- by Richard Titelius
- The Guardian
- Issue #2019
“One of the ways to achieve justice, is to expose injustice.” – Julian Assange
On the 6th August 2022, Perth for Assange, together with StopAukusWA, organised a rally calling for the charges against Wikileaks founder and Australian citizen, Julian Assange to be dropped and he be allowed to return to Australia. The rally also marked Hiroshima Day, the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, and was joined by several peace and other groups remembering Hiroshima Day.
The MC for the rally was Mitchell Duirs, spokesperson for Perth for Assange, who said the rally was urgent as the health of Julian Assange continues to deteriorate. “His life is at serious risk after he had a minor stroke which weakened the muscles in his left eye, on top of a lung condition which he has also contracted,” said Duirs, adding that the conditions which Assange has endured during four years in England’s Hindmarsh maximum security prison have been contributing to his weakening health.
The first speaker was Dr Christopher Crouch from Independent Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), who said Julian Assange is part of a community that wants truth and justice. On 6th August 1945, the first nuclear bomb was dropped by a US B-29 Bomber, on Hiroshima, Japan causing 200,000 people to die instantly and millions to suffer the effects of the radioactive fallout to this day. In that ten-second burst of energy most of the civilian infrastructure was destroyed. Three days later, a second nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki with a similar tale of loss of life and destruction to civilian infrastructure. Though the US said the dropping of the bombs was to end war, the dropping of the nuclear bombs heralded the age of nuclear warfare which we have today. Dr Crouch said, “We need to counter the narrative of war and the destruction which accompanies war, with a narrative of peace […]. We need to free Julian Assange and stop the horrors of imperialism,” many of these horrors which Wikileaks and Assange have helped to expose.
Gerry Georgatos, a human rights activist, said Wikileaks is considered one of the most remarkable organisations in history for the secrets of wars and subterfuge it has been able to expose and yet its founder Julian Assange is treated like a murderer and locked up in Hindmarsh, the United Kingdom’s most formidable maximum-security prison. Georgatos quoted Martin Luther King who said, “How long can a lie live, not long as no lie lives forever.” Wikileaks exposed the truly wretched exploitation taking place in Haiti where textile workers who were being paid twenty-four cents an hour wanted to increase that to sixty-four cents an hour and yet the garment and clothing corporations which were making millions of dollars in profits were seeking to thwart attempts by 2,000 Haitian textile workers to achieve this modest increase. Wikileaks also published documents revealing torture and abuse in Iraq during the Iraq war in 2003 that was truly barbaric, while fifteen years earlier the US had signed on to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange have all stood up to help make our world a better place. We have a duty to help others and we can do this by attending rallies like this one today. If we don’t, said Georgatos, “All that will happen is that we will fall into the abyss.”
Tiffany Venning of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) said they are speaking out for Julian Assange as he has been a card-carrying member of the MEAA since 2007 and in 2011 Wikileaks won the most prestigious award for journalism in Australia, a Walkley Award for the most outstanding contribution to journalism. Now he is locked up in England’s most notorious prison. Assange’s imprisonment as he awaits extradition on these charges is a profound threat to journalists the world over means that it is not safe to pursue public interest journalism. The MEAA calls on the PM Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong to intervene on Assange’s behalf and call on President Joe Biden to drop the charges and release Julian Assange back to Australia. Public interest journalism is more necessary than ever as we see press freedom continuing to be eroded in Australia and around the world and increasing corruption.
Mitch Duirs of Assange for Perth reminded the rally that former CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been summonsed by a Spanish Court to testify about what he knows of an alleged plot to assassinate Julian Assange. What did our government do as a consequence? “We have only had silence from the Australian government.”
Vinnie Molina, National President of the Communist Party of Australia, said that the CPA calls for the release of Julian Assange from custody and the CPA has passed a resolution to that affect, however, resolutions are fine so long as they are not buried but are acted upon. We the people have a right to know about the atrocities committed by governments in our name and the right to be informed and not misinformed. So long as Julian Assange is locked up, the truth is being held captive and yet there are more protests overseas calling for Julian Assange to be released than in his own country. Silence is not the answer and we must speak out for Julian Assange’s release and a free press which is necessary to have a democracy.
Liz Hulm from Stop AUKUS WA said that the AUKUS trilateral security pact, which has at its core for Australia, the purpose of purchasing nuclear submarines, was negotiated in secret. However, AUKUS will make Australia less secure not more secure. Hulm said, “Climate Change is the biggest threat to peace and security today.” The military is also the world’s biggest polluter, and the continuing production of military hardware and operation of the military is a war on the environment. Today, all of us stand in solidarity with the journalist Julian Assange who reports on the truth. While those who wish to prosecute him say this is about justice the case against Assange is an injustice.
The rally which over 100 people attended then marched on to the US Consulate in St Georges Terrace to give their message to the US government. It is a curious custom that the US Consulate in Perth has adopted for many years that it does not fly its flag while it is not in the office as it doesn’t want to bring attention to itself while the Vietnamese and Greek flags, which are also in the same building fly freely 7 days a week adjacent to the one empty flagpole.
The Communist Party of Australia calls for all charges against Julian Assange to be dropped and for his release to freedom in Australia. The CPA also calls for Australia to sign on to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (2017) so that the world is free of the types of weapons which caused the destruction of human life and civilian infrastructure in Hiroshima on 6th August 1945 and Nagasaki three days later.