War Pictures Cause Yellowtimes.Org To Be Shut Down
War Pictures Cause Yellowtimes.Org To Be Shut Down, Again
By Firas Al-Atraqchi
Somebody doesn't like hearing the truth. Okay, for a second, lets scratch that and choose a slightly less politically charged term. Someone doesn't like to be disputed with alternative views, counterclaims, research and fact. Someone wants you, the reading public, to only gather one-sided, monotone, Orwellian dispatch. News the way they "fashion" it. Or as CNN will have you believe, the "most reliable source for news."
And so, once again, the staff at YellowTimes.org was threatened with a shutdown:
"We are sorry to notify you of suspending your account: Your account has been suspended because [of] inappropriate graphic material."
Within hours, the site was shut down.
What's next? Martial law?
An e-mail hours later was more explanatory: "As 'NO' TV station in the US is allowing any dead US solders or POWs to be displyed (sic) and we will not ether (sic)." Of course, at the time of this e-mail, TV stations across the U.S. were allowing the images of U.S. POWs to be brought to the public's attention.
These are most certainly difficult, perilous, and often confusing times. The world has been torn asunder by first the prospect of war, and now by the images of war fed live into our living rooms.
Today, Iraqi TV and Al-Jazeera, followed by Spanish National TV, Portugal's networks, and most European TV stations, aired footage of U.S. Marine fatalities in the southern town of Nasiriyah. A handful of terrified U.S. POWs were also shown. According to the Associated Press: "Anecita Hudson of Alamogordo said she saw her 23-year-old son, Army Spc. Joseph Hudson, who was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, interviewed in the Iraqi video, which was carried on a Filipino television station she subscribes to."
There was public outrage in the U.S., citing the Geneva Convention on treatment of Prisoners of War, which forbids the broadcast of any footage or graphic depiction of POWs. True, the Geneva Convention does indeed include that provision.
However, the outrage follows on the heels of extensive, and I repeat, extensive footage of Iraqi POWs, sometimes with cameras panning in for extreme close-ups of blank-staring Iraqi soldiers, dishevelled and fatigued as they were.
CNN grilled an Al-Jazeera spokesperson on the (de)merits of airing such footage today. When asked by the Al-Jazeera spokesperson why it was allowed for U.S. stations to broadcast footage of Iraqi POWs, CNN's Aaron Brown said, "because their families wouldn't be watching".
Not true. CNN is broadcast around the world and is available to Iraqis. There are millions of Iraqis living outside Iraq who may recognize an Iraqi POW as a family member.
Not withstanding, to say "their families wouldn't be watching" is not an excuse. If it is a violation on the Iraqi side, then surely, it is as well on the U.S. side.
(Monday's front page of the Washington Post has a picture of an Iraqi POW being handled by U.S. troops.)
CNN, however, is accused of not airing any footage of Iraqi dead or Iraqi civilian casualties, although this is a necessary image of war. War is horrific and to portray it otherwise speaks of corporate agenda.
Nevertheless, I was tongue-tied at the MSNBC broadcast of a mother of one of the U.S. POWs as she shed tears for her son. It gripped me and moved me and I wanted to cry with her. I also wanted to cry for the parents of the Iraqi civilian child, the top part of his skull torn off; an innocent child caught in a war he did not understand.
So, here we have it, war affects us all. It affects Americans and Iraqis, as well as the rest of the world.
Here, at YellowTimes.org, we did not want these stories to go untold. We wanted to bring the horrors of war inflicted on all sides. We condemn killing, we condemn war, and we certainly condemn persecution and torture.
We also condemn the intentional absence of truth.
However, there are some who would prefer we did not publish and inform the public.
Consequently, as of this afternoon, March 24, 2003, we were shut down.
I do beg your pardon, no, we weren't shut down -- we were censored -- pure and simple.
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Firas Al-Atraqchi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(To contact YellowTimes.org, they can be reached at their emergency e-mail address at: email@example.com)