Sydney Stop the War Coalition’s Pip Hinman gave the following speech on behalf of Stop the War Coalition to the 300-strong rally to defend Julian Assange outside the Department of Foreign Affairs in Sydney on May 31.
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Stop the War Coalition adds its voice to the demand that the Australian government ask to secure Julian Assange’s release.
Julian’s role in spearheading the enormously important window to the truth – WikiLeaks – is obvious to all.
Also obvious are the reasons why the Australian government has an interest in trying to silence WikiLeaks – not standing up for Julian is one way of attempting to do that.
The information that WikiLeaks has shared with the world is information we have a right to know. It is information that governments don’t want us to know – and for that reason it is even more important that we do.
The publication by WikiLeaks of the diaries and war logs concerning Iraq and Afghanistan has given everyone, in particular the anti-war movement, a powerful tool against these criminal and increasingly unpopular imperialist wars.
For some people, the exposure of the details and planning of two of the most grotesque war crimes in recent history vindicated their opposition to these wars. For others, it was a window into the real intent of Western powers and drove home the terrible consequences of taking Western leaders' double speak on face value.
The Supreme Court's ruling on Julian Assange's appeal comes just as Western leaders are openly canvassing invading yet another country – Syria.
Military intervention in Syria is being threatened once again following the massacre in Houla, Syria, even while it is not clear who exactly carried out this horrendous massacre.
We should not allow sympathy for the victims to become the pretext for Western military intervention in Syria. That has been done before with disastrous results – Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
These brutal wars – all justified as being humanitarian and to restore democracy – have only led to greater numbers of people killed.
This is where WikiLeaks has done a powerful service.
In a world increasingly mired in Orwellian double-speak from the 1%, WikiLeaks plays an invaluable role in shining a light on what the 1% really think.
The huge anti-war protests against NATO in Chicago – in particular the Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans' moving protest at being used as cannon fodder – were a powerful reminder that the people do not forget.
The veterans lined up to throw their medals away – a symbolic rejection of the so-called war on terror.
As Scott Olsen, a former vet and Occupy supporter, said: “These medals once made me feel good. Then I came back to reality – and I don’t want them any more.”
I think that WikiLeaks' publication of the war logs has had a lot to do with this.
We should use this moment to recommit ourselves to the struggle to defend WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, and that other brave individual Bradley Manning.
The Australian government must break from its sorry past – its refusal to assist citizens that the US has a special interest in persecuting – like David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib. It must speak up for Julian Assange – and demand his release from custody.
Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime.
Free Julian Assange! Defend Wikileaks!