Saturday, August 18, 2012

Reporters Without Borders or Without Scruples?

I always thought Reporters Without Borders was a wonderful thing, because, you know, free speech! free press! Then I did some research. From Reporters Without Borders - SourceWatch:
Robert Menard, the Secretary General of RSF, was forced to confess that RSF's budget was primarily provided by "US organizations strictly linked with US foreign policy" (Thibodeau, La Presse).
Doctors Without Borders has a wonderful name; they came up with it in 1971. Flashforward to 1985 when the unrelated group, Reporters Without Borders, was formed to— Well, the official story is to fight censorship, but if you follow the principle of "follow the money," the answer is different. Their paymasters were the National Endowment for Democracy, the darling of neoconservatives everywhere.

For an organization that claims to be concerned with the safety of reporters, its priorities are odd. From Diana Barahona: Reporters Without Borders Unmasked:
From the beginning, RSF has made Cuba its No. 1 target. Allegedly founded to advocate freedom of the press around the world and to help journalists under attack, the organization has called Cuba "the world's biggest prison for journalists." It even gives the country a lower ranking on its press freedom index than countries where journalists routinely have been killed, such as Colombia, Peru and Mexico.
From Spinwatch - Reporters Without Borders Financed by CIA:
Reporters without Borders mounted a campaign in 2002 characterizing the trial and imprisonment in Cuba of more than two dozen journalists, among 75 "dissidents," as a violation of human rights. The Cuban government insisted that the accused were mercenary agitators paid by the US to pose as "independent journalists." As Granma reported, "none of them even passed through a journalism faculty or school of journalism and never wrote a single line of journalism."
From The deceit of Reporters Without Borders:
RSF establishes their annual index that includes 169 countries. According to the organization’s figures, 105 journalists were murdered over the year. Iraq were at least 62 were killed was the most dangerous place, followed by Mexico (8), Somalia (7), Pakistan (4), Afghanistan (4), Sri Lanka (2) y Eritrea (2). It would be no surprise if these countries ended up with the lowest scores. However, with the exception of Eritrea ranking 169th, this is not the case...

How is it that Eritrea, where only two journalists were murdered, ended up ranked below Iraq (157), Mexico (136), Somalia (159), Pakistan (152), Afghanistan (142) and Sri Lanka (156)? Perhaps because that nation is on Washington’s black list and RSF receives funding from the CIA front National Endowment for Democracy, NED?

Likewise what is the explanation for Cuba ranking 165 when not one journalist has been killed there since 1959? Why is this nation ranked below Iraq, Mexico, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Brazil (84), China (163), United States (48), Haiti (75), Nepal (137), Paraguay (90), Peru (117), Democratic Republic of the Congo (133), Turkey (101) and Zimbabwe (149), where at least one journalist has been killed? RSF explains that Cuba’s poor ranking is due to journalists being imprisoned. Just supposing the organization is correct on this point –which is actually far from being the case-, wouldn’t killing journalists still be more serious than imprisoning them?
From UNESCO has withdrawn its patronage of the Online Free Expression Day, organized by the non-governmental organization, Reporters Without Borders:
RSF published material concerning a number of UNESCO’s Member States, which UNESCO, had not been informed of and could not endorse. Furthermore, UNESCO’s logo was placed in such a way as to indicate the Organization’s support of the information presented.
See also:

Media Manipulation and the United Nations; UNESCO Severs Ties to Democracy Manipulators?

Thoughts from London: Reporters Without Borders or without scruples

Diana Barahona and Jeb Sprague: Reporters Without Borders and Washington's Coups

Part 2: Our spies are journalists, yours are terrorists:
Reporters Without Borders and jailed "journalists" in Cuba

The US arrested the Cuban Five over ten years ago. Their crime? Giving Cuba information that was in the public domain about rightwing organizations and individuals with ties to terrorism like Luis Posada CarrilesCORUAlpha 66Omega 7, and Brothers to the Rescue. Anyone who cares about free speech should champion the Five.

Who are the "journalists" arrested in Cuba? From Document - Cuba: Massive crackdown on dissent | Amnesty International:
In what has been labelled by dissident groups as the biggest crackdown in a decade, at least five dozen people from different provinces across the country have been detained in a major police operation. Those detained include journalists, owners of private libraries and pro-democracy members of illegal opposition parties, including promoters of the Proyecto Varela.
A few of the arrested, like Raúl Rivero and Oscar Espinosa, are clearly journalists—which doesn't mean they weren't spies, of course. No one denies they met in private with James Cason, a US agent whose resume reeks of spycraft. Whether Granma exaggerated the lack of journalism experience of the people detained, I don't know. Unlike the Cuban Five, they were accused of working to overthrow a government, but like the Cuban Five, their work was nonviolent. All of the "Black Spring" detainees have been released. Only one of the Cuban Five has been released on parole.

It's no wonder Cuba is suspicious of US involvement in its nation. The US history of secret operations in Cuba is long and ugly. Here's a bit from Human rights in Cuba about the US's last pet dictator there:
Even some of Batista's supporters expressed concern when, in an effort to combat Castro's forces, police officers were given license to kill those suspected of organizing a general strike in April 1958. The torture and murders of civilians including two young sisters in Havana outraged the public, as did the activities of the CIA-funded Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities (BRAC).