The recent systematic massacres of Colombian people by government forces have not received major coverage in Western newspapers despite irrevocable documentary evidence. There are videos, pictures, witnesses and even admissions by state authorities and their agents.
Contrarily, the problematic claims of Chinese “internment camps” for Muslims have enjoyed front-page spreads in major news outlets despite a noticeable lack of reliable sources. The lack of concrete evidence forces us to accept a few testimonials conducted by unreliable researchers, most notably the far-right Christian fundamentalist academic Adrian Zenz.
Why do all the major Western mainstream media outlets focus on a story with flimsy evidence while ignoring another that is easily verifiable? The answer is geopolitics.
Despite Western liberal news outlets purporting themselves to be objective and reliable, there is evidence that not only shows them to be politically biased to their region, but at times even lobbyists and agents for international political action.
This explains why mainstream Western media is obsessed with printing a story about China, a political and economic rival of the West, with no reliable sources, while ignoring the concrete crimes of the Colombian state, which is an established geopolitical ally.
Comparing the Evidence
In August 2020 alone, there were ten recorded massacres in Colombia, with 46 killed in total. The motives are unclear and the direct culprits are yet to be uncovered, but the pattern of previous massacres point to right-wing paramilitary groups with ties to the state. A spree of massacres where poor and racially oppressed groups are the targets, as is the case with the massacres in Colombia, should outrage the so-called international community. Western coverage of these systematic killings, however, amounts to a handful of articles that reproduce the narrative of the Colombian state, without probing their involvement. There’s still no official statement by a Western government on these killings.
This lack of coverage and international pressure on Colombia’s authorities is probably because there’s little proof they were involved, right? Wrong. On Sept. 9, the brutal murder of lawyer Javier Ordoñez at the hands of police authorities sparked protests across the country. Some of the largest protests took place in the capital, Bogotá. These protests led to the police killing another 13 young people and seriously injured hundreds more; the majority were victims of live gun rounds. The state has accepted responsibility for these killings, yet the reports across Western media outlets are not calls to pressure the government or accusations of international human rights violations, but rather simply descriptive reports that often reproduce the justifications used by state authorities.
But we can’t compare this to what’s happening in China because the government there has killed and tortured countless Uyghur Muslims in internment camps right? Plus, all of the “serious” and “trustworthy” media outlets like The Guardian, the BBC, Associated Press, and others, have all reported this, so it must be true, right? Again, wrong.
There’s actually no evidence that shows a single Uyghur Muslim murdered or tortured by state authorities (apart from in counterterrorism operations). In fact, the root cause of the Uyghur issue can be traced back to 2010, when religious extremists in Xinjiang planted a bomb that killed seven policemen and injured 14 others. Since then, there have been multiple terrorist attacks by Uyghur religious extremists. The last of these attacks took place in 2017, when knife-wielding men killed five people. The response of the Chinese government, in this context, has been the promotion of a training and vocational program to deter those at risk of being persuaded by extremist religious views and not “re-education” and “internment” camps, as is widely reported in Western media.
The evidence used to denounce supposed human rights violations in China consists of reports commissioned by Western government agencies, NATO, and the arm’s industry, which all benefit from military escalation. Furthermore, one of the more widely-used sources for “internment camps” in China is none other than the pseudo-scholar Zenz, a Christian right-wing fundamentalist who states that his mission on earth is the dismantling of communism. Had Zenz published anything rather than an anti-China study no one would have taken him seriously.
In an attempt to spark a conversation in the English-speaking world around the humanitarian crisis in Colombia, we started a social media page, Red Condor Collective, where we post first-hand accounts and actual footage of state crimes. Our most-watched video has just over 45,000 views on Twitter and just a few hundred re-shares. We’ve also managed to raise £2,700 in order to support protestors with their legal fees. These are meager numbers compared to the millions of views, thousands of shares and hundreds of thousands of dollars that dubious Uyghur “internment” and “concentration camps” reports and videos have received.
Western liberal media, and Western society by extension, we have seen, are selectively humanitarian and selectively outraged by human rights abuses. In fact, we have evidence that there’s a widespread practice of reporting events in a distorted manner to suit their region’s geopolitical and military interests.
The problem here isn’t that Western media have an evident bias and sometimes even an overt and active political objective. Media outlets everywhere in the world always have these. The problem is that it purports itself to be neutral and many of us who claim to be critical thinkers accept this absurd assertion.