- Created: Tuesday, 03 July 2012 13:48
- Written by FIFI
On Saturday 30 June, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supported a successful demonstration called by the Hands Off Somalia campaign (HOS) outside the BBC in Portland Place London.
The demonstration was called in response to the biased and selective coverage of Somalia, and in particular to the use of documentaries such as Escape from the world’s most dangerous place to build up propaganda in favour of imperialist intervention, both military and otherwise, to ‘save’ Somalia from itself.
HOS was initiated by FRFI in January 2012 in response to David Cameron’s announcement that Britain would be chairing the London Conference on Somalia in February to determine how best to intervene in Somalia. Since then the campaign has grown in strength and now involves a wide range of committed individuals and organisations. Speakers at the BBC demonstration included representatives of FRFI, the Uhuru Movement, the 'We are Patrice Lumumba' coalition, Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike and other groups. There were also contributions about Palestine, Bangladesh, socialist Cuba, Venezuela, Libya, the struggle for the liberation of Tamil Elam and the London uprisings, all of which gave the lie to the BBC’s claims of impartiality. The demonstration highlighted the BBC’s role in undermining people’s struggles and acting as a mouthpiece of the British ruling class.
One speaker quoted John Pilger on the origins and ‘principles’ of the BBC:
The BBC began in 1922, just before the corporate press began in America. Its founder was Lord John Reith, who believed that impartiality and objectivity were the essence of professionalism. In the same year the British establishment was under siege. The unions had called a general strike and the Tories were terrified that a revolution was on the way. The new BBC came to their rescue. In high secrecy, Lord Reith wrote anti-union speeches for the Tory Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and broadcast them to the nation, while refusing to allow the labour leaders to put their side until the strike was over. So, a pattern was set. Impartiality was a principle certainly: a principle to be suspended whenever the establishment was under threat. And that principle has been upheld ever since.
An FRFI speaker mentioned how the BBC deliberately reversed the order of events in the Battle of Orgreave in 1984, when striking miners fought back against a police mounted attack, to give the false impression that the miners had started the violence. A comrade speaking on Palestine reminded us of the BBC’s refusal to broadcast the Disaster Emergency Relief Committee appeal for the people of Gaza after Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9. She went on to speak about the hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners, which the BBC has ignored.
At the end of the event the whole demonstration marched to the front entrance of the BBC and blocked the doors, chanting ‘Hands off Somalia! Hands off Africa!’