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Guinness Records: Massacre or Suicide?

By Mumia Abu-Jamal  Posted by Hans Bennett (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   2 comments
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Guinness Records: Massacre or Suicide?
[col. writ. 11/17/07]
(c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal

For millions of people worldwide, the Guinness Book of World Records is the definitive source for matters great and small.

Many a conflict has been resolved by reference to it, for it is seen as the last word. It appears that there are more copies of its books in bars and taverns than there are in libraries.

But in at least one case, the venerable record keeping agency has been called into serious question.

That case is of the May 13, 1985 MOVE Bombing, where 11 men, women and babies were killed by Philadelphia police.

The problem arises when the Guinness company notes and records the event as a case of mass suicide -- not mass murder.

MOVE's Ramona Africa, who narrowly escaped being burned to death during the bombing, heard about the reference, looked it up on the Web, and -- voila! -- there it was; in the online 2008 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, in a section on cult suicides, MOVE (in the text, it actually reads, erroneously, "The MOVE") is listed as one case among six.

When she contacted the Guinness editors, she received an answer citing a London based group called the Cult Information Centre (CIC) as the basis for its listing.

As the MOVE Organization has noted in its online public message:

We are not a cult, we're an organization, and we certainly did not commit suicide on May 13, 1985. The U.S. government dropped an incendiary bomb made of C4 on our home. The bomb ignited a fire and the fire department refused to do anything to put out the fire. They made a conscious decision to let the fire burn. Our home was a blazing inferno. 11 MOVE men, women, babies and numerous animals were burned alive because of that fire and because cops deliberately shot at us as we tried to escape that blazing inferno. It's documented that fragments from police bullets were found in some of the bodies of murdered MOVE people. That is not suicide; it's deliberate murder.

In the Oct. 19, 2007 reply letter from Guinness World Records' editor-in-chief, Craig Glenday, the London based company cites CIC as a "credible source" for its report, and includes a section of CIC's self-description from their web site.

They insist their data is both "accurate" and "correct."

Question: Why is the CIC account more "credible" than that of Ramona - who was in the house and almost burned to death?

It is a measure of the arrogance of those in positions of power and influence that no one ever bothered to contact MOVE before adding it to a suicide list - nor the one adult who survived this mass murder.

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Hans Bennett is a multi-media journalist mostly focusing on the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners. An archive of his work is available at and he is also co-founder of "Journalists for Mumia," (more...)
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