BBC suppression of assault details leads to fatality

By Ligali Media Network | Sun 23 October 2005

The BBC continues its suppression of details surrounding the alleged rape of a 14 year old by 18 men in an Asian hair and beauty shop and has portrayed the story as ‘Birmingham Riots’.

The BBC which has a history of suppressing, marginalising and ignoring crimes perpetrated against the African British community has been caught in complaints that accuse the corporation of being complicit in the cultivation of the climate that led to recent riots between the African and Asian community in Birmingham.

The corporation steadfastly continues to maintain that the ‘Birmingham Riots’ were the aftermath of a public meeting convened to address rumours of a sexual assault on a fourteen year old. In its articles on the BBC West Midlands local website it deliberately omits all details of the pertinent ethnicity issues which stoked the problem and fails to highlight that one of the central tenants leading to the launch of the Campaign for Silent Victims was to address the media whitewash by media institutions such as the BBC who failed to give the story any national prominence until a second and far larger protest was organised to attract media support and attention for the plight of the alleged victim.

Rally to give public voice for silent victims

The leading article on the BBC website continues its obfuscation of the facts and includes a fact box entitled ‘History of tension’ alluding to a fallacy that the violence which erupted was a result of historic ethnicity fuelled tensions between the African and Asian community. This attempt to project responsibility onto disagreeing factions within both communities has been described by many community leaders as a deliberate attempt to incite racial tensions.

A caption on the page claiming that ‘The rally was in support of victims of crime’ deliberately misleads readers. The rally was designed to give a united public voice for silent victims after a previous protest on Tuesday, 18 October 2005 where over three hundred people from the African British community was marginalised and reported by the BBC as people having ‘stopped traffic’ by 150 people.

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Whilst we object to the unnecessary broadcast of the n word in his Saturday 22 October show we are thankfully that BBC presenter Robert Beckford skilfully addressed the underlying issues on his topical debate show with both the care and sensitivity the topic deserved.

The African British community are stakeholders in the BBC yet the corporation continues to perpetuate anti-African ideology which not only misrepresents African people but also demonises and characterises our entire community as a ‘black’ people capable of only engaging in crime, sports or some form of entertainment.

During this Octobers African History Month the BBC has given away 50 Cent books as prizes, failed to respect the heritage of enslaved Africans suggesting that it’s labelling of an entire community’s ancestors as slaves is not disrespectful, it launched a Hip Hop weekend that edited out words such as mother f**ker while broadcasting the n word unedited, it focused explicitly on gun crime during its recent news stories on the rise in violent crime when other crimes such as burglaries had shown a far larger increase at 18%, ‘BBC Westwood’ need we say more and then it even had the temerity to commission a distressing three part series on Operation Trident and scheduled it at the same time as Crimewatch which was broadcast in its usual slot when the series finished. This list is not exhaustive.

Nonetheless the BBC’s lack of reporting on this specific issue is indicative of the corporations open contempt for its African British license fee payers. The BBC already has several solutions to the reporting of alleged crimes. The BBC also had professional broadcasters such as Henry Bonsu who has the experience and ability to discuss the issue without legally exposing the corporation or risk prejudicing any pending investigation. Instead the BBC let intellectual talent like him go and when we requested that its Radio 1Xtra should not be focused solely on music and incorporate a daily interactive topical debate programme addressing current affairs for young African people with a diverse level of programming supporting drama, politics and a diverse range of genres.

They refused.

Instead they adhered to their time honoured ‘we know best’ approach and commissioned an ‘urban’ station to compete with Capital Choice FM broadcasting only news, documentaries and of course ‘urban’ music because that’s all that ‘black’ people are interested in. As a result the station fails to attract the very audience it targets and is predominately listened to by a wider ‘urban’ audience.

We mention this fact because we believe had BBC 1Xtra included the diversity of programming we suggested then perhaps the underlying issues surrounding the alleged assault in Birmingham would have arisen much earlier in a timely and structured format amongst the young African and Asian listeners of the station and perhaps been able to help diffuse the tensions that arose due to the lack of a national media outlet for our community concerns.

Tragically one person has been confirmed dead and we are still no closer to getting comprehensive and hard investigative coverage from the BBC on the alleged rape of an fourteen year old child by eighteen men.

We at Ligali all hope this is a hoax because at least then this heinous crime would never have occurred, but either way the BBC now shares the national medias collective responsibility for contributing to the spilt blood of an innocent caught up in their game of anti-African politricks.

Please read the details contained in the attached archives and then consider that the BBC only modified it’s lead story to include the full details motivating the tensions AFTER we published our story exposing the corporations duplicity. Be under no misunderstanding that the BBC were fully aware of all the circumstances surrounding the initial protest on Tuesday when it chose to downplay the incident as ‘alleged assault on a teenage girl in a shop’. It has now sourced and published a quote following the violent clashes in Birmingham from Assistant Chief Constable David Shaw as having said there is "not a shred of evidence" to support the allegations but investigations were continuing.

We must ask;

1. why didn’t they do this earlier.

2. Why did they choose to suppress the news thereby allowing the ignited powder keg to explode?

We understand why comedienne Joan Rivers can claim that she is bored with race but is that a responsible stance for the BBC to take when forming editorial policy?

Remember… first do no harm.

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