The first casualty of war is the truth

Image: Ales Ustinau


The hegemonic means of communication distort information, censoring the freedom of the press that they claim to defend

The playwright of ancient Greece, Aeschylus, highlighted that the first victim of war is the truth, today we can see it in the hegemonic means of communication that manipulate information through lies and disinformation, seeking to impose a single thought and the monoculture of minds.

The war between Russia and Ukraine is not isolated, protagonists intervene who claim to want peace, but encourage conflict and try to put out the fire with more fuel. They send weapons to Ukraine and apply economic sanctions against Russia. The manipulation of information is censorship of press freedom; we have to safeguard journalists, men and women who risk their lives to report on the facts of the war, but those responsible for the great hegemonic means of communication censor information, they are part of the system and responsible for the lies.

I cannot fail to mention Julian Assange, arrested in a British prison with a request for extradition to the US for revealing State Department documents on the atrocities committed in Iraq and around the world. They try to silence Julian and hide the Truth and the murders from journalists around the world.

This is nothing new, it is a long story in the life of humanity shrouded in lies, misunderstandings and intentional forgetfulness. We need the memory that illuminates the present and we need to know that the first victim of war is the truth.

During the Iraq war, the US and its allies spread George Bush's lies that Iraq possessed "weapons of mass destruction", accompanied by a major campaign by the world's hegemonic media, endorsing the policy with their complicit silence. and justifying war.

On February 12, 1991, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate from Northern Ireland, invited me to travel to Iraq on a humanitarian mission. Due to the air blockade imposed by the US, we would depart by land from Amman, Jordan, to Baghdad. We traveled in a van with a symbolic load of water, which was worth more than gold, as the water in Baghdad was contaminated by radiation from depleted uranium bombs. The goal was to deliver the small shipment to the Pediatric Hospital. We had information about the serious situation that doctors were facing due to the lack of medicines and other supplies.

When we arrived in Baghdad, the small delegation, consisting of Mairead, Father John, Jesuit, FOR member – Fellowship of Reconciliation –, from the USA, a journalist from Great Britain and myself, was received in the semi-destroyed hotel, lacking everything. We rested after the exhausting journey and the next day a Muslim woman explained to us that she had left the refuge to wash her children's clothes. When she returned, after the bombings, her children were no longer there, they had been taken away by death.

According to information from the major media, two smart bombs had entered through the ventilation pipe and destroyed a bunker military. The truth is that they destroyed and killed more than 500 children with their mothers, it was a refuge, according to Vamveyda, mother of Veyda. The first bomb killed many people, the second came in and raised the temperature to over 500 degrees, killing almost everyone and destroying the pipeline. Only 17 people survived. We denounced the facts at an international level, the response was silence. The US justified the fact as “collateral damage” in any war.

We accompanied the woman to the supposed bunker in a circular shape, among the rubble and remnants of the bombing. Families took pictures of the children, drawings, clothes, and made the place an oratory. We accompanied the pain of those present and of all the people of Iraq, we joined hands and we prayed to the God of all names and of no name, in languages ​​we did not know, but which we understood with our minds and hearts, we prayed for the souls of the children , whose lives and hopes were stolen, we asked God for an end to the war, we were in communion with all mankind. A man told me: “I don't believe in God, I don't know how to pray”. I answered him, “don't worry, God believes in you, just keep silent to listen to the silence of God that he says to you and to humanity”.

As for the current situation between Russia and Ukraine, we pray for them to stop the war, we believe in the power of prayer and ask that all religions unite in calling for an end to the war. Peace is not presented, it is built and it takes courage to achieve it.

It is not by sanctioning Russia that the conflict will be resolved, the US and Europe must “disarm the armed reason” they have in their structures and minds. Russia must stop the war and sit down at the negotiating table. Ukraine must save its people and resolve the situation, which does not imply being part of NATO or having military bases and biological and chemical laboratories under the guidance of the US State Department, which exposes its complicity, and stop massacring breakaway provinces like Donbas and others who have suffered from Ukrainian violence for eight years.

There are no innocents in war, everyone is responsible. Violence brings more violence, not a solution to conflict.

I remind you of the tribune Pilate who cynically washes his bloody hands with innocent victims, and asks: "What is truth?", despite attempts to kill the truth. An ancient proverb says: “The darkest night is when dawn begins”, time and again the light appears and is reborn in prayer and in the spirit, we do not lose hope in life that another world is possible. God gave us the gift of freedom, the human being is responsible for the use and abuse we make of it.

*Adolfo Perez Esquivel is an Argentine human rights activist. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980..

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.


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