“Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love”, Julian Assange.
Beneath the hashtags and headlines, Julian Assange is a man, a human being. The treatment of Assange is however inhuman. Julian Assange sits inside of a prison, punished for exposing the truth. There is no rule of law, no justice being imposed, only punishment. Julian Assange is a father, son, husband, brother and to some a friend but that is not why he is being persecuted it is because he was a champion of truth. That is the greatest crime to lying killers.
“Come on, let us shoot!” One of the US military killers repeatedly requested in the released footage of what would become known as the ‘Collateral Murder’ video that became famous when every major news outlet heralded Wikileaks and Julian Assange as an example of good journalism. Now however to many in the media, those who generally support authority and policy, Assange and Wikileaks are now downplayed as pariah rogues, dangerous even. Yet, many of these very mainstream media outlets had helped make Julian Assange a celebrity and for a time even participated in the journalism that challenged authority and government.
The Reuters staff and Iraqi civilians, including children gunned down in the footage known as ‘Collateral Murder’ lost their own humanity, when they became grainy images overlapped by the voices of their killers, shared on most news sites. They were but a few of the many innocent human beings revealed to have been killed, tortured and harmed by the powerful thanks to the Wikileaks cables. Friends and family could now find some closure, a sense of understanding as to what happened when a loved one was taken from them. As is often the case, the official story that they had been told was a lie, a lie used to protect the killers, not the innocent. For exposing that lie, Julian Assange became a target.
“He’ll then go to the United States, where he’ll be possibly executed or perhaps tortured in a prison and will not face a hearing…” Christine Assange on her son’s fate in the hands of US justice.
The archives of Wikileaks unveiled the dark actions of governments, individuals and corporations. The secrecy of corruption and violence did not protect the wider public or any innocent only the powerful and those responsible for destruction and oppression the World over. Politics and government itself requires a facade to function, the emerald veneer of righteousness and legal objectivity that depicts a system of fairness and objectivity. Even dictatorships require a degree of make believe to enhance their altruism and legitimacy, something to placate the populace and those who serve the government itself. Wikileaks and the many whistle blowers before and since illuminated the dark heart behind the curtains of power. For that a conspiracy was set in place to silence and destroy Julian Assange.
“The vast array of legal anomalies, oddities and outrages perpetrated by democratic governments in their pursuit of one man is jaw-dropping, leaving us to conclude that these four countries conspired to deliver Julian Assange to the Americans, with Australia a sometimes meek, sometimes gleeful, but generally disinterested bystander.” – Jo Dyer, The Political Persecution of Julian Assange, The Saturday Paper, 8 April, 2023
It’s easy to forget that while Julian Assange may be a symbol, hero and perhaps martyr he is a person. He has fears, feels pain and experiences loneliness. Though he is not alone as far as the persecution against whistle blowers and journalists go. The fear that the powerful has of their own subjects is exposed each time they destroy those who would shed light on the truth. What one does with the truth can lead to uprisings, such as the Arab Spring, civil war or even just apathetic confirmation. Though many embrace Assange as a hero, there is not the energy to over throw any government, despite how great the campaign is to release him, the status quo will remain. It may have been proven evil, corrupt and abusive it shall survive.
When Julian Assange is set free, reunited with his family, friends and peers, those of us on the outside watching on will celebrate the victory and feel a sense of relief. Though it is not a victory as such, the powerful and most of those who were unveiled by Wikileaks will remain free themselves, in positions of power and influence. The violence and cruelty that is required for them to accomplish their goals or impose policy will continue, individuals like Assange will fight on and expose them, and distant strangers like myself will write pieces such as this with relative impotence. The discourse and injustice is not about good and evil, but between human beings who do good and evil things.
“Well it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle’, one of the killers declares as a small girl suffers a life threatening stomach wound. Not the voice of a monster, but a man who likely will become a victim of his own actions, perhaps one of the many veterans who now suffer from trauma of what they witnessed or did themselves in distant lands, far from home against strangers who had done them no harm to begin with. The killer does not see himself as a murderer, though he was clearly excited to take life. To some he is a hero, to the victims family he is a destroyer of life, a murderer in action but perhaps not legal classification. For those who are persecuting Julian Assange, the innocent gunned down are images on a screen, the killers were just doing a job.
The policy makers, professionals, prison guards and all those who have made it possible for Julian Assange to continue to suffer, they are human beings as well. They love, fear and experience life as uniquely as the man who they are harming. Through the belief in government and a sense of imperial righteousness they either are true believers and feel that Assange is the worse kind of criminal or they are cynical practitioners of a profession that exists to retain the status quo. The actions and existence of a man like Assange is a threat to that life, the wealth, career and sense of importance they feel entitled to requires secrecy and a darkness to function within. The very lifestyle that provides their family with comfort and secure living is destructive to others. It’s a calculation they have made, Assange must suffer, those in the ‘Collateral Murder’ footage are insignificant to their sense of importance.
When Julian Assange was sent to Belmarsh prison, dubbed ‘Britain’s Gitmo’, he was placed in conditions and isolation, that led to a decline in his mental and physical health. The rapists and murderers in Belmarsh are looked after better and legally could not be treated as Assange was. Despite the attempts from friends, family, Amnesty International, the United Nations and his own legal defence, to end the discriminatory treatment of Assange, he continued to suffer. It took the lobbying of the prisons inmates to end the cruel treatment of Julian Assange. The worse of society came together and exercised their collective muscle to improve the conditions for Assange. With no legal degrees the mob of prisoners accomplished what others were unable to do. Julian Assange was moved from isolation and his conditions improved, though he was still imprisoned.
Their is no greater indictment on the entire fallacy of the legal system or the grandiose importance of legacy institutions when they remain powerless and unable to influence and effect change in the case of such injustice. An indictment when all forms of legal argumentation, citing many laws and rights violations that the most important and educated in such manners were unable to influence or appeal to those holding Julian Assange but a mob of prisoners could. To the prisoners, however violent and deserving many of them may be of punishment, a sense of justice reigned, they saw a man suffering persecution. The most powerful and self-anointed masters of human society, those who view the world in inhuman concepts, distant from the outcomes of their professions, yielded to the inmates lobbying.
To the powerful and their many cheerleaders who can’t imagine a world without such rulers, let Assange come home. Free the man, his incarceration only reveals an insecurity and hypocrisy that is exposed with every day that he remains behind bars. The very laws and institutions of justice have again been revealed to perpetuate inhuman authority. The English should be wise to know their own history if even the prisoners of Belmarsh can acknowledge an injustice, then what happens when the peasantry outside realises that it is not just about Julian Assange or Wikileaks but all of us. There is nothing more human than a man coming home to his family and no greater inhumanity than those who would punish a man for the words he spoke and for revealing evil.