Gillard must act for Assange

Rally to defend WikiLeaks, Melbourne, December 2010. Photo: Peter Boyle

Since WikiLeaks raised the ire of the US government in 2010 through the publication of leaked diplomatic cables, PM Gillard’s conduct towards Australian founder Julian Assange has been reprehensible.

Gillard is yet to apologise for her inflammatory claims that Assange had acted illegally, despite the Australian Federal Police’s subsequent findings that he had broken no laws.

Her remarks were made at a time when she should have been defending Assange from the US politicians calling for his assassination.

It stands in stark contrast to her recent statement that now-ex House of Representatives Speaker, Peter Slipper, and ex-ALP MP, Craig Thomson, should be “entitled to a presumption of innocence”.

The Gillard government’s conduct in this affair highlights the need for the openness and accountability, which WikiLeaks exists to promote.

When evidence of the existence of a sealed US grand jury indictment against Assange emerged in February, the government denied any knowledge of it.

It continues to block the publication of documents relating to the potential extradition of Assange to the US, reportedly at the behest of the US government.

And we still don’t know, despite the Gillard government’s assurances that it would find out, why Assange’s former lawyer Jennifer Robinson was stopped at Heathrow Airport and told she was on an “inhibited” travel list.

Gillard’s government has been quietly passing legislation that will potentially make it easier for it to extradite Assange to the US, should he ever return to Australia, and which facilitates the US-led attacks against WikiLeaks.

This abrogation of our rights in deference to the US government is unacceptable. With the verdict in Assange’s final appeal against extradition to Sweden expected any day we need to remind Gillard that she’s answerable to us, the Australian people, not the US government.

The Support Wikileaks and Assange Coalition have organised a protest at the Sydney Convention Centre when Prime Minister Gillard speaks in Sydney on May 15 to demand she acts immediately to stop attempts to extradite him to the US.

[The protest will take place at 1pm, May 15 at the Sydney Convention Centre, Darling Harbour. For details call Linda on 0401 511 588 for more information. Article republished from the Stop the War Coalition website.]


Comments

can we also protest about our impending inclusion as a US state? Something that is probably going to happen regardless of who is our PM.... the US loving current overseer (I can't in honesty call her a leader), or the worm that does turn, and turn, and turn. We are in an illegal war because of oiur politicians desire to follow a war-loving country whose poor starve and die because of zero medical care, and still they think the US is paradise. Whose crime rate is horrendous, and whose illiteracy level is astronomical.
People need a push in the right direction, we need to stand up and say NO to the Government, we need to be kept in the so called loop about what decisions/choices they are making for us. We live sadly in a dictatorship that is showing its true colors more and more on a daily basis. We have so little rights afforded to us, but when you read the following you can see clearly things that need to be enforced and we, the people are the only ones that can do it. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ahrca1986373/sch2.html And as for Gillard with the Assange matter, she needs to read this section and act accordingly as Assange is now well into 500 days of detention, with out charge and that in its self is against the Act stated in AUSTRALIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION ACT 1986. PART III Article 9 of the AUSTRALIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION ACT 1986 - SCHEDULE 2 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law. 2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him. 3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgment. 4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful. 5. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
In most cases the US government utilizes either bribery in the form of foreign aid (primarily military), bullying, or often both to further their international policy agenda. However, to characterize the US as "war-loving" is to dismiss the deceit & propaganda that the American citizens are constantly subjected to by the government. This has had the effect that many citizens still believe that Saddam Hussein and Iraq had a part in the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers, which is patently false. Our elections and entire political process have been hijacked by big money corporate interests. Julian Assange and Bradley Manning (& others) have worked to shed some much needed light. As a result, nearly 70% of the population is in favor of ending the war in Afghanistan immediately, which sadly has little impact on what will happen. Additionally, while it is absolutely true that our public education has nose-dived in recent years, basic literacy is still high (in the 90+% range). Our for-profit healthcare is the most expensive in the world but approximately 50 million of our 350 million are uninsured. This isn't likely to change any time soon as the Insurance and Pharmaceutical industry has an army of lobbyists to buy politicians to protect their postions. It has been estimated that 45,000 people died last year of treatable illness due to lack of healthcare. Our quality of care does not reflect the high cost as the US ranks worse than 30th relative to other countries, and far below Australia. As far as I know, the poor, which are quickly growing in number are not starving but live very stressful and uncertain lives. All I can say about all this is that I apologize for the actions of my government. Be careful Australia, the introduction of US troops doesn't bode well for you. Speak out.