Last Saturday Over 400 people attended the remarkable Media Workers Against The War (MWAW) “The First Casualty? War, Truth and the Media Today” event.
The opening plenary set the tone with presentations from Tony Benn and former New Statesman editor Peter Wilby.
Then Sami Ramadami took the floor to speak of the reality of what is happening in Iraq compared to the spin that is fed to the public by the corporate press.
After the opening, a number of packed out workshops took place. “Journalist in the War Zone” was addressed by Xavier Couso brother of Jose Couso, a cameraman killed in Baghdad in 2003. Jose was in the Palestine hotel when it was shelled by US forces, despite its status a media centre.
Meticulous research by campaigners has led Xavier to conclude that Jose’s death was no accident. They have discovered that the same military unit was also responsible for attacks on Al Jazeera and the Abu Dhabi TV networks the morning Jose died along with two other journalists.
Xavier said, “Our research discovered that the attitude of the US military towards the media changed after Vietnam. This was a war that they lost at home as well as on the battlefield. Since then they have tried to control all information and silence those that are independent from the embedded reporters.”
The campaign has held more than 200 meetings internationally. He added that, “The Spanish supreme court has issued international arrest warrants for the Americans involved despite diplomatic pressure from the USA.”
Andrew Murray, Nick Davies and Andrew Gilligan addressed the final plenary. Andrew Murray stressed the need for vigilance in not making the same mistakes over Iran that had been seen in the run up to the Iraq war.
Nick Davies lifted the lid on the inept coverage and sheer inaccuracy of the media.
Finally Andrew Gilligan made the point that despite a concerted attempt by the government and sections of the media to end his career – he is still a working reporter and asking many awkward questions of those in power.
This event marks a step forward for MWAW. As sections of the bosses press start beating the war drum for Iran this could not have come at a better time.