A report was posted a few days ago on the BBC website ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18921960 ) regarding abuses suffered by the Rohingya people of Rakhine State in Burma. Following clashes between Budhists and the Muslim Rohingya, There have been numerous arrests of Rohingya and many are held without charge and have faced assaults in custody.
They are denied citizenship and many have fled as refugees and live now in squalid conditions In neighbouring Bangladesh.
I was drawn to the report not just because of the content but also because I had simpy never heard of the Rohingya people. A question I often consider is what makes one group of people newsworthy and another not?
It is a question too easily answered by a knee jerk answer. Many immediately shout ‘American interests’,some will claim that some conflicts deserve more attention as they have a wider effect on the World as a whole. There is always some moronic bigot who will refer to a Jewish lobby controlling the agenda.
If anything the BBC can hardly be described as pro USA, though no doubt networks such as Fox certainly are – of course Al Jazeera is hardly under the control of any supposed Jewish Lobby.
It seems to me that some conflicts somehow become trendy. A retaliatory strike by Israel against rocket attacks from Palestinian Gaza will bring protests in to the streets of London and see the students of LSE and SOAS calling for boycotts of Israeli academics.
How many of these students are calling for a cultural and academic boycott of Burma? Have Ken Livingstone, Baroness Tonge and George Galloway expressed their outrage that Aung San Suu Kyi and the Dalai Lama have remained silent over the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya? If not, why not
In Darfur, why did it take the courageous and tireless work of US Marine Photographer Ricki Stern (The Devil Came on Horseback) to chronicle the slaughter and displacement of hundreds of thousand of black Muslims at the hands of the state supported Janjiweed to make the mainstream media provide at least some coverage. But again – where were the protests? Where were the students? Where was Bob Crow and the Unions? Presumably too busy condemning Israel for daring to search someone wearing a bulky coat at a school bus stop in the July heat.
Why Mr Galloway, why Mr Crow, why students of LSE, why Archbishop Tutu, why Editors of the Guardian do you consider some conflicts more deserving of our attention than others? Why are the lives of some people worthy of your attention more than others?
Is it right that powerful news corporations have for so long controlled the agenda of what is news and what is not?
This just underlines the importance of sites such as WordPress and the wonderful Ted Talks lectures where stories can come out, from the ground up and not fit within a media agenda.