By Chris Marsden in Britain:
15 June 2012
As quietly as possible, BBC world news editor Jon Williams has admitted that the coverage of last month’s Houla massacre in Syria by the world’s media and his own employers was a compendium of lies.
Datelined 16:23, June 7, Williams chose a personal blog to make a series of fairly frank statements explaining that there was no evidence whatsoever to identify either the Syrian Army or Alawite militias as the perpetrators of the May 25 massacre of 100 people.
By implication, Williams also suggests strongly that such allegations are the product of the propaganda department of the Sunni insurgents seeking to overthrow Bashar al-Assad.
After preparatory statements of self-justification noting the “complexity of the situation on the ground in Syria, and the need to try to separate fact from fiction,” and Syria’s long “history of rumours passing for fact,” Williams writes:
“In the aftermath of the massacre at Houla last month, initial reports said some of the 49 children and 34 women killed had their throats cut. In Damascus, Western officials told me the subsequent investigation revealed none of those found dead had been killed in such a brutal manner. Moreover, while Syrian forces had shelled the area shortly before the massacre, the details of exactly who carried out the attacks, how and why were still unclear.”
For this reason, he concludes somewhat belatedly, “In such circumstances, it’s more important than ever that we report what we don’t know, not merely what we do.”
“In Houla, and now in Qubair, the finger has been pointed at the Shabiha, pro-government militia. But tragic death toll aside, the facts are few: it’s not clear who ordered the killings—or why.”
No trace of such a restrained approach can be found at the time on the BBC, or most anywhere else.
- The ‘Syria massacre in Houla’ photo which was taken in Al Musayyib, Iraq, in 2003 (nextlevelofnews.com)