Monday, May 29, 2006

Inaccurate & Inflammatory Reporting

As I continue to read local media reports about the 25 May incident in Krushe e Vogel/Mala Krusa, I see a pattern emerging in the local media that often the information presented is inaccurate or just downright untrue.  Or maybe it's the people involved that aren't giving the real story.  Either way, it sad to see such large untruths being printed in the media.  At last count according to my information, 13 UNMIK vehicles were damaged and two UN staff received minor injuries.  I have not heard any information on damage to KPS vehicles or staff...who despite what the local Albanian media has stated were present and in force.
Untrue:  One of the local papers reported that the convoy was protecting Serbs that had lived in the village before and were being returned.  Koha Ditore featured an editorial that complains about the visit questioning how the UN can talk about security and standards when criminals and perpetrators of war crimes are permitted to move around.  The truth of the matter is that the two Serbs (yes, only two Serbs) are representatives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) based in the Hague.

Fact or Fiction?  Villagers say that they recognized the Serb occupants of the vehicles as being from the village.  The organizer of the event, a older lady around 50 years old, escorted the group, including the lawyers, around the village for approximately 45 minutes before the convoy attempted to leave the village.  On video, she later stood in front of the vehicle with the two lawyers and demanded that they exit so the villagers could verify they were not from the village.  Talk about doing a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!
The next question I would ask would be, what if hypothetically the Serbs were from the village?  Would the Albanians villagers form a modern day lynching squad and exact the revenge they think they are due?  And then, wouldn't that in turn make them no better than the "perpetrators of war crimes" they were supposedly protesting?

Untrue:  A busload of school children got gassed with tear gas.  That's one of my favorite rumors because it is just so wildly untrue.  There were children injured, I believe the total count is 16, but I place the blame on their parents for allowing them to be there during the demonstration and encouraging them to lay down in front of the convoy's vehicles.  Demonstrations are no place for children and using children to protest adult politics is just the same as using them as soldiers in's just wrong in my book and the children actually should have been in school.

Untrue:  KPS only had one vehicle present and were not involved in the incident.  The truth is that the riot police that fired the tear gas were KPS officers.  The international officers protecting the two Serbs were busy driving away and avoiding getting the windows smashed out of the vehicles...and they don't carry tear gas.

Dream or Reality?  The villagers have made demands that the UN discuss visits with local politicians in the future.  I see serious problems with the security of individuals should that be the case but we'll just have to see what happens.