Thank you for joining us today to remind the Australian government who it is answerable to
Today we have had our Prime Minister Julia Gillard inside Town Hall addressing the NSW Labor Conference. Perhaps she spoke about Labor’s publicly stated values of “social justice, compassion and a fair go for Australians, at home and abroad”
Unless, apparently, you are Julian Assange.
Assange and Wikileaks have, since their US Government releases in 2010, been subjected to a barrage of vicious and sustained attacks – legal, reputational and financial- in retaliation for their publishing activities.
We know from diplomatic cables that since early 2011 Assange has been the subject of a Grand Jury investigation in the United States, with a view to charging him with espionage, a charge which carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.
His organisation has had supporters’ donations blocked by the US banking industry since December 2010, and he himself has been detained without charge for almost 600 days, fighting extradition to Sweden, who are participants in a treaty with the United States that permits quick and secret rendition from that country.
Having exhausted all legal avenues to avoid this fate he has exercised his right to seek asylum with Ecuador – a country with no such arrangements, and one that he must feel offers him a greater chance of protection from these very serious threats. How extraordinary that an Australian citizen should feel so abandoned by their own government that they must resort to this.
And all that our Government has been asked to do is to ask the United States: – is there a Grand Jury investigation? – are you building a case to prosecute Assange, a free press publisher and award winning journalist, for espionage and on what basis? – and how can you let your banking industry get away with this arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade?
When asked, PM Gillard, AG Roxon and FM Minister Carr simply repeat that they’ve been “shown no evidence” of such things. Carefully worded responses designed to skate over the fact that to ask these questions would not be in the best interests of an economically and militarily beneficial alliance with the United States.
An alliance that trumps a Labor ‘fair go’ for one of our citizens, it seems.
Kellie Tranter’s speech at Sydney rally for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, 15 July 2012
I’d like to thank those involved in coordinating today’s event, and for the invitation to speak.
I decided long ago, as no doubt many of you did also, that our governments’ continuing threats to the fundamental principles we hold so dear leave us no choice but to get involved, to protest, to interfere and to resist. It is our common sense of injustice that brings us to the steps of the Sydney Town Hall today, and I sincerely thank you for coming.
How fortuitous that this very day the NSWALP are debating and developing policy inside the Town Hall just behind us. The stated basic principles of the ALP NSW branch include the recognition and protection of fundamental political and civil rights, including freedom of expression, the press, assembly, association, conscience and religion; the protection of the individual from oppression by the State; and an independent Australian position in world affairs. Let’s hope those principles guide their policies!
When it comes to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks these principles sadly lie dormant, just words on paper. But as citizens and as voters, it is you and I who can and must give them life.
With a Federal election around the corner we need as many people as possible to form partnerships, to pool resources, to continue to rally, to speak out publicly and online, to educate others, to build a war chest for independent polls, billboard signs, television ads and advertisements, and to sign petitions. We need to ask every sitting member of the major political parties where they stand on this issue, and to take the campaign to the streets of every marginal electorate. All you need to do is play whatever part you can, even a small part: keep coming to public meetings, volunteer to lend a hand where you can, keep spirits high and don’t leave the burdens of the campaign to be carried by a committed few.
The good news is that the work for Assange and WikiLeaks has well and truly begun. So with social media being as it is, I thought I’d try to give our campaign a further lift by appealing for help from the most powerful force in the United States. Not the President, or the democrats, or the republicans; not even the corporations. That force is the people of the United States of America.
Address to the people of the United States of America
To the people of the United State of America
In about four months time many of you will cast your vote in the Presidential election. Many Americans – like many Australians – have grown weary of a political system that has allowed two major political parties to hollow out our respective democracies, and then elope with lobbyists, multi–national corporations and corrupt and manipulative financial institutions.
We may delude ourselves that casting a vote will make a difference, but that alone cannot and will not change the mindset of our elected representatives or those who fund and influence them.
When did you last feel that you were helping to determine and shape the laws and the actions of your country? When did you last see your mainstream media fearlessly scrutinising or criticising or investigating the actions of your government and corporations, or holding them to account?
As you struggle to keep your jobs and pay your bills and provide for your families, it may be difficult to understand why citizens in Australia seek your indulgence to make the plight of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning an issue in your forthcoming election.
But if you care about civil liberties, about freedom of speech and the press, and about truth and democracy then I’m afraid that you, like us, have little choice. What is at stake here is democratic freedoms and justice; injustices, left unchecked, have a way of spreading from a few to the many, and the many include the common people of your country as well as mine.
Assange and Manning remind us all of the need to protect individual rights against the weight of a State. They remind us that we have a right to know, and that the means of information must be open and free.
We appreciate that many Americans may have had mixed feelings about Julian Assange following the release of the US diplomatic cables. With the Administration’s immediate outrage and your Vice President calling him a high tech terrorist and your media repeating calls for his assassination, that was perfectly understandable. But now that the dust has settled, let’s take a moment to reflect.
Do you remember, after the release of the Afghan War Diary, being told that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks “might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family”? And later finding out that the Pentagon had refused to help WikiLeaks redact the documents for harm minimisation purposes? And later your officials conceding that they had no evidence that the documents led to anyone’s death?
Remember being told that some of the individuals referred to in the cables were subsequently jailed, injured, or killed? And the later acknowledgment that it was often hard to show a direct causal link to the State Department cables, because many of the individuals who suffered were already under foreign government scrutiny?
Do you remember Assange being accused of giving aid and comfort to terrorists who seek to destroy the United States? It’s not so long ago that thousands of Australian citizens stood here to peacefully protest against joining your government in the invasion of Iraq, only to be accused by our then Prime Minister John Howard of giving comfort to Saddam Hussein.
Accusations like these have plenty of historical precedent: Hermann Goering said at the Nuremburg Trials: “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
All governments have the right to keep legitimate secrets, there’s no question about that. But are drone strikes in Yemen, done in your name, a legitimate secret that should be covered up? Is it legitimate to keep secret, actions in your name that keep Haitian wages at 31 cents an hour instead of 61 cents? Is it a legitimate secret that your government engaged in a political campaign to block Spanish Courts from securing accountability for torture of its citizens at Guantanamo Bay. You couldn’t even ask these questions – in fact, you’d have little idea of what your government is doing in your name – without the work of Assange, WikiLeaks and its sources.
It was an American revolutionary, Patrick Henry, who said “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” Julian Assange, and WikiLeaks and its sources, have done no more than expose the truth. The truth explains the pain and suffering and misery felt by innocent men, women and children around the world, it explains the antipathy other people in other countries feel towards the United States, and it explains why many American citizens feel betrayed by their own government. Yet these people brave enough to show the world the truth stand condemned, by your government and by mine.
Over the last 30 years particularly, Australia has become the de facto 51st state of your Union. The only matters and issues that receive unquestioning bipartisan support in this country’s parliament are all things Washington. Your Government’s foreign policy wishes become our necessities, and our leaders are too weak to resist. So much so that the cables revealed that our government was prepared to work secretly with your government to weaken a key international treaty to ban cluster bombs. You’ve seen or heard of the damage and injury cluster bombs can inflict; can you imagine the shame and disgust many of us felt upon learning that?
Our politicians tell us that your government is not interested in extraditing Assange to the United States; they say they don’t know what a sealed indictment is, and they deny knowledge of a secret grand jury. But they will never call Assange a journalist, because your Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and many Australian newspaper editors and our Walkley Foundation agree that his work is journalism that invokes First Amendment protection. Our politicians cravenly refuse to stand up for Assange and they try to hide behind carefully chosen words, no doubt partly in deference to your government’s wishes, but no doubt also because our government, like your government, would prefer to keep its grubby secrets from the public gaze.
The people of the United States of America have a proud tradition, shining brightly from the time of its Founding Fathers, of standing up against tyranny and fighting for liberty and justice. The citizens of the world, including the citizens of Australia, need the help of the American people to ensure that no government – including the Australian government and the United States government – tries to punish Assange or WikiLeaks for doing no more than publishing the truth, from lifting the veil of secrecy from sordid narratives and permitting the common person to see what government does in his or her name. We all have to stand up against this, and the principles can hardly be better expressed than they were by two of your own Presidents: John Adams, your second President, warned us that “The jaws of power always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking and writing.”, and Abraham Lincoln later marked our obligation: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”
I sincerely hope that all Americans will heed those great voices and not sin by silence, but stand in protest against this threat to our freedom.
Kellie Tranter is a lawyer and human rights activist: http://kellietranter.com/
Silent weapons for silent wars: Richard Neville’s speech at rally for Assange & WikiLeaks
Richard Neville addressing the crowd at Sydney rally for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, 15 July 2012
A few months ago, when Julian Assange started his global chat show on Russian TV – The world Tomorrow – the mass media came down on him like a ton of bricks. The New York Times decided he was “unlikely to win high ratings or change many minds”, and they called him a “nut job”. The Guardian newspaper claimed Julian was a tool of Putin, a “useful idiot”. Rupert Murdoch’s warriors at Fox news stuck to the familiar script – “shoot the son of a bitch … take the punk out”.
Have many of you here managed to get a squiz of Julian’s TV show?
It’s not screened here, alas, but it’s accessible on the web. The series is sharp and smart. When introducing his first guest, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Julian pulled no punches. He weighed into Nasrallah for failing to support the Arab Spring in Syria when it had supported it in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt. It soon became clear that Julian was nobody’s idiot.
It is not often in this world that a radical activist on the run in three countries gets to host a TV show on which he is able round up every other radical he can get his hands on, and engage them in a rigorous debate on world affairs, keeping in mind that several of his guests have been tortured in their homelands, and are likely to face further persecution.
Or, in some cases, they have ended up running the country, as with Moncef Marzouki, an oft tortured radical who became a beacon of the Arab Spring and is now President of Tunisia. Viewers also get to meet El-Fattah, who took part in nearly every demonstration since the Egyptian revolution began, Nabeel Rajab, the Bahrain human rights defender whose house is often surrounded by police and who regularly beaten. The bravery of these activists is breathtaking, and over the series the list of them grew.
I mention all this because we rarely get to see such an interesting load of stirrers on the nightly news as we sit down dutifully in the land of Oz for our din dins on the nightly news, wolfing acres of sport and chewing over the same old debates and TV footage that’s embedded in our tragic brains. Keep in mind that Assange’s radical rumpus room was being produced while he remained under house arrest in Britain.
As fate would have it, one of Assange hosted radicals was Ecuador’s U.S. educated President Rafeal Correa, who spoked lyrically of his fight to stabilize democracy in that country, the threat of a 2010 coup, the role of corporate media, his efforts to protect Ecuadors environment etc, etc. The pair got on like a house on fire, so perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for Julian’s asylum quest – but it’s a longshot.
Watching the TV show brought home to me that all the criticisms of Julian being a narcissistic idiot savant do not account for the fact that his grasp of global politics is breathtaking.
When WikiLeaks first screened the footage of the US helicopter gunship slaughtering unarmed civilians in Baghdad, calling it Collateral Murder, something in the world seemed to shift… ever so slightly. Suspicions long hidden started to emerge. What had once been known only to the few, was now seeping into the global skies for all to see. America was suddenly rebranded as the United States of Torture, Kidnaps, Drones and Slaughter.
So I would like to ask our Prime Minister why she thinks it is preferable that the cold blooded institutional murder of innocent civilians should have been kept secret.
Then came Cablegate, which deeply embarrassed American and its allies, with so many revelations that were at odds with the official story. Inspired by WikiLeaks, groups such Anonymous came on board, sharing the WikiLeaks goal of transparency. Single individuals also played their part in – how shall I put it – storming the Matrix – and have suffered the consequences, of which Bradley Manning is the most unfortunate.
In the depths of the blog-sphere there is much paranoia and fear. The Matrix does not always use physical weapons, notes a blogger without a name, “It uses information and media based weaponry which is well concealed, like a stealth fighter”. Silent weapons for silent wars.
All this sounds paranoid, but sometimes the paranoia is justified.
Stratfor is an international security and information company. In late 2010 a WikiLeaks email revealed an exchange between Stratfor’s CEO and founder George Friedman, and the firm’s Sydney-based watch officer, Chris Farnham, who discusses revoking Assange’s Australian citizenship. He also expresses his desire to murder Julian …
Farnham asks Friedman: “Is it possible to revoke someone’s citizenship on the grounds of them being a total dickhead? I don’t care about the other leaks but the ones he has made that potentially damage Australian interests upset me. If I thought I could switch this dickhead off without getting done I don’t think I’d have too much of a problem.” (1050427)
CEO George Friedman responds: “It is possible to revoke citizenship on the grounds of being a dickhead except in Australia, where all of Queensland and a good part of South Australia, along with all of Sydney Uni would lose their passports.” (1050427)
All this is jovial, one hopes, but we can’t be certain. Another Stratfor operative chimes in: “Sadly (Assange) didn’t have a car accident on the way there”.
Another comment about Julian is marked, Not for Publication. And, I quote: “We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Please protect”. PS Revenge is a dish best served cold.
One thing you can never take away from Julian, is his single minded determination to shine a light in places of darkness – and boy, both he and his colleagues have achieved that! In short WikiLeaks has done the world a favour – it should get a Nobel Peace Prize. The saga reminds us of the myth of Plato’s cave, an ancient tale with a powerful message, involving a group of prisoners locked in a cave and chained to a wall. Their movements are so restricted, that all they can see are flickering images of shadows projected by their captors behind them. Soon they begin to ascribe meanings and patterns to these shadows, which is as close as the prisoners get to perceiving reality. In other words – it’s like most television.
However one man finally escapes the cave – or the Matrix – and is so amazed by the world outside – the sky, the sun, the birds – that he realizes he must go back and free his friends. But the prisoners mock him – call him crazy. They prefer to harbor their illusions, rather than see the world as it really is… So thanks for taking the red pill, Julian, and for sharing the experience in front of a global audience and letting the light shine in! May the force be with you.
Paul McAleer’s speech at rally for Assange & WikiLeaks
Paul McAleer of the Martime Union of Australia addressing rally for Assange, 15 July 2012
Comrades and Friends
Congratulations to you all for your support of this important international rally for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
Thank you to the previous speakers for your contributions and thank you to the organisers for the opportunity to speak.
Assange should be questioned in relation to the sexual assault claims made against him, questioned in the United Kingdom, as he has given the Swedish authorities the ability to do so. They will not agree to this, because if they did it would shatter the myth that has been created to demonise Assange and divide his supporters.
Bradley Manning is a hero whose act of bravery allowed another generation of people a keen insight into the terrorist activities of the United States.
Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks platform is a symbol of truth against the lies and hypocrisy of the capitalist dictatorship.
This issue fundamentally is about democracy, real democracy. Not the fake democracy that is trumpeted about by western governments, trying to hide their acts of barbarity against their own citizenry and crimes against humanity committed around the planet.
People are allowing their rights to be swallowed up in the false belief that their nation states will provide them the necessities of life, it is a lie that is too easily swallowed.
The reason for this is propaganda, information used to justify or manufacture support for an issue. Without WikiLeaks, without Assange, without the bravery of real journalists and not the fake corrupted journalists of most newspapers we would not have the truth to dissect. We would question why it is legal to blow a kids head off with the most technologically sophisticated of missiles and illegal to publish material which showcases the truth as to why that kid is now dead.
Assange created a platform not only for information about war crimes and western government collaboration with corporations in smashing the rights of citizens but also created a platform where the mass media had to release the information that WikiLeaks and Assange provided for them. If they didn’t someone would, and people would flock to alternative media agencies.
The appetite for knowledge in the news cycles made it necessary for the mass media to get the scoops out as quickly as possible, that is how Assange and WikiLeaks became so important and in the end so dangerous so quickly.
Information rarely that would be published suddenly became available, people became more sceptical about their governments, less trusting in the lies they were being sold and that is the crime of WikiLeaks and Assange in the eyes of the capitalist dictatorship.
Undermining criminal governments through the truth is a dangerous business. Activists the world over have suffered, been tortured, shot, brutalised and locked up for decades for having the audacity to question the corrupted lies of governments and corporations.
There has been and there are so many who have stood up for justice who find themselves imprisoned, who have been brutalised by police forces, whose job it is to protect them not smash them into the ground, for telling the truth, for having the guts to stand up against gutlessness, against the acts of those that aren’t brave and are in fact criminals.
Those wondering why Assange has sought asylum in Ecuador should not be surprised by the fact that Ecuador is moving away from corporate media, something the West fears as a return to people’s media, a return to truth, a move away from 1984 style ownership of information and the hiding of truth.
When free media is that considered to be media owned by billionaires and not the people, Assange becomes essential to support. Do we support Assange?
When people exposing terrorist governments are gaoled for exposing that truth, Assange becomes essential to support. Do we support Assange?
When corporate lies, corruption and theft are the enemy of the people Assange becomes essential to support. Do we support Assange?
When governments can collaborate with corporate plunderers against the interests of people through secret networks out of reach of the people, Assange becomes essential to support. Do we support Assange?
If we believe that Guantanamo should be free from scrutiny, if we believe that soldiers on whatever side who murder simply are mistakes free from scrutiny, missiles dropped onto the houses of innocents is just a price we all have to pay for democracy and justice then do nothing for Assange, WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning. Do we support Assange?
If the murder of truth, innocence and justice is something we believe is necessary in order for us to be free, then continue to turn a blind eye, and allow Assange, Manning and WikiLeaks to be marginalised and criminalised. Do we support Assange?
If you believe in truth, real democracy and justice then continue to rally for Assange, Manning and WikiLeaks until they are all held in the regard they deserve. Do we support Assange?
The hypocrisy that we are witness to is sickening. We have a US President given the Nobel Peace Prize who acts as a hitman, who has been Commander in Chief of an army that has continued wars of occupation and murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and we have a soldier in Bradley Manning behind bars for releasing the truth.
When the truth becomes illegal and the truth becomes the enemy we are all in trouble. Each and every one of us. It is our duty to rise against this, it is our duty to defy and if acting illegally is necessary to secure justice, then let us all become outlaws.
If the union movement in this country believes in truth and democracy, then we must support Assange. If the people of this country value truth and democracy then we must as a duty and responsibility support Assange.
The threat to Assange is a real one. Bradley Manning is behind bars. Evidence has been produced that demonstrates that the US want to prosecute Assange.
Assange has been labelled a terrorist and WikiLeaks a terrorist organisation by American politicians. The capitalist dictatorship is without equal in its ability to contradict itself in the one sentence whilst looking the people in the eye and telling them they are telling the truth.
The capitalist dictatorship is the fabric that unites us all in economic slavery and political ignorance that allows for a society of the politically deaf, dumb and blind.
If any editor is to be gaoled it should be those whose subservience to capitalism and warmongering is unquestionable, who allow their billionaire owners to brainwash the people through corrupted journalism and lack of holding the politicians accountable for a society racked by war, poverty and corporate corruption.
Political accountability is one of the only ways that the people can expose their leaders for the frauds that they are. WikiLeaks helped do this, WikiLeaks and Assange helped expose a world of criminal collaboration between governments and corporations. When it was in African countries, Assange was a hero and lauded so around the world, when he exposed the Americans he became a terrorist.
Being labelled a terrorist by the United States has become almost honourable if it wasn’t so dangerous for your health.
The strangulation of WikiLeaks has become accepted by the gullible and ignorant, much in the same way as the illegal blockade against Cuba. Just like the economic blockade against Cuba is trying to starve one of the bravest countries on earth, the blockade against WikiLeaks is trying to starve into extinction one of the bravest media organisations on earth.
Democracy is under attack in ways that we have rarely seen before, if true democracy is not fought for we end up with fascism. How far are we from this abomination. Those who fight in the streets against hostile governments are freedom fighters, those against friendly governments no matter their crimes are terrorists. Americans are maced in their faces for asking questions like why is my community poverty stricken yet corporations are making billions of dollars out of that poverty.
The criminalisation of truth is a weapon of all those whose corruption maintains their power. The coward media in this country must ask themselves whether turning a blind eye to a true journalists possible incarceration for exposing the truth is an attack on them all or not. The ones who answer no are simply the servants of criminal capitalist dictatorship.
We must always remember that Bradley Manning is still behind bars whilst we are free
WikiLeaks, Manning and Assange continue your fight and the MUA Sydney Branch will be with you all the way.
Paul McAleer is Secretary of the NSW Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia.
Irene Doutney’s speech to rally for Assange & WikiLeaks, 15 July 2012
I’d like to acknowledge that we are meeting on Aboriginal land, Gadigal land, land that was never ceded, sold or given away. I pay my respects to the Elders past and present – this is Aboriginal land, always was always will be.
This is also the homeland of Julian Assange and it is reprehensible that the Australian government ignores its obligations to protect and support one of its citizens in his time of need.
Rather than defend our citizens we are opening our Northern Territory to American troops and proving that we are a true client state rather than an independent nation.
As a client state we are too cowardly to take an independent stance on protecting Julian Assange, the government is too busy towing the American line.
But we have seen that no country wants to take the risk of upsetting the United States in its vendetta against Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.
We know that he currently sits in the Ecuadorian embassy awaiting a decision that will only give him a temporary reprieve and could see him end up in a country where his safety will be far from guaranteed.
However it is highly unlikely that Assange would be able to leave the embassy without being arrested the moment he set foot on British soil. How he could even get to the airport without being arrested is the subject of much speculation and it is highly unlikely this will be more than a temporary respite in the ongoing extradition battle.
The publishing of the Iraq and Afghanistan war diaries and the tranche of diplomatic cables showed the true nature of government and the power it wields on the global stage.
The war diaries, particularly film of the heartless murder of an Iraqi journalist, his cameraman and numerous innocent bystanders shocked the world and exposed the great disconnect between the American use of military power and the fate of innocent Iraqi citizens.
The growing use of remotely controlled weaponry and the use of central command stations has dehumanised and desensitised military operations to an extent where it is all just another video game. This is particularly true of drones which are rapidly becoming the new face of military and civil power and oppression.
Wikileaks showed the true face of power and its continuing release of cables and documents highlighted the dysfunctional nature of power relations across the world. By exposing these cables and documents Wikileaks gave power to ordinary people to see government for what it really is.
For most people who saw the video or read the cables the truth highlighted the real david and goliath nature of the US war machine vs. the ordinary people of the world.
This is the real crime that Julian Assange faces – it’s not really about dubious rape claims and murky political manoeuvrings in Sweden, it is about the crime of exposing the nature of the state in all its cruelty, pettiness and ridiculous posturing .
Now that we have seen the workings of government we can never go back to the innocence of the pre Wikileaks days. We have a duty to protect Wikileaks and Julian Assange from the heavy boot of power and the neo-liberal system it supports.
The blockade of Wikileaks by the likes of visa, master card and paypal showed the way big business and the state work together against anyone who dares to expose in a critical manner the Machiavellian nature of power
Last time I spoke I referred to the importance of truth-telling and how our governments hide the truth and feed the people thought bubbles and double-speak.
Our war reporters are embedded with the coalition’s troops in Afghanistan and rarely do we see any real analysis in the mainstream media. It’s all patriotism and flag-waving but little understanding of what is really happening on the ground.
We rightly mourn our fallen soldiers but how little space is given to the suffering of the fallen people of Afghanistan.
Rarely do we see stories about how the behaviour of the coalition’s troops and the dreaded arbitrariness of drones are feeding the ranks of the taliban.
We need an independent press to give people a picture of the real world and the machinations of government, we need an organisation like Wikileaks to keep us informed as they have done in the past.
In a world where the olympic games, once a celebration of peace, have been hijacked by a siege mentality with batteries of rockets on apartment roofs, 36,000 troops “keeping the peace”, and drones circling overhead we must realise that the dystopian future predicted by so much science fiction has come true.
It is a world at a tipping point in every way and it is essential that organisations like Wikileaks are able to operate and release information that has always been hidden from regular people.
It is a world where people are saying enough is enough and movements like Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous are standing up against the establishment. It is a world that needs it’s Wikileaks.
The Greens have stood behind this movement and we will continue to call for the Australian government to support Julian as his precarious position in the Ecuadorian embassy continues.
Fred Fuentes’ speech at rally for Assange and WikiLeaks, 15 July 2012
Fred Fuentes of Latin American Social Forum, Sydney
Like many of you when we woke up that morning to hear the news that Julian Assange had sought asylum in the Ecuador Embassy, we as a Latin America social forum, a coalition of Latin American community groups and solidarity activists from countries such as Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, El Salvador, Nicaragua, we knew we had to respond immediately and there were two reasons for that.
The first was that we have no doubt that Julian Assange’s life is in danger. We know that we can expect nothing of this current Australian Government to defend his rights. They were rushing over themselves to accuse him of being guilty, they didn’t know what he was guilty of, they just knew that he was already guilty. The Federal Police had to then tell them that actually committed no crime and yet the persecution of Julian Assange by the Australian Government continues.
Julian knew that and he knew he had to find asylum somewhere else. We are also absolutely 100% sure he will get no help from the US Government. As Latin American solidarity activists we know of the long history of attempts to silence, assassinate, kill individuals and entire peoples that have tried to rise up against US Imperialism, against the role of the US in Latin America. Military dictatorships that have come on the backs of ten of thousands of people being killed, all of them funded by the US, why on earth wouldn’t they want to get Assange?
I think Rafael Correa in his interview with Julian Assange summed it up very nicely as to why the US hates Assange so much, ‘cause he raised an old story that has been mentioned by other Latin American Presidents and they have asked the question; well, why is it that a military coup has never happened in the US? The simple answer is that there is no US Embassy in Washington. When you reveal the truths of what the American Embassies are doing in Latin America and all over the world, you can rest assured that the US Government will come for you.
But we also knew, as well, that we have no faith in the Swedish Government to do anything and we have a very specific case study as to why we do not trust the Swedish Government in any way to protect the rights of Julian Assange and I tell a story of a journalist Joaquin Perez Becerra. He was a journalist in Columbia, he lived in Columbia was an elected Councillor of the left wing group called the ‘Patriotic Union’, because of the threat this party represented 4,000 of their members were killed, he went into exile, he picked Sweden as his country of exile. He has lived there for the last twenty years, he has his family there, he is a Swedish citizen.
Today this journalist is in a Colombian gaol and the Swedish Government is doing nothing to protect this journalist, a journalist that had to flee from Columbia and is now facing supposed charges of terrorism. What is the Swedish Government doing for its own citizen, nothing. What can we expect them to do for Julian Assange? Much less…and we also knew we had to respond not just to defend Assange but to defend Ecuador because we knew immediately as soon as he was in the Ecuadorian Embassy, that they would also use this to attack Ecuador as they have already been doing for a number of years, and so it began in the media.
The Ecuadorian Government, why in the world would Assange pick the Ecuadorian Government, which apparently, has one of the worst records in regards to freedom of speech. Well, we really know when the corporate media talks about of freedom of speech, what they’re really talking about is their ability to control what is able to be said and not heard. The Ecuadorian Government is leading the way in breaking down this corporate power.
When Correa came to power six of the eight major newspapers were owned by banking corporations and as you can image there might be a slight conflict of interest that occurred when you both own a bank and a newspaper in the global economic crisis, but also a banking crisis that happened in Ecuador in the nineties. What did the newspapers do then? They reported nothing about the banking crisis, they in fact signed a deal which is revealed by WikiLeaks, because of the US Embassy cables, where these banking corporations and newspapers sat down and said we will not report any of this, that way none of our interests are touched.
Well, the Ecuadorian Government and its people have drafted up a new constitution, in that new constitution if you are a banker you are no longer allowed to own any media outlets. That’s a pretty important start I think in breaking down the power of the corporate media. But that wasn’t enough, because a few years later they held another referendum to further amend the constitution and now the constitution reads that anyone who is involved in the media industry are not allowed to have any other business interests anywhere else because once you do start to have other business interests maybe someone like Gina Rinehart, this is obviously going to become an issue when you come to report on that.
So, I think there is a very clear reason why they want to get Assange, I think that’s the reason they are going to attack Ecuador, that’s why it is so important that we are here today to both support Assange but I do want people to also show support with the Ecuadorian Government, let’s show them that millions of people around the world are willing to support them if they take the defiant stand of basically saying to the US, we don’t care, we are going to defend Assange, we’re going to give him asylum.
We know we need to do that, we need to continue to do that, but I think we need to do one more thing as well, we need to take the lessons of governments like Ecuador and others around the world and use that information that WikiLeaks has made available to us to really begin to fight for real change, because that information is only powerful when people like ourselves take that into our hands and make use of that information in order to fight for a better world.
I think I would like to finish up by congratulating the organisers of today and congratulating everyone here and let’s hope that we can continue to build our campaign to defend Assange to defend Ecuador and to fight for a better world we all want to see.
Gail Malone’s speech at rally for Assange and WikiLeaks, 15 July 2012
WikiLeaks is a gift to History. We now have, for the first time, the ability to write history not only through the eyes of the victors. WikiLeaks has become a leveler between people and Govt. They have ushered in an age where we, the people, have access to information once deemed for their eyes only.
For years Australia has wantonly participated in brutal, unnecessary wars in the name of freedom and democracy, as successive Governments can’t seem to say no to the US. Thanks to the courageous work of WikiLeaks we have an in depth resource enabling us to put these wars into perspective and make informed decisions as to whether, we the Australian people, think our involvement is wise and in our National interest. Both the Afghan and Iraq War releases tell a different story than our Govt. and the MSM would have us believe. It is becoming more apparent that the Government’s idea of the national interest is in conflict with our own.
We have learned that the dire situation that people seeking asylum go through suits certain members in parliament. WikiLeaks US Embassy cables revealed the true agenda that lurks beneath the “stop the boats” rhetoric.
We know that a 5 Country cartel of Australia, US, Canada, South Africa and Switzerland have joined forces to promote mining interests at the expense of indigenous people and their land.
We learned from the Stratfor e-mails release that our Govt. is just a bit too chummy with the US and which Ministers were communicating with the US in a manner some would regard as treason and or spying. We learned the once ‘faceless men’ of the Labor Party felt Gillard would be more pragmatic as a Prime Minister than Rudd. We learned that our Govt. was happy to serve Julian Assange to the US regardless of his innocence or his Australian Citizenship. We have learned, and this cannot be disputed, that our Govt. is sycophantic in the extreme towards the US and we are hardly more than a client state, with a Govt. lacking the maturity to think for themselves, regardless of what the Australian people want.
We have only recently started to see the latest WikiLeaks release; ‘The Syria Files’. The release not only allows us to see the machinations of big business and Governments regarding Syria but it, like the previous releases, are a remarkable resource for education and training. These things are a gift to history from WikiLeaks.
We, here today are in the eye of a storm in history, Australia should be proud of WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange, in the fight, not only for freedom of speech, but freedom generally, we need to give backing to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Our Govt. has tried ignoring us, we have written, called, emailed our MPs and Senators, often having to inform them of irregularities of the case. We have used resources like justice4assange.com to get facts out. Our numbers are growing and dictate how long they can ignore us, we must continue to talk to others and inform them, take to the streets as we have today, ad nauseum. You can sign up for the SAWC mailing list to keep abreast of actions, all the information you need is on the flyers circulating. Our Govt. must know we are not willing to lose such an important Australian to their career whims. You can help by purchasing the WikiLeaks CD or donating at ‘wikileaksbeattheblockade’ site, there is also an array of quality merchandising from wikileaks.org, or you can throw some coins in the buckets here today, or purchase a badge. It is an expensive business fighting bogus charges, an unfair financial blockade and manage the most prolific media outlet the world has ever seen. Although there was a win in Iceland regarding Visa they are appealing. Keep WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in your hearts; help them, help us to leave a free world for future generations.
Last month Senator Ludlam moved that the prejudicial statements made by senior Government members be retracted, with the backing of the Coalition. I asked Senator Ludlam on twitter “is there a time frame for Gillard et al to retract the prejudicial statements regarding the Julian Assange and Wikileaks?” He replied; “well, I think their timeframe is ‘never’. So, your homework can be to start writing, telling the Prime Minister, the Attorneys General, as McClelland and Roxon have been involved and the Foreign Minister to honour this motion and demand that they protect Julian Assange.
As history is written by the victors, this is a battle we cannot afford to lose. Let truth be victorious.