Australian workers and youth speak out: ‘If there had been democracy, Assange would never have gone to jail’

On July 10, Australia’s Socialist Equality Party (SEP) held a well-attended online meeting to demand the freedom of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. The meeting was called after UK Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that she had approved Assange’s extradition to the United States, where he faces life imprisonment for exposing crimes of American war, pending a possible legal action.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange waves to supporters from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on May 19, 2017. [AP Photo/Frank Augstein]

Speakers, SEP National Secretary (Australia) Cheryl Crisp, WSWS writer Oscar Grenfell and Eric London, a prominent SEP member in the United States, indicted all governments involved in the ongoing persecution of Assange. a decade. They placed the attacks on him in the context of the new wars against Russia and China waged by the United States and its allies and the deepening crisis of global capitalism.

Each explained that Assange’s freedom requires the development of a working class movement as the only constituency that defends democratic rights and can end imperialist war. In this context, the meeting, which was attended by more than 200 people, adopted the following resolution:

“This meeting condemns the persecution of Julian Assange by the US, UK, Australian and Swedish governments for exposing the war crimes of the US and its allies. We demand that the Australian government end its collaboration with legal travesty to bring Assange to US courts and instead use all of its diplomatic and other powers to secure his immediate and unconditional release. »

The meeting can be watched in full here.

Several participants spoke to the WSWS.

Josh

Josh, a masters student in Melbourne, spoke of the larger situation in which Assange is being attacked: “Dealing with the immense global problems of our time requires a coordinated global response,” he said. “These global problems are the result of strong capitalist and imperialist institutional structures that have plundered global resources at the expense of workers, indigenous sovereignty and future generations.

“Socialist Equality is pursuing the mechanisms to tackle these issues and this cannot be achieved without the radical journalism of organizations such as WikiLeaks. The persecution of Julian Assange is a threat to all journalists and the future of genuine investigative journalism.

“Assange has received minimal support compared to other journalists who have been imprisoned abroad. His treatment over the past 12 years speaks volumes about the continued capitulation of these Western powers to the imperialist agenda of the United States. Assange’s work with Wikileaks exposed a plethora of systemic war crimes committed by the United States and its allies.

“The conversation about whether Assange and his Wikileaks team followed ‘proper’ journalistic protocols deliberately misrepresents the content contained therein. The whole process is planned inertia and supports the Western war-industrial complex and US-centric geopolitical goals.

“The Wikileaks reporting on these global atrocities marked a turning point. These reports have changed the world, encouraged people to come together and stand up against injustice and question power and our place in it. Our support for Julian Assange is also a way to support these journalists of the future, to give them the certainty and security that their work of criticizing powerful institutions has real material value in creating a better world for all. “

Neil, the former owner of a transport and car repair business in Melbourne, attended his first SEP meeting.

He explained: “If people found out the truth, the war in Ukraine could have been completely avoided, but America wants to fight Russia.” If Ukraine joins NATO, you can say goodbye to Russia. Now they have the Swiss on the other side, and Ukraine would ensure that Russia would be pretty much surrounded.

“What if Russia goes to Cuba and puts nuclear weapons there? The United States would not be happy, but that is what they are doing to Russia. I’m not saying Putin is a nice guy, but the United States doesn’t want this war to end. They see him and China as a threat. The US government loves Ukrainians? I don’t believe it, they don’t love anyone but themselves.

“America spends billions of dollars on war, but its people are homeless in their own country. The war in Ukraine was entirely America’s fault, but who suffers? Ukrainians and Russians. America does not send troops there, but it gives them arms and makes money from them.

“Labour and the Liberals are the same, I used to believe in Labor more, but now I don’t believe in them at all because they are both following in America’s footsteps.

“Assange has denounced many governments, and it is not just America that is worried about him, England and Australia too. That’s why they keep it inside, because if it’s out, it will continue to expose itself. The mainstream media, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, hides a lot; they just tell us what they want.

“Democracy is gone. If there had been democracy, Assange would never have gone to prison. England is slowly killing him.

Rosie, a health worker from rural Western Australia, said: “I always thought Edward Snowden and Julian Assange were scapegoats. To prevent people from having a certain idea of ​​what things really are, these people must be silenced.

“I think the way forward is to try to find justice for Julian, who spoke the truth even when no one could hear what the real truth is.

“The things he printed and laid out in Wikileaks, I think we have a right to know, by the way.

“The picture I get is that whatever party was in power they tried to convict Julian Assange. Why even now look at Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Oh sure Labor came in. But Albanese is doing the same thing as the former Liberal government. He’s going, ‘Oh well, you know we’re just going to wash our hands of it.’ I think: ‘Assange is an Australian citizen, what are you doing?’ »

Christopher

Christopher, who works in road traffic management in Melbourne, said: “It was a privilege to attend the meeting you held. Long ago when Julian Assange started WikiLeaks, the fact that he was trying to raise awareness of what was happening in the world: wars, corruption, made me support him. If people don’t stand up against tyranny, they might be seen as supporting it. The United States was embarrassed by the war crimes he exposed. They don’t want their dirty laundry aired out.

“This is an attack on Julian Assange but it is also an attack on freedom of expression. The United States refused to sign the Geneva Convention which would make them liable to prosecution for war crimes. The attack on Assange is being used as a warning to any journalist, including future journalists, to be careful what he brings to the attention of the general public.I am disappointed by the almost deafening silence from fellow journalists and governments, including the Australian government, on the persecution of Assange.”

Speakers described the recent attack on Dr David Berger by the Australia Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority. Berger was censured, instructed that he must undertake a special “education program” and threatened with disbarment.

These attacks were launched because the highly respected doctor condemned Australian governments’ “let it rip” COVID policies and championed the science-based policies needed to eliminate transmission and end the pandemic.

Christopher said: “At the meeting, when the subject turned to Dr Berger, I thought for a minute, where does this leave us, are we going to go off the rails? Are we here to discuss Assange or COVID? But I stuck to it and then it became very apparent, very clear the connection between silencing Assange and silencing Dr. Berger. Information is power. We need an information campaign. »