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Opinion:
Missing or killed: How politicians and media use language to distort the truth

By Toyin Agbetu | Mon 19 June 2017

A Justice for Grenfell Supporter

Toyin Agbetu explains why the political language the media and politicians being used to describe the Grenfell Tower Massacre continues to traumatise survivors, family, friends and supporters.


When I started writing this last night it was a tale of two disasters. Now it’s three. That’s how fast we are being hit with traumatic attacks. Before I start let me say that this is not about establishing a hierarchy of disasters, for moral reasons I just don’t do that. My thoughts go out to the person murdered in what seems to be an Islamophobic terror attack and those killed in the forest fires. No one deserves to lose their lives in such a senseless manner. But last night when I heard the news of the fires it made me want to take a closer look at the way the media insensitively reports and subtly distorts news. Look at the three Guardian headlines in the image above. For the Grenfell Tower massacre it reads "More than 58 now thought to be missing..." For the Portugal forest fire tragedy it reads "Huge forest fire kills at least 60 people" and for the Finsbury park it reads "One dead in terror attack". Some of you are probably be thinking – yeah, so what? Well in two of the incidents the death of innocent people has been recognised, even when their bodies have been burned beyond recognition, but in one instance it has not.

Missing or killed - Media Language that insensitively reports and subtly distorts news


The media is promoting state propaganda

Why does this matter? Well for the families waiting, hoping, praying for news of their loved ones being found in hospitals or shelters, calling them 'missing' for political gain or to hide evidence behind the scenes to stop people going to jail for manslaughter is inhumane. No one is expecting an exact answer on the number killed right now but to start the process of healing it is important to first acknowledge that at least 100-200 trapped in Grenfell are dead. Killed by a mixture of indifference, greed and negligence. My apologies for sounding so blunt, but we need to deal with the reality. Denying this truth just prolongs the pain and suffering of the victims loved ones, and each of us that care. Take a deeper look at both of the fire related stories and it gets worse. So the Tory-DUP party has chosen to give surviving families an interim £5,500 payment and call for a minute’s silence. I and many others would have preferred if the government had cared enough to even attempt to use EU funded water-bombing planes to quench the fire once it was clear the firefighters were out of their depth. Note how "Spain dispatched two water-bombing planes on Sunday morning to aid the Portuguese fire service, while France sent three aircraft". With better emergency planning, and a non-xenophobic relationship with the EU, we could have and should have done the same. Don't believe me then type "water bombing plane uk" or "Bombardier 415 UK" into Google.

But what reminds me that the lives of poor people are seen as of less value than others by the UK's political elite is observing Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa declaring three days of national mourning for the 60 dead. I doubt Britain would be allowed to take such time to reflect even if the count of so called 'missing' was 600. So yes, whilst my heart goes out to all those that have lost their lives unjustly, I beg we don’t take our eyes of the matter that is still at hand and remember that wise maxim – ‘think global, act local’. #Justice4Grenfell

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Government ministers have one objective. Not to help survivors of the Grenfell Massacre and their families but to protect themselves from public anger and the risk of prosecution.


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