Somalia Medal The Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia
A Soldier's Journals
Tuesday, April 24, 2018  

Somalia '93




 

Media Vultures

22 April 93

"I knew like mad that everything I had ever known and would ever know was one."

- Pg 147, On The Road, Jack Kerouac

"...colleges being nothing but grooming schools for the middle-class non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus inrows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets in each living room with everybody looking at the same thing at the same time while the Japhies of this world go prowling in the wilderness to hear the voice crying in the wilderness, to find ecstasy of the stars, to find the dark mysterious secret of the origin of faceless wonderless crapulous civilization."

- Pg 39, The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac

We went helicopter rapelling yesterday.  It was nothing terribly new or exciting, but it was infinately better than sitting here in camp.  We are going on leave to Mombasa tomorrow, that should at least be good.

22 April 93

They have reopened the investigation into the recce shooting and an NDP MP has a letter in which someone in 2 Commando claims that he witnessed the beating and was stonewalled when he tried to open an investigation.  He had sent the letter to his wife and she released it to the MP.  It sounds to me like he is trying to cover his own ass.We left camp at 8:30 this morning and are slowly making our way to Mombasa.  The trip to the airport, the wait for the plane, the stop-over in Mogadishu, the flying, all take their toll on the day.  It is already past two and we still have another hour flight left.

There were reporters at the Beled Weyne airstrip trying to question us as we waited.  All they wanted to talk about was the investigation, nothing else.  They are like the vultures searching for corpses.  It is strange, we are so isolated by the two week lag in News, so we didn't know how bad it was getting.  When we drove through Beled Weyne today I was happy and proud.  Everyone smiled and waved as we passed.  The market was lively, offering just about everything for sale.  The new school we built was open and new buildings were being built everywhere.It is such a change from when we first arrived, nearly a different city, but when we got to the airstrip the reporters didn't want to talk about any of that, they wanted the shit. 

Everytime I've ever dealt with the press I've become disillusioned by the experience.  First the innaccuracies of Goosebay where a demonstration by ten Innu against the airbase would make national news, but demonstrations by hundreds of people in nearby towns who wanted the base to remain open were ignored.  How can the public make informed judgements on things when they are only told selective parts of a story?

The media hype about us has been depressing.  It is so easy for them to make generalizations and accusations about us when they know absolutely nothing about what is going on over here.  One of the headlines read "Canadian troops killing the people they have been sent to save!"  We have been called murderers.  They do not give the full story, that for weeks the Somalis had been breaking into our compounds stealing everything from diesel cans to hand grenades.  Dozens of Somalis were captured, turned over to the local police then released because there are no jails.  Everything is being blown way out of proportion and sensationalized.  I just wish I knew more of what was going on.

In the following days our grenades were thrown back at us and the aid workers.  It is in this environment of fear and frustration that the beating happened.  The act cannot be condoned, but it must be taken in context of the situation and it must be realized that this was an isolated incident.  It is not to be though.  With the upcoming Conservative leadership race, the opposition parties and the media seized on this as the scandle they needed.  They saw military coverups where there were none (at least by us) and began questioning everything we have done.  It is insulting to be called a murderer by some reporter in Toronto by some reporter who has never been here, especially after all I have done and sacrificed for the Somalis and my country.

For months they ignored what we have been doing here.  It is only when something bad happens does it become newsworthy.  It makes me question wanting to become a journalist.  Then I rethink it and want to even more.  I want to bring a new point of view, both young and full of ideals, but can that ever last?

There have been several demonstrations in town because the Somalis don't want us to leave and be replaced b another country's forces.  We must be doing something right.

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