I’ve been writing a lot about Iran’s state-owned PressTV. This station first came to my attention when they covered the story about Patricia Kelly’s criminal prosecution for illegally selling salmon. It shocked me how manipulative their coverage of this story was- it was incredibly overdramatic, and they misrepresented the truth in a number of ways. Their first story was made even more ridiculous when they included University of Lethbridge professor Anthony James hall saying that the Canadian government is intentionally killing our country’s stock of salmon as a way to kill-off our country’s indigenous people.
Joshua Blakeney is PressTV’s Canadian correspondent. He’s based in Calgary, and has been busy producing anti-Canadian propaganda for PressTV. His stories are toxic, and often filled with manipulative language and sometimes mistruths. I wrote about one of Blakeney’s mistruths back in July when he stated, on multiple broadcasts, that the Quebec student demonstrations were not about ‘free’ education– but, rather, the students were only asking for decreased tuition. Two weeks later, after being exposed, Blakeney changed his story.
This week the big story about Iran is how Terry Nelson, the former chief of the Roseau River First Nation in Manitoba, has travelled to Iran and is helping the Iranians to produce more anti-Canadian propaganda. He couldn’t have chosen a more controversial time to do this- Canada recently withdrew its diplomatic staff, and Israel & the US are threatening war over a claim Iran is getting ready to produce nuclear weapons.
The Iranian government, and their media outlet PressTV, are taking full advantage of Nelson’s visit to Iran. Each day he’s there, PressTV broadcasts new anti-Canadian propaganda, and it appears that Nelson is more than willing to help them- even if it means he has to bend the truth. And, he certainly did in his most recent appearance.
According to a report in the Globe & Mail, Nelson has travelled to Iran partly to ask the Iranian government to fund a refinery. This isn’t the first time he’s gone to another government asking for money- back in 2008 he went to the Venezuelan embassy to ask Hugo Chavez for money.
There’s a commonality between Venezuela and Iran- both countries have been criticised by Western governments for serious human rights violations. Human Rights Watch has published papers on abuse issues in both Venezuela & Iran. Regardless of Nelson’s beliefs on indigenous human rights issues in Canada (they most certainly do exist), his approach of aligning with foreign dictators is probably the worst thing he could do to help fix things here. Asking Iran and Venezuela for support with human rights issues is the equivalent of asking a child molester to take care of one’s children.
In the best-case scenario his actions are Naïve. In the worst case, Nelson is taking a direct attack on Canada…
So, which is it? Well, it’s hard to tell without being able to peek into his mind- but, some of the statements Nelson is making would leave one to believe it may be the latter. He’s been over-sensationalizing, and bending the truth. His most recent interview on PressTV titled Harper furious over aboriginals visit to Iran: Terry Nelson is a great example.
The first issue PressTV covers in the interview is the number of missing indigenous women in Canada. It’s a tragedy whenever a person goes missing in any country- particularly with women and children. And, the lack of police response to the horrors of the Robert Pickton case was a great shame for all Canadians. Fortunately, that incident had raised a lot of awareness about the issue and the police have become a lot more responsive since then. Of course, there’s always room for improvement with such an important issue.
But, is it a good idea to ask Iran to support indigenous women?
This is a country where women get stoned to-death for adultery (men most often don’t). Marginalized sex workers in Iran are also subject to stoning- a number of the missing indigenous women were in this category. Women who expose any part of their body besides their face and/or hands are subject to 70 lashes with a whip. Iranian women are not allowed to ask for divorce, but men are allowed unconditional divorce. Men are also allowed to take a second wife, even if the first wife doesn’t want it. Basically, women are almost treated as possessions in Iran.
Put simply, it’s incredibly perverse to see Nelson engaging the Iranian government to help with indigenous women’s rights…
The next bit of manipulation in the story is their coverage of the Quebec student strikes.
“Ottawa has shown no tolerance towards public protests. The government harshly cracked-down on student demonstrations against the high tuition fees…The widespread human rights violations go unnotices in the west as Ottawa’s allies turn a blind eye to the issue.”
Wow! People outside Canada who don’t know the truth about what’s happening here must really think we’re monsters! But, it wasn’t like that. During the strikes, anarchists started intentionally got into clashes with the police. Students (who wanted to go to class) were being blocked entry, anarchists ran into the Universite du Quebec a Montreal (and two women were assaulted.) These were not simple public protests- there was significant violence.
Nelson travelled to Iran with a colleague, Dennis Pashe- the former chief of the Dakota Tipi Nation. Pashe jumps into a conversation saying:
“It’s part of the ongoing effort by the Canadian to exterminate us. At one time there was 60-90 million First Nations people in North America, the United States & Canada- now there’s less than three million”
Pashe’s statement about there being 60-90 million indigenous people in North America before Europeans arrived is complete hogwash. In 1400AD, the global population was 350 million, high estimates of the North American indigenous population are that there was about 10 million people in 1492. Currently, there are 4.9 million indigenous people in North America- it is estimated that 40-80% of the deaths came from the arrival of Smallpox and other diseases.
So, yes, the decrease in population was tragic. And, yes, there were instances where Europeans intentionally spread Smallpox. And, yes, the situation was horribly tragic. But, making-up statistics like this is, at best, incredibly irresponsible. It doesn’t help better the situation- instead, gross overestimates will only cheapen the cause and enable racists and other negative people to help discredit the fight.
PressTV and the Iranian government don’t care though- they love the propaganda value…
Pashe then continues to discuss how the government was unfair to his people by closing down “a small smoke shop” and hurting their ability to make money. This is equally ridiculous- an a bit of a misrepresentation.
Due to their status, indigenous people have different tax rules than ordinary Canadians- they are not subject to paying sales, excise and property taxes. So, cigarettes come cheap on the reserves- but, the tax exempt status is not meant for sales to non-indigenous people. The reason native smoke shops get closed is because they are violating these rules. Nelson had quite a transparent statement on the case Pashe is referring to:
“The Dakota have 90% unemployment and we as warrior societies will protect them. We will begin by flooding the province with Mohawk cigarettes.”
That sounds like a bit more than “a small smoke shop”, doesn’t it? But, this being PressTV, they didn’t question any of their statements. To PressTV, the propaganda value of the piece is much more important than the truth…
The interview covered, and over sensationalized many indigenous issues- Nelson and Pasche did a great job on behalf of Iran’s president Ahmadinejad. I’ll give them the benefit of doubt and assume they are just useful idiots, and not committing treason. That said, they are treading a very fine line.
PressTV, on the other hand, is working with an agenda to hurt Canada- and, they are interfering with Canada’s indigenous people as part of their mission. The Terry Nelson & Patricia Kelly incidents are just the tip of the iceberg- it gets worse.
Last week, Alfred Webre (an American who has made his home in Canada) appeared on PressTV. Webre has collaborated with PressTV in the past, participating in a mock war crimes trial against the US- the only problem is that PressTV keeps framing the story as if the trial was real. This is typical of their blatant propaganda.
This ties into my research on Kevin Annett. Webre admitted he’s still participating in Annett’s fraud. He told PressTV that there was a mass grave found on Six Nations territory in Brantford Ontario, and that the Canadian government is trying to repress the investigation. Unfortunately, this whole story has been proven to be a lie. Even APTN has called Webre on his lies in their article titled: Iranian TV attacks Canada using “lawyer” who believes Obama visited Mars.
Do you see the pattern here? PressTV, an arm of the Iranian government, is working very hard to create division between the Canadian government and the indigenous people of this country. This isn’t just a single incident, but a series of targeted (and often untrue) attacks.
Documentary maker Maziar Bahari was arrested in Iran for his coverage of their 2009 election. Bahari was tortured by the Iranian government, and was then marched onto PressTV where he made a televised ‘confession’. Once Bahari was back in the UK, he filed a complaint against PressTV with Ofcom (the British communications regulator). After an investigation, Ofcom found that the interview was conducted under duress.
PressTV has been a party to torture…
This week, Eutelsat (a satellite boradcaster) took PressTV off of their transponders after receiving pressure from the European Union. According to a Eutelsat, the move was made because of “reinforced EU Council sanctions.” But, also, PressTV has been broadcasting the same type of lies and propaganda in Europe as it is in Canada.
I’ve been watching PressTV for several months now- what they’ve been doing is much more similar to espionage & sabotage than journalism in my opinion. Canadians who have been assisting PressTV with their cause need to stop for a moment, look deep inside themselves, and decide if it is worth the risk.
So, should PressTV be banned in Canada? I hate all forms of censorship- but, I don’t see banning PressTV as that. First, they are a state-owned media- their broadcasts represent a foreign government that is actively trying to cause damage to our country. Next Joshua Blakeney, their Canadian correspondent, is well-aware about the Kevin Annett story (his mentor Anthony James Hall has publicly stated that Annett has been hurting indigenous people.) So, PressTV can’t claim this is a simple mistake.
In my opinion, at the minimum, PressTV should come with a warning label. Perhaps the CRTC could insist that satellite & cable broadcasters overlay a message over their broadcast- something like this:
“Warning, some of the content on this station may not be true- please check other sources before believing their stories”