The British media publishes photographs of Uday and Qusay Hussein's corpses

 by Martin Belam, 25 July 2003

This site has been mostly search and very little web :: media :: politics for some time....

But I have to write tonight about the decision of much of the British press, including the BBC, to republish photographs of the corpses of Uday and Qusay Hussein released by the American military. And why I think it is wrong.

This is the same British press that objected that footage of British and American soldiers being shown on al-Jazeera television broke the Geneva Convention. Embedded in this BBC News story about When are pictures of POWs propaganda? is a picture of the Daily Mirror front page branding as 'sickening' the use of pictures of American POW's by the Iraqi's. And look at their front page today. On the web they are offering an option to view the photos of Uday and Qusay. Nearly all of the media, including the BBC News website, have dutifully re-published them.

You only have to search the parliamentary Hansard records to see a member of the current New Labour government, Ben Bradshaw, answering a question with the words:

"The Hon. Gentleman may have a point in connection with the outrageous broadcasting by al-Jazeera of pictures of captured and dead British soldiers. That is intolerable, and against all the international broadcasting conventions."

I am not an apologist for Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq. I am not debating whether the concept of "political assasination" is a legally legitimate act after the head of an armed force has publically declared hostilities over. I am not in full possession of the facts surrounding this fire-fight. And I am not suggesting that the British soldiers who were killed had anything in common with Uday and Qusay.

However, I have demonstrated what the reaction is to any non-British press or media outlet publishing or broadcasting similar pictures of dead British people.... I can't work out why it is alright to sell papers on the basis of these pictures.

1 Comment

I think it is more than proper to show the world these guys are gone. I think Americans hold themselves at a higher moral standard than do most people. We need to come to grip with the fact that we are and may have to continue to be as barbaric as the rest of the world. Once we as Americans come to terms with who we are and how we are viewed, then we can truly progress as a civilization

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