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Band Aid Conspiracy

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  • Roger Anderton
    This article illustrates the self imposed censorship that the Media uses so that the opposite to what they say is the truth--- so that Band Aid s money
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 13, 2004
      This article illustrates the "self imposed censorship" that the Media uses so that the opposite to what they say is the truth--- so that Band Aid's money raised to save starving people of Ethiopia, really used to kill more of them.

      The same sort of Methodology is used by the Establishment to cover up the truth about UFOs.

      Interesting article below about Band Aid trying to raise money to save the starving people of Ethiopia. There was a COVER-UP and most of the money really went to the Ethiopian Government that had deliberately created the Famine, and when anyone tried to reveal the TRUTH they were smeared.

      Daily Mail Nov. 13, 2004

      The Myth of Band Aid:

      20 years ago, Bob Geldof raised £60m for famine relief in Ethiopia. Now a distinguished documentary maker argues the money only made matters worse and raises disturbing questions about such charity, by Daniel Wolf

      TWENTY years ago almost to the day, Do They Know It's Christmas? was released. Written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure and performed by Britain's most glittering rock and pop stars of the day, who came together under the name Band Aid, it was one of the biggest hits of all time, selling 3.5 million singles and raising more than £10 million for famine relief in Ethiopia during 1984/85. Today, the Band Aid wagon is still rolling. This weekend a new generation of artists including Coldplay, Dido, The Darkness, Robbie Williams and Travis are set to re-record the song for Christmas 2004 with a proportion of the profits going to the starving in the Sudanese region of Darfur. This week, a DVD of the July 1985 Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia was launched and is being sold in huge numbers.

      Live Aid raised £60 million and turned Bob Geldof into a worldwide celebrity, forever memorable for his passionate outburst during the broadcast of the concert, exhorting television viewers to: 'Give us your f****** money.'

      It was, without doubt, a brilliant idea to weave together rock music, live television and human tragedy in one powerful event and I know from talking to Geldof that he is a deeply sincere man.

      But there is a problem with his approach to humanitarian aid and, as we now reminisce over the Band Aid/Live Aid legacy, it's time we recognised it.

      What Geldof offered then was action - no questions asked. But how much good did we really do in Ethiopia in 1984? Is it the truth that we actually did harm? And might the harm even have outweighed the good?

      During my investigations for two television series, I was shocked by what I learned. We really believed that we'd 'saved' Ethiopia from its catastrophic famine, that we had indeed 'fed the world'. But we didn't. The true story is much more complex and much darker.

      When Michael Buerk's first report on the Ethiopian famine ran on BBC News on October 23, 1984, the stark images of the dead and dying shocked a complacent world. We thought that this was a natural disaster - in Buerk's words: 'A biblical famine.'

      All that was needed, we believed, was money to buy food and to get it to the starving. But, crucially, what we didn't know was that this 'biblical famine' had been created by man. by the government of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia.

      Admittedly, there had been a severe drought in the region where the famine had broken out, but Mengistu was trying to suppress a rebellion in the same area. He was using food as a weapon of war, by withholding vital supplies and destroying crops. In short, he was starving his own people.

      In a continent whose recent history has been marred by a succession of bloody dictators, Colonel Mengistu ranks as one of the most brutal.

      He came to power after the 1974 reyolution against the last Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie. Shortly afterwards, he unleashed the 'Red Terror', in which tens of thousands of suspected opponents of his regime were imprisoned without charge, tortured and then executed.

      To terrify the population further, the mutilated bodies of the murdered were left for up to three days in the streets, in front of public buildings, schools and universities.

      Not surprisingly, what Mengistu did in the years after the revolution provoked resistance across Ethiopia. At the time of the famine, he was fighting three rebellions, two in the north and one in the south.

      On October 27, 1984 - just four days after Buerk's film was transmitted by the BBC - Mengistu's armies launched a massive new offensive in the famine-stricken areas of the north. That vital fact got lost in the furore created by Buerk's first broadcast.

      The world didn't know that government troops were setting up road blocks to prevent the movement of food, while the air force was bombing fields of crops and food markets.

      The world didn't know that Mengistu's own forces were committing atrocities - includ-ing, we were told, the bursting alive of villagers - in the region where the famine was unfolding

      When people are living at subsistence level, it doesn't take much to push them over the edge into starvation. The methods used by Mengistu's armies were bound to create famine - and they did.

      When I spoke to Michael Buerk in the late Nineties, he acknowledged that self-censorship had played a role in his, and others', reportage at the time.

      He said: 'The absolutely overriding obligation is to tell the truth - but at the back of your mind, is the thought: "If I overemphasise a negative angle to this, I am going to be responsible for inhibiting people from coughing up their money?"'

      It wasn't Buerk's job to make sure the coverage was balanced, but the fact is the picture we received was distorted. The wars were certainly mentioned, but their real significance was missed.

      In other words, if people had known that Ethiopia's own government was behind the famine, then their sympathy - and their donations - would have been less forthcoming.

      In the event, the terrible pictures of suffering and the momentum generated by Geldof and the international aid agencies kept the money rolling in.

      Yet, in a grotesque irony, the end result was that we found ourselves furthering the brutal

      aims of the very government that was causing the famine.

      Most of the aid - 90 per cent or more - that poured into Ethiopia at that time came from Western governments, not from Band Aid. And as governments would deal only with another government, and certainly not with rebel movements, most of the aid - again, some 90 per cent - was channelled directly through Mengistu's hands.

      Meanwhile, Bob Geldof told the international media that agencies had to trust the representatives of the Mengistu government. That was naive because the entire aid operation was being manipulated by that government for its own ends.

      In 1984/5, up to a billion dollars' worth of aid flowed into Ethiopia.

      Craftily, Mengistu made sure that the aid operation converted its Western dollars into the local currency at a highly favourable rate. As a result,

      Ethiopia tripled its foreign currency reserves in 1985 and the regime used this cash to help build up its war machine.

      It also commandeered aid vehicles and diverted aid supplies to help feed its armies rather than the victims of the famine.

      The UN in Addis Ababa, which was co-ordinating the aid operation, denied there was large-scale diversion at the time. But later it emerged that it was wrong. Much of the relief food in Tigray, one of the centres of the famine, was given to the militias.

      Above all, the Mengistu government used the aid operation to support its military strategy. The whole region was a battleground, and the rebels controlled much of the countryside.

      The arrival of food supplies lured people away from rebel-held areas, helping the government to shore up its control over territory it had conquered.

      Those who watched Michael Buerk didn't know that his broadcasts were made from a government enclave and more pertinently that a huge proportion of the famine victims, possibly more than half, were outside the reach of the international aid effort.

      Mengistu insisted that he could reach virtually every famine victim, and that all the aid should be distributed in the areas his troops controlled.

      It was nonsense, and many knew it, yet the UN chief in Addis Ababa, Kurt Jansspn, supported the government's lies.

      Of course, with the public sympathy engendered by Live Aid and Band Aid, the UN and most aid agencies were reluctant to rock the boat at the time. They were also reluctant to open their eyes.

      In 1985, at the height of the famine relief operation, Mengistu decided to 'resettle', by force, more than half a million people from the north to the south of the country, at a cost, it turned out, of some 100,000 lives. His aim was to strip the rebel areas of their population.

      The money and resources for this vicious programme were provided, directly and indirectly, by the aid operation.

      During the resettlement drive, men, women and children were captured, sometimes from relief camps, under the noses of the aid agencies, and taken away to transit camps.

      I have spoken to a UN Food Monitor who witnessed some of these transit camps where people waited for transport, for days and even weeks, without food. They died in large numbers.

      When one aid agency, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), blew the whistle on these crimes, much of the aid community in Ethiopia closed ranks against them.

      Some accused MSF's volunteers of incompetence, even though many must have known that MSF's statements were true. MSF left the country just before the government issued an expulsion order, and the mass resettlement continued.

      So what conclusion can we draw today from the tragedy? The slogan of the time was: 'A starving child knows no politics.' It sounds convincing, but is it true? The aim during a war should be not to pretend the politics aren't there, but to get as close as possible to neutrality between opposing sides.

      The Ethiopian relief operation was never neutral: in effect, it favoured one of Africa's most brutal dictators and, in solving some problems, created others. To this day, the facts haven't been admitted, let alone properly examined.

      Looking back, it is hard to work out how many lives the international aid operation saved. Last month, Geldof told listeners to BBC Radio 5 Live that '30 million people were about to die'.

      Yet the belief that everyone in a huge region would have died, had it not been for the emergency aid, ignores virtually everything we know about famines and aid.

      Famine experts believe that the greatest difference is made by the individual's own efforts. Of course, aid can help. But it usually makes quite a small contribution to survival.

      The agencies certainly fed many starving people, but just as many were out of their reach.

      However, one point is certain: the war which we helped fund continued for another six years, claiming many tens of thousands more lives.

      Of course, this is no reason to have ignored the tragedy unfolding before our eyes, but the balance sheet isn't nearly as clear as put by Geldof and his supporters who claim critics of emergency aid are guilty of indifference.

      Yet how can we learn from our mistakes if we are not prepared to admit them in the first place? No one has all the answers, but a more informed public debate about the limits of aid would be a step in the right direction.

      Instead, aid mythology offers a kind of fairy-tale, in which there is a villain - in the case of Ethiopia, drought - there are helpless victims, and there are saviours, rushing in on (white) chargers with a magic potion that will take away the suffering.

      The truth is that if we took a more realistic view, there would be a cost: we would probably raise less money. But we might do more good.

      Above all we must remember that those who benefit most from aid fairy-tales are local governments, UN bureaucrats, television corporations and the agencies themselves.

      The victims are, so often, those whose suffering attracted the attention of the world in the first place.

      DANIEL WOLF, writer and documentary-maker, made The Hunger Business for Channel 4.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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