On August 29, the British Broadcasting Corporation or the "BBC" used a story published on the webpage of a fake NGO named "Survival International" (SI) about an attack on the indigenous Yanomami in Venezuela. The BBC reported it and spread it around the world without any investigation or corroboration as to the facts of the story or whether it even occurred in the first place. Their only source was SI and the only source SI used for their story was "campaign groups," without naming them. Both organizations first reported that "up to 80 Yanomami people" were killed by "illegal gold miners" in Venezuela and that the Venezuelan government allowed the gold miners in Yanomami lands, reporting that they frequently destroyed forests, driving these people out of their native lands and killing them with impunity.
In this analysis, we deconstruct this international media attack on the government of Venezuela, trace it to its original sources and examine the methods employed by an obscure "NGO," the BBC and Reuters News Agency. We begin with the original source of the story, Survival International.
Survival International (SI): On their website, SI describe themselves as "The movement for tribal peoples. Survival is the only organization working for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide." They state that they "work with hundreds of tribal communities and organizations and they are funded "almost entirely by concerned members of the public and some foundations" and that they
"will not take national government money, because governments are the main violators of tribal peoples’ rights, nor will we take money from companies which might be abusing tribal peoples.
"About 250,000 supporters from nearly 100 countries have helped us financially; millions now routinely seek our information, published in seven languages. We never restrict our information or materials only to those who can pay. We want everyone to know about tribal peoples."
The story of the attack on the Yanomami people is traced back to Stephen Corry, Founder and Director General of Survival International since 1984,
"where he took it from a situation of near bankruptcy to becoming one of the world's leading organizations in its field. He was also the chairman of the Free Tibet Campaign for many years, since 1993, and remains on its board."
On Wikipedia, Stephen Corry claims the lofty title of a "British anthropologist and indigenous rights activist." There is no reference to education that would support his claim to be an anthropolgist even though the Wikipedia reference to Corry describes anthropology thus: "Anthropology is the academic study of humanity." Instead, we are told that Corry dropped out of school at age 16. Wikipedia also provides a source titled, "An insight into the life of Stephen Corry." but the Wiki-link leads to "Not Found. The requested document was not found on this server." Our meticulous search for the title on multiple websites also lead nowhere. On Wikipedia, Stephen Corry's history is described as a world traveler, "mountain climber and ski-tourer." Wikipedia also says that Corry, "... was asked to lead the organization in 1984, where he took it from a situation of near bankruptcy to becoming one of the world's leading organizations in its field. He was also the chairman of the Free Tibet Campaign for many years, since 1993, and remains on its board." Corry lives in West Country, England and his real estate holdings and personal income were not found in our research.
|Stephen Corry, Founder & Director of Survival International, Mountain Climber, Ski Tourer, Academic Dropout.
Everything else published about Corry is filled with his "one-size-fits-all rhetoric" about the plight of indigenous peoples around the world and his passion for them.
The original title of the story published by Stephen Corry, "Yanomami Indians ‘massacred’ by goldminers in Venezuela," was carried worldwide by the BBC and Reuters and remains there today still bearing the date August 29. However, in the text beneath the original title Corry wrote an update on September 10, retracting the story, based on "confidential sources" and continued his attack on Venezuela (emphasis ours):
"Having received its own testimony from confidential sources, Survival now believes there was no attack by miners on the Yanomami community of Irotatheri. Yanomami from the area – in which many illegal gold miners are currently operating – had heard stories of a killing in July, and this was reported, by some, as having occurred in this community. We currently do not know whether or not these stories were sparked by a violent incident, which is the most likely explanation, but tension remains high in the area.
"The Venezuelan government’s reaction remains shameful. It has not said, even now, that it will remove the miners, and it immediately denied having found ‘evidence’ of killings, before even concluding its own investigation. Its supporters have gone further and accused its critics of being part of a right-wing conspiracy etc.
The Venezuelan authorities should continue to investigate this incident and, most importantly, must evict those invading the Yanomami and other Indian territories in the country."
So on the one hand, Corry says he no longer believes there was an attack on the Yanomami and on the other hand he demands that Venezuelan authorities continue to investigate an incident that he admits did not take place. He ends by demanding that Venezuelan authorities "evict those invading the Yanomami" when the Yanomami leaders themselves have repeatedly told the international media that their lands have not been invaded by gold miners or anyone else! This kind of brainless argument should tell readers what they are dealing with when they read anything Stephen Corry has to say.
On September 6, four days before Corry announced that, "there was no attack by miners on the Yanomami community of Irotatheri," he published the following article which remains today on Survival International:
Survival denounces Venezuela’s ‘whitewash’ of Yanomami ‘massacre’
"Survival has denounced the Venezuelan government’s repeated denials of a massacre against Yanomami Indians, calling on President Chávez to evict all illegal goldminers from indigenous territory and conduct a proper, on-site investigation. The President is the latest senior Venezuelan official to insist there is no evidence of an attack on the Irotatheri community, in a remote part of the Amazon, close to the border with Brazil.
"However, the Organization of American States has now joined Survival and indigenous organizations in the Amazon, in urging Venezuela to ‘conduct a thorough investigation to conclusively determine what happened.’
"The OAS says, ‘States have an obligation under international human rights law to conduct a judicial investigation into the serious acts of violence reported.’
Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director also said today,
‘If the Venezuelan government had the welfare of its indigenous peoples at heart it would be taking action to remove the miners from Indian land, rather than taking pains to deny there was a violent confrontation between the miners and the Indians. It’s behaving just like Latin American governments always have, putting the protection of its own reputation above the lives of its Indians. Next we’ll be hearing that we’re part of a capitalist conspiracy to destabilize the government in its election year, just as we’re part of a left-wing conspiracy when we denounce this kind of violence in rightist countries. Indigenous peoples have been treated equally badly by both right and left, for generations. President Chávez should get all those invading indigenous territory kicked out throughout Venezuela, and make sure this particular incident, where murders have been reported, is subject to an immediate and proper investigation.’
On Monday, the Coordinating body of Indigenous Organizations of Amazonia (COIAM) released a declaration recognizing the efforts of the investigation, but expressing their concern that the commission ‘did not reach Irotatheri Shapono, the place where the alleged events took place in July.’
Witnesses of the attack’s aftermath reported finding ‘burnt bodies and bones’
Stephen Corry's statement, "Next we’ll be hearing that we’re part of a capitalist conspiracy to destabilize the government in its election year" is telling. We have no doubt that he already read this charge against him and perhaps anticipated it before he wrote the original false story. We are definitely among those who indict him for being tool in the capitalist conspiracy to destabilize Venezuela this election year. We support that indictment with information provided in this article once again.
Brendan O'Neill, responded to Corry's myth-making on Survival International in The Telegraph (excerpts):
"Survival International, the eco-group that fights to keep the world's poor, isolated tribes preserved in aspic, has been caught out. It claimed there had been a massacre of tribespeople in Venezuela by mercenaries in the pay of a gold-mining company. It now transpires that this isn't true. Yet far from being contrite, far from apologising for having misled the world's media, Survival International – however inadvertently - has issued a cocky statement insisting that even though it got some facts wrong in this instance, it is still right in general. Behold the arrogance of those who fancy themselves as the saviours of the Third World's "noble savages".
"You would think Survival International would be mortified by its role in propagating the unfounded story of a massacre, and worried about the long-term impact on its reputation. Apparently not. It still imagines that it is on the moral high-ground, even crazily denouncing the Venezuelan government for its 'shameful' reaction to the claims of a massacre, where it 'immediately denied [the] killings before even concluding its own investigation' ... The reason Survival International is strangely shame-free over its role in placing unfounded horror stories in respectable media outlets is because it actually trades on myths and fairytales. ... Survival International spends all its time promoting a mythical, black-and-white take on the world. Its BS claims about a massacre in Venezuela simply took that mythmaking to its ugly logical conclusion."
Golden Map repeats much of Wikipedia's biography on Corry, saying that he was born in Malaysia in 1951 and that at age 16, he dropped out of Gresham's School, an elite private boarding school, "for pupils aged 3-18 years just four miles from the beautiful north Norfolk coast." Golden Map says that at Gresham's School, Corry "excelled in rifle shooting" and dropped out of school at age 16 "with the desire to travel and learn other languages." The same article says Corry "travelled to places like Nepal, Turkey and India" and "was particularly interested in learning about the country and fulfilling his passion of mountain climbing." At age 18 he "found himself at Mount Everest, Nepal." We are told that he was "influenced by his travels, and authors such as Jiddu Krishnamurti" and he dropped out of college at the University of Paris, Jussieu later and "sought to go to Brazil in order to study the indigenous people there, but was asked to stay in London and do research."
Our extensive research on this man did not reveal a single indication that Stephen Corry ever visited the indigenous tribes on whom he reports so much in Africa, Asia (exception - his mountain climbing and ski touring in the Himalayas) or South America - and certainly not to the largest of indigenous tribes in the Amazon, the Yanomami people. Having pored over 100 Survival International articles published on their website we found that every one begins with, "Stephen Corry said," but we could not find a single article with Corry reporting from anywhere other than London. Yet, Golden Map states:
"After several long field trips to South America on their behalf, combined with an ability to relate to Amerindians and anthropologists, Corry had become an expert on the status of the Indians of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador."
Is it not reasonable to assume that if Corry ever took a "long field trip to South America," we could find at least one report of his findings on his own website with "Stephen Corry reporting from Colombia ... Peru ... Ecuador ... or Venezuela?" Based on all our research, we can only conclude that Stephen Corry is a well-paid fraud exploiting the people he claims to serve.
The BBC: On September 11, 2 weeks after the BBC spread Stephen Corry's fabricated story to millions of its readers on August 29, BBC editors published a new one, "Yanomami 'massacre' report dropped by Survival International," admitting that it never happened. Stephen Curry didn't "drop" his report on September 11; rather, he "dropped" the original lies to the BBC 2 weeks earlier and the BBC did its job. But rather than apologizing to its readers, the Yanomami people and the Venezuelan government, the BBC continues to use their media crime to further malign Venezuela: "Survival called on the Venezuelan authorities to do more to evict miners from Yanomami land."
September 11, 2012
Yanomami 'massacre' report dropped by Survival International
Members of the community told reporters there had been no killings
Campaign group Survival International, which had urged Venezuela to investigate reports of a massacre of Yanomami people in the Amazon, says it now believes no attack took place.
Survival reached this view after speaking to its own sources, the group said.
Reports emerged in August that illegal gold miners had killed up to 80 people.
Venezuelan officials said a team sent to the area had found no bodies and no evidence of an attack.
The attack was alleged to have happened in the remote Irotatheri community, close to the border with Brazil.
Survival carried reports from Yanomami organisations which described how illegal gold miners had set fire to a communal house, and how witnesses said they had found burnt bodies.
There were said to be three survivors.
On Monday, Survival International said this account did not appear to be correct.
"Having received its own testimony from confidential sources, Survival now believes there was no attack by miners on the Yanomami community of Irotatheri," said a statement from Stephen Corry, Survival International's director.
Yanomami in the area, where many illegal gold miners are operating, had heard stories of a killing in July and this was reported, by some, as having happened in Irotatheri, Mr Corry said.
"We currently do not known whether or not these stories were sparked by a violent incident, which is the most likely explanation, but tension remains high in the area."
The Venezuelan government said teams sent to investigate the reports had found no evidence of an attack.
Indigenous rights campaigners said the Venezuelan officials might have failed to find the community in question, which is based in a remote jungle location.
Journalists were then taken to the area on Friday and Saturday, where Yanomami villagers said there had been no violence.
"No-one's killed anyone," a Yanomami man said through a translator. "Here we are all fine."
The Yanomami number an estimated 30,000, with their communities spanning the Venezuela-Brazil border area.
They have been resisting encroachment by gold miners for decades, accusing them of destroying the rainforest and introducing diseases.
In recent years the soaring price of gold on world markets has driven a surge in unlicensed gold-mining in many parts of the Amazon.
Survival called on the Venezuelan authorities to do more to evict miners from Yanomami land.
Military officials sent to the Irotatheri village said they had not found signs of mining activity in the area.
Reuters immediately spread the August 29 story of the Yanomami massacre far and wide, directing their verbiage against the Venezuelan government:
"Venezuela's public prosecutor on Wednesday said it is investigating an alleged massacre of indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest, after a tribal group told the government that a village of 80 natives was attacked in July from a helicopter.
"In a statement, the government said it had received word of the alleged attack by a group representing the Yanomami tribe, an indigenous people native to southern Venezuela.
"The area, along the country's long, remote border with Brazil, has a history of violent clashes between natives, gold prospectors, and other would-be developers in the region.
"A spokeswoman at the public prosecutor's office said the government could not yet confirm the attack nor how many people may have been killed."
When Reuters stated, "the government said it received word of the alleged attack ..." it failed to mention that the Venezuelan government received word of the alleged attack from none other than the original Survival International/BBC reports! Saying that the Venezuelan public prosecutor's office "could not yet confirm...," they are suggesting the incapacity of said prosecutor's office to even know the attack took place let alone the number of people killed. Reuters stated that all but 3 of 80 people in the village "were known to be alive," attributing their information to "fellow Yanomami and an international native rights group." German Dam and Mario Naranjo, writing for Reuters, further embellished the story, stating that:
"Luis Shatiwe, a leader of the Yanomami group told told a Venezuelan newspaper that the survivors were hunters who had been out of the village at the time of the alleged attack. The hunters, he added, heard a helicopter and gunfire and said a communal hut in the village was destroyed by fire."
But on September 1, 2012, Noticias 24 reported that Luis Shatiwe repudiated the "handling of the media" on a presumed attack on the native community. Noticias 24 said Shatiwe indicated that the mass media:
"distorted their request to investigate presumed attack to a native community located in the sector Momoi, High municipality Orinoco, state Amazon. Shatiwe questioned why the diverse media gave for a fact the death of members of the community Irotaweitheri without verification."
Shatiwe emphasized that the mass media does not understand their culture and that,
'They have repeated many times that there are 80 dead. That in our culture cannot be done. Therefore, it is not correct to mention so many times that there was certain quantity of victims until the informacion be verified'.
"We recognize that the institutions have helped us to organize, and the one from whom we have received the most support is the [Venezuelan] National Armed Force Bolivariana (FANB). FANB has given attention to our health, has helped us bring food to the communities of difficult access. On the other hand, they have not indicated at any time that Port Ayacucho people who supposedly witnessed the event have been found. None of those have arrived at the community Irotaweitheri. The ones that accompanied me live with me in Ushishiweitheri, Hocomaweiteri and Rapaiwheitheri. We are handling testimonies of those you index as third people [i.e. Shatiwe's reference is to third-handed information]. This is the form in which we communicate in the forest."
Reuters left millions of readers to consider who might have the ability to make, "a five-hour helicopter flight, or a five-day walk, from Puerto Ayacucho, the capital city of the southern state of Amazonas." Those trained in clinical hypnosis learn that suggestion is far more powerful than direct statements when influencing the human mind.
To provide an aire of credibility to the story, Reuters added a general statement:
"Like other Amazon tribes, the Yanomami in recent decades have struggled with efforts by outsiders to tap jungle resources or otherwise develop the rainforest. Often, the conflicting interests result in violence, though much of it goes unreported because of the scale and remoteness of most of the Amazon."
To beef up the credibility of their story and its only source, Reuters' used a claim from totally discredited Survival International that "another Yanomami" told them of evidence of the massacre:
"Survival International, a London-based organization that seeks to protect native peoples, said in a statement that another Yanomami told the group that tribespeople had found bones and charred bodies in the village."
Moreover, no evidence has been presented indicating that gold miners are encroaching on Venezuelan Yanomami lands, let alone attacking them. The Venezuelan military who investigated this alleged attack visited Irotatheri village and reported that they had not found signs of mining activity in the area. But of course, Stephen Corry, the BBC and Reuters would have us believe their reports are more credible than Venezuelan authorities.
First and foremost, the Yanomami and other native tribes in Venezuela are the most honored and protected by any state government in the world.*
The lie about the massacre of the Venezuelan Yanomami was created and published as a direct attack on the Venezuelan Government and its timing in advance of the October 7 presidential elections was not a coincidence. It began with Stephen Corry and Survival International, Corry, a fraud and his organization a tool of the imperialist media, are both used to condemn any government not found in Washington's favor on grounds of maltreatment of the indigenous people. Corry, obviously well-funded, presumably sits in his London office cranking out reports with feigned concern about the plight of the world's indigenous people. Corry does not visit the people who are subjects of his reports; rather, from comfortable environs in the U.K., he uses the most vulnerable people in the world to advance a political agenda.
The BBC lives and works in the same media brothel as Corry. Having no regard for the first order of journalistic integrity - investigative reporting and fact-finding, the BBC editors serve the capitalist, neocolonial empire day in and day out and lie as easily as they breathe. They have a special penchant for attacking Venezuela because of its success at building a socialist society and the growing power of the Bolivarian Revolution to influence the whole of Latin America and the world against the interests of capitalism.
Reuters employs its international engine to distribute articles like the one on the Venezuelan Yanomami all the way from television newsrooms and big city newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post to small town local newspapers, saturating their victims en masse with their lies.
These lies fabricated and given wing by Survival International, BBC and Reuters serve as an example of Media Terrorism, meant to turn whole populations against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and undermine the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America. They have abused the indigenous Yanomami and show no concern for their readers. They have not issued a single apology for the lies they published. An apology would run against the grain of their political agenda and their arrogance simply wouldn't consider it.
Axis of Logic condemns these NGO's and government-corporate media in the strongest terms and we aim to do our part in helping to bring them down by exposing their lewd practices with the weapon of truth.
BIO AND MORE ESSAYS AND POETRY BY LES BLOUGH
*Note on Venezuelan Indigenous Peoples and the government.
There are estimated to be about 500 thousand indigenous people in Venezuela or just under 3 percent of the total population. There are about 40 different indigenous tribes and the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution, re-written under the administration of President Chavez includes a chapter devoted to the rights of indigenous people. As a result, positions for indigenous people to participate politically at both national and local levels was created and have been filled ever since.
I haven't visited the Yanomami people, partly because I don't want to intrude, but I have visited other indigenous tribes in the Venezuelan Amazon. They and the Yanomami are probably the most honored and protected of any indigenous people in the world by a state government. The Venezuelan government is in constant contact with the indigenous people here and has positive relations with them. In fact, one of President Chavez' political strongholds is in the Amazonas and Bolivar states in the heart of the Amazon.
One example of how the indigenous participate and collaborate with the governmennt comes from my personal experience. When I visited a "remote" indigenous tribe in the Amazon in 2010, I interviewed a young indigenous doctor, living with his wife and children in their traditional thatched roof, ground floor home not far from St. Elena. He told me he was being paid for his work by the Venezuelan government to locate and share the medicinal herbs his ancestors have used from antiquity. He told me that the medicines his tribe uses and new ones that they are discovering are being studied by Venezuelan scientists in the new Venezuelan pharmaceutical company in Caracas.
The attacks by the corporate media on Venezuela for its treatment of the Venezuelan Yanomami people has indeed been insulting and a great disservice to those who read their lies but it's also been fortunate in the sense that it has exposed the institutions named in this analysis and those who lead them and sit in their corporate boardrooms.
- Les Blough in Venezuela