Media blind to Afghan civilian deaths by Dave Markland January 01, 2007
In early September, Canadian military personnel stationed in Afghanistan's Kandahar province spearheaded NATO's Operation Medusa, aimed at Taliban strongholds in the Panjwaii and Zhari districts of that province. Accustomed to seeing the Canadian Forces' role as that of peace-keepers, many observers were stunned by reports that the Medusa offensive had resulted in hundreds of enemy combatants killed along with five fatalities suffered by Canadian soldiers. Meanwhile, there was a largely unreported civilian exodus as some 80,000 people fled their homes while “at least 50 civilians were killed over several weeks of bombing” (New York Times, Nov 27, A12). Public concern here in Canada resulted in a surge of public debate and reflection, as evidenced by call-in radio programs, opinion polls and letters to the editor. All this has fuelled on-going organizing efforts across the country that continue to demand Canada's withdrawal from Afghanistan.
One might have expected our major national media to engage such an important discussion with in-depth news coverage of the conflict, along with critical and incisive editorials and opinion pieces. Instead, our most respected media went to considerable lengths to avoid negative portrayals of our military role and that of our NATO allies, even to the point of completely ignoring certain shocking and disastrous events which are of vital importance in understanding the role of our military in Afghanistan and its effects on the people of that country.
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