Hidden agendas (John Pilger) [1999]

Ännu en samling med Pilgers reportage från skilda delar av världen. Som alltid, läsvärt och föredömligt journalistiskt arbete… Det mest intressanta kapitlet i boken handlar om Pilgers karriär på The Mirror, en tidning som mitt under pågående världskrig övergick från skvallertidning till närmast socialdemokratisk och ibland regeringskritisk tidning (den motsatta metamorfosen är betydligt vanligare i krigstider). Och som sedan drabbades hårt av mutlimedia-åldern och Rupert Murdochs inträde på marknaden som ägare till konkurrenten Sun. Resten av boken var till stora delar bekant för mig från tidigare läsning och filmer.

Citaten nedan är inte direkt del i en ”recension” eller så. De är mest för att påminna mig vad den här boken handlade om om några år. Men kanske kan de tjäna till att visa lite av den enorma bredden på Pilgers arbete under nästan 50 år som journalist och dokumentärfilmare.

The American objectives […] were outlined by former CIA analyst David MacMichael in evidence he gave to the International Court of Justice. The American terror, he said, was designed to ‘provoke cross-border attacks by Nicaraguan forces and thus serve to demonstrate Nicaragua’s aggressive nature’ […] In 1986, the World Court condemned the United States for its ‘unlawful use of force and illegal economic warfare against Nicaragua.


In 1995, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported that the military devastation of Iraq, combined with the effect of sanctions imposed by the Security Council – in reality, by the American and British governments – had been responsible for the deaths of more than 560,000 children in Iraq. The World Health Organisation confirmed this figure.


Saddam Hussein said he invaded Kuwait because the Kuwaiti regime was moving in on disputed oil fields on the Iraq-Kuwait border. This was probably correct, as the US Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, indicated when he argued against military intervention, predicting that Saddam would withdraw and put ‘his puppet in [and] everyone in the Arab world will be happy’. The documented fact that Saddam Hussein tried to extricate himself from Kuwait on a number of occasions was ignored by most of the American and British media, which preferred the countdown to war.


Less than a month later, on July 20, 1989, [Aung San Suu Kyi, min red.] was placed under house arrest, accused of ‘nurturing public hatred for the army’. At the same time, according to Amnesty, 3,000 of her party workers were arrested and more than a hundred sentenced to death. With the opposition weakened, so they thought, the generals called elections for May 27, 1990, the fourth Sunday of the fifth month on a date that added up to nine, Ne Win’s lucky number. Canvassing was made illegal and Aung San Suu Kyi barreed from standing as a candidate. […] the National League for Democracy won an overwhelming victory with 82 per cent of the vote, including majorities in military cantonments. […] Flabbergasted, the generals refused to hand over power. Newly elected PMs went underground or fled to the border areas.


The Commission heard that Aborigines were sixty times more likely to be arrested than whites in Western Australia, and Aboriginal children made up 2.7 per cent of the state’s youth and 58 per cent of the juveniles in detention.


Once in office, Howard began to reverse the most significant gain made by the Aboriginal people. This is the Native Title Act, passed by Federal Parliament in 1993. Based on a landmark ruling by the Australian High Court the year before, it removed from common law the fiction that Australia was uninhabited when Captain James Cook planted the Union Flag in 1770. Knownn as Terra Nullius, it was used for most of two centuries to justify the dispossession of the indigenous population.

Unlike Australia’s sheep, the Aborigines were not counted until the late 1960s. […] When British atomic scientists were given permission by Prime Minister Robert Menzies to test nuclear weapons on Aboriginal land at Maralinga in the 1950s, they used site maps marked ‘Uninhabited’. Patrick Connolly, who served with the RAF at Maralinga, was threatened with prosecution by the security services after he had revealed that ‘during the two and a half years I was there, I would have seen 400 to 500 Aborigines in contaminated areas. Occasionally, we would bring them in for decontamination. Other times we just shooed them off like rabbits.’


up to a third of Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families between 1910 and 1970, making a total of 100,000 stolen children. Placed in white missions, institutions and foster homes, the children were forced into a form of slavery, often physically and sexually abused and denied protection by the state.


Amnesty said, ‘We feel compelled to break with tradition [and] to address our remarks … to [those] who have effectively turned their backs on the reality of systematic human rights violations in East Timor. [They] have accepted uncritically Indonesian government promises of commitment to human rights [which] are empty … The lack of concerted pressure from the international community [has] contributed to the perpetuation of a pattern of systematic human rights abuses in East Timor.’


This is known as ‘black economic empowerment’, of which Cyril Ramaphosa is the embodiment. The chairman of a number of leading companies, he is a close ally of Thabo Mbeki, the next President of South Africa. Both men are admired by Margaret Thatcher for their ‘commitment to the free market’. Ramaphosa, the former trade union leader whose fight against apartheid Thatcher did her best to undercut, now refers to the ‘integrity and compassion’ of business associates who, like his erstwhile admirer, opposed everything he once stood for.


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