Posted 21 March 2007 - 08:53 AM
The following is a transcript of Holmes' interview with Ambassador Machivenyika Mapuranga. (Watch video on http://www.cnn.com/video)
Holmes: The Zimbabwe government is threatening to expel foreign diplomats in the wake of criticism over the treatment of political opponents.
What are Western diplomats accused of doing?
Mapuranga: Thank you for inviting me to this program. When you become a diplomat, one of the things that you must do, and you have to do, is to read the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and that convention clearly states, it clearly stipulates that a diplomatic agent can not and should not interfere in the internal affairs of the host country.
What the Western ambassadors have been doing in Zimbabwe is to team up with the opposition.
As you know, it all started when Tony Blair, the prime minister of Britain, in December 2003, and later in June 2005, while addressing the House of Commons, declared that his government's policy toward Zimbabwe is regime change, and this is why he has been pouring money into the coffers of the MDC [the opposition Movement for Democratic Change], through the Westminster Foundation, and the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, a body created to subvert the elected government of Zimbabwe.
Holmes: Well, if you have evidence of this, why have you not expelled anyone yet?
Mapuranga: Well, we believe that it has to manifest itself in deeds, and this is what has been happening now. And the minister of foreign affairs had a meeting with these ambassadors, and gave them a stern warning that if you tried to translate what you've been saying verbally, and if you translate it into deeds, the government will have no alternative but to expel you in terms of the Vienna Conventions.
Holmes: Well, you're saying the deeds have been committed. Why have their been no expulsions then?
Mapuranga: Well, the deeds have been committed. I think you are aware the buses have been burned. Police stations have been burned down by MDC thugs, and we would want to establish a clear connection between these deeds and the Western diplomats.
Holmes: You say opposition thugs. The government itself stands accused by the opposition of using, in the words of the opposition leader, hit squads, police hit squads, organized squads who are going out and attacking opposition leaders. And of course we have seen evidence of attacks on those opposition leaders. Is there a coordinated campaign to physically crackdown on opposition leaders in Zimbabwe?
Mapuranga: Well, we -- as you know, Zimbabwe became independent in 1980, and we have always been a multiparty state. There has always been an opposition in Zimbabwe. And we have been holding elections regularly, every five years, parliamentary elections, and every six years presidential elections, which were observed by the African Union, and before that the OAU and other regional organizations in Africa, and they've always said that these elections are free, and fair and reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.
But now you have a situation where these people, the MDC leadership, because they have been losing these elections, are now turning to violence.
You heard them say that they are going to have the final push, and that they are going to overthrow Robert Mugabe. This is unconscionable.
Holmes: Ambassador, that's the government's view, and the opposition has its view.
Mapuranga: They have been saying it...
Holmes: Well, let me finish. The government has its view and the opposition has its view, which is that the Zimbabwean government is organizing crackdowns, physical crackdowns, assaults on its members and not allowing them to protest and the like.
Here's my question for you -- with your country in an economic meltdown and this political difficult carrying on, why do you not allow Western news organizations to report from your country? For example, CNN, we're not allowed to report from Zimbabwe. Why not? Will you allow us to do so?
Mapuranga: No, we will not allow you to do that, because the CNN and the BBC they champion the imperialist interests of the British and the Americans, so they are totally biased, and...
Holmes: How so? How so? Why don't you allow us to come in there and report on the ground? It's very difficult to report from outside the country, isn't it?
Mapuranga: Because you will be misleading the world, so we do not allow enemy agencies, like the CNN and the BBC to report on Zimbabwe.
Holmes: So CNN is an enemy agency?
Mapuranga: As far as they espouse the regime-change agenda of the United States government.
Holmes: Reporting the comments of other governments is not acting on their behalf; it's reporting.
Mapuranga: We have been monitoring CNN reports on Zimbabwe, BBC reports on Zimbabwe, and they're clearly hostile.
Holmes: So you're saying no. If I wanted to come down and do some feature stories from Zimbabwe the answer is no?
Mapuranga:Yes, the answer is no.
Holmes: Until when?
Mapuranga:Until the opposition in Zimbabwe has renounced violence, and until...
Holmes: What's that got to do with CNN?
Mapuranga: Until the British and the Americans abandon their policy of regime change.
Holmes: But what does that got to do with media organizations?
Mapuranga: Well, because the media organizations support these two governments. You may say that is not the case, but we know that is the case.
Holmes: How can accuse media organizations, such as CNN and the BBC for that matter of this bias when you're on our air right now saying whatever it is you want to say?
Mapuranga: Oh, right now, I think you -- it is -- you have no choice, but to try and hear what the government is saying. But when we allow you to go into Zimbabwe, we know that your agenda is not a noble one.
Holmes: All right, we'll leave it there, ambassador. Thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it.
Mapuranga: Thank you.
Posted 21 March 2007 - 10:01 PM
"How a CNN-Reporter experience the war"
sorry, that's only in german, try to translate it in the next days...or anyone do it before i have time to do it! :wink:
But it's an interesting composition!
Posted 21 March 2007 - 10:38 PM
SURROUNDED by violence . . . Michael Holmes has made a name for himself as one of the best war correspondents with CNN.
March 13, 2007 11:00pm
WHEN Michael Holmes went to work for CNN back in 1996 he was the first Australian to be recruited by the American news network.
But today Holmes, pictured, is surrounded by a swag of compatriots, as there are dozens of Australians working at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta and in the organisation's bureaus around the world.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm in Sydney because there are so many Australians working for CNN these days," Holmes says.
"I was the first one they hired and I was terrified because CNN was the big league. I was happy, excited, proud and terrified to get the job.
"But now I think I am the luckiest journalist in the world because two-thirds of the year I'm in Atlanta anchoring a show, going home at the end of the day to have a normal life, and for the rest of the year I am off doing whacky things.
"I don't know any job that I would rather be doing and that sounds crazy because I work in some crazy places.
"The last time I was in Baghdad I was 500m away from a car bomb one day and 500m away from a fire fight another day."
Holmes has made a name for himself as one of the best war correspondents with CNN. Since anchoring the network's coverage of the Gulf War, and spending several months in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's regime fell, he has returned to the country eight times to report on the situation.
"Every time I go I try to see some light at the end of the tunnel, but the reality is every time I have been back, the security is worse and the death count is higher," he says.
"And every time I go to Iraq, things change and there are different dangers. This time the snipers were more deadly because their skills had improved. Snipers are a big deal now.
"There are some good ideas with what they are trying to do now, Petraeus (David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq) is a smart guy and an expert in counter insurgency, but I worry the ideas are coming too late. They should have been doing them three years ago.
"There are a couple of reasons I keep going back. I care about the people I know who are there and I feel guilty because I'm able to leave.
"But I'm a journalist and I go back because it's the biggest story in the world. I don't want to chase wars because I don't like getting shot at. I feel privileged that I get the chance to do it."
Spending so much time in a war zone has had an impact on Holmes who says he takes a few weeks after every visit to Iraq to "decompress" and deal with the experiences of being in such a hostile place.
"Where I live in Atlanta they have a dreadful habit of putting sheets of iron over holes in the road, when they are doing road works, and when a car drives over the iron it sounds just like a 50-calibre machinegun," Holmes says.
"It always takes two or three weeks when I get back from Baghdad to get back to normal. When there is a loud noise I don't go diving for cover, but I do react. A loud noise at a building site might sounds like a car bomb going off in the distance.
"When I have just come out of Baghdad, and I might have had a close call or seen people dead, I will be frustrated because the people at home just don't get it. They just don't understand, but that's because everyone has their own reality.
"My wife has done three tours of Baghdad with me now and she says that for the first weeks after I get home I am withdrawn and I don't talk much because I am processing it all."
Holmes has covered conflict in the West Bank, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Romania during revolution but he had his closest call in Iraq when his convoy was ambushed and two CNN staffers were killed.
"It was January 27, 2004, and I have that date and the names tattooed on my left arm as homage," Holmes says.
"We were 20km south of Baghdad and our two cars were attacked by AK-47s with amour-piercing rounds. The translator, Duraid Isa Mohammed, and driver, Yasser Khatab, were killed and my cameraman, Scott McWhinnie, was shot in the head, but he has recovered.
"It took me a second or two to realise what was happening. When I heard the first bangs I was talking to Scotty . . . I followed his gaze around and a bullet came through the back window and went through the front window and I realised what was happening.
"I looked at him (one of the attackers) and the window broke open, the car wasn't armoured so there were bullets flying everywhere. My everlasting memory was looking at the car behind us and seeing it swerve off the road and seeing the windshield was red. They were killed instantly.
"We got beaten up that day and if it hadn't been for the armed guard travelling with us, I would have been killed too. That was the turning point for the media. That was the end of being able to drive around the country or work unilaterally.
"Now being embedded with the military is a fact of life. If I walked out of my compound I wouldn't last 20 minutes".
Holmes has produced a special program on his last visit to Iraq called On Assignment: Month Of Mayhem which offers a behind-the-scenes look at Iraq.
The show, screening this weekend, was put together during one of the bloodiest months in Iraq since the war began from January 9 to February 10 and "chronicles life in a news bureau surrounded by violence".
On Assignment: Month of Mayhem, CNN, Saturday 4pm and Sunday midnight, 5am and 4pm
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