Friday, 11 July 2008

Junta Media Accuses Western Politicians, Media of Cyclone Opportunism

The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s state-run The New Light of Myanmar on Friday accused unnamed western politicians of making political capital out of the Cyclone Nargis disaster.

In a commentary that also slammed the western press coverage of the catastrophe, the official daily said: “In truth, some politicians from the countries of the west bloc exploited the sufferings of storm victims for political gain.”

Two US newspapers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, and The Times of London were accused of irresponsible and untruthful reporting.

They and other western publications had concocted false stories and photos, “stolen news stories” and carried “mock interviews,” the newspaper charged. The reports weren’t believed by most Burmese but still impacted on the goodwill of aid donors, it complained.

The New York Times was singled out for allegedly “creating” stories about starving farmers in the cyclone-devastated areas. Western press reports had also claimed cyclone victims were despairing and without hope, although that wasn’t the case, The New Light of Myanmar said.

The newspaper’s commentator recalled the case of a Washington Post report in 1981 about a heroin victim. The report was disclosed as a fabrication after winning the writer, Janet Cooke, the Pulitzer Prize, the commentator said.

The New Light of Myanmar also questioned the amount of aid “powerful countries” were offering Burma in comparison with the “hundreds of billions of dollars” spent on military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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