The Guardian • Issue #2094


Assange, Zomi, and you

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2094

Julian Assange has been thrown a lifeline of sorts. A UK judge has said that unless US authorities give assurances about Assange’s treatment in the USA, he will have the right to appeal against the extradition. The UK’s High Court has asked the US to promise that Assange would not be sentenced to death if convicted, and that he would be able to rely on the first amendment to the US Constitution, the one protecting free speech, despite not being a US citizen.

We need to remember that Assange is basically on trial for journalism. He revealed US war crimes. He is accused of endangering US spies, something that has never been proven. Assange’s real crime is annoying our masters. For that crime he has already spent more time in prison than a lot of murderers.

Just now, a lot of Australians are justifiably upset about the murder of aid worker Zomi Frankcom and her colleagues, killed by the Israeli military while trying to feed starving people. Our leaders are acting concerned. Foreign Minister Penny Wong has described the Israeli response as “deeply insensitive,” while Prime Minister Albanese has called Netanyahu’s “these things happen” reaction “not good enough.” What Wong and Albanese have said is correct, although it’s all for show. They’re not going to do anything that really inconveniences Netanyahu  or his US supporters.

The injustice being done to Julian Assange has had a much more muted form of foot-stamping. This innocent Australian journalist is not at the top of the news cycle, and his persecutors are our former colonial overlord, the UK, and our current boss, the USA.

Albanese has said that it’s gone on long enough, like someone waiting for a train. Penny Wong has echoed the “long enough” line, and added that “there are limits to what diplomacy can achieve.” What she means is that there are limits to the Labor government’s willingness to protect an Australian citizen from a country that we call an “ally,” when we mean “a boss.”

We’re outraged about Zomi Frankcom because it’s obviously wrong to murder an innocent person while they’re trying to feed starving people. We’re also angry because it upsets our sense of sovereignty. Our government is meant to keep Australians safe and protect them. That’s why Albanese and Wong are making all the right noises about the IDF’s murder of Frankcom.

Allies aren’t supposed to kill our citizens.

The USA is often described as our ally. When an Australian minister said that New Zealand was a closer ally, the Opposition asked him to apologise to the US, and described his remarks as “errant.” Nothing but total sycophancy will do in our parliament.

Allies are supposed to help us, not murder our citizens, or try to lock them up for something that is not a crime.

Apart from the inhumanity of Assange’s treatment, his case should matter to you because if our leaders don’t protect Julian Assange, they’re not going to protect you. If you don’t want yourself or your family used as cannon fodder the next time our ‘ally’ gets into a war and needs support, you need to have a good look at how our ‘allies’ are treating Assange, how they treated Zomi Frankcom, and what our pro-US leaders are doing in response.

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