Behind the blinders
Finding the 10 most underreported stories of the last year
Published: October 6, 2010
8) Peruvian massacre over Free Trade Agreement
While the story highlighted by Project Censored is titled, "Massacre in the Amazon," a later installment by Laura Carlsen, the translator, appeared in The Huffington Post titled "Victory in the Amazon." The story centers on a movement standing its ground even with tragic loss of life as the consequence: On June 5, 2009, 50 or more Peruvian Amazon Indians were massacred after a 57-day protest against the implementation of decrees under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. Decrees that would have opened vast swaths of indigenous land in the Peruvian Amazon to private investment by gas, mining and oil companies prompted Amazon peoples to block highways and gas and oil pipelines. But the conflict escalated when armed Peruvian government agents attacked the protesters with rifles and, according to eyewitnesses, burned bodies and threw them into a river. According to Carlsen's account, Peru's Congress voted 82 to 12 in the aftermath to repeal two of the decrees that the indigenous groups had been standing against. Daysi Zapata, a representative of the association of indigenous groups, celebrated the triumph: "Today is a historic day. We are thankful because the will of the indigenous peoples has been taken into account, and we just hope that in the future, the governments attend and listen to the people, that they don't legislate behind our backs."
9) Human rights abuses continue in Palestine
While there is a great deal of news coverage about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Project Censored highlights human rights abuses as a little-discussed aspect. After a 15-month study conducted by an international team of scholars, the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa concluded that Israel is, from the perspective of international law, an occupying power in Palestinian territories and that it has become a colonial enterprise that implements a system of apartheid. An Amnesty International report charges that Israel is denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies. And articles that appeared in Electronic Intifada detailed how Israel had begun barring movement between Israel and the West Bank for those holding a foreign passport, including humanitarian aid workers and thousands of Palestinian residents. Project Censored's introduction touches on the topic: "Rare mainstream media glimpses of Israel's apartheid system, like the CBS 60 Minutes segment 'Is Peace Out of Reach?' in January 2009, air and then fade away after drawing vitriolic, selectively focused criticism."
10) U.S. funds and supports the Taliban
While this story appeared on the front pages of The New York Times and Washington Post , Project Censored claims they omitted some key facts. The Nation broke the story, and at the time Project Censored was researching it, there was nary a mention in the mainstream media of how American tax dollars wind up in the hands of the Taliban. In some cases, money goes to Afghan companies run by former Taliban members like President Hamid Karzai's cousin, Ahmad Rate Popal, who was charged in the 1980s with conspiring to import heroin into the United States. U.S. military contractors in Afghanistan also pay suspected insurgents to protect supply routes. "It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the U.S. government funds the very forces American troops are fighting," according to the Nation story, written by Aram Roston. The Nation article also highlighted a link omitted by the other publications: NCL Holdings, a licensed security company in Afghanistan, is run by the son of the Afghan defense minister and has an influential former CIA officer, Milton Bearden, on its advisory board. NCL secured a highly lucrative trucking contract — despite having no apparent trucking experience.
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