AFGHAN MASSACRE AND THE MEDIA - LETTER TO IRISH TIMES, 190312

Sir,

readers must be confused by the heading of Lara Marlow’s dispatch (17 March) - ‘Bin Laden plot to kill Obama and Petraeus revealed’given that 70% of the piece is given over to America’s ongoing “troubles in Afghanistan” and the recent horrific killing of 16 civilians in Kandahar province.

While the piece reports on what allegedly was discussed by telephone between Presidents Obama and Karzai on Friday it misses a key issue and concludes disappointingly by joining the media frenzy around the story of the ‘deranged’ lone gunman suspect.

What is missing is the fact that at a press conference on Friday, a clearly pressurised Karzai also criticised the US for not cooperating with the Afghan fact finding team and claimed of witness’s reports of several groups of US soldiers being involved in the killings. Press TV has since reported that “two members of the fact-finding mission, Hamidzi Lali and Shakila Hashemi, told the general meeting of Afghanistan’s parliament on Saturday that the American troopers raped two Afghan women before starting the massacre and that between 15 to 20 US soldiers were involved in the carnage.”

It seems strange that a lone staff sergeant could have so easily left his army base undetected, walked several kilometres and quickly murdered, mutilated and burned so many people in two separate villages. Of course these claims of multiple killers may be exaggerated or not even true but it is the duty of the media to investigate and report them. Whichever account is true it is the deranged US led war on the Afghan people that is to blame for this carnage - just as it was in the massacres of Fallujah, Haditha, My Lai etc.

Yours etc.

JIM ROCHE,
PRO Steering Committee,
Irish Anti War Movement,
PO Box 9260,
Dublin 1.