This is a letter sent to Columbia Global Freedom of Expression from an attendee of the”Press Freedom, National Security and Whistleblowers: From Julian Assange to the White House” event.
Thank you for sponsoring this important forum to discuss free press, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.
If I may, I’d like to respond to the question asked in this forum’s online ‘invite’. “Does Julian Assange merit support and solidarity?”
If our media did its job you would know that there is a global solidarity already in place for Julian which grew in March 2018 when Ecuador & the US gagged Julian in the Embassy. The media blacks out this solidarity and focuses on circulating and recirculating decade-old smears – to discourage public support of Assange. How do we supporters know there is a blackout?
Did you know that Julian Assange was nominated for the 2019 and multiple other times for the Nobel Peace Prize?
Did you know that all major establishment news outlets refused to publish Nils Melzer’s ‘Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange’?
Do you know about Unity4J which is an organizing platform for activists to support Julian and Chelsea – holding weekly vigils for an entire year w/ guests who were scholars, journalists, artists, and activists from around the world?
Did you hear about the July 3rd global action with 62 cities participating -showing solidarity with Julian and celebrating his birthday? These global actions continue monthly.
You’re probably not aware of the Courage Foundation’s #WeAreMillions photo campaign – a website set up in order to submit photos of supporters holding signs in solidarity with Julian and to support Free Press. This ‘media blackout’ was confirmed when Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters performed ‘Wishing You Were Here’ live outside the UK Home Office on Sept 2 and not a single establishment outlet reported on it before or after. We expect the same blackout for the Million Mask March and when rapper M.I.A. performs live in London Nov 5, 2019.
To answer ‘does Julian ‘merit’ our support’ I’d like to quote Chris Marsden of the UK Socialist Equality Party: “Principles like history move thru people. It’s not an abstract concept. If principles aren’t fought for they die. Julian Assange doesn’t need to be raised up, he’s raised himself up by what he’s done. Behind Julian Assange are people all over the world similarly committed to the principles of democracy, truth and justice…. This is not hero worship – this is about defending someone who is one of our own.”
So, it is us – with our platforms big and small – who must raise up, and stick our necks out, to support our truth-tellers and protect them from the powers that be who want to crush our right to know.
Our First Amendment is on fire like Ecuador this past weekend while our media is silent.
Thank you, Paula Iasella