Another round of significant global actions occurred on November 4th as part of the international campaign to oppose the persecution of Julian Assange and defend democratic rights. In response to a call out made by classconscious.org protests occurred in nine countries: Australia, Slovenia, Ireland, NZ, U.S, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan and Nepal.
Perhaps the most significant protests occurred in Taipei. This was the first major protest for Assange in Taiwan. Organised by the new Taiwan Support Assange group. Around 25 protestors gathered outside the AIT (American Institute) which is the defacto U.S. Embassy in Taipei. The protest was endorsed by a range of long time high profile Taiwanese human rights advocates such as Linda Arrigo, Mr. Cheng ZeCa, the leadership of the Tree Party of Taiwan and the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union.
Public protests in Taipei are not common and nervous authorities responded by sending more than 100 police from various agencies including some carrying riot gear. The protest achieved its aim of introducing the Chinese speaking public world to the way the U.S. and U.K. are bullying Assange. A veritable media scrum attended and there was an extensive report in the Apply Daily, the most read newspaper in Taiwan with a daily readership of over two million. A report was also broadcast on the Taiwanese digital news service Formosa television News (FTN). A report was also filed in the English language The News Lens.
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The protest was entitled “Turn up the heat on the U.S. Government” and a number of the protests occurred outside U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Events since November 4th have only confirmed the need for the international working class and youth to protest at the Trump Government’s persecution of Assange.
On Nov 16th, news broke that the assistant U.S. Attorney Kelln Dwyer had accidentally confirmed that a sealed U.S. indictment against Assange does exist. Details of the indictment were included supposedly by error in an unrelated case. It included two paragraphs that named Assange stating the sealing of an indictment was necessary “because… no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” It stated the charges must be kept secret until “Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.”
This confirms the correctness of the claims by Assange that he needed to claim asylum in Ecuador or he would face extradition to the U.S. Whilst the attempts to get Assange to the U.S. via bogus charges from Sweden has lapsed, Assange if he left the British Embassy would be immediately arrested on bail related charges and then once in custody would be extradited to the U.S.
The charges in this indictment originated under the Obama Presidency which relentlessly pursued Assange from 2010 to 2016. However this persecution has continued under Trump despite his “I love Wikileaks” outbursts during the 2016 election. Under Trump, Wikileaks was labelled by Mike Pompeo then head of the CIA labelled Wikileaks a “hostile non-state intelligence agency”. Vice President Mike Pence travelled to Ecuador to bribe and threaten the new Government of Lenin Moreno to hand over Assange.
Trump himself on when asked on Nov 20th by a reporter outside the Whitehouse “Should Assange go free?”, ludicrously claimed “I don’t know anything about him. Really, I don’t know much about him. I really don’t.”.
Trump’s real position was revealed in earlier statements. In April 2017 Trump states “Its OK with me” if Assange is charged by the Justice Department. In fact going back as far as 2010 Trump repeatedly called for the death penalty for those responsible for the leaks of U.S. War crimes and State Department documents.
In this context and with the Moreno Government doing everything in its power to try and force Assange out of its London Embassy through isolating and removing his rights, it is crucial that the international protests by the working class and youth for Assange continue. Classconscious.org has shown it is possible to mobilise coordinated protests for Assange across the globe but much more is needed in the future. In the event of worst case scenario, Emergency protests will be held outside U.S. Embassies immediately following any eviction of Assange.
Please contact classconscious.org if you would like to take part in organising a future protest in your city or town to defend Julian Assange, defend democratic rights and fight censorship. Journalism is not crime ! Workers of the world unite!