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Re: [casi] The Myth of Iraq's Fake Funerals

Does anyone know if there has been any response to Sweeney's documentary
or article in the mainstream press? I couldn't find any..

> [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]
> <>
> Brendan O'Neill
> The story about Iraq storing dead babies' bodies so that it then can parade
> them through the streets in propagandistic mass funerals has united
> everyone from gore merchants to right-wing journalists to supposedly
> left-wing bloggers. Many have latched on to the dead baby claims as
> evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime is wicked beyond belief, and probably
> in need of a good bombing to bring it to its senses. But where does the
> story come from?
> It originated in a report by British-based journalist John Sweeney for the
> BBC, where Sweeney writes of '...the faking of the mass baby funerals. You
> may have seen them on TV. Small white coffins parading through the streets
> of Baghdad on the roofs of taxis, an angry crowd of mourners, condemning
> western sanctions for killing the children of Iraq'.
> Sweeney points out that 'usefully, the ages of the dead babies - "three
> days old", "four days old" - are written in English on the coffins', before
> asking ominously 'I wonder who did that?'. He then quotes Iraqi sources
> claiming that dead babies are stored until there are enough for a fake mass
> funeral.
> So where did Sweeney get this information? From a man called Ali, who
> recently fled central Iraq to the relative safety of the Kurdish north,
> after being suspected of having a hand in the murder of Saddam Hussein's
> son Uday. Even Sweeney admits that Ali doesn't look like the most
> trustworthy person in the world (he's 'not exactly a contender to be the
> next Archbishop of Canterbury', and has previously been involved in
> violence), but Sweeney half-reassures his readers that 'I don't think he
> was lying to us'.
> However, the 'evidence' for the fake funerals doesn't even come directly
> from Ali, but from a friend of a friend of Ali's. Sweeney tells us that Ali
> is a friend of a taxi driver whose son has a position in the Iraqi regime -
> and the son told his taxi driver dad who then told Ali who then told
> Sweeney that babies are stored for mass funerals. Whatever happened to
> journalistic proof? Ali's story is nothing more than hearsay presented as
> evidence. And it is now being presented by some as further justification
> for bombing Iraq.
> As it happens, Sweeney was embroiled in another journalistic row earlier
> this year, when the BBC was accused by its own staff of being 'colonial' in
> the way it reported the Zimbabwe elections in March 2002. As the Guardian
> reported:
> 'Senior figures at the BBC World Service have expressed concern to the
> domestic news division that coverage of the Zimbabwe elections has been
> driven by a "colonial" agenda, potentially causing damage to the
> corporation's reputation for impartiality. Particular anxieties have been
> expressed about the tone of coverage on Radio 4's Today programme and about
> a Correspondent documentary in which...Sweeney smuggled himself into
> Zimbabwe in the boot of a car.'
> The Guardian went on: 'Sweeney appeared to suggest it was necessary to hide
> in a car to interview the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. In fact, Mr
> Tsvangirai has been interviewed many times by different BBC outlets, even
> appearing in person at Bush House.'
> Back to Iraq: why are so many willing to believe the dead baby story
> without the same standards of proof we would normally demand - especially
> for something so shocking? It seems that when it comes to Iraq, some people
> will buy any story. Many on the right champion reason and rationality, but
> Iraq is their blindspot, the issue on which they will trumpet anything that
> bolsters their case for invading and bombing Iraq. And in the absence of
> any hard, coherent evidence that Iraq poses a threat to the West, any old
> hearsay will do.
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