Global Research TV & Lizzie Phelan / Libya360 & Mathaba.net – 2011-10-26 23:55:08
Testimony from Libya
Lizzy Phelan / Russia Today
The War on Libya Is a War on Africa
Global Research TV
Back in the UK, after several months spent in Libya covering NATO war crimes and uncovering mainstream media lies, freelance journalist Lizzie Phelan continues to fight for truth and justice on behalf of the Libyan people. Her testimony below is a gripping example of her commitment.
Lizzie Phelan spent her last days in Libya — where she was reporting for PressTV — trapped in the Rixos Hotel, together with Thierry Meyssan, Mahdi Nazemroaya and two other members of the Voltaire Network team. She said a Western-backed genocide is taking place in Libya and there are no independent journalists left on the ground to cover the story.
‘Free Tripoli’ — Just Don’t Mention the Corpses
Lizzie Phelan / Libya360
ALEXANDRIA (September 5, 2011) — In this article, Lizzie Phelan begins to unravel the web of deception woven by mainstream media and presents the facts she is gathering from contacts inside Libya.
The war on Libya has not only been a war that has vindicated NATO’s claim to the most powerful military force on earth, capable of imposing its will through sheer aggression wherever it sees fit, but it has also been a war that has reasserted the western mainstream media’s power to fabricate reports.
The first media victory was when it got away with claiming that Gaddafi’s government was attacking it’s own citizens in Tripoli from the air, a claim which formed part of the pretext for NATO’s intervention and also served to create panic and anger amongst the city’s residents. No one was held to account when later Russian intelligence satellites and visits from independent observers to the areas alleged to have been targeted, revealed no evidence that such attacks had taken place.
One of the most powerful lies was churned out by none other than British Foreign Secretary William Hague who claimed in the first days of the crisis that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela. The Libyan government admitted repeatedly that their media was wholly incompetent and unable to provide alternative information at the time, with the result that the people of Libya like the rest of the world believed the claims that were being made. In this instance the result was to create a sense even amongst his traditional support base that they had been abandoned and betrayed. Of course Mr. Hague made no apology for such irresponsible remarks after Gaddafi appeared in the streets of Tripoli.
More recently, the BBC has yet to apologise for using blatantly fake footage from a demonstration in India claiming it was in Tripoli’s Green Square, as part of their evidence that the city had fallen.
Such fabrications continued throughout the six months, as the media reported that areas had been “captured” by the rebels, when in reality, these areas had been blitzed from the air and the sea by NATO rockets with the sole aim of destroying any threat of resistance to its allies, the rebels.
As the alliance bombed the rebels’ path to Tripoli, on its way massacring at least 85 civilians in the Zlitan town of Majer, the leaders of hundreds of the country’s tribes, including the largest, Wafalla, Tarhouna, Washafana and Zlitan, reasserted their determination to defend their areas, and to descend on Tripoli should it come under threat.
Meanwhile, the masses of men and women of Tripoli who turned out in rallies against the rebels, felt confident that should the rebels show up in their city they would be able to defeat them with the arms that Gaddafi’s government had been issuing to them since the beginning of the crisis.
Now many of those people have been massacred, have fled or are in hiding. They may or may not have underestimated the ruthless might of NATO, but the media’s narrative that Tripoli fell without resistance is contested by the fact that it took the massacre of thousands and at least five days to establish tentative TNC control of the capital as well as by eyewitnesses accounts of what happened during those five days and beyond.
From the beginning of the fighting in Tripoli on August 20th when I and 35 other journalists became trapped inside the Rixos hotel, it was virtually impossible to get a clear idea of what was happening on the streets outside. Throughout that period the sounds of bombs, gunfire and other heavy weaponry was almost non-stop, with shrapnel and bullets occasionally making their way inside the hotel. But like the rest of the world, the only information we had, apart from the odd moments of communication with contacts inside the city, was from the mainstream international media.
Since my release, I have begun to collate information from residents in the capital in the absence of information from sources which are recognized internationally as “independent”. The following report is based on these accounts and the sources identity must be kept confidential due to the systematic targeting of anyone who betrays disloyalty to the rebels, which as I experienced myself, includes challenging their version of events in the media.
On the first day after rebels from sleeper cells inside Tripoli emerged and began attacking checkpoints manned by Libyan special forces. As is the pattern with their advance into areas on the way to the capital they faced a swift initial defeat. But with the first images emerging around the world of the rebels inside Tripoli NATO ensured it would not be short lived.
The organisation sanctioned to “protect civilians”, rapidly moved to bomb all checkpoints in the densely packed city. The vast majority of these were manned by volunteers — i.e., ordinary citizens that had been armed with Kalashnikovs since the beginning of the crisis — so that the rebels could easily move into the city by sea and by road.
This was followed by masses of youth and other residents in the capital pouring into the streets to defend their city as they had pledged to do during the mass rallies mentioned above and elsewhere.
The following day, NATO responded with intensified aggression. Eyewitnesses report that during this day, the broadcasting station in Tripoli was bombed, killing dozens. Shortly after the rebels claimed control of Libyan TV and the international media dutifully repeated the claim, blocking any mention of how the takeover had occurred.
Adding to the media’s campaign of confusion, reports of Gaddafi’s sons being caught and that Gaddafi along with other family members had fled the country continued to beam out of televisions across the world.
Having become accustomed to such psychological operations designed to weaken the people’s support for the government by making them believe it had betrayed them, masses defied the reports and marched to Green Square.
From inside the Rixos, during the short periods when phone access was revived, my contacts in the city who were in Green Square at the time, informed me that Muammar Gaddafi had been seen driving through the city in his army fatigues urging people to remain strong and not be deceived by the west’s relentless propaganda. This has since been reported by further contact with other residents who were in the streets at the time.
Following relentless bombardment, the masses were pushed back to Gaddafi’s compound Bab al-Azizia where they resisted the rebels’ advance for a further 24 hours. It was during this time that Saif al-Islam, who until then the media and International Criminal Court had been insisting was captured and arrested, showed up at the Rixos hotel where we were trapped. Calm and confident, he took out a group of journalists to Bab al-Azizia where upon their return, they confirmed seeing thousands in and around the compound waving the green flag, including as the tribes had pledged, from their people across the country.
But like the peaceful march in the western mountains on July 24th which was attacked by NATO and the rebels, the masses in Bab al-Azizia were broken up by NATO bombing an entrance for the rebels and attacks by Apache gunships.
The same fate was visited upon gatherings in Green Square. Bab al-Azizia alone was reported to have been bombed 63 times during that period.
With both Green Square and Bab-Alzizia now in control of the rebels, the resistance continued in areas like Tripoli’s poorest neighborhood Abu Saleem, which a few weeks previously had held a mass demonstration against the NATO aggression and in support of the Jamahiriya. Fighting against the rebels also raged on in Salah Eldeen and El Hadba.
Armed with Kalashnikovs and Rocket Propelled Grenades, the citizens of these areas fighting 8,000 kg bombs, Apache gunships, US, European and UAE special forces and the rebels laden with NATO’s sophisticated weaponry, became part of the carnage and piles of bodies were reported to line the streets.
Since then, any area known to have supported Gaddafi has reportedly been bombed or been subjected to homes and apartments being burned and looted. And even the mainstream media has been unable to ignore the systematic targeting and lynching of anyone with black skin. It is widely known that Gaddafi’s opponents deeply loathed his rhetoric and policies in support of Black Africa.
With Sirte, Sabha and Beni Walid being amongst the last areas still flying the green flag high, the rebels claim to be giving these a deadline before they resort to a “military response,” implying that in the meantime, a non-military avenue will be pursued. Yet again, the media fail to highlight the hypocrisy that the rebels’ ally, NATO, has been openly bombing these areas.
The same media has unquestioningly swallowed NATO’s line that the targets have been exclusively “Gaddafi’s forces”, in the face of evidence before their very eyes to the contrary and in the absence of any independent investigation into the death toll of the 30,000 bombs estimated to have been dropped over the past six months.
The last concrete figures on the second day of fighting put the death toll in 12 hours of fighting in Tripoli alone at 1,300 with 900 injured. Far from Tripoli falling without resistance these figures suggest that Tripoli fell with the masses resisting being massacred.
As in Zlitan, Zawiya and elsewhere, the same atrocities as those committed in Tripoli, are being carried out in Beni Walid and Sirte with the complete silent complicity of journalists and “independent” observers on the ground. This is “free Libya”, so long as the thousands of dead and in hiding upon which it is based goes unmentioned.
‘Jubilant’ Celebration in Tripoli’s ‘Green Square’
Was Actually a Video Clip from India
BBC reporters showed a ‘live video’ from Green Square in Tripoli claiming it was rebels: in actual fact it was not live, and was in India, not Libya
Below is an email correspondence between a BBC viewer and several people of the BBC Team concerning the BBC Breakfast TV show from August 24, in which two BBC reporters showed a ‘live video’ from Green Square in Tripoli. The viewer, Mr Raddie from BSN, points BBC to the fact that the footage was not a ‘live video from Tripoli’ but a video of a celebration or protest in India happening sometime in the past.
From: Mike Raddie
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2011
Subject: BBC Breakfast
I hope this email finds you all and I hope it finds you all well.
I also hope, as a BBC viewer of thirty plus years and a license fee payer of twenty years, that you have the courtesy to respond to me and to respond in substance and with honour.
I write to draw your attention to the “BBC Breakfast’ TV show broadcast 24th August 2011, in which Bill Turnbull and Kate Silverton, having reviewed the morning’s news papers, introduced “live’ video footage of Tripoli, Libya. Bill was heard asserting that the footage was coming from Green Square in the Libyan capital. They described the scenes shown as jubilant Libyan citizens celebrating the fall of Tripoli to rebel forces.
In actual fact, what was shown on the video was a completely unrelated celebration or protest in India happening sometime in the past. It was not “live from Tripoli’ as most viewers would have believed but a doctored feed from a pre-recorded event on a different continent.
Most viewers would have assumed that the BBC including Bill and Kate would never pull such a cynical stunt. I am not most viewers, however, and a basic knowledge of national flags had alarm bells ringing immediately. The people shown in the video were flying the flag of India rather than that of the rebel / monarchist flag of Libya. What do you take me for? Do you assume that all of your viewers would not notice such a deliberate act of deception?
I thought I knew the history of the BBC — the BBC I once loved, respected and trusted to tell me the truth. This sordid episode has left a distinctly sour taste in my mouth and has led me to research your organisation and its true history in every detail. I can now understand how you all imagined you could get away with such a devious act.
Since its inception, the BBC has been used to broadcast not only the exclusive views of government, but also to act as a propaganda tool of the state and powerful, elite interests behind the state. In 1922, soon after its birth, the BBC was immediately used as a tool against working people. The country was in the midst of a general strike.
The noble Lord Reith was writing and broadcasting party political broadcasts for the Tory party but the Labour Party were refused a voice until the strike was officially called off and the country went back to work. So from its early beginnings, the so-called “independent’ BBC was used for government and elite propaganda.
In “Brainwashing the polite and professional way’, award-winning investigative journalist John Pilger observed: “The reputable media play a critical often subtle role. Frederick Ogilvie, who succeeded the BBC’s founder, Lord Reith, as director general, wrote that his goal was to turn the BBC into a “fully effective instrument of war”. Ogilvie would have been delighted with his 21st-century managers.
In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, the BBC’s coverage overwhelmingly echoed the government’s mendacious position…”. See “The BBC — The War on Iraq Analysis’ produced by Trevor Asserson and Lee Kern.
If I do not receive a response, which I consider satisfactory, I will embark on a relentless legal and public relations campaign to hold you to account and bring you to justice both as individuals and as a corporation. From my perspective, you are guilty of a deliberate and calculated crime against peace and I will pursue you all until justice is not only seen to be done but is actually done. I remind you of the case of Julius Streicher:
Julius Streicher was not a member of the military and did not take part in planning the Holocaust, or the invasion of other nations. Yet his pivotal role in inciting the extermination of Jews was significant enough, in the prosecutors’ judgment, to include him in the indictment of Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal — which sat, ironically, in Nuremberg, where Streicher had once been an unchallenged authority.
In essence, the prosecutors took the line that Streicher’s incendiary speeches and articles made him an accessory to murder, and therefore as culpable as those who actually ordered the mass extermination of Jews (such as Hans Frank and Ernst Kaltenbrunner).
Now I am in no way comparing the crimes of the BBC and its journalists to those committed by the Germans during the second world war. Neither am I calling for the hanging of anyone. I happen not to believe in capital punishment. I do, as do most in the UK however, believe in justice. Unfortunately for you, and unlike many in the UK, I do recognise a crime when it is committed and your deliberate propaganda as highlighted previously does in fact constitute a crime against peace.
I sincerely hope this message does not intimidate or distress you. I actually want the BBC to continue but only after seeing the error of its ways and starting afresh. I want you to engage with your viewers in a real and genuine way. I want you to consider yourselves as working for the betterment of the ordinary people of the UK and the wider world.
I want you to respect the wishes of the funding body of your organisation, the license fee payers of the UK, without which, you would cease to function. I sincerely hope you can see the distress this has caused me. I also hope you understand my intention to not be vindictive but to rectify the obvious problems which exist within the BBC as it currently operates.
Some of you may already know this deception took place, some of you may be somewhat shocked by these revelations. I am not necessarily interested in holding anyone to account or embarking on legal action. First and foremost, I want the mistake to be admitted and for Bill and Kate (and the director general) to issue a public apology. I want you all to learn that the general public is not some mass consciousness to be manipulated at the whim of your stakeholders. I want you to deliver the truth and if that’s not possible, to inform us why. I want you to cease and desist in this relentless campaign of crimes against peace. I want the BBC I thought I had as a child.
Legal advisors have encouraged me to make multiple copies (in digital and VHS format) of the show in question. This I have done and should they be required in a court, I will be happy to produce them. If I do not receive a response to this polite and considered email, then I will feel compelled to distribute the footage with its true description as far and as wide as I can.
This will become a public relations disaster for you if you allow it. I will also begin criminal proceedings; I will report the incident to the Metropolitan Police as a crime against peace and at the same time, begin a private criminal prosecution against the individuals concerned. This issue will not disappear by ignoring or dismissing it. The ball is in your court. Please do the right thing.
Response from “BBC Breakfast’ Deputy Editor
Dear Mr Raddie
The output team in the gallery believed the pictures were live from Libya but took them down as soon as they realised that we were showing the wrong footage. Shortly afterwards, we ran a scripted apology for our mistake — something the ‘YouTube’ version of the incident does not include.
The problem was caused by confusion over a ‘feed’ coming in to Television Centre from the international agencies. I understand that the images initially fed through to the gallery didn’t arose suspicion although I believe our basic desire to get the latest pictures on-air quickly played a part here.
We sincerely regret the position it left our presenters in on-air, but most of all, the confusion caused to our viewers.
I hope this explains what happened. We take any incident which potentially damages the BBC’s reputation very seriously and have discussed it within the Breakfast team.
0208 624 9700 (programme number)
Room 1605, BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, W12 7RJ
http://www.bbc.co.uk This e-mail (and any attachments) is confidential and may contain personal views which are not the views of the BBC unless specifically stated. If you have received it in error, please delete it from your system. Do not use, copy or disclose the information in any way nor act in reliance on it and notify the sender immediately. Please note that the BBC monitors e-mails sent or received. Further communication will signify your consent to this.
Our Response to BBC’s Adam Bullimore
Thanks for your swift response. However, it has raised even more questions that we at BSN feel need answering:
You wrote that, ‘the output team in the gallery believed the pictures were live from Libya”. Why would they believe that? Who told them the pictures were from Libya? BBC editorial staff must have seen the footage before broadcasting the “live feed’ to the general public — how could the Indian flags be mistaken for those of the Libyan rebels?
You then say: ‘the problem was caused by confusion over a ‘feed’ coming in to Television Centre from the international agencies.” Which international agencies? Was it another media company like Associated Press or Reuters? Was it NATO or the UN? Why do the BBC not have their own feed from the Libyan capital?
Did the international agencies actually feed the BBC archive footage from India and claim that it was live from Tripoli? How is it possible for a so-called professional organisation such as the BBC to be tricked and what motives could lie behind such trickery? Has the BBC ceased working with the particular “international agency’? Has an investigation begun on how an external “international agency’ could fool the BBC into broadcasting incorrect and misleading images to millions of viewers?
You continue: ‘…the images initially fed through to the gallery didn’t arose (sic) suspicion although I believe our basic desire to get the latest pictures on-air quickly played a part…” Isn’t it true that you have a duty to protect your audience from potentially upsetting and disturbing scenes? Had the pictures showed incinerated civilian bodies, we doubt you would have broadcast them. Are you asking us to believe that this required judgment failed during a morning show viewed by millions in the UK, including school children?
In this case, one has to ask the question Que bono — who benefits? The BBC has a long and inglorious track record of beating the drum for wars and ‘interventions’ prosecuted and undertaken by the UK government. Selective footage is a large part of this modus operandi — for instance, why did you not choose to broadcast this film of the aftermath of a NATO bombing in Libya which killed eighty-five innocent civilians?
We would remind you that deliberate propaganda is a crime against peace and that the decisions editors of news programmes make can have serious consequences, not just for truth in time of war, but in numbers of innocent civilians killed in a conflict prolonged by trumped up support at home.
Knowing who deliberately gave the BBC fake footage in this particular case is of vital importance, and something journalists and editors of integrity should be interested in.
Update Monday 5th Sept 2011
by Mike Raddie
We’ve still not received a response to our last email (above) from BBC’s Adam Bullimore regarding the very important question of which international agency sent the Indian footage into BBC Broadcasting House. This is of vital importance. If anyone would like to send the BBC a Freedom of Information request to ascertain this crucial fact which they seem unwilling to reveal, then please let us know. You can contact their FOI officer at firstname.lastname@example.org and the supporting webpage is here.
Update Tuesday 13th Sept 2011
by Mike Raddie
It’s looking unlikely that the BBC are going to respond to our questions above so our readers have commendably undertaken their own research and have emailed us their findings. This is what we have learned thus far:
The rally in India which the BBC “mistakenly’ believed was a live feed from Tripoli’s Green Square was, in fact, a rally in support of Indian anti-corruption activist and campaigner, 74-year-old Anna Harare, which took place on 20th August 2011 — see this youtube clip.
Perhaps we’re being unfair and over critical, for the BBC did manage to accurately report at least part of the story, the crowd was indeed “jubilant’. However, and contrary to BBC’s Bill and Kate’s narrative (no doubt fed to them from the editors in the gallery), the crowd was actually celebrating Anna’s release from prison. According to this BBC report, the man many Indians consider a latter-day Gandhi, is now able to begin his planned hunger strike in protest at the growing state of corruption in many areas of Indian society.
But wait, that BBC report is dated 18th August 2011, a full 6 days before the BBC lied on air and 12 days before Adam Bullimore lied in response to my original complaint. How could this have happened? This is looking more and more like a deliberate attempt to deceive the UK public and the wider world in order to maintain the official narrative, the illusion that this was a just and lawful war, that the majority of the residents of Tripoli welcomed the NATO supported rebels and that the armed conflict was all but over.
Thank you BBC — for if we doubted your mendacious, unwavering support for a criminally insane, war-mongering government running wild before, we certainly do not now. This whole episode is more than a cynical attempt to influence the minds of the British public. It is a deeply disturbing example of the manner in which mainstream media always operate — to serve the interests of the wealthy elite, to disregard and devalue the lives of innocent civilians, to consider public opinion a weak force, readily and easily manipulated and to assume their audience is incapable of critical thought.
This was not a regrettable mistake as Adam Bullimore tries to convince us. This is part of a deliberate and ongoing campaign of disinformation and propaganda; a crime against peace.