ARE WE IN NORTH KOREA? - The Reykjavik Grapevine

ARE WE IN NORTH KOREA?

ARE WE IN NORTH KOREA?

Published September 3, 2004

“The opponents of the Kárahnjúkar dam use lies and untruths.” Below this heading is an open letter which is supposed to “bring to attention the lying crap which is being spun against the dam at Kárahnjúkar.” In the letter the natural scientist Guðmundur Pálsson is accused of “lying” when he points out the connection between the Kárahnjúkar dam and the possible daming of Jökulsá á Fjöllum. His “lies” are said “to be similar to the lies of Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir [member of parliament] used on television when she said that the location of the dam is a volcanically active area.” Star.is had earlier written about Guðmundurs´ course on the vegetation north of Vatnajökull, held at Endurmenntunarstofnun Háskóla Íslands (Continuing Education of the University of Iceland) using the words: “Endurmenntunarstofnun HÍ in a propaganda war against the Kárahnjúkar dam!” With Guðmundur´s course the University is said to “have done its share in agitating against the Kárahnjúkar dam”. This is a brutal attack from an official source against the freedom of speech, professional credibility and financial income of a scholar. Star.is totally disregards the laws on state media which explicitly state that they shall uphold democratic ground rules as well as human rights and freedom of speech and opinions.

It’s the same scenario all over. Ómar Ragnarsson, a respected media personality, is said to be in “a holy war against dams and large scale industry” when he recently published a very neutral book showcasing the pros and cons of the Kárahnjúkar dam. Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, a novelist, is said to have “presented a skewed view” on television while María Ellingsen is an international actress who is said to have lied on a local radio station.

The president of INCA (Iceland Natural Conservation Association) is trod upon, his words are said to be “crap and nonsense”, headlines declaring “Árni Finnsson still lying and thoroughly at that.” It is also stated that “Árni Finnsson, the president of INCA doesn’t hesitate to veer far off the truth in his fight against the dam.” Friðrik Sófusson, a director of the Icelandic National Power Company, is quoted as saying that INCA is a puppet of foreigners and is working against Icelandic interests. Should directors of state enterprises use such nationalistic verbalisms and tailor “Icelandic interests” to their own?

No one is allowed to defend themselves, but everything connected to the dam and large scale industries is shown in a positive and almost religious light. “I only meet smiling people,” says Smári Geirsson, an East Icelander and very pro-dam. While the rangers at Drekagil flew the Icelandic flag half-mast, “most Icelanders rejoiced the signing of the contract, the general public of Iceland rejoiced the Alcoa board decision…” he continues. Are we in North Korea? Star.is is only the tip of the iceberg, just a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of euros being spent to deliver “information” to the nation through public relations companies where ex-reporters seem free from the constraining ethics of the press. This propaganda is paid by the state to control the will of the majority and therefore a “democratic verdict.”

The obvious questions are: who is writing this anonymous propaganda, how much has it cost the nation and what politicians are responsible for this pathetic development? The president of Alcoa said that there will “always be people who oppose progress.” If star.is is the method to drive progress through, then the price is not only Icelandic nature but democracy itself.

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