The below video was put together by Melbourne Activist and Comedian Sean Bedlam as the Mildly Amusing Action Squad and WACA joined forces to try and ask the UK Consulate: what the hell are they up to?
WARNING: the below video contains some course language and loads of TRUTH!
Enjoy a glimpse inside a day in the life of Melbourne Activists
The truth about the Melbourne UK Consulate Protest
On Friday August 17 members of WACA and supporters of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and Ecuador gathered at the UK Consulate in Melbourne.
Four supporters (including Sam Castro and Kaz Cochrane of WACA) entered the reception of the UK Consulate prior to the rally, hoping to be able to present the UK representatives with a copy of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961). Our objective was to speak to UK consulate officials and to convey our deep concern about the threat made to Ecuador’s London Embassy and our desire for the UK Government to respect Ecuador’s decision to grant Julian Assange political asylum and provide safe passage out of the UK.
It is well worth noting that we did not ‘STORM’ the consulate as suggested by some mainstream news coverage nor did we intend to occupy the space of the UK Consulate. We simply wished to deliver a message to the UK representatives. However, as soon as we mentioned Ecuador and Julian Assange the consulate staff (without explanation) retreated to the back offices of the consulate and refused to speak with us.
Instead we soon found ourselves confronted by Victorian Police, members of the AFP and protective services (between 7-10 law enforcement authorities in total for 4 peaceful individuals). Without any communication or explanation from the UK Consulate staff, the police advised us we were trespassing, the UK officials did not wish to speak to us and if we were not willing to leave, we may be arrested for trespass.
This is sadly indicative of the state of freedom of expression and movement in Victoria. It appears if you are armed with the truth and wish to ask questions of those in positions of authority or power, then you are assumed to be a threat.
We advised the police, that if the UK consulate officials wished to come out and ask us to leave (as is legally required) then we would consider leaving, but until that happened we would wait inside the consulate for them to come out and speak to us. Someone with access to the heating in the consulate waiting room then decided we must be extremely cold and turned the heating up, while the police and other authorities surrounded the glass door to the consulate and the lifts, so we would effectively be arrested if we left the consulate offices to use the toilet or get water.
Another supporter who heard what was happening, appeared beyond the glass door in the foyer, in an attempt to ensure that we were okay. As he tried to enter the consulate to speak with us, a protective services officer slammed him against a wall, forcing him to drop to the ground.
The building security manager then appeared and advised him he was trespassing, if he refused to leave. The police then tackled him grabbing his arms and legs and dragged him out of sight as they arrested him for trespassing. He was then taken and released in the back lane way of the building, so the other protestors out the front of the consulate would not see him.
What deeply saddens us as WikiLeaks supporters and Australian citizens, is that we merely went to the UK Consulate to respectfully deliver a statement of concern and to ask them to convey that message back to London. Instead the consulate staff treated us as if we were threats and went into lock down mode. We also discovered that our tax money is being used to defend the UK consulate staff from answering curly questions, rather than protecting our own civil and democratic rights to participate in political and public discourse.
What kind of democracy are we living in when people are unable to question those in positions of power or authority? What does it mean when the moment you exercise your civil rights, the police act to protect corporations, private property and foreign representatives, ahead of their own peaceful citizens?
The police claim they were just doing their job. Why does ‘just doing their job’ involve slamming peaceful protestors against walls for trying to give someone a bottle of water?
Why is it that the UK representatives can hide from questioning behind the cover of their own consulate walls with protection afforded to them by OUR police officers, while back in the UK, they threaten the sovereignty of Ecuador and the liberty of an Australian citizen who has been granted diplomatic asylum!
Our police have become corporatized elite bouncers, forced to turn on peaceful protestors at the behest of foreign Governments or corporations. This kind of undemocratic process and behavior is exactly why we the people across the world need to stand up for Ecuador and stand up for Julian Assange. Now more than ever we need WikiLeaks and we need to know what our governments (who refuse to communicate directly with their own citizenry) are doing in our name and in the name of democracy.