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Posted by Maggie Fick on May 1, 2009

In the midst of the media frenzy surrounding the swine flu, an article by the Guardian’s Simon Tisdall lends some interesting perspective:

Confirmation that Switzerland had suffered its first case of swine flu is big news today. According to the Swiss federal health department, a young man recently returned from Mexico exhibited symptoms of the virus. He is now tucked up in bed in Baden, north of Zurich, where it is hoped he will make a full recovery.

Not considered quite so newsworthy by perspiring international media infected by a global sneezing fit was the latest extreme violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Human Rights Watch, 35 civilians were killed, 91 women and girls raped, and hundreds of homes burned down in fresh reprisal attacks by Rwandan Hutu militias in North Kivu.

Tisdall goes on to detail the plight of people in Congo, Somalia, Burma and China in the midst of the outbreak. Citing political repression in China, notes that, “for some governments, the flu frenzy makes every day a good day to bury bad news.” On the subject of the Israeli and Sri Lankan governments, Tisdall argues that “flu victims provide a welcome diversion from military victims.”

Read the whole article here.