Thursday, 15 March 2012

Amnesty's knee jerk condemnation of Bolivian police avoids mentioning violence of demonstrators

Amnesty has just condemned Bolivia, a country known for its left wing politics. Disabled people in Bolivia are protesting about their level of social security benefits, and some of them during a demonstration were intent on attacking the police. From the many pictures here, the police are seen only to be passively defending themselves against the violence of their attackers. Of course pictures can lie but the fact was that the police were provoked, whatever subsequently happened off camera.
Amnesty International in condemning the Bolivian police and calling for an investigation does not mention at all the violence of some protesters, still less condemn that violence. And the picture Amnesty uses to accompany the text seems deliberately selected to portray a peaceful protester in a wheelchair being attacked by an aggressive riot policeman.

 The writer of the article for Amnesty could just as easily have chosen any of the following pictures, but that would not have fit the message of unprovoked and brutal police attacking peaceful protesters:

In dealing with the Bolivian demonstration the writer seems to be writing from a template:

1)Decide which side deserves sympathy 
2) Read the facts 
3) Select the facts that show the favoured side in the best light. Try not to include facts that would act to detract from this. If balance must be shown, then use headlines and other journalistic tricks such as burying the unwanted behaviour deep in the report.
4) Leave out any facts that might mitigate the otherwise unnaceptable behaviour of the other side. If mentioning mitigation is unavoidable then as in 3) it should be buried deep.
5) Above all, keep the story simple and let the reader 'know' which side should have his support. 
6) Don't forget to select a nice graphic to sum up the message.

No prizes for guessing where the above template is most often applied.

If Amnesty can not bring itself to have any balance when concerning the Bolivian regime that is presumably much to its liking, then we shouldn't be surprised at the almost total one-sidedness of Amnesty when dealing with the arab-israel conflict.

The reporting by Amnesty of this demonstration has helped to clarify that NGO's have a default mode of choosing favoured sides, and of selecting the facts to match the favoured side and their narrative.

Amnesty a self governing organisation is dishonest in its reporting. It is anything but a benign organisation of human rights defenders that it purports to be.

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