Monday, April 2, 2007

UK TV: Brit troops abusing iraqi's, bad timing ... (what a double standard)

Channel 4 attacked for Iraqi abuse drama
TelegraphUK Andrew Pierce, Paul Stokes and Richard Savill 03/04/2007

There was growing opposition last night to Channel 4's plans to broadcast a controversial drama about British troops abusing Iraqi captives.

The fathers of two of the British Royal Naval personnel being held in Iran called for the screening to be postponed amid fears it could hamper delicate diplomatic efforts to secure their release.

Gerard Kearns portrays one of the young soldiers in the controversial Channel 4 drama dealing with prisoner abuse in Iraq
Gerard Kearns portrays one of the young soldiers in the Channel 4 drama dealing with prisoner abuse in Iraq

Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, has already warned that the drama, The Mark of Cain, will hand a propaganda opportunity to insurgents and put British lives at risk.

Yesterday Robin Air, whose son Chris, 25, is one of the 15 British naval personnel being held by the Iranians, said the timing of the drama bordered on "reckless". He expressed concern that it could impact on negotiations to free his son and his service colleagues.

The father of Nathan Summers, another captive, had similar fears. "The timing is very bad," Roy Summers said.

Publicity for The Mark of Cain says it will show how "Iraqi detainees are mistreated at the hands of the soldiers [who are] desensitised by violence and encouraged by their mates". Channel 4 says it is a "provocative, graphic and moving drama portraying a group of young British soldiers in Iraq" which is "inspired by real events".

The film has already been advertised on one Islamic website.

Mr Browne has warned it could be viewed as portraying real events and could be used by those seeking to "incite hostility towards UK forces".

His fears were echoed by Colonel Tim Collins, whose eve of battle address to the troops of the 1st Battalion Irish Royal Regiment before the Iraq invasion was the inspiration for the title of the programme. "Channel 4 should put this rubbish in the dustbin," he said.

Officials at the Ministry of Defence fear that the film could be used as a tool for indoctrination. Islamic extremists use videos of real and fictionalised events to incite their supporters.

Channel 4 insists that drama should tackle "difficult issues" and that the programme is about broader themes such as moral courage and loyalty. However, it is monitoring the Iranian situation.