Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Open Letter to FRONTLINE: Where are Pakistan's Postives? Why is Shell your sponsor?
Children of poor, education and resource-deprived areas are easy targets for militants - especially when militants' popularity among the poor is high. Well-meaning officials are caught between a rock and a hard place and pressured/connected to sometimes ill-conceived and dangerous western support.
CONCERN #1: Where is the mention of the strengths of Pakistan: the founding visionaries, the current leaders and visionaries with integrity?
CONCERN #2: SHELL as sponsor: "FRONTLINE/World is made possible by SHELL, supporting freedom of the press -- and the independent journalists - who tell the stories of our times." Find this statement easily at pbs dot org here
Is it not reasonable - given the information I'm including in this Open Letter to Frontline - and the post on Essential Action re. Shell in Nigeria (just below this post) - to raise the following question:
How, then can Frontline's jounalists be fully independent - given this association with SHELL?
SHELL's Influence in NIGERIA: Members of militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), with hostages. Many Nigerians are angry because of SHELL's destruction and poisoning of their land - leading to more and more public support for militant groups such as MEND.
My Open LETTER -To The Executives of Frontline (also posted at Frontline's site):
Your Frontline Program which aired last night on Pakistan (May 26th) was full of important close-up information left powerfully unedited for the most part on the terrific dilemma Pakistan faces on every hand. Yet I am frustrated and I have two concerns which I hope you will consider and address with significant changes.
The FIRST is the most important: how much more powerful this program would have been if there had been at least a glimpse of the strong, positive historical underpinnings in Pakistan - which would likely still be more obvious today were it not for the manipulations of many dynamics - including the arming, using and then trashing of groups such as the Taliban - which have been used by the US Pentagon to do their "dirty work".
Even today, I know there are many Pakistani scholars, writers, schools, cultural masterpieces and a large movement of legal professionals who have worked most courageously toward a return to the rule of law. (And still are doing this strong quiet work.)
And there are also the multitude of courageous poor who even without enough resources have refused education by the Taliban and who are receiving respect, support and designs for help in more substantial ways.
We the large network of a supportive global community - including journalists who work without borders - would help considerably to end the terrorism if we would merely support education of the poor - the making for schools that could be administered by the Pakistani educators without being attached to any vehicles of death such as drone planes.
ALL that was completely left out in your documentary. Thus, unintended, this focus entirely on the most hellish, negative aspects of the most current era in Pakistan gives a hopeless warped feeling to this program which I'm sure you didn't mean to communicate. Also I fear that many who watched it well throw up there hands at more positive peaceful solutions and want to support nothing but killing of the killers. And where will that really lead in terms of long-lasting effect?
Yet I must address a SECOND area about which I am more eligible to speak: that of human rights which I've been following for some time and about the devastation of large lands and water sources in a country where I once lived with my husband soon after we married: Nigeria. What interesting timing that your courageous report came out the night before many human rights folk received the following article on on one of your sponsors in our email box: SHELL!
I realize that to do something of the breadth and involving the danger which you produced is extremely difficult and can't be kept entirely "pure" in terms of financial support and ties.
However, my trust in your "independence" as reporters ended for me when the name of this Corporate sponsorship came up. Besides what I know about Shell, this surely brings up quickly the hugely troubling ties to the west -this blatant Human Rights Violator.
This corporation has poisoned the areas of the poorest of Nigerians - this leading the the death of many children and others and making whole areas completely inhabitable. What are the poor to do? And there is so much more harm Shell has caused - including the destruction of the fragile bridges which the best-intended of the west hope to maintain with Africa and other nations, including Pakistan.
There is such a parallel here with other parts of the world, including Pakstani people's resistance in pockets at least - to the detrimental affect of western influence and the eventual resigning to violence among militant groups as so few can bare to have their sustenance so cut off for so long, watching children die and still work with the long wait often required for nonviolent activism.
Here's just an excerpt from the recent report received by inbox from ONE WORLD - A major and timely article:
One World dot net READ: New Outbreak of Violence in the Niger Delta here
Please read this story in FULL to see parallels as to how cooperation and alignment with such Western supported corporations with such an otherwise helpful report as yours could reduce trust and therefore the ground that your best reporters may have wished to see from their most courageous work.
Bush's Condi Rice, for one example, used to work for them as big shot for Shell for starters & she still claims the US doesn't torture nor has she ever expressed regret as far as I can see for the kidnapping, bounty and prolonged detention of Pakistanis nor the US drones which kill so many poor and unwarned--for the ruthless pushing of the taliban into Pakistan's major cities! (would Westerners want this done in our nations?)
(Although western-originated and supported Corporations and Western governments must take a great deal of responsibility for the current problems in both Pakistan and Nigeria with militants) What history will remember most are people such as Saro-Wiwa - and I hope viewers will also remember future documentaries by Front-line as well - especially when not aligned with sponsors such as Shell:
"We remember Saro-Wiwa by keeping alive his nonviolent struggle," added Ben Amunwa of PLATFORM/Remember Saro-Wiwa.
The Nigerian activist was a leader in the movement to defend the rights of Nigeria's Ogoni people and bring an end to Shell's gas flaring in Ogoni regions. Detained, imprisoned, and tortured during the early 1990s, he was executed by the state alongside eight fellow Ogoni activists in 1995.
Shell to Stand Trial for Its Role in Nigeria
"Gas flaring in Nigeria, where Shell is by far the largest oil company, poisons Niger Delta communities and is a large, wasteful source of global warming pollution," said Elizabeth Bast of Friends of the Earth in a statement launching the Shell Guilty campaign in April. "It's time for Shell to put an end to its human rights abuses and climate crimes, including its gas flaring in Nigeria." The group has joined several other environmental and human rights groups in encouraging concerned people around the world to pressure Royal Dutch Shell to stop the practice.
The global drive to hold Shell accountable and compel it to stop gas flaring in Nigeria was re-ignited last month, when a U.S. judge ruled that Shell must stand trial for its alleged role in the torture and execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Nigerian activists.
"Ken Saro-Wiwa's hanging revealed the true price of oil," said Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International.
Thanks for reading these concerns and I plead with you to attend and amend this matter if at all possible before your next broadcast.
With Sincerity and Deep Concern,
Connie L. Nash
PO Box 1267
Brevard, NC 28712
Posted by CN at 6:54 AM