Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hands off Assange!

Vanguard September 2012 p. 10
Nick G.

British threats to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to seize Julian Assange reveal the hypocrisy of the imperialists.
The heart of the issue is Assange’s challenge to the imperialists’ control of information.  His responsibility for publishing leaked documents makes him a criminal in their eyes.
It seems that the imperialists will grant refuge in their embassies to people who serve their interests in one way or another, but deny the sanctity of the embassies of other countries to people who oppose their interests.
When British oil and tobacco companies were seeking to extend their interests in Iran in the early 1900s the British Legation in Teheran sheltered opponents of the Shah.  During three weeks in 1906 some 12,000 – 16,000 constitutional activists and demonstrators sheltered in its grounds.
The leader of the Democratic Party of Iran took refuge in the British Legation in 1908 and eventually fled to London.
US Embassies a haven for anti-communists
US embassies provided warmth during the Cold War to opponents of the Soviet Union. Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty of Hungary took refuge in the US embassy in Budapest for 15 years whilst a Soviet Lieutenant-Colonel who defected in France was sheltered for 6 months in the US embassy in Paris and was then granted asylum in the USA.
Seven Siberian Pentecostals were given refuge in the US embassy in Moscow from June 27, 1978 to June 27, 1983.  Their case was resolved by the being allowed to emigrate to Israel from where they moved to the USA.
The US now claims that it doesn’t grant political asylum in its embassies abroad, but as recently as last May it gave refuge in its embassy in Beijing to Chen Guancheng who then ended up in the USA.
It also sheltered the counter-revolutionary Fang Lizhi from June 5, 1989 until June 25, 1990 before granting him asylum in the USA.
Australia no less hypocritical
The Australian Embassy in Beijing also gave refuge to the Taiwanese singer Hou Dejian for several months following the latter’s participation in the events at Tiananmen Square.  Hou, whose eye-witness accounts later confirmed that there had been no massacre in the Square, left the embassy on August 16 and was sent back to Taiwan.
The protection afforded to Hou Dejian arose from the perception of his leading role in challenging the Communist Party of China.  It contrasts markedly with the fate of those Australians -  Wilfred Burchett, David Hicks and Assange – who are thrown to the wolves because they have challenged the real rulers in Australia, the US imperialists.
The British and US imperialists must not be allowed to get their hands on Assange.
The British must not be allowed to storm the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Assange must have safe passage to Ecuador.

Further reading: 

Comment by Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Assange's speech from the Ecuadorian Embassy balcony:

“Can you hear me?
“I am here today because I cannot be there with you today. But thank you for coming. Thank you for your resolve and your generosity of spirit.
“On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy and the police descended on this building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it and you brought the world’s eyes with you.
“Inside this embassy, after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through its internal fire escape. But I knew there would be witnesses. And that is because of you.
“If the UK did not throw away the Vienna conventions the other night, it is because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching.
“So, the next time somebody tells you that it is pointless to defend those rights that we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of Ecuador.
“Remind them how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world and a courageous Latin America nation took a stand for justice.
And so, to those brave people. I thank President Correa for the courage he has shown in considering and in granting me political asylum.
“And I also thank the government, and in particular Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, who upheld the Ecuadorian constitution and its notion of universal rights in their consideration of my asylum. And to the Ecuadorian people for supporting and defending this constitution.
“And I also have a debt of gratitude to the staff of this embassy, whose families live in London and who have shown me the hospitality and kindness despite the threats we all received.
“This Friday, there will be an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of Latin America in Washington DC to address this very situation.
“And so, I am grateful to those people and governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, and to all other Latin American countries who have come out to defend the right to asylum.
“And to the people of the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia who have supported me in strength, even when their governments have not. And to those wiser heads in government who are still fighting for justice. Your day will come.
“To the staff, supporters and sources of Wikileaks, whose courage and commitment and loyalty has seen no equal.
“To my family and to my children who have been denied their father. Forgive me, we will be reunited soon.
“As Wikileaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression and the health of all our societies. We must use this moment to articulate the choice that is before the government of the United States of America.
“Will it return to and reaffirm the values, the revolutionary values it was founded on, or will it lurch off the precipice dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world, in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution and citizens must whisper in the dark?
“I say it must turn back. I ask President Obama to do the right thing. The United States must renounce its witch-hunts against Wikileaks. The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation.
“The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters. The United States must pledge before the world that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.
“There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organisation; be it Wikileaks, or be it the New York Times.
“The US administration’s war on whistleblowers must end.
“Thomas Drake, William Binney and John Kirakou and the other heroic whistleblowers must – they must – be pardoned or compensated for the hardships they have endured as servants of the public record.
“And to the Army Private who remains in a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, who was found by the United Nations to have endured months of torturous detention in Quantico, Virginia and who has yet – after two years in prison – to see a trial: he must be released.
“Bradley Manning must be released.
“And if Bradley Manning did as he is accused, he is a hero and an example to us all and one of the world’s foremost political prisoners.
“Bradley Manning must be released.
“On Wednesday, Bradley Manning spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days.
“On Thursday, my friend Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Human Rights Centre, was sentenced to three years in prison for a tweet. On Friday, a Russian band were sentenced to two years in jail for a political performance.
“There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.
“Thank you.”

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