds, and minerals were also banned. Moreover, cargo flights may no longer land in EU countries. New measures build on last September’s oil embargo and other multiple rounds. They’re effective after publishing them in the EU’s Official Journal. It’s usually within 24 hours of imposition.
    A joint EU foreign ministers statement said: The EU underlines that those responsible for the violence across Syria will be held responsible for their actions. The EU supports the Syrian opposition in its struggle for freedom, dignity, and democracy - which was also to be expected.
    For his part, Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned about intervening against Syria and/or Iran under cover of humanitarian slogans. In fact, tragic events (are) driven not by concern for human rights, but a desire by some (nations for regime change and) to redistribute markets.
    Russian news agencies quoted him saying nations need to “decide their own fate independently.” He added that Western nations backed Arab Spring revolts to advance their own regional interests.
    They very much want Syria and Iran regime change to assure them there against majorities in both countries.

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    BluesBerry, So you're for Assad? And Putin, too, I presume?

    What is the point of having a vote on a Constitution when unarmed, powerless, starving women and children, young boys and old men are being summarily executed by a military force armed to its teeth -- while the "vote on reforming the Constitution" is being held as an obvious distraction?

    If a leader, his clan and soldiers have not respect for the most fundamental of human rights -- the right of a mother to find and bring home food for her baby, or of a boy to tend to his infirm grandmother by getting her the medicine she needs from the chemist down the street -- of what use is any so-called "Constitution"?

    What comes first: providing water to a population, or voting on a Constitution?

    Even prisoners of war, the terminally ill, the severely disabled or mentally ill in asylums, and the most heinous convicted killers are given water in societies where there is any semblance of functionality!

    When a few medics in America during the Katrina disaster abandoned a few terminally ill old people in their care to save their own lives, there was an international outcry!

    Here, an entire city has been destroyed & thousands slaughtered after a barbaric siege, and all you can write of is the "Constitutional reform in Syria"?

    The memory of Rwanda & Srebrenica is being invoked for comparison -- legitimately so. What is the difference between the events in Homs and those of a couple of decades ago? The difference happens to be that now we have this extraordinary technology to facilitate the dissemination of information in real-time, and to mobilise a response.

    And we also have a generation that has come of age, with the memory of those tragedies in their formative years, while their elders stood by and did nothing because they had been brought up to believe "nothing could be done."

    No. That isn't how it works, not any more, certainly. Something WILL be done, something IS being done. There will be payback, retribution, and Justice for those who have perpetrated these atrocities.

    The violent & inexcusable murders of & assaults upon those who fight to bring us the Truth we need to know are indeed front-page stories, much more so than the results of a football championship or a pop star's awards, because the sports & songs are entertainment, and these are Human Lives being extinguished by delusional, power-mad tyrants, by the thousands and thousands.

    They used to say Assad was an educated man. Yet he still seems to think he can build a wall around Syria, or perhaps around his palace and his bank accounts. That is not so. The lesson of Gaddaffi never penetrated his awareness, evidently. He wants to reinvent the wheel. So be it.

    Whatever sanctimonious phrases Ban Ki-Moon might say about not arming those whose children are about to be slaughtered -- Ban is a man of another generation -- these words at this time will be even less ineffectual than other nonsense words that offer fathers no comfort when their entire being consists of a natural desire to Defend Their Family.

    Armed they shall be. Even now, they are being armed.

    And if Vladimir Putin has no more sense than the Gaddaffis or Assads he defends, his turn shall also come, sooner than he thinks.

    But I think he is a shade smarter than that, and will opt for a comfortable retirement somewhere appealing. He loves his own skin -- as well he should. As should any egomaniac, rather than drive an entire nation to an orgy of destruction.

  • Comment number 50.

    The plight of Baba Amr makes me sick to the core. I have read the testaments of Marie Colvin (her last despatch for the Sunday Times) and Paul Conroy, who today describes this as the next Srebrenica, the next Rwanda. The comparison is apt, but I don't recall the world being so aware of what was going on, day by day. An area with a population of 20,000 people besieged for a month, the remaining people indiscriminately slaughtered, and the world does nothing? We are all culpable. Where are the mass demonstrations outside Syrian embassies? This is the worst violation of any kind of human rights that I can remember and I am ashamed for humanity.

  • Comment number 51.

    Not any different than what west did in Libya, one has to wonder about mind set of western secular, self centered mind set.

  • Comment number 52.

    I thought such conflicts were good for audience figures.
    Shame on you.

  • Comment number 53.

    Its rather disheartening to see journalist coming under fire in the course of discharging their legitimate duties. Even here in Nigeria, a Channels Television(Local Television station) had one of their journalist killed while he was covering a bombing incident in one of the Northern states. So sad to know that these journalist were made to pay with their blood in the quest to expose what was going on in Syria

  • Comment number 54.

    It is interesting to see a person using words such as legitimate for some thing having questionable beginning with disastrous results. These journalist did not enter Syria by legal means but through illegal means, not to report on peace full movement like other countries but violent uprising supported not just by minority population but foreign assistance, as was the case in Libya. It is not journalist duty to disobey law of the land nor is to enter foreign land with ideas to propagate some thing not desirable by population of the country by large percentage. How about having a look at past experience of these western journalist, did any one of them try to expose American lies about Iraq WMD's, but were very nationalistic to support western aggression against Iraq. neither they are neutral nor they are pro human rights in truth absolute but in support of secularism in soul, self center ism in desire, a source of contention among humanity for ages. It is not what they seek in their soul, desire to be truthful but fundamental requirement to be truthful is to be in following of Spirit, the truth absolute regarding an issue, Neither they are in following of truth nor they are in duty to truth absolute but in subordination of their soul, desire to be what one can never be, "noble" in deception.

  • Comment number 55.

    My plaint is "Why must it be BLUESBERRY who gives the other side of the story?" This is the job of the BBC! A job that the BBC is manifestly and demonstrably NOT doing.

    If we can develop these facts sitting here, the excuse "the authorities will not let us in" just wont cut it!

    Start with what the British and French special forces have been up to and then move on to the realpolitik.

  • Comment number 56.

    55. At 04:46 4th Mar 2012, XieMing wrote:
    My plaint is "Why must it be BLUESBERRY who gives the other side of the story?"
    I think I can answer that one. The BBC is simply the mouthpiece of the UK government's foreign policy. Please do not come to the BBC for objective reporting (apart from good old Bluesberry of course). Just look at the sabre rattling by the BBC over Libya before Gaddafi's brutal murder, and look at their "reporting" since.
    Their current reporting of Syria and Iran follows a familiar pattern- spoon feed the masses only one side of the story, to build support amongst the gullible for yet another military adventure under the guise of "humanitarian intervention" or some such newspeak claptrap.
    This has been the situation at least since the 2003 death of Dr David Kelly, at which point the BBC was clearly placed under the direct control of its political masters.

  • Comment number 57.

    We are priveleged to read the reports by the messengers from the front line in Syria, especially those who have already paid with their lives, and who have brought to our attention the torture and slaughter of those civilians in Homs and other places in Syria. This is in contrast to the Israeli propaganda press who are all out to mislead readers regarding the apartheid direction of their administration. The recruitment of young African-Americans by that movemnent purporting to know about South African apartheid to deny Israeli intentions is truly sickening.

  • Comment number 58.

    @#56 jammydodger. Thank you for your valuable apercu!

    I would like to see someone from the BBC come forward and attempt to defend what the BBC has been writing about Syria since August.

    It would be better to do it now than before the eventual board of inquiry, for the BBC does have a Charter.

    I would like to have a news source that I could trust, rather than being in the position of being my journalist.

  • Comment number 59.

    Naag, 57,

    In fact, sections of the "Israeli propaganda press" are urging the Israeli government to send humanitarian aid to the opposition fighters and civilians under siege in Syria.

    And "Apartheid" Israel takes in and shelters African Muslims fleeing the slaughter by their Arab Muslim brothers in Darfur, even though Sudan is an enemy state.

    If you could clear the bias out of your eyes you might be able to actually see what is going on in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

  • Comment number 60.

    56.At 08:59 4th Mar 2012, jammydodger wrote:

    "The BBC is simply the mouthpiece of the UK government's foreign policy."

    True, but only when the left-wing Labour government is in power, since Labour coincides with the BC's own bias. It's instructive to note the opposition the BBC gives to the coalition government. John Humphrys was practically jumping up and down in frustration a week or so ago on the World Service at William Hague because he wouldn't agree to immediate military intervention in Syria yet in the same breath he was insisting that Hague tell the Israelis NOT to attack Iran.

    If you have never noticed the different approaches by the BBC to MPs on the left and right, then you know nothing about the BBC.

  • Comment number 61.

    60. At 09:00 6th Mar 2012, TrueToo wrote:
    56.At 08:59 4th Mar 2012, jammydodger wrote:

    "The BBC is simply the mouthpiece of the UK government's foreign policy."

    True, but only when the left-wing Labour government is in power
    So, please tell us when a left-wing labour government was in power? I can't remember one, and I'm over 60.

  • Comment number 62.

    Why do I get the feeling relative isms, ists & zis are going to get trotted out soon, along with the 'they are upsetting all, so must be about right' logic some espouse, on the basis that a corpse with its head in the oven and feet in the freezer is probably healthy.

  • Comment number 63.

    61. jammydodger wrote:

    "So, please tell us when a left-wing labour government was in power?"

    1997 to 2010.

  • Comment number 64.

    63. At 06:55 8th Mar 2012, TrueToo wrote:
    61. jammydodger wrote:

    "So, please tell us when a left-wing labour government was in power?"

    1997 to 2010.
    If you truly believe that there was a left-wing labour government in the UK from 1997 to 2010, then I am afraid you have issues that go well beyond any logic or reasonable argument. A very sad case indeed.

  • Comment number 65.

    I have been uncertain as to how much of the BBC's absurd anti-Syrian propaganda was due to management and how much was due to the weaknesses of individual journalists.

    One photographer has been fingered as an MI6 agent. On Twitter today, a BBC presenter relayed the photographer's also relayed claims that "virgins were being raped" in Homs.

    Although this was on Twitter, it is typical of what the BBC has been passing on to millions of viewers.

  • Comment number 66.

    On 24 March, NEWSHOUR reached a new low. It broadcast a long "open letter" from some woman, now in Washington, who had visited Syria in a group in past years and had spoken very briefly with Mrs Assad while riding a bicycle.

    The piece was utterly without news value and was calculated to demean both President Assad and his wife. Who was responsible for putting this on the BBC?

  • Comment number 67.

    I would vote for Sally MP's wife someone with some actual intelligent keep it up Sally .

  • Comment number 68.

    The University of Pittsburgh requires new technology for security. The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security offers grants. Harrisburg must terminate incompetent politicos who mishandle funds. Obtuse bureaucrats like Rita Rellick fouled awarded grants into rejection. Only credible, literate civil servants deliver proper submission. Barack should end some Afghani occupation for domestic spending.

  • Comment number 69.

    Jon, perils of wartime journalism gives an interesting perspective... puts in context the criticism voiced in comments with the reality of reporting under wartime conditions. I'm grateful for BBC's coverage and fully acknowledge the risks and challenges that your journalists face. Thank you!

  • Comment number 70.

    military state?
    well, noinvisiblehand is dead, ha ha.


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