by SAM B.
27 October 2012
The plague of yellow journalism that has infiltrated into every facet of media, information gathering and delivery systems, as a result of commercialization and commodification of these systems, has blurred the boundary between information, misinformation and entertainment. In every news item it is increasingly difficult to identify where the real information, entertainment and/or propaganda begins or ends. Nothing is spared. Not even the dignity of victims of brutal murders.
A brutal stabbing and killing of an African woman, Nighisti Semret, in the streets of Toronto, Canada, is by the hour shaping up to be another fodder for insensitive profit-driven sensationalist reporters and news agencies.
The story of Nighisti Semret is in fact intriguing in what it reveals about the weakness, the flaws and deliberate abuse of Canadian Immigration policy and systems, by none other than Canadian Immigration agents and United Nations refugee organizations.
Despite the larger issues this murder inadvertently uncovers, the murder of this poor victim is being manipulated for other sinister motives, as Joe Warmington’s two back to back stories for the Toronto Sun, filed on October 25 and 26 , reveal. Fundamental facts and evidences are been ignored in order to fashion a fiction out of this tragedy.
Joe Warmington on his October 26 report writes:
“Could that motive have stemmed from a scam from her former country where refugees are shaken down and threatened to pay a special tax back to their homeland or face retribution?”
Like most, I learned of this incident on the Internet. An email was not long in coming soliciting for funds to send her body to Eritrea to be buried, and to help her kids in Eritrea – as is customary in our community. Moved by her story I called the Embassy in Toronto. Where I was informed “it will not be possible to send her body to Eritrea”. Naturally, I asked why? The gentle voice replied: “well, she has nobody in Eritrea”. Puzzled, I enquired more. The voice interrupted me to say: “look the poor soul is not Eritrean, she is Ethiopian”.
In retrospect, naively, I added, ‘but all the papers said she is Eritrean’. I assumed that the issue was the usual confusion; Eritrean and Ethiopians are very much alike after all. I was summarily disabused of that notion. The poor lady’s story is in fact far more complicated than a simple confusion. I was again told by the embassy personal that the police have contacted them and the police have been notified of her identity, the same goes also for the newspapers and reporters.
Further enquiry revealed that Nighisti Semret is in fact an Ethiopians who falsely claimed to be Eritrean when applying for asylum in Canada. The is common with Ethiopian asylum claimants as Canada gives easier entry to Eritreans. Canadian authorities are very familiar with this problem. The Eritrean community in Winnipeg, Manitoba has brought it to their attention when the community was surprised to receive Ethiopians claiming to be Eritreans when Canada allowed a group of refugees (Nighisti Semret may have been one of), some years back. Since then the government of Canada, UNHCR and others have made claims of improving the system to identify false asylum applicants. Still, there is no saying how many infiltrators, not only Ethiopians (including criminals and terrorist), may have utilized similar methods to enter Canada? Nobody should blame Nighisti Semret or anyone for trying to escape the hellhole life is in Ethiopia (or other parts of East Africa), and the constant deprivation and famine this place is plagued by.
However, a real reporter would have recognized the larger story and its potential impact to Canada, or the human tragedy this is. But Joe Warmington after initially reporting, appropriately, of a “suspect robbing older women just before this horrible incident in the same area”, changed gears and attempted to pin the murder on the government of Eritrea, without the smallest connection or evidence on pure speculation, by implying a frivolous tax collection issue (on a non citizen of Eritrea, an Ethiopian to boot, to whom the taxes could not apply), is beyond ridiculous. It is beyond the usual sensationalism and is the crassest of yellow journalism there is. The contrived connection Joe’s article attempts to make is just simply a poor attempt at manufacturing cheap propaganda.
Even for the tabloid the Toronto Sun is, a minimum decorum, even if credibility is out of question, demands for one to attempt to appear at least to be fair and balanced. These newspapers ought to have reported with minimal sensationalism and should have regard for facts and details. Most importantly respect this human tragedy for what it is than manipulate it for their political end.
To their credit the leaders of the Eritrean Community with the full knowledge of Nighisti Semret’s identity did not interfere in the prayer or vigil held for her. They in fact fully supported it. As one community leader put it; “she has no one, Ethiopian or otherwise, she is our sister, too.” RIP.