The War We're Fighting in the Press

I cannot help remembering an Iranian hospital train on which I travelled back from the Iran-Iraq war front in the early 1980s. The carriages were packed with young Iranian soldiers, coughing mucus and blood into handkerchiefs while reading Korans. They had been gassed and looked as if they would die. Most did. After a few hours, I had to go around and open the windows of the compartments, because the gas coughed back from their lungs was beginning to poison the air in the carriage.

At the time, I was working for The Times. My story ran in full. Then an official of the Foreign Office lunched my editor and told him my report was "not helpful". Because, of course, we supported President Saddam at the time and wanted revolutionary Iran to suffer and destroy itself. President Saddam was the good guy then. I wasn't supposed to report his human rights abuses. And now I'm not supposed to report the slaughter of the innocent by American or RAF pilots because the British Government has changed sides.

- from a strident, but confident, editorial by Robert Fisk in The Independent

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