As I’ve mentioned before, living in North Cyprus can be a bit of an eye-opener. There are many guest workers here who leave their families back in their home country and come to this country where they work their guts out to send money to their parents, siblings, wives and children they’ve left behind.
I also remember our transit stay in Dubai, on our way from Australia to this island, where there is great wealth but also enormous poverty among the guest workers who toil for crap wages, in lousy working conditions and who get deported if they try to organise for a better life in the country exploiting them. We felt uncomfortable in Dubai and were glad we were only spending on night in a country of extremes of wealth and poverty.
We have spoken in the last couple of days to a couple of guest workers from Pakistan, there are a lot of them here working in restaurants, cafes, private homes, hotels and so on. One of them said to us: “Look, three Americans get killed in Boston and it fills pages and pages. It’s all you see on the TV news. But there’s hardly any coverage if people are killed by US drones or NATO forces in Pakistan or Afghanistan. What about the nine children killed by a drone recently? A small paragraph hardly noted in newspapers and on TV. Don’t we count? Don’t we lose loved ones? Don’t we grieve just the same as you? How come our lives mean less than Western ones?”
Well, of course, the only answer to this is that the Western media and so many in Western nations believe that Western interests are first and foremost. I remember reading the words of Dick Cheney, ex-US vice-president, who said he’d do anything to protect US interests (and for that, please read not “people” but “corporations”) which entailed of course the loss of thousands of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan to deliver huge profits to the armaments and private security industries, and expand US control of oil resources.
And in an interview on BBC World News I saw a Boston runner interviewed who stated she felt guilty because the three killed in the Boston bombings were killed because of her. Which is absolute bullshit because the people ran because they chose to and the bombers bombed because they chose to and the presence of the runner had nothing to do with the deaths. Plus I read how Australian viewers of the scenes of the Boston bombings could well suffer post-traumatic stress disorder.
And I thought how bloody self-centred those comments were. Me, me, me. Try living in Baghdad where daily car bombs have killed thousands of people – husbands, wives, mums and dads, kids. Now THAT’S stressful and anyone in Iraq’s capital is entitled to feel post-traumatic stress disorder in trumps. Or what about those people living in isolated areas of Afghanistan who’ve seen their loved ones blown to bits by US drones in conjunction with NATO forces who stuff up the targeting of their bombs and kill innocent people who are, in these days of weasel words, “collateral damage”. How the hell can we call the deaths of people “collateral damage”, for god’s sake?
I’m making these comments because we need to understand how frustrated and angry people get in developing nations when their interests are subsumed to Western interests. There are very few positive images of Asian or African or South American nations. They are mainly portrayed as poor, pathetic, starving or riddled with corruption. I mean – you can hardly say that corruption is the province of leaders of developing nations when 42 of 45 US Senators who voted against legislation empowering background checks on gun buyers received donations from the gun lobby!
But very often we here in North Cyprus see positive images on BBC Worldwide News from Africa, Asia and South America which mainstream news organisations don’t bother about because they’re focused on disasters, celebrities, and negative, negative, negative stories.
I do have to say, though, that I’ve found it interesting to read quite a few comments after the Boston bombings lamenting the fact that we pay huge attention to the loss of Western lives while paying scant attention to the loss of lives through violence or drought in developing nations. And The Australian newspaper in my home country actually published photos of the victims of bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq which you really don’t see too often because we’re considered too delicate to see the awful stuff these people have to deal with on a daily basis.
I want to make it clear that I am in no way condoning the actions of the bombers in Boston because all too often when people try to point out how turning a blind eye to the suffering of people in places like Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan provokes hostility and anger in some people in the West, you get accused of siding with those who bomb in the West. I personally find all bombers – whether they organise car bombings, suicide bombings or bombing from a distance with drones – gutless, heartless cowards. So I want to wind up with this poster from Facebook which I believe is the right approach to all bombings and violence and puts bombers where they deserve to be, beneath our contempt.
That means, of course, we ourselves don’t bomb because when we in the West justify the bombing of innocent people and let US and NATO forces get away with weasel words of “mistake, error, sorry about that”, we are no better than the car bombers and suicide bombers for whom we proclaim such contempt!