Reprinted from World Press Freedom Day 2019 Website
May 3rd is the U.N. World Press Freedom Day and recognized around the world as a day to defend journalists and media workers. Attacks on the media by governments have grown over the years as journalists are facing threats of imprisonment, torture, and even murder.
This day of action is all a call out to defend all targeted journalists and whistleblowers globally, but due to recent events the focus will be on the persecution of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. The call out for action which has been endorsed by journalists, whistleblowers and labor organisations can be read here.
STOP THE RENDITION. DROP ALL THE CHARGES. FREE JULIAN ASSANGE
On April 11th, a watershed in the attack on a free press was crossed. Julian Assange, a publisher who had been granted political asylum in 2012, was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and railroaded to prison where he now faces extradition to the U.S. The charges relate to Assange’s work with alleged Wikileaks source, Chelsea Manning, who leaked damning evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and the machinations of the U.S. State Department.
The U.S. ruling class has never forgiven Assange and Manning the recent arrest of Assange and imprisonment of Manning is meant to serve as an example to all future journalists and whistleblowers to discourage following in the footsteps of these brave individuals.
After 9/11, following the implementation of a wave of anti-democratic war on terror legislation, U.S. imperialism asserted the right to “rendition,” or in other words, the right to snatch people extralegally anywhere in the world and hauled off to be tortured at CIA blacksites. The arrest of Julian Assange, whilst being given the legal fig leaf of a formal extradition process, represents an effective rendition.
Grabbed by force, Julian is currently facing a hostile UK court system after which he may be forced to face a U.S. kangaroo court. The minute he steps foot on U.S. soil additional charges will be laid and he will face the possibility of execution, torture or life imprisonment at a U.S. Supermax prison. The U.S. is now asserting the right not just to grab any journalist who publishes classified U.S. material globally but effectively anyone who throws a spanner in their war machine. Such a power in the hands of the Trump regime is a dark prospect for the world.
Meanwhile, Chelsea Manning remains in prison for her courageous refusal to participate in the United States’ secret grand jury process and, by extension, the witch hunt against Assange. She faces up to 18 months in prison or much longer if new charges are brought against her.
UNITE THE INTERNATIONAL WORKING CLASS TO DEFEND PRESS FREEDOM
The only force that can stop this is the international working class in a united front with all organisations who wish to defend press freedom. This is a fight for the basic right to know, the right of working people to have information about their governments, and of governments around the world. It is a battle that must be fought in order to protect the conditions and the lives of working people globally.
Whilst labor organisations have been largely silent on Assange since 2011, this process has started to shift. In February this year, the San Francisco Labor Council passed a strongly worded motion opposing the prosecution of Assange.
The Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance, the media union in Australia, of which Julian Assange is a lifetime member also broke its silence in response to Julian’s arrest; recently numerous international and Australian media workers signed an open letter asking them to act and we applaud them on their recent efforts.
They have published on their website a letter from the M.E.A.A to the Australian and U.K governments calling on them to publicly oppose the extradition of Assange to the U.S. The letter states:
“MEAA is concerned that Mr Assange is facing possible extradition to the United States regarding WikiLeaks’ publication of US government files nine years ago. We believe a prosecution of WikiLeaks’ personnel will have a chilling effect on the public’s right to know what governments do in the name of their citizens.”
Workers must build on the action by the M.E.A.A. to pass motions and get their unions and workplaces actively involved in the struggle to defend Assange. The Queensland Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (M.U.A.) and Tuwani Gumani, General Secretary, Media Workers Association of South Africa (M.W.A.S.A) are amongst the labor figures who have already endorsed a call out for actions on May 3rd.
NGO’s such as the ACLU, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have also made statements in opposition to the extradition process launched in U.K. courts. Protests have also been held in Australia, the U.K, Germany and the U.S.
CALL OUT TO ACTION FOR PROTESTS AT U.K. AND U.S. EMBASSIES – MAY 3RD
To highlight the threat posed to press freedom by the conspiracy being conducted by the U.S. and U.K governments against Julian Assange we call for protests on World Press Freedom Day globally at their countries embassies.
The protests will be demanding Stop the Rendition, Drop all the Charges, Free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.
The protests will also be an opportunity to highlight other cases of journalists and whistleblowers who are being targeted by governments around the world.
A call out for action on May 3rd has already been endorsed by prominent journalists, labor organisations and whistleblowers. The full list can read here.
We call on all the labor organisations and NGO’s who have made public statements in recent days to back these words with action and actively become involved in these protests. We call on workers and youth within and outside unions to become actively involved in these protests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org to either endorse the call out for action or to become directly involved.