BBC turns political activists into “aid workers”

A report entitled “Libyans held for ‘sex attack’ on Britons in Benghazi“, dated March 29th 2013, appears on the Africa and Middle East pages of the BBC News website. In that report the women attacked are repeatedly described by the BBC as “aid workers”. 

“Two Libyans have been arrested over claims they sexually assaulted three British aid workers earlier this week.

The workers were apparently abducted at a checkpoint near the city of Benghazi and held for hours before being freed on Wednesday.” […]

“The group of aid workers were taken to the Turkish consulate in Benghazi after their release. British officials said they had now returned to the UK.”

Benghazi attack

The Aid Worker Security Database defines aid workers as follows: [emphasis added]

” “Aid workers” are defined as the employees and associated personnel of not for profit aid agencies (both national and international staff) that provide material and technical assistance in humanitarian relief contexts. These include various locally contracted staff (e.g., transportation, security, etc.). This includes both relief and multi-mandated (relief and development) organizations: NGOs, the International Movement of the Red Cross/Red Crescent, donor agencies and the UN agencies belonging to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (FAO, OCHA, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and WHO) plus IOM and UNRWA. The aid worker definition does not include UN peacekeeping personnel, human rights workers, election monitors or purely political, religious, or advocacy organizations.”

The ill-fated eleven vehicle convoy – named “Mavi Marmara” – in which the women concerned were taking part departed from London on February 25th this year, driving through France and Spain to reach Morocco and then continuing through North Africa with the aim of reaching the Gaza Strip. 

Some of the convoy’s organisers and participants have previously taken part in similar ventures and one of them – Sakir Yildirim (also spelt Yildirm) from Bristol – was aboard the IHH ship the Mavi Marmara in May 2010 when it tried to breach the maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip and some of its Turkish passengers attacked Israeli soldiers boarding the ship. According to a BBC report from the time, Yildirim is a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. 

Sakir and Cliff in Turkey

Sakir Yildirim(L) & Cliff Hanley of Bristol PSC in Turkey, before boarding the Mavi Marmara in 2010

As can be clearly discerned from pictures published by the convoy’s supporters before and after its departure from the UK, the inefficient – and apparently badly organized – overland transport of “children’s educational equipment and toys, IT equipment, and medical equipment” (according to the organisers) is obviously secondary to the convoy’s political aims. 

Apparently the BBC is unable – or unwilling – to differentiate between genuine aid workers and political activists supporting a campaign to promote those involved in terrorist activity against Israeli civilians as ‘political prisoners’. 

The misappropriation of terms such as “humanitarian organization”, “human rights” or “aid worker” is an unfortunately common practice in the circles of anti-Israel campaigners seeking to co-opt the publicly acceptable image afforded by such terms to their political campaigns. It is regrettable that the BBC compromises its own reputation and breaches editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality by engaging in the same practice.

The assault of female members of the convoy in Libya is horrific enough as it is: there is no need for the BBC to embellish the story by erroneously depicting the women and the group with which they were travelling as “aid workers”. 

15 comments on “BBC turns political activists into “aid workers”

  1. Duvidl learned of this incident from Sky News, which mentioned that these women had previously engaged in a trip to Gaza, from which Duvidl drew his own conclusions. One conclusion is: watch Sky News and BBC Watch, not the BBC.

    NB, Duvidl also learned from Sky news of the BBC staff strike for 12 hours against job cuts and workplace bullying.

    Duvidl suggests the bullies should be named and included in the forthcoming job cuts of the BBC’s humungus 23,000 staff paid by teletax-payers. Do these bullies include Jeremy Bowen, beeboid Middle East editor and doyen of the beeboid school of journalism who can speak no Hebrew? At the very least, he should be sent to Syria to present daily coverage of the horrendous civil war, together with Dodgy Johnny Donnison and agit-prop Knell, who should immediately be turfed out of their five-star Israeli hotels, sent to Libya and made to learn some Arabic.

    • PS. As is usual with the BBC leftist hegemon, the bullies will, doubtless, not have their jobs cut; they will do the cutting, and enjoy it.

      Imagine, as some beeboid bureaucrat bully decides to reduce staff numbers from the BBC’s in-house taxi service by calling an immigrant cabbie into his office to fire him for being 10 minutes late collecting Dan Snow shmo from his home in the snow. Just guessing.

  2. The Telegraph notes that the women are “British of Pakistani origin”, and they “intended to try to break the Israeli blockade” (ie the imaginary blockade).

    The question is, did the women genuinely believe the ‘blockade’ rhetoric, or are they just agitators with too much time on their hands and who look upon the Israeli-islamist conflict as a recreational cause?

    Whichever, they have belatedly and very unfortunately found out that anti-Israel rhetoric is not cost-free.

  3. The Telegraph seems to have understood that they were activists and not aid workers.

    I don’t make light of their ordeal, but I wonder if it will deter female activists in the future?

  4. Interesting that Egypt didn’t let them in. I recall when the despicable George Galloway led a motley crew of terrorist supporters to Gaza to give chief terrorist Ismael Haniye a big hug, Egypt harrassed the group when it crossed through Egyptian territory.

    Obviously Egypt’s lack of cooperation with these groups doesn’t stem from a love of Israel so I wonder where it does come from.

  5. To be fair, all msm reports used the same terminology, and unusually, the Times was one of the worst: From my FB entry:

    There are varying press reports about Wednesday’s attack on three British women in Libya, ranging in severity from sexual touching to rape in front of their father. What is consistent, is the reference to the convoy of which the women were members, as bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza “in an attempt to break Israel’s blockade”. The quote marks are entirely my own, and will not be found in any of the reports.
    According to the Times, the attempt to break the blockade involved taking medicines, books and toys overland from Britain. The activists have apparently described on social media their shock at the hostility of Egyptian border officials who refused to let them enter.
    The Times article still refers to Mavi Mara #1 as a relief mission to Gaza.

    Whatever the true extent of the barbaric behaviour of the attackers, it is to be deplored.
    One convoy member Keith Darkin told the Times: “There is a lot of anti-British feeling in Libya.” It should be make clear to what extent this observation is a response to the sexual attack, where anti woman feeling is surely the problem. Otherwise it starts to look like Darkin is making a Fisk syndrome -by -proxy defence of the attackers:

  6. amie,

    Well, I guess it’s true to say that because of laziness, stupidity, deadlines and bias, “journalists” copy from one another and fail to dig deeper than a scratch or two at the surface of their “news” stories.

  7. I forgot to add “cowardice.”

    It could be hazardous to one’s health to try to get to the truth of the matter in a violent, failed state such as Libya.

  8. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about what happened to these dumb activists.

    But I hope it will serve as a salutary lesson, which will give them some inkling of the kind of people Israel has for neighbours. And maybe they will be a little less inclined to go swanning round the Middle East stirring up anti-Zionist.feelings.

  9. Since they are “of Pakistani origin” I assume they’re Muslims so the big question is “Will their honour-killing take place in Gaza or after they return to Britain?”

  10. Pingback: Israel Under Fire, Again — Winds Of Jihad By SheikYerMami

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