Houla horror: truth is elusive, lies are easier to spot.
May 27, 2012
Update: May 28, 2012 – The London Telegraph has now confirmed, indeed BBC did use a photo of an Iraq massacre for their Houla, Syria coverage. The Telegraph quoted the photographer who took the original photo, Marco di Lauro, as saying, “someone is using someone else picture for propaganda on purpose.”
Over the last 24-hours there’s been a renewed media storm over Syria –
prompted by a horrific story of atrocities in the town of Houla.
Very gruesome images of dead children have been offered to the media,
which has lapped them up and used them again and again on our screens
and in our newspapers.
The UN observers in Syria, so far, have declined to draw definite
conclusions about who’s responsible for this terrible massacre. But
unsurprisingly, western media has been less circumspect. There’s a
deafening chorus of howls complaining ‘The World’ isn’t doing anything,
while President Assad gets away with murdering his own people – again!
Image: Before and after BBC’s reckless/deceitful journalism. (click image to enlarge) Notice how the image on the left is “unverified” like most of what the Western media reports regarding Syria, and that this photo was supplied by “activists” who have been revealed as serial liars (see here & here). Visit Syd Walker’s blog to see the original screen grabs.
I’ve no doubt some of the Twitter users tweeting and re-tweeting this
type of sentiment on the #Houla hashtag are genuine in their concern.
Yet remarkably few people ever seem to pause and ask themselves the
obvious question – why on earth would the Syrian Government want to kill
Syrian children? And even if for some reason they did – why would they
do so in a way more or less guaranteed to attract international
condemnation and renewed calls for intervention?
In other words, ‘cui bono‘?
Who really benefits from this atrocity – and who doesn’t?
Surely the insurgents and their foreign backers benefit.. and the Syrian
Government most certainly does not! Given that recent bomb atrocities
in Damascus have been blamed – almost universally – on extremist opponents of the Assad Government, isn’t it at least plausible they’re also behind this latest horror?
Yet just as mainstream media doesn’t want to give that line of
inquiry much encouragement, major ‘human rights’ NGOs like Amnesty have
also rushed to judgement. Their weekend tweeps have been hammering away,
sneering at the Assad Government and spinning the incident as grounds
for outside “intervention”… just like they did last year over Libya.
Every now again again the mass media is so dishonest it gets caught
out. The BBC came a cropper only a few hours ago – but there’s been
no acknowledgement and I suspect BBC staff would like their ‘mistake’
flushed rapidly down the Memory Hole.
To make it a tad harder for them, this post tells the story for
posterity. The information on which it’s based comes from a pro-Syrian
tweeter called Hey Joud, whom I’ve found to be well informed and savvy.
A few hours ago the BBC posted a story on its website (Middle East section) entitled Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows.
The latest update is given as 04.40 GMT. It has some rather
unremarkable graphics – a photo of a UN observer witnessing bodies in
sheets and a map showing the location of Houla, near Homs.
However, a friend of Joud’s was smart enough to take a screenshot of
an earlier version of this story. Then he/she did some homework – and
discovered the dramatic image which it featured prominently was in fact
a photo from Iraq dating from several years ago (according to the associated image data, May 2003). It’s featured as image no 52 on this webpage. The accompanying text makes it clear the bodies had been removed from a mass grave.
Hey Joud tweeted about this discovery. That’s how I became aware of it:
@BBCWorld propaganda:http://imageshack.us/photo/my-image … showing a pic of bodies from Iraq claiming it’s the? #HoulaMassacre? ? #Syria? https://newatlas.report/2012/01/9-nike-years-of-war-in-iraq.htmleyourlight-shineyourlight.blogspot.ca/2012/01/9-nike… …
By the time I went to check the same BBC’s story online
for myself, the photo from Iraq was no longer there. At any rate, it
doesn’t appear now on the equivalent BBC webpage, viewed from here in
I’d guess the most likely explanation is that the original (highly
deceptive) photo was taken from BBC archives, used in this article for
its high dramatic impact – then quickly replaced when the BBC became
aware someone had spotted the deception. If that’s not what actually
happened, perhaps the BBC would care to correct me?
This is not the first time I’ve reported on image fakery
with regard to Syria. The western media’s sustained attack on
that beleaguered nation has now been underway for more than a year. A
comprehensive account of all its deceptions and misreporting over that
period would fill many volumes.
No-one ever seems to be held accountable for the gross breaches of
journalistic ethics that do come to light. Jobs in organisations like
Reuters and the BBC must be relaxing. Unlike humble bloggers out here in
the ‘real world’, these folk don’t need to bother about truth and
accuracy. If they ever do get busted by a wary public, their butt is
George Orwell’s book 1984 is often viewed as a parody
of totalitarian states such as Soviet Russia, even though the tale was
actually set in England.
I think there’s another possibility. In the early 1940s, Orwell spent
a year devising war propaganda for the BBC. Working at the Beeb was
probably all the inspiration he needed to write the most
famous dystopia of his century..