This week Telesur welcomed home a news team just back from covering NATO’s war on Libya from that nation’s capital, Tripoli. On arrival at Venezuela’s Maiquetia International Airport, the journalists denounced the ongoing ‘fabrication of lies’ by mainstream media outlets and accused the international press of ‘producing the arguments needed for a continuation of the war’. The Libyan people ‘have been invaded by destruction, war, suffering and death, when the solution to the conflict could have been secured by peaceful means’, affirmed Telesur journalist Rolando Segura, who spent the last four months in Libya alongside cameraman Henry Pillajo.
Segura and Pillajo are among the handful of independent journalists who covered largely underreported stories that include: NATO’s bombing of civilian targets; the indiscriminate killing of black migrant workers by rebel forces; the million strong ‘Green March’ held across Libya demanding reconciliation between the government and opposition forces; the rebel takeover and silencing of Libya’s public broadcasting channels; and the fabricated takeover of Tripoli’s Green Plaza late last month – filmed in Qatar and disseminated by international mainstream media outlets, the video successfully secured recognition of the NATO-backed National Transition Council (CNT) as the ‘new government in Libya’ and convinced many Libyan embassy staff abroad to defect.
After an August 8-9 NATO missile strike killed 85 civilians, 33 of which were children, Telesur’s Segura interviewed Abu Mimiar, brother of one of those killed. Mimiar asked the Telesur reporter if the killing of his brother, a rural farmer, ‘is the protection of civilians they (NATO) talk about? Or is it that those of us who care for and support Gaddafi don’t deserve protection?’
50,000 KILLED IN LIBYAN WAR
According to Segura, who spoke Tuesday at a forum in Caracas organized by Correo del Orinoco, ‘there is talk of an estimated 1,800 killed by NATO bombs and, as a result of the entire conflict, something like 50,000 dead in total – persons who were massacred as a result of this invasion, this aggression, against Libya’.
The bombings, as well as advances made by NATO-backed rebel forces, ‘were made possible by the lies of the mass media that reproduced an editorial line without any questioning at all’, affirmed Segura. Segura’s blog [http://rolandotelesur. blogspot.com/], in Spanish, has been one of the only independent sources of news, analysis, and images in the aftermath of NATO bombings across Libya.
The Telesur crew left Libya late last week, traveling 36 hours by boat from the Libyan coast to Malta, an island just south of Sicily, Italy. The two crowded in a boat fit for 12 alongside 50 other passengers, all of whom sought refuge from war-torn Tripoli.
Since 19 March this year, the United States and its NATO allies have launched over 20,000 sorties over Libya, carrying out an estimated 9,000 air strikes. This past Sunday alone, NATO carried out 52 aerial attacks. Damage to the country’s highly developed infrastructure – including its oil industry, water supply networks, food storage facilities, communications installations, and public health system – has resulted in growing shortages of food, water, and medicine.
TELESUR VS. NEW FORMAT FOR WAR
Speaking to a crowd gathered on Monday, Venezuelan Minister of Communication and Information Andres Izarra praised Telesur’s role in Libya and said ‘US imperialism’ had ‘sown together a new format for imperial aggression’ by using ‘the hegemonic international media’ to demonize governments opposed to US foreign policy. This new ‘format,’ he said, involves ‘instigating revolutions of color, revolutions of spring’ inn countries in which imperialism claims ‘civil liberties are restricted’. Demonization is followed by international media campaigns to topple anti-US governments and, if necessary, direct military intervention follows.
According to Izarra, this new method for attacking sovereign nations has ‘already had a partialn victory in Libya’ and ‘at this moment is a serious threat to Syria’. Izarra praised Telesur reporters in Tripoli, who showed ‘a city that was going about living its normal, daily life’ as international press attempted to portray ‘a dictator, Gaddafi, massacring his own people’ in order to justify NATO’s war.
Jordan Rodriguez, Telesur´s reporter in Tripoli at the start of NATO bombings, told the press that NATO is currently the only force responsible for ‘bombings
that are taking place in Libya’ and blamed the international force for ‘killing innocent civilians, women and children’. Rodriguez pointed out that while NATO bombs continue to hit populated urban centers, ‘we watch as the large networks like CNN and the BBC report on the precision of NATO bombs’ instead of the impact these bombs have on the Libyan people’s daily life.
According to Rodriguez, Telesur has ‘shown another other side of the conflict’. ‘When we (Telesur) spoke to Libyans from rural and other areas, many showed a great deal of appreciation for Moammar Gaddafi. We are talking about the poorest country in all of the Maghreb, before the arrival of the Revolution. The proof is in the statistics, in the hospitals that look like high tech clinics, eightlane highways, the highest quality education’, he said.
Rodriguez accused the US and NATO allies of instigating, arming and training the rebel forces. He said that when speaking to anti-Gaddafi rebels on the ground, ‘all they said is that they wanted ‘Gaddafi to go,’ giving no argumentation’.
Gaddafi was forced into hiding after NATO-backed opposition forces seized on weeks of airstrikes in Tripoli, capturing government offices and the presidential palace. Footage of the socalled ‘Fall of Tripoli’ was widely disseminated by the mainstream media and opposition forces received almost immediate recognition as the ‘new government’ in Libya.
VOICE OF TRUTH
According to Telesur President Patricia Villegas the Caracas- based Latin American news outlet plans to keep staff in Libya indefinitely as NATO steps up efforts to destroy support for Gaddafi and maintain the pro-Western ‘transitional government’.
According to Villegas, the station’s overall objective ‘has always been’ to provide a ‘voice to the victims of conflict,’ as was the case during the 2009 military coup in Honduras, the attempted ouster of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in 2010, the popular uprising against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and most recently, the NATO bombing of Libya.
‘We didn’t arrive (in Libya) alongside the invaders’, affirmed Villegas. ‘We didn’t arrive with the bullets…Other media outlets did. Other media outlets are riding in the rebels’ cars; others are protected by private securitycompanies. This is not the journalistic practice of Telesur. We have told this story since it first began’, she said.
‘Regardless of whether or not the leader (Gaddafi) is ‘correct,’ we have been witness to exceptional acts of aggression by NATO; of NATO bombs not only attacking military but also civilian targets’, she affirmed.
CHAVEZ PRAISES TELESUR
Over the weekend Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised Telesur’s coverage of the war on Libya, stressing the importance of breaking apart the media blockade imposed by ‘US Empire’ and its allies in international and local media networks. ‘I want us to award the Telesur correspondents with an honor, the highest honor given by the Republic. Those people are the ones telling the truth’. said Chavez. ‘Our recognition and admiration goes out to Telesur and its correspondents in Libya…What courage!’ he said.