Defend free speech – Fight Twitter’s censoring of classconscious.org and Phillip Adams

by Davey Heller, 18th June 2019

On 18th June, Twitter launched an attack on free speech and the Free Julian Assange campaign by suspending the account of classconscious.org (@ClassConscious1). The move came hours after classconscious.org had tweeted out numerous tweets which linked to its article covering the global solidarity protests that occurred between the 12th and 14th June to coincide with Assange’s most recent extradition hearing in London.

No reason or warning was given to classconscious.org before or after the suspension to justify the action by Twitter. At the time of the suspension, classconscious.org had almost 1000 hard-won, Twitter followers and had, up to now, operated its account since early 2018 without interference. Whilst the exact reason for the suspension is not known, given the last tweets were promoting Free Julian Assange protests – and the high profile involvement of classconscious.org in this campaign, we believe the censorship of our account is aimed at silencing our voice in the efforts to Free Assange and Manning.

One of the last batch of tweets that classconsious.org tweeted before its account was suspended.

The lack of reasons given to classconscious.org for their suspension also highlights the undemocratic and opaque machinations that arise from the domination of the internet by unaccountable, capitalist corporations which have rapidly been integrated into the US Military Industrial Complex. Trump-enabler, Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter is worth a cool 5.1 billion US dollars.

It is undeniable that classconscious.org has played a leading role in the global fight to Free Assange and Manning since June 2018 , when it put its first callout for global protests at US and UK embassies and consulates. It issued follow up callouts in August and November 2018, for Emergency actions following Assange’s arrest, on World Press Freedom Day 2019 and to coincide with his court appearances on June 14th. These callouts have been answered by decentralised, small, spirited protests occurring in many cities across Australia, Ireland, Nepal, Taiwan, Germany, France, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, the US, Slovenia, Poland and Brazil.

There is no doubt that classconscious.org has been the most successful organisation involved in the Assange campaign in helping to coordinate and inspire international, synchronised protests. Classconscious.org has worked hard to develop protests internationally because as Marxists we understand that only a united movement of the youth and international working class can generate the political strength to wrest Assange and Manning from the clutches of their US imperialist torturers.

The June 14th protest in Melbourne which was organised by Melbourne Wikileaks Support Events was strongly supported by classconscious.org, and Joanna Mogilevska spoke at the protest on behalf of classconscious.org. In the last tweets classconscious.org created before their suspension the linked article described the violent police repression that occurred at the protest:

In an act of blatant police aggression and harassment two key organisers of the Melbourne protest were arrested before the protest even began after attempting to hang a small banner between two poles. One of the protesters had been involved in an occupation of the UK consulate two weeks previously, lending credence that these arrests were targeted acts of intimidation.

The suppression of classconscious.org Twitter account must be seen as an effort to silence an organisation that is active and effective in building international support for Julian Assange. It is part of escalating efforts such as the police action in Melbourne – to prevent the emergence of a large -scale campaign in support of Assange in conditions where concern for his deteriorating condition is increasing globally.

It also must be seen as an attempt to silence a socialist organisation that seeks to explain the persecution of Assange and Manning in its correct, class perspective. We have argued that the campaign waged against this brave Whistleblower and journalist is part of the drive of the ruling class of the US and its allies to silence all exposure of its crimes as it moves increasingly and more openly towards dictatorship, fascism and world war. Under conditions of capitalist crisis and waning power, US imperialism grows more reckless by the day. The attack on Assange is ultimately an attack on the working class’ right to know and its ability to organise against war and other capitalist crimes.

The site, classconscious.org has not only used its platform within the campaign to organise protests but, as a socialist organisation, has insisted on its right to criticise and expose the various, class forces involved within the campaign. In particular the site has maintained consistent criticisms of the inclusion of the far right in the #Unity4J vigils. This began with our publication of “The dead end of Uniting with fascists to defend Assange” in August 2018. Twitter’s censorship of classconscious.org therefore benefits the far right and all the petty-bourgeois and pseudo-left forces who benefit from denuding this campaign of its revolutionary potential.

The suspension of the classconscious.org account is obviously part of the broader war against free speech and expression. Under the bogus guise of removing ‘fake news’, Facebook and Twitter have been on a censorship spree in the last twelve months. Google has also been manipulating its search results to censor out dissenting progressive and left wing voiced websites. While a small number of far right groups and individuals have been targeted, this is ultimately just a cover to attack and prevent the spread of left wing and progressive voices on the internet to head off the growing threat of working class socialist revolution.

Whilst groups such as classconscious.org are targeted, the far right are still running rampant on social media. Donald Trump ‘Twitler’ himself, bellows fascist rants and threatens to annihilate entire countries from his Twitter account. It is worth emphasising that classconscious.org opposes the suppression of all political speech on the internet as all state and corporate censorship will ultimately be used to smash the working class itself.

The censorship of classconscious.org follows increasingly open moves against journalists – such as the AFP raids in Australia and investigations of journalists in France. Of course, this escalation of censorship and the war on journalism was foreshadowed most of all by the ongoing imprisonment of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:
@PhillipAdams64 account suspended on same day as @ClassConscious1

Since this article was originally published, we have become aware that on the same day that the Twitter account of classconscious.org (@ClassConscious1) was suspended – the Twitter account of another prominent, Australian-based Assange organiser – Phillip Adams (@PhillipAdams64) was likewise suspended without warning or justification. The account of Phillip Adams had just tweeted that the change.org petition he started and manages had reached 150,000 signatures. This petition has become a powerful representation of the mass support for Assange.

A line must therefore be drawn in the sand. We cannot allow pro-Assange Twitter accounts to be picked off a few at a time. If the banning of the classconscious.org and the Phillip Adams accounts on the same day is part of an escalating purge of pro-Assange accounts by Twitter – then it poses an existential threat to this international campaign. It is not hard to imagine if these suspensions are allowed to stand, that in the future crucial months of the battle to save the lives of Assange and Manning – more will soon follow. This targeted censorship will inevitably ensnare higher profile accounts, even @Wikileaks itself.

We do not believe this warning to be an exaggeration. As Julian Assange is the ‘canary in the coalmine’ when it comes to global free speech and press freedom – the Assange Twitter accounts @PhillipAdams64 and @ClassConscious1 may well be ‘the canary in the coalmine’ of the Assange/Manning campaign.

We, classconscious.org call on all supporters of the Free Julian Assange campaign, genuine supporters of free speech, and other socialist and revolutionary organisations – to demand the immediate re-instalment of classconscious.org’s and @Philip Adams64 ‘s Twitter accounts and the end of all online censorship of efforts to fight for the freedom of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning!

#Free Assange #Free Manning #NoWar #FreePress #Workers of the world unite!

Please let Twitter know about your demand for @ClassConscious1 and @PhillipAdams64 Twitter account’s resumption and also send your statement of support to ClassConscious@protonmail.com

Thank-you for your Solidarity!


Davey Heller

Davey Heller is a Trotskyist from Melbourne and long-time campaigner for Left-wing causes including anti-war, refugee rights, environmental protests and workers' struggles. He is a former secondary teacher who studies history at Monash University and currently works in the environmental field. You can follow him on Twitter at @socialist_davey

%d bloggers like this: