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'Libyan humanitarian catastrophe ignored by Western media'

Published time: October 25, 2012 18:53
Edited time: October 26, 2012 12:36

Pro-government forces, Bani Walid. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia)

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As violence in Bani Walid continues for the 21st day, very few western media outlets appear interested in reporting on what some are calling a humanitarian catastrophe.

The silence is a far cry from the situation last year, when Libya and Colonel Gaddafi’s forces made front page news.

Today’s situation is much worse…the number of people killed since NATO intervened has gone up by ten to twenty times. We’ve got massacres going on at the moment and there’s complete silence in the UK and the US, journalist and author Neil Clark told RT.

Anytime there is a hint that the Syrian government has chemical weapons, it’s front page news on all the western channels. But this story about Libya just isn’t news, he said.

Clark spoke to RT about the alleged double standards of the western media when it comes to Libya and Syria.

RT: There's yet been no international response to the fact that civilians are being killed in Bani Walid, especially from those states that backed the revolution in Libya a year ago. Why is that?

Neil Clark: Let’s think back to February 2011. We couldn’t pick up a newspaper in the UK or the US or put on the BBC or CNN without hearing about what was going on in Libya. The Humanitarian disaster, we were told Colonel Gaddafi’s forces were killing lots of people, there were dangers of a massive massacre in Benghazi, and because of that we went to war…that was the reason for war. And today, the situation is much worse. We’ve got a humanitarian catastrophe taking place. The number of people killed since NATO intervened has gone up by ten to twenty times. We’ve got massacres going on at the moment and there’s complete silence here in the UK and in the US.

RT: Three weeks on, Human Rights Watch is raising its voice about what’s going on there. But why is it being ignored?

NC:
It tells it all. Amnesty International has been very good on Libya. They’ve been talking about the number of detentions that have taken place there under the new regime, but of course the western powers aren’t interested. They got what they wanted. They got rid of Gaddafi. They got a pro western government in power now in Tripoli. They’re taking control of the oil industry, there’s privatization: western corporations are moving in, and they don’t really give a toss about what’s going on – about human rights abuses, the fact that demonstrations are banned throughout the country. It’s time to move on – onto Syria, of course.

RT: On Tuesday, the US blocked Russia's diplomatic efforts in the UN Security Council to resolve the conflict peacefully in Bani Walid. Why?

NC: Let’s think back to last October, when Russia and China vetoed the very war-like resolutions from western powers over Syria, which would have paved the way for intervention there. Russia and China were demonized in the western media. Here, we have Russia coming up with something very constructive – a very pro-peace statement, which should have been supported. And of course the US turned it down. So I think it shows to everyone now, surely, the gross hypocrisy of the US and its allies in all of this. They use these humanitarian factors as an excuse to intervene militarily – to topple governments which don’t do the bidding of the west and Israel. They did in Yugoslavia in 1999, they did it in Iraq of course, and they did it in Libya last year and they’re trying to do it in Syria. But they won’t be doing it in Bahrain where there’s been massive human rights abuses. They won’t be doing it in Saudi Arabia where there is no democracy, where human rights are very poor. And they won’t be doing it against Israel because of course we’ve got the situation in Gaza, described as the largest prison camp in the world. I don’t think we’ll be hearing from Hillary Clinton or William Hague about how we’ve got to intervene against Israel.

RT: Libya's government insists that it's not used chemical weapons on civilians in the besieged city, but if the medical evidence is substantiated, would you expect any international reaction – stronger than just words?

NC: I don’t think so because anytime there is any hint that the Syrian government has got chemical weapons, it’s front page news on all the western news channels. But RT is about the only channel that’s taking up this story about chemical weapons being used at the moment in Libya. It’s just not news. Chemical weapons are only news when it’s an opponent of the west that may be using them. When that happens, it’s front page news. And of course they don’t even have to be using them – we’ve got the Iraqi WMD hoax, one of the biggest conspiracy theories of all time. Saddam didn’t have WMD. He didn’t have those weapons. And yet it was still front page news.

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