Labor is putting the US alliance ahead of Julian Assange's human rights

Sydney rally to support WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, July 16. Photo: Peter Boyle
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Support Assange and WikiLeaks activist Cassie Findlay was the chairperson of a July 16 Sydney rally to defend WikiLeaks. Her opening remarks to the rally are below.

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Thank you for joining us today to remind the Australian government who it is answerable to.

Today we have had our Prime Minister Julia Gillard inside Town Hall addressing the NSW Labor Conference. Perhaps she spoke about Labor’s publicly stated values of “social justice, compassion and a fair go for Australians, at home and abroad”

Unless, apparently, you are Julian Assange.

Assange and Wikileaks have, since their US government releases in 2010, been subjected to a barrage of vicious and sustained attacks — legal, reputational and financial — in retaliation for their publishing activities.

We know from diplomatic cables that since early 2011 Assange has been the subject of a Grand Jury investigation in the United States, with a view to charging him with espionage, a charge which carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.

His organisation has had supporters’ donations blocked by the US banking industry since December 2010, and he himself has been detained without charge for almost 600 days, fighting extradition to Sweden, who are participants in a treaty with the United States that permits quick and secret rendition from that country.

Having exhausted all legal avenues to avoid this fate he has exercised his right to seek asylum with Ecuador — a country with no such arrangements, and one that he must feel offers him a greater chance of protection from these very serious threats. How extraordinary that an Australian citizen should feel so abandoned by their own government that they must resort to this.

And all that our government has been asked to do is to ask the United States:
• is there a Grand Jury investigation?
• are you building a case to prosecute Assange, a free press publisher and award winning journalist, for espionage and on what basis?
• and how can you let your banking industry get away with this arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade?

When asked, PM Gillard, Attorney General Nicola Roxon and foreign minister Bob Carr simply repeat that they’ve been “shown no evidence” of such things. Carefully worded responses designed to skate over the fact that to ask these questions would not be in the best interests of an economically and militarily beneficial alliance with the United States.

An alliance that trumps a Labor "fair go" for one of our citizens, it seems.