Solidarity protest in San Francisco fights back against Twitter’s censorship of pro-Assange campaign

by Davey Heller, July 9th 2019

On July 8th, the Bay Action Committee to Free Julian Assange held a protest outside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco to demand an end to the escalating censorship of pro-Assange accounts.

On June 18th, @classconscious1, the account of classconscious.org, who have used their account for 12 months to promote Assange protests was suspended without warning after tweeting about the arrest of Assange protestors in Melbourne. They are yet to explain which rules classconscious.org allegedly broke.

The protest highlighted not only the suspension of the @classconscious1 account on June 18th but also the recent targetting of other accounts involved in the fight to Free Assange and Manning. The protest was a demonstration of the type of international solidarity needed to push back against the efforts to censor the Assange campaign.

Video of protest from International Labor Media Network

Below is a statement read out at the demonstration on behalf of classconscious.org

Statement from conscious.org to July 8th Protest at Twitter  

Thankyou so much to the  Bay Action Committee to Free Julian Assange and everyone who has attended this rally for this fantastic solidarity! You are demonstrating the way to fight Twitter and online censorship! An injury to one is an injury to all! Only through organising like can we push back against every increasing censorship of not just the Assange campaign but our freedom of speech more generally. We can’t defend Assange and Manning if we lose our own freedom of speech!  

 As Julian languishes in Belmarsh Prison, the US Government and other governments conspiring to persecute him are well aware of the growing support for him around the world. It is in this context that moves are being made to sabotage the growth of this global movement.

On June 18th, the Twitter accounts classconscious.org (@ClassConscious1) was suspended without warning or justification.The suspension of the classconscious.org Twitter account came hours after it had tweeted out numerous tweets linking to its article covering the global solidarity protests occurring between the 12th and 14th June – called out by classconscious.org to coincide with Assange’s most recent extradition hearing in London. The photo in these tweets shows the unprovoked, violent police arrests of two peaceful Assange demonstrators at the Melbourne June 14th protest outside the UK consulate. This intensified repression of the Assange/Manning campaign in real life is being mirrored online.

Classconscious.org after appealing their suspension was informed they had repeatedly broken Twitter’s rules but were not told which rules were broken and no specific tweets were referred to. This is a complete abrogation of due process.

Subsequent to these suspensions, other incidents of Twitter censorship include the suppressing of the sharing of tweets promoting the #Candles4Assange international actions to mark Julian Assanges 48th Birthday on 3rd July. Other pro-Assange accounts such as the SEP Britain report their follower list being purged by Twitter. Whilst some have been restored others such as @yonsolitary have yet to be restored.

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 account (and others) 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.

So much of the international campaign to free Assange and Manning is organised online and via social media and, therefore, crucial to the task of building the global protests that will be necessary to free them both. However, the close cooperation, indeed the integration, of the corporate social media giants (Facebook, Google and Twitter) with the US military/intelligence complex poses a direct threat to the efforts to free Assange and Manning, and to free speech in general.  

Free speech is needed to win this free speech campaign! We cannot allow such censorship to become the “new normal”. It must be politically confronted at every turn and exposed. Solidarity must be shown to all targets of this censorship by the broader campaign defending Assange. 

Thankyou once again for your principled stand and recognition of the serious political issues raised by the censorship of classconscious.org and other pro-Assange Twiter accounts.  Being based in Australia we felt very powerless to protest against Twitter. Thankyou for being our voice in San Francisco at the Headquarters. True internationalism  of the working class is the only way to take on the international power of the multi-nationals like Twitter. 

Solidarity!

Free Assange!

Free Manning!

Free Press!

Free Speech!

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

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