Free Julian Assange demonstrations


This 11 April 2019 video from the USA is called Assange Arrest Could Mean Open Season On Journalists.

Stop the extraordinary rendition of Julian Assange! 15 April 2019. What is being presented as an extradition request by the US is so loaded with illegality that it would be more precise to call it an extraordinary rendition: here.

From the World Socialist Web Site in England:

Protest outside London’s Belmarsh prison demands release of Julian Assange

By our reporters

15 April 2019

Dozens of people gathered outside Belmarsh prison in London Saturday to demand the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Assange was sent to Belmarsh after being seized by police from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. It is a Category A prison, previously described as the British version of Guantanamo Bay due to its use between 2001 and 2002 to detain several people indefinitely without charge or trial under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

The protest was supported by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and WSWS. Among those protesting were supporters of the Julian Assange Defence Campaign (JADC), Ecuadorian and South American citizens, journalists, and other workers and youth. The JADC maintained a vigil outside the Ecuadorian embassy for the last seven years, after Assange was forced to take refuge there in 2012 in the face of plans hatched by the UK and Swedish governments to have him extradited to the United States.

Protesters outside Belmarsh prison

Protesters chanted slogans including, “Free, Free, Free Assange!” Many brought homemade banners with slogans including “Don’t shoot the messenger”, “Free Press-Free Assange” and “Secret Courts Equals No Justice.” SEP placards included “Free Chelsea Manning—Free Julian Assange,” “British government must grant Assange free passage to Australia”, “No Internet Censorship” and “Defend Free Speech.”

Giving speeches were Emmy Butlin of the JADC, Robert Stevens, the UK editor of the World Socialist WebSite, Carolina Graterol, a foreign correspondent for BBC World Service (Spanish Section) and Juan Carlos Piedra, the director of the Ecuador Movement in the United Kingdom.

Chanting slogans in Assange’s defence, including “Belmarsh, Belmarsh, Freedom for Assange!”, “UK, USA—Hands off Assange” and “No US Extradition” protesters then marched to the front entrance of the prison.

Emmy Butlin speaking at the protest

Butlin explained, “Wikileaks has published extremely important documents, authentic documents, opening our eyes as to how the world works, the world of politics, the world of diplomacy. And the backlash was an unrelenting persecution of the editor and founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. We have seen him year after year being persecuted… and embroiled in a made-up legalistic process that restricts his freedom, restricts his ability to build his organisation.”

“The United Nations, an independent arbitrator of conflict, after 18 months of looking into his case said that he has been arbitrarily detained. Arbitrarily detained since the 10th of December 2010.

“Today… we are standing outside Belmarsh prison, where a Western publisher has been detained. Arbitrarily detained all these years and now this.

“We witnessed bewildered on Thursday how seven undercover UK police dragged Assange and carried him outside the Embassy and he resisted arrest. He shouted out ‘UK resist US extradition!’ This is the battle in front of us.”

“He was dragged into Westminster Court and what happened there? Within 15 minutes a highly biased judge, Judge Snow, reached a verdict… Is this justice?… a British judge called him a narcissist. Is this justice?” Protesters answered “No, no!”

“There is one law for some and another law for others. The law that we decide to adhere to in order to live in a harmonious society is broken in front of our very eyes, in particular the law that protects human rights… The mask has fallen.”

Carolina Graterol

Graterol said, “Assange has risked his life to give us the chance of knowing the truth. Of knowing all the lies around the war in Iraq and all the corruption that goes around the banks. We know that it exists and we had an inkling of it, but he showed us that it really is true. That is why we have to protect and to stand by him… No more destruction of our democracy, no more destruction of human rights, no more destruction of international law. We cannot allow this anymore.”

Piedra noted, “We feel ashamed of the government of Ecuador. We worked for a socialist government and we have been betrayed. Today this selling of principles to the United States that [Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno] and his government has done shows his betrayal against us. They have broken Ecuadorian law and human rights law as well. It makes us ashamed. An important law has been broken, not just against Julian, but against all journalists in the world… You are in danger! That is why we want to denounce [Moreno] and give solidarity to Julian Assange. We want to tell Julian Assange, ‘You are not alone. We are going to stop extradition. Here we are, with you. The fight will continue!’”

Robert Stevens speaking at the protest outside Belmarsh prison

Stevens began by noting that when UK Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament that Assange would now be subject “to the full force of UK law”, MPs from all sides of the House cheered her. …

Later, “Home Secretary Sajid Javid made a statement on Assange’s arrest. There were few MPs listening, including no more than 12 on the opposition benches.

“For all the attention they gave to this outrageous assault on democratic rights and breach of all norms of due process, they might just as well have been debating regulations about dog collars.

“Corbyn was nowhere to be seen when Javid spoke. Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott did make a statement opposing Assange’s extradition to the US. …

“Only later did Corbyn publish a single tweet stating that Assange should not be extradited to the United States.”

“This is why we have to step up our fight for Julian’s release… He is a real journalist whose life and liberty is in imminent danger! We have to do everything to mobilise all supporters of free speech to prevent him from falling into the hands of the US government.

“Assange has no friends in the political establishment in Britain, only enemies. If a vote was held in parliament today for Assange’s extradition to the Sweden or the US, it would be easily passed, and passed with the backing of a large part of the Labour Party.

“He has no friends in the mainstream media—the Vichy journalists as John Pilger rightly describes them. …

“Throughout history the only social force that has defended democratic rights is the working class,” Stevens concluded. “Now is the time to act when these rights are under assault as never before. The fight to defend Julian Assange is your fight. Workers and youth must come forward and take an unequivocal stand in defence of Assange.”

From the World Socialist Web Site in New Zealand:

New Zealand rally demands freedom for Julian Assange

By our reporters

15 April 2019

The Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand) took part in a rally in Wellington on Sunday called by Free Assange NZ, a group of WikiLeaks supporters. Protesters gathered outside the US embassy and marched to the nearby British High Commission.

About 25 people joined the rally, called to protest last week’s illegal arrest of the WikiLeaks editor. British police physically dragged him from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had been confined for nearly seven years. Ecuador’s government of Lenin Moreno rescinded Assange’s asylum, in violation of Ecuador’s own laws, and handed him over for extradition to the US.

The Trump administration wants to put Assange on trial for the “crime” of publishing leaked documents revealing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the horrific “Collateral Murder” video showing the gunning down of journalists and civilians in Iraq.

Protesters outside the US embassy

The rally was part of international protests, including in Britain, Germany and the US, demanding the release of Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who remains in prison for refusing to testify against the WikiLeaks publisher. In Australia, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) held powerful rallies in Sydney and Melbourne last Friday. Central to the SEP’s election campaign is the fight to mobilise the working class to force the Australian government to intervene to secure Assange’s safe return to Australia.

Leading SEG member Tom Peters addressed the Wellington protest, warning that “the threat of extradition means Assange’s life is in danger. No one should have any illusions about that. As soon as he gets to the US, he will undoubtedly face more charges including espionage charges which carry the death penalty. That is what the Obama and the Trump administrations have been preparing.

“Democrats and Republicans alike are out for blood”, Peters said, denouncing the lie that Assange worked with Russia to manipulate the US election. The aim of the anti-Russia propaganda “is to prepare for war and justify censoring the Internet, while covering up what WikiLeaks actually revealed: that Clinton is a stooge of the Wall Street banks and a war criminal who gloated about the destruction of Libya, and that the Democratic Party rigged the primaries in her favour.”

Peters explained that the New Zealand Labour Party-led government was complicit in the persecution of Assange. Last year the government refused to even discuss a petition presented by Free Assange NZ calling for him to be offered asylum in New Zealand.

“No one should believe the propaganda that Jacinda Ardern’s government is kind and compassionate”, Peters said. “Ardern is not ‘anti-Trump’ as the media portrays her. Her government has dramatically strengthened the alliance with Washington.”

Tom Peters addressing the rally

The SEG leader noted that the Labour-Greens-NZ First coalition had continued New Zealand’s participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and had further strengthened the alliance with US imperialism in preparation for future wars, including against China.

Peters said the government was exploiting the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attack, in which fascist Brenton Tarrant killed 50 Muslim worshippers, to censor social media and increase surveillance. The real target of such measures was not fascism—the product of xenophobia and racism whipped up by the ruling elite to divide workers—but the working class.

“Freedom to publish, discuss and share information is vital for the working class as it seeks to fight back against austerity and imperialist war,” Peters said, pointing to the eruption of strikes and mass protests by workers in the US, France, Mexico, India, Algeria and other countries over the past year. “In New Zealand there have been nationwide strikes by doctors, nurses, teachers, and other workers shifting to the left as a result of poverty and inequality.”

The ruling class was responding to the threat from below “with the methods of the 1930s: war, dictatorship and fascism,” Peters said. He called for the fight to defend WikiLeaks and Assange to be taken up by the working class internationally as an essential part of the fight for socialism.

Members and supporters of the Socialist Equality Group distributed the statement “Free Julian Assange!” and spoke to several people at the protest.

Tom

Tom, a student and organiser of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) at Victoria University of Wellington, said: “Assange and Manning showed the world the brazen crimes and lies of the world’s elite. To the ‘insiders’ and the powerful, letting people know the truth is unforgivable. If we want to preserve democratic freedoms and the right to know what our governments are doing in our names, we will have to fight for those rights. The powerful will not be reasoned with. Capitalist governments of all kinds are building their powers for a continued assault on the working class. Our only option is revolution.”

Ben, a tradesman, said the media had tried to “assassinate the character” of Assange in order to discount everything WikiLeaks had revealed. He said Trump was doing “the same stuff”, as previous US presidents “but in a more belligerent fashion”, without regard for international law.

Ben added that Assange “is an Australian, why are Australia’s government not going: ‘Hold on, you’ve illegally detained one of our citizens!’ Why aren’t they doing anything about it?”

Heidi said WikiLeaks has “just been doing journalism and they’ve never had to retract any of their stories. He’s been imprisoned for doing journalism and telling the truth about what the US government is doing.” She described the attacks on Assange for helping “Russian interference” as “a conspiracy theory. That’s just the Democratic Party trying to put the blame for losing to Donald Trump on someone else: ‘It’s Russia’s fault!’”

Annabelle

Annabelle, a mother of four, originally from Britain, said she came to the protest after following WikiLeaks for years and being shocked by the video of Assange being manhandled out of the Ecuadorian embassy. “The industrial murder machine is getting worse and worse,” she said. “It’s a frightening world and I want some truth out there. The mainstream media want me to know things and I want to question that and find other sources.”

Annabelle praised Chelsea Manning, saying, “Good on her for not talking. She went through hell for how many years? And she went back to prison and is still not talking. She’s brave.”

She said the cheers by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and other politicians over Assange’s arrest “sicken me”, and continued: “There isn’t a parliament, there isn’t a democracy… It doesn’t matter who’s in power, they’re still working for wars, they’re still working for the money-holders.”

Annabelle said there were some things she liked about UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but added that “none of them can be trusted”, and that Corbyn was “backtracking” on his support for Assange.

From the World Socialist Web Site in Australia:

Workers and youth speak out at SEP (Australia) rallies in defence of Assange

By our reporters

15 April 2019

The Socialist Equality Party (Australia) held urgent rallies in Sydney and Melbourne last Friday, less than 24 hours after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was illegally expelled from Ecuador’s London embassy, and taken into British custody, to facilitate his extradition to the US.

The protests were attended by a diverse range of workers, students, young people and long-time defenders of WikiLeaks and democratic rights.

Speakers stressed the responsibility of Australian governments and the entire political establishment which has abandoned Assange, facilitating the US attempts to prosecute him for WikiLeaks’ exposures of war crimes, mass surveillance operations and illegal diplomatic intrigues.

WSWS reporters spoke to some of the attendees.

Amina and Halima

In Sydney, Halima stated: “This is an attack on all of our democratic rights. Where has our democracy gone? Did it die yesterday? I think it did. What is going to happen to freedom of speech now? There could be a lot of journalists going to jail unless we can get Julian free and stop them from setting this precedent.

“Otherwise it will limit what we know. We need to be able to know what is happening in the world. We have a right to know. How can we make informed decisions and look after our families if we are deprived of any real knowledge of what is taking place?

“The point of the Internet was to enable people to share ideas and to communicate with each other all over the world. What is going to happen now? What they are doing though won’t stop us. We will find a way to free Julian and any other journalists who come under attack. We have to build a movement to stop this because the political system is not working. We’re struggling, we’re poor, we need a change.”

Amina said: “Assange’s expulsion was disgusting. The response of the Australian government has been poor. They haven’t done anything to protect their own citizen. It’s shameful.”

Rebecca, a midwife, said: “A great injustice has been done to Julian. We need to fight for the right of free speech. We don’t want to be shut up. All we want is a safe world to live in.

The Australian government doesn’t protect its citizens if they are attacked overseas. They don’t care about us, the people. It’s all about the US alliance. We are just little puppets. Governments follow the US. They like to be controlled by the big people and they like to control us. We need a new party.”

Oisin and Rebecca

Her son, Oisin, a high school student, added: “It’s very similar to before the French Revolution. There is such a rigid class system. In the French Revolution there were the first and second estates which were the controlling power and who ruled over the third estate, more than 90 percent of the population.

“Ordinary people had no real power at all. Until eventually they said to the first and second estates, ‘we don’t need you, we’re the real people’, and so they revolted and made a change. That’s similar to what we need to do here.”

Jay

Jay, a university student, said he was extremely grateful for the work of Assange and WikiLeaks exposing the US-led interventions in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It is for those reasons that Julian Assange has been hounded, harried and persecuted,” he said. “We should be very clear about that. They are not going to be extraditing Assange to Sweden. They are going to extradite him to the United States, where most likely he will be tried in secret, and he faces possible capital punishment.

“Sometime we lull ourselves into thinking that because we are supposed to be a democracy, we have civil liberties that will always be there and will always be protected. But actually it’s been the actions of working class people throughout history that have forwarded and advanced those rights. It isn’t something that’s been given to us.

“Every organisation must raise its voice at a time like this. We need a renewed sense of activism, where people think that it’s their duty to take back the political system in this country. Bring Assange home!”

Jemma, a post-graduate student, said: “It’s important to highlight the response of most of the ‘left’ to the potential extradition of Julian Assange, because it’s been completely and utterly disgraceful.

“I find it unbelievable that they are raising this diversionary tactic that Assange should be facing charges in Sweden, because that was something that was never going to happen.”

Jemma condemned Australian governments for assisting the attack on Assange, stating: “It’s pretty clear that the Australian ruling class, whether it’s Labor or Liberal, it really doesn’t make any difference, or even the Greens, have decided to side with their American imperial masters. They are even dragging us into a current trade and cold war with China.”

Marrieh

Marrieh, a casual retail worker, said: “The work of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and many others has revealed to the public globally what we should have the right to know.

“Unfortunately, they have had to bring this information to us in very difficult situations that have been created by countries that claim to be democratic. These countries have shown their real face. They are persecuting Assange because WikiLeaks has exposed their war crimes and their trade agreements that affect us so harmfully.

“We need to do everything to stop this extradition process. It is going to be very nasty. We have seen what’s happening to Chelsea Manning and we’ve seen what they do to whistleblowers around the world, especially in America.”

Danielle said, “I was watching a livefeed video of the embassy when the arrest happened. I saw the 10 police arrive at the building and realized that was it. Then someone put their hand over the livefeed.

“It was disgusting. For someone who has been that long without any sunlight, he would have been suffering. He wouldn’t have been able to see well. They were manhandling him. I can’t believe they did it in that manner. These governments are monsters.

“The buck stops with Scott Morrison. The Australian government has to intervene to protect Julian. Julia Gillard did nothing, Kevin Rudd did nothing, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull did nothing.”

“I support the continued mobilization of workers and youth for the freedom of Assange; this needs to be a rallying cry.

Part of the SEP Melbourne rally in defence of Assange

Ally, a city worker passing the demonstration on her lunch break, said that when she saw the rally, she “thought finally! Because no one else is talking about Assange.

“He is not a criminal. I think the Australian government should step in to bring him home. The Australian government hasn’t done anything because they are scared of the US. Why else wouldn’t they bring him home?”

Evan

In Melbourne, Evan, a motorcycle mechanic, said: “I believe this is downright wrong. When they went in and got Assange last night I just couldn’t believe it. They definitely don’t want this free media thing that’s been developing to continue. They don’t want the truth going out to the public. This is the first step to stop it.

“I’m not surprised there isn’t support for Assange from the Australian government. They are completely tied to the US. America has been bringing a lot of military forces to Australia. There are a lot of bases out there that are unknown to the public. I believe this is happening because they’re afraid of China’s rise.”

Julia said: “Government don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. It’s a question of free speech. That is going out the window. They are trying to quiet people down.”

Gerry

Gerry said: “I came here to oppose what’s being done to Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. It’s shameful and disgusting. Because WikiLeaks exposed the war crimes of imperialism, the empire is after him. They want revenge. They want a show trial. They want him in court and thrown away for good unless they murder him first which is a distinct possibility. A lot more people need to stand up and say enough.”

Julian Assange was denied access to lawyers, visitors in Britain’s Belmarsh prison: here.

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6 thoughts on “Free Julian Assange demonstrations

  1. Pingback: ‘Free Assange’, pro-climate students, others say | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Free Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Sri Lankans say | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: War crimes whistleblower Chelsea Manning still imprisoned | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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