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Accelerated Media and the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh

It was at the time of the 1971 war in Bangladesh that television began to change the "rules" of conflict journalism - a complex situation, with multiple causes and linkages to colonial structures was flattened into a "good versus evil" narrative. The genocide was a marker of the trend in TV coverage of conflict zones, the first victim being the news cycle - the focus is always on the "hot news", which becomes "cold" very quickly, shifting the spotlight on to the next "hot spot".


Accelerated Media and the 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh

Naeem Mohaiemen

world imagination. Already incensed by the Vietnam war, the global peace movement was able to mobilise in support of this new cause. Bill Moyers and his men led a mediasavvy blockade of US shipments to Pakistan. Joan Baez and George Harrison both had number one singles titled “Bangla Desh”.

It was at the time of the 1971 war in Bangladesh that television began to change the “rules” of conflict journalism – a complex situation, with multiple causes and linkages to colonial structures was flattened into a “good versus evil” narrative. The genocide was a marker of the trend in TV coverage of conflict zones, the first victim being the news cycle – the focus is always on the “hot news”, which becomes “cold” very quickly, shifting the spotlight on to the next “hot spot”.

Naeem Mohaiemen (naeem.mohaiemen@gmail. com) is an artist based in Dhaka and New York, working in video and archives.

The title of the article in the EPWdigital archives replaces an erroneously framed title in the originally published article. – Ed.

apid technological transformation is altering the way media covers conflict zones facing civil war, ethnic warfare or genocide. Reporters have always played a pivotal role in shaping the outcomes of major conflicts, reaching back to the Congo crisis of the 1800s and beyond. The 1971 genocide in Bangladesh was a key marker in this media influence. Although the technology of media was changing rapidly through the 1950s and 1960s, the 1971 conflict ushered in a full spectrum use of media technology.

The Made for TV War

Significant to a discussion of race and technology, the genocide was played out on western television sets. The victims and protagonists were often absent as storytellers. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) camera persons were in the region, capturing scenes of the tragedy. Television had already embraced a primary role in war reportage in Vietnam. With CBS broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite inside war zones, and nightly news stories of GI death tolls, this was the first television war. But even within that tableau, the iconic stories of Vietnam were broken in print: the My Lai massacre, the battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Napalm burnt girl, the burning monk, and the point-blank execution.

When the Bangladesh civil war began, television cameras pushed into refugee camps, documentary film-makers followed senator Edward Kennedy on his factfinding mission, guerilla activists pulled media stunts targeting the 9 o’clock news, and George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh became the blueprint for future mega-events like Live Aid. Harrison’s Concert was not the only outpouring of support for besieged Bengalis. The conflict, with its images of random massacre, and shadows of ethnic cleansing, captured

Then, as now, a US president continued to support a corrupt Pakistani military regime because of strategic considerations. Like Rumsfeld, Kissinger became increasingly isolated, escalating into Rasputinlike secrecy and paranoia. And like Howard Dean, (pre-Chappaquidick) presidential hopeful Ted Kennedy used the genocide as a tactical weapon against Nixon. Kennedy seized on the Bengal crisis as the latest evidence of the Nixonian tradition of supporting non-democratic, ruthless military regimes. In Europe, Andre Malraux threatened to parachute into Pakistan to fight with the Bengali guerrilla army. From London’s Trafalgar Square to the Paris Arondissements, protesters mounted street theatre and loud protests.

The Nixon White House kept up a spiri ted defence, but the mediagenic protesters had the upper hand. A bill was pushed through the Senate banning US arms sales to Pakistan. The US Seventh Fleet sailed into the Bay of Bengal and faced an equally determined Russian fleet. The world was, as in Cuba, on the brink of nuclear confrontation over a tiny country. Pakistani posturing at the UN continued, while a bored ambassador George Bush looked on. But all this diplomatic sound and fury could not stop the inevitable birth of a free republic. The world saw in the defeat of Pakistan a direct humiliation of the US, and a vindication of Vietnam-era protest politics.

‘Missionary Complex’

If you can write a nation’s stories, you needn’t worry about who makes its laws.

– George Gerbner1

George Washington Williams, a freed American slave, was the first investigator to expose king Leopold’s Congo misrule. Williams’ Open Letter was the first comprehensive, documented charge that the Belgian colonial regime was engaged in wholesale slavery. His charges included torture, forced slavery, cruelty, kidnapping

January 26, 2008 Economic & Political Weekly


and concubinage and concluded with the critique, “Your Majesty’s government is engaged in slave-trade, wholesale and retail. It buys and sells and steals slaves”.2 This was followed by an open letter to the US president urging American action. But when newspapers like New York Herald ran the story, they gave equal weight to the Belgian denials. Leopold’s advisers were initially concerned by “un vrai scandale” of “le pamphlet Williams”. But they soon found it fairly easy to attack Williams’ veracity and bias. It was easily shown that Williams could not be trusted because, as a Black man writing about Africa, he had inherent sympathies and bias. Congo administrators were able to repeatedly caricature him as “an unbalanced negro”.

A decade after Williams, E D Morel, an employee of an English shipping line doing business in Congo, stumbled onto the mechanics of king Leopold’s empire. As a quiet shipping clerk who paid attention to bookkeeping records, Morel discovered massive amounts of arms being shipped to the Congo off the record. He also analysed the discrepancy between imported goods and exported rubber and ivory and discovered the Belgian state was not paying anyone for these materials. This led him to the conclusion that, hidden from the public eye, king Leopold was running the colonial state with thousands of natives working as slaves to extract raw materials and plunder the nation, while pretending to the outside world that Belgium and the Congo were engaged in a mutually beneficial trading partnership. Describing the fortuity of his discovery, Adam Hochschild wrote, “It was as if, in 1942 or 1943, somebody who began to wonder what was happening to the Jews had taken a job inside the headquarters of the Nazi railway system”.3

Morel was a very different opponent from Williams – with access to the sympathy of white readers, he could not easily be debunked. Morel first resigned his commission and began working for British newspapers. Finding his articles censored, he quit in 1903 and started his own publication, The West African Mail. Besides editing the newspaper, and writing under his own name, he also took on an African identity and wrote as “Africanus”. He went on to write three full books and segments of two others, hundreds of articles

Economic & Political Weekly January 26, 2008

for British newspapers, articles in French for French and Belgian newspapers, hundreds of letters and dozens of pamphlets. Morel’s reporting ultimately forced passage of the Congo protest resolution in British Parliament in 1903. This was the beginning of the stirring of a global campaign, which would ultimately force an end to Leopold’s rule over the Congo. As a white employee of British shipping, Morel was presumed to be “one of us”. This gained him trusted access to precious records, which he then turned around and used against the regime. Although some may have considered him a “race traitor”, it was precisely his whiteness that gained him a wider audience.

Crusading Journalists

Looking ahead to 1971, over the course of the nine-month genocide in Bangladesh, several crusading journalists and activists burst into the spotlight. With one ex ception, every protagonist was American or European. Reporters covering the conflict included Sidney Schanberg (New York Times, Pulitzer-winner for his 1971 reporting), Tad Szulc (New York Times), John Chancellor (NBC News), and Jack Anderson (Washington Post, Pulitzer-winner for his reporting on Nixon’s handling of the crisis). The leaking of The Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, and the subsequent government lawsuit against Daniel Ellsberg had already set a confrontational path between American journalists and the embattled Nixon White House. Anderson followed this by divulging official secrets regarding Bangladesh, later dubbed The Anderson Papers.

On December 3, 1971, direct war between India and Pakistan began. It was in this period that Anderson discovered a disconnect between public White House statements and secret meetings. On December 6, Nixon informed leaders of Congressional groups that the Administration planned to be “even handed” 4 in the dispute. But according to secret memos obtained by Anderson, in a meeting on December 3, Henry Kissinger said the opposite:

Henry Kissinger (assistant to the president for national security affairs): I am getting hell every half hour from the president that we are not being tough enough on India...He wants to tilt in favour of Pakistan.

Richard Helms (director, Central Intelli

gence Agency): There are conflicting reports

from both sides...The Paks say the Indians

are attacking all along the border; but the

Indian officials say this is a lie.

John Irwin (under secretary of state): The

Secretary leans toward making a US move

in the UN soon.

Kissinger The earlier draft statement for

Bush is too evenhanded.5

In another memo obtained by Anderson, Kissinger said, “When is the next turn of the screw against India?” He also asked if the US could ship arms to Pakistan via Saudi Arabia or Jordan. More damaging for Nixon was the revelation that he had secretly ordered the nuclear-operated Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal to confront Indian forces. The Enterprise was headed off by a Russian frigate and after a tense standoff both sides retreated, leaving the Indians and Pakistanis to fight out the war. How close the world came to another Cuba style nuclear standoff was not revealed until Jack Anderson wrote about the affair based on secret memos. Anderson publicly blasted Nixon over his handling of the Bangladesh crisis: “Now you don’t like to say the president lied, but there is no other word for it. The President lied. It was an outrageous lie. It was deliberate and it was in violation of the US constitution”.6

Through this very public battle between Nixon and the Fourth Estate, we saw the emergence of the crusading American journalist and hero figure. There were many Indian journalists covering the same story, none of whom received the same attention. On the Pakistani side, reporter Anthony Mascarenhas was the first person to announce the discovery of ethnic cleansing. The word “genocide” was first in print in his front-page article for the London Sunday Times. Speaking of how Asian journalists were frozen out of the inner circles, Mascarenhas commented: “I had been too long a journalist not to know that a relative ‘outsider’ such as I was, even with the biggest story in the world, could be indefinitely knocking on the doors of Fleet Street.”7 In spite of his authoritative role, and personal connection to the conflict, Mascarenhas was soon eclipsed in the larger narrative of 1971. Instead, it was Jack Anderson, along with peace activists such as Bill Moyer who emerged as the


protagonists of the movement to “save Bangladesh.” The Bengalis themselves were rendered side-props to the unfolding crisis of their own nation.

‘Pre-Technology’ People

Oh those unspeakable Serbs! And then there are the envious Hutus and the arrogant Tutsis, not to mention the aggressive Dinka. Consider how many groups of people and cultures about whom – until they were recently engaged in bloody civil wars – you knew little, but of whom you now have a clear, despairing, view.8

– Jean Seaton

As television has come to dominate news reporting, this hyper visual media has changed the rules of conflict journalism. Complex situations, with multiple causes, linkages to colonial structures and hazy outcomes are flattened to “good vs. evil” narratives, or as David Keen describes it, “Who’s it Between?”9 There is a desire to reduce all conflicts between ethnic groups to “ancient barbarism”, or the infamous “from time immemorial” explanation for the Bosnian conflict. This is explained by a theory of primordialism, as reflected in British coverage of the Bosnian conflict: “They were driven by that atavistic fury that goes back to the times when human beings moved in packs and ate raw meat”.10

This theory of primordialism plays out strongly in media coverage of African conflicts, infected by a streak of what we can call “afro-pessimism” – where Africa is always a savage land that descends to bestiality at the slightest provocation, with no agency assigned to its colonial history. African political cliques also play into this, because a theory of prime bestiality allows them to escape censure and legal action. The Rwandan conflict is a recent example where a complex political process laid the groundwork for ethnic cleansing. But all this was deleted in favour of the story of “ancient hatred” between Tutus and Hutsis. Much was also made of the use of machetes to accomplish the genocide, playing into the notion of a pre-technology people: “Although the killing was low tech – performed largely by machete – it was carried out at dazzling speed: of an original population of about seven and a half million, at least eight hundred thousand people were killed in just a hundred days”.11 This is precisely why the killing of well-armed GIs at the hands of a “pre-technology” Somalimob, using the lynch mob tools of the American south, came as a shock to the American body politic.

These simplifying structures were used to paint an easy-to-digest narrative of the 1971 conflict and mobilise international support for the victims. Lost in this process were the complexities of the struggle, especially the conflicting political strands within the Bengali liberation movement. The movement for greater autonomy, as it erupted in Pakistan in the 1960s, had two important aspects. First, there was the strongly class antagonistic workers vs business overtone of the struggle. Second, there was the potential for the movement to become a pan-Pakistan movement, as the West Pakistani students and unions were equally dissatisfied with the newly industrialising economy. These trajectories were challenged by the rise of the Awami League (AL) as the key political movement in East Pakistan. The AL was led by a newly powerful Bengali middle class and business elite. This leadership considered the Marxist rhetoric of the students and unions to be a direct threat to their own power.

When the 1971 civil war broke out, these tensions manifested themselves overtly, especially as the Bengali guerilla army set up headquarters in India. The Indian government had two concerns as they actively assisted in setting up the rebel command in exile. First, there was the opportunity, to split up Pakistan, reducing the military and strategic might of its closest rival besides China. Second, there was a focus on the militantly leftist tendencies within the Bengali movement, with the intention of derailing these strands and preventing linkages with the underground Maoist party (the Naxalites) in India. Both the Indian administration, and the AL leadership actively perse cuted the leftists within the Bengali guerilla army. These unresolved tensions exploded after indepen dence, when the new Bangladesh government engaged in a “dirty war” against leftist parties.

Images of Gentle Bengalis

But in the media treatment of 1971, all these complexities were erased. In its place, a more palatable story of simple, gentle Bengali people, persecuted by more aggressive, militant and more Islamic Pakistan. Anthony Masceranhas played into this, taking tangible differences and pushing them to unintentional caricature:

In West Pakistan, nature has fostered energetic, aggressive people – hardy hill men and tribal farmers who have constantly to strive for a livelihood in relatively harsh conditions. They are a world apart from the gentle, dignified Bengalis who are accustomed to the easy abundance of their delta homeland in the east.12

Salman Rushdie replayed these constructs in his novel Shame, representing the Pakistani attitude towards Bengalis as, “Savages, breeding endlessly, junglebunnies good for nothing but growing jute and rice, knifing each other, cultivating traitors in their paddies.” And later, “... the appalling notion of surrendering the government to a party of swamp aboriines, little dark men with their unpronounceable language of distorted vowels and slurred consonants; perhaps not foreigners exactly, but aliens without a doubt”.13

All the hosannas about “gentle” people came in spite of a long history of revolutionary movements in Bengal. This included the 1930 Chittagong armory raid (inspired by the Dublin Easter Uprising), which was one of the first rejections of the Congress Party’s non-violent movement against British rule. An even more serious challenge to Gandhian non-violence came from guerilla leader Subhas Bose and his anti-British Indian National Army. In fact, the technology-rejecting programme of Gandhi offered comfort to the British, while Bose, who believed in fighting the British with modern weapons, was a far more unsettling sight. Remarking on the allure of Gandhi, Orwell said: “The things that one associated with him – home-spun cloth, ‘soul forces’ and vegetarianism – were unappealing, and his medievalist programme was obviously not viable in a backward, starving, over-populated country”.14

During the anti-British movement, a segment of the Bengali intelligentsia rejected the back-to-nature and non-violence programme of Gandhi. They preferred to arm themselves with western weapons and carry out militant struggle. But the Bengalis in the 1971 conflict were portrayed as helpless victims with no recourse to modern weaponry. The iconic image in the western media was of a Bengali villager defending his mud shack with bamboo sticks, while on the other side the

January 26, 2008 Economic & Political Weekly


Pakistani army came armed with modern weapons. Although the Bengalis were clearly outgunned by a well-armed Pakistani army, the portrait of “gentle, riceeating people” obscures darker complexities. Later, when they came to power, Bengalis showed the same penchant for using brute force for cruelty and domination.

For the purposes of a television-friendly story, the narrative structure had to be boiled down to striking visual images. The photo of a half-naked Bengali woman being carried by her husband, and the crippled refugee hobbling through mud towards India came to represent the Bengali masses. Increasingly lighter camera technology made it easier to go to remote zones to capture these images. Film-maker Lear Levin was able to take a full camera crew to follow a Bengali singing troupe that was raising funds for the guerilla army.15 This new technology allowed the capture of verite moments, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Levin’s images of refugee camps, starving children and valiant Bengali freedom fighters were tailor-made for the new television era. These ima ges inspired Americans to carry out a pater nalistic “crusade” on behalf of the Bengali movement. It was also necessary to have the victims be a pre-tech nology people. The Ben gali peasant, shirtless and starving to death, was a comforting image in the west. The middle class, guerilla fighter, using Chinese bombs to attack international hotels in occu pied Dhaka was a less comforting image.

Shock Value and Media Stunts

A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.

– Joseph Stalin

By 1970, a proliferation of TV channels, competing broadcasts and industry pressure led to the acute “9 o’clock syndrome”. This was the pursuit of news that was calibrated to appeal to a mass audience tuning in for event viewing – that is the 9 o’ clock news. In order to appeal to an increasingly mechanised news gathering process, it was necessary to pursue shock value and media stunts.

Another development of this time was the media’s need for stunts or “events” which would be worthy of inclusion in headline news. Many American activists had taken on the Bengali cause as the logical successor

Economic & Political Weekly January 26, 2008

of the anti-Vietnam war movement. They found, however, that the mainstream media had become blase to anti-war protests. In this environment, a group of activists called Friends of East Bengal (FEB) hit on the idea of creating events or “street theatre” to grab the television cameras. Led by a media-savvy Bill Moyer, FEB decided to mount blockades of ships carrying US arms to Pakistan, using little boats and canoes. “Like civil rights sit-ins, it was dramatic, direct and non-violent”.16

Starting in July 1971, this team began a sustained campaign of tracking down the Pakistani ships Padma, Al Ahmadi, Al Hasan and Rangamati. As each of these ships would try to dock at Philadelphia or Baltimore, the FEB would head out to the dock with their flotilla of small boats to block entry. The focus was always the media – no trip was taken without first contacting TV, radio and newspapers and ensuring their timely arrival. The results were always measured by whether newspaper reports carried photos, and more importantly, whether the TV news carried film of the event. In this period, Bill Moyer emerged with a relentless focus on TV news, often delaying actions until reporters arrived.

As the action grew in scale and spread out across weeks, a cat and mouse game ensued between the shipping lines and protesters. Increasingly the ships would change course and not arrive. Soon, the authorities started getting orders not to reveal docking information. A Phila delphia Maritime Exchange officer confessed to one of the activists: “We’ve been instructed not to make public any information on ships to Pakistan. We’re not supposed to put them on the big board or to list them in the Journal of Commerce.” The pursuit of the ships became the news item itself. Each time the blockade would show up at a dock and not find the ship, the news media would be told the ships were afraid to dock. In these matters, the protesters showed themselves very adept at managing the media. The changing dynamic of direct action was reflected in one confrontation: “One reporter angrily confronted Bill Moyer: ‘You got us here on a wild goose chase. The boat’s not here.’ Bill smiled: ‘I guess you don’t know a successful blockade when you see one. The ship is afraid to come in. We’re claiming success and we’re going to continue.’ ”

In an image-driven era, the protesters were highly aware of their own visual impact. Almost all the activists of FEB were white. Bengali activists were on the sidelines, partially due to the dominance of white activists, and also out of fear of reprisals against their families in Pakistan. The one exception seemed to be Sultana Krippendorf, who was married to an American and therefore presumably had some immunity. Richard Taylor was the unofficial biographer of the blockade movement, and in his descriptions we see a high awareness of race-coded visual impact. In his text, he almost seemed at pains to delineate the “all-American” makeup of the participants. The lack of faces of colour in the movement went unremarked. In Taylor’s iconography Alex Cox was a “red haired Texan”, Jack Patterson a “tall, slim, mustached, 32 yearold”, and Wayne Lauser was “tall, with a head band”, On the other side, patrolman Walter Roberts, who showed sympathy to the demonstrators, was descri bed as “friendly, open face, with hazel eyes and close cropped blond hair”.

Although there were few Bengalis in visible positions within the movement, they were fetishised as “foreign objects” by the media. Monayem Chowdhury, the Bengali male in the group was inevitably described as “short, soft-spoken, Gandhilike” and Sultana Krippendorf was in “flowing sari, petite figure, long black hair, lovely dark skin, and large brown eyes”– elsewhere she was a “lovely woman with foreign accent”. Television channels, newly confident and self-aware, actively picked up on these visual cues. Because TV carried nightly broadcasts of the blockade action and its “colourful” protagonists, newspapers also followed, afraid of being left behind by the newer media. The power dynamic had shifted – television was where the action was, and the protesters now calibrated their activities based on which images were ideal for moving film. Reflecting the new reality, Bill Moyer told a planning meeting:

I can talk every night for one hundred years to audiences of one hundred people, and still not reach nearly as many people as I get on CBS evening news just one time. I can pass out hundreds of thousands of leaflets and still not reach anything like the audience Walter Cronkite reaches every night.


It was the full realisation of the television war.

Fast Media and ‘Hot News’ Cycles

As technology brings breath-taking changes to news media, the two largest impacts are in portability of media tools and the compression of the news cycle. One reporter can have a full news production kit, including video camera, editing laptop and satellite phone in one briefcase. As tools get smaller and faster, the cycle of news -gathering is getting faster. Going back to the Congo genocide, the gap between the news-gathering and broadcast was often months. George Washington Williams’ open letter to king Leopold, subsequent open letter to the US president, publication as a pamphlet, citation in the New York Herald, translation in the French press and eventual rebuttal – each of these milestones occurred with gaps of several months. Between Williams’ initial report, and E D Morel’s next investigation, there is a gap of ten years. In totality the media coverage of the Congo crisis extended over many decades.

Today there is incredible velocity in media mechanisms. The speed of media change can be shown through a simple comparison between two years. In 1994, when an earthquake hit Los Angeles, it took 40 minutes for the news to reach president Clinton, via department of housing and urban development secretary Henry Cisneros who was sitting in CBS tele vision studios. In contrast, a year later, when the Kobe earthquake happened, university students – the earliest users with access to internet networks – started spreading word of the earthquake before the tremors had even faded. “The ground was still shaking when university students began firing up their computers to spread word of the disaster”.17

As speedy media takes over, the first victim is the news cycle. In conflict zones, the focus is now always on “hot news”. Today a conflict in Sudan can only hold attention for a few months before the press is sent on the next hot spot. This pattern of rapid media exhaustion seems to have already been established in 1971. It has often remarked that the Indians intervened in December 1971 because they correctly calculated that waiting any longer would cause the world media to move on. Nine months seems to be the optimal time for

conflicts involving the developing world as crusaders for truth, at other times they
to stay on western television screens. are angels of mercy.
In the rush to move on to the next war Second, new media necessitates flat
zone, the media missed most of the major tened narratives, which lead to obscured
developments inside Bangladesh between complexities and cartoonish good vs evil
1971 and 1979, all of which can help explain sides. This need is combined with a theory
the current situation. Out of media sight, of primordial behaviour among develop
Bangladesh’s first years were plagued by all ing nations. Following this line, conflicts
the unresolved tensions of the 1971 civil war are the natural result of savagery lurking
manifesting themselves through instability, below the surface, and tensions that go
conflict, palace intrigue and death. Although back to the “beginning of time”.
reporters like Jack Anderson made their Third, the proliferation of visual news
name by investigating Kissinger’s double has led to an overemphasis on the use of
dealing in 1971, by 1975 no western media shocking statistics to jolt the viewer. This
seemed interested in pursuing the rumours can often lead to a race to inflate death
that the CIA station chief in Dhaka had, at the tolls and casualty rates, in order to gain
least, known about the coup in advance. The space on TV screens. This is coupled with
following years set a familiar pattern of inst the need for events and media stunts to
ability and turbulence. None of this seemed gain attention. The inevitable result is that
of much interest to any media anywhere. conflicts without a media-friendly visual
The hot zone had moved elsewhere. image are neglected by the world stage.
Today the genocide and eventual libera- Finally, accelerated media news cycle
tion of Bangladesh is often rewritten in means that “hot news” becomes cold very
media reports as the “Third India-Pakistan quickly. Conflicts that last for longer period
war”. What was a conflict between the are simply left behind by the news cycle.
Bengalis of East Pakistan and West Pakistan Accelerated development of the related
is now a footnote in the story of “enduring technologies has come at a high price.
enmity over Kashmir”. Over the last three Highly evolved technologies have led to
decades, the Kashmir conflict has mounted dehumanisation of the news cycle. It is
steadily, sending India and Pakistan to the crucial to find ways to use advanced tech
brink of nuclear war. Both sides now find nologies in media work without losing our
it strategic to describe the 1971 war as a di original humanity and complexity.
rect conflict, deleting the Bengalis from the
equation. There is a “since time immemorial” Notes
subplot, but the Bengalis themselves do not 1 George Gerbner, appearing on Bill Moyers’
have space within this narrative. Journal: TV or not TV, April 23, 1979. 2 Quoted in Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost,
Mariner Books, 1998, p 111.
Conclusions 3 Hoschchild, p 177.
The Bangladesh genocide is both repre 4 Vinod Gupta, Anderson Papers: A Study of Nixon’s Blackmail of India, ISSD Publications, 1972.
sentative and atypical of media-led globalised conflicts. It is representative be 5 Memo to assistant secretary of defence (December 3, 1971), quoted by Gupta, p 97. 6 Anderson, speaking to Inland Daily Press Associa
cause many of the issues regarding elimination of complexity, racial coding, news tion Convention, February 29, 1972, quoted by Gupta, p 44. 7 Mascarenhas, p iv.
cycle and the narrator played out in a fashion similar to other conflicts. It is atypi 8 Jean Seaton, ‘The New Ethnic Wars and the Media’, The Media of Conflict, Tim Allen and Jean Seaton (eds), Zed Books, 1999.
cal because certain factors converged to make electronic media the deciding factor 9 David Keen, ‘Who’s It Between? Ethnic War and Rational Violence’, The Media of Conflict, Tim Allen and Jean Seaton (eds), Zed Books, 1999.
in the mobilisation of world attention to this 10 Guardian, April 25, 1998.
conflict. Several key trends emerged in 11 Philip Gourevitch, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families,
coverage of the Bangladesh civil war that were seen in other conflict zones as well. Picador, 1998. 12 Mascarenhas, p 10. 13 Salman Rushdie, Shame, Jonathan Cape, 1983, p 195.
First, the ubiquitous role of the narrator, especially a white journalist or protagonist. 14 George Orwell, Reflections On Gandhi, A Collection of Essays, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1953, p 172. 15 Documented by Catherine and Tareque Masud,
In various conflicts, they play the decisive Song of Freedom.
role of storytelling and building the defining 16 Richard Taylor, Blockade, Orbis Books, p 7. 17 John M Moran, ‘Internet Becomes Quake-Net’,
history. In many cases, they are fashioned Hartford Courant (January 20, 1995), A1.
January 26, 2008 Economic & Political Weekly

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