NUJ attacks 'illegal and immoral war'

Dear: “in name of freedom, freedoms are removed”

The war on Iraq was condemned as “illegal and immoral” by NUJ delegates.

A motion condemning the war, overwhelmingly backed by delegates, also accused the “mainstream UK media” -with only a few exceptions – of “collaborating in pro-war government censorship and propaganda”.

The conference also sent its “condolences” to the families of all the victims who were said to have paid the “blood price for oil and US power”. The motion said the best way to support the UK troops was to bring them home.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear spoke of the decision by local newspaper proprietor Sir Ray Tindle to stop his titles carrying anti-war reports, letters or comments.

“The thin veil of press freedom was suddenly torn away,” he said. “The right to know was removed and no criticism of war would be tolerated. If that was an isolated incident it would have been bad enough, but it was not. It was the most graphic, and in many ways, the most honest example.

“We have journalists embedded with the military, with US military controlling, to a large degree, the substance and timing of any reports. The BBC bans journalists from attending anti-war demonstrations. Independent media has been subject to the most sophisticated and sustained jamming operation ever. TV stations in Baghdad and Basra are bombed.”

Dear added: “In the name of freedom, freedoms are removed. In the name of democracy, democratic rights are trampled underfoot.”

Delegates instructed the union’s executive to continue its support for the Stop the War Coalition.

Only one delegate spoke against the anti-war motion. Nicola Walsh (North West Lancashire) said: “I know I am in a minority here but the motion does not represent the views of members of our branch. In particular, there are people in our branch who would not agree that the war is illegal and immoral. Again, there are some members who would feel that supporting the Stop the War Coalition does not reflect their non-political views.”

The conference called for an independent, public inquiry into the death of ITN reporter Terry Lloyd.

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