Editor’s Note. The following is the text of a speech delivered by Australian leftist activist Gary MacLennan today at a protest in support of Julian Assange and Wikileaks outside the Ministry of Defence in Brisbane. We thank Gary for permission to reproduce it here.
Ladies & Gentlemen, Friends, Comrades:
I congratulate the organisers of this protest today and I congratulate you all for coming. We are here to protest the imprisonment of Julian Assange and the attacks on Wikileaks. We are part of a worldwide protest movement against what is clearly a monstrous injustice. We are standing outside this Federal Government building to acknowledge the involvement of the Australian government in the attacks on Assange. The Federal government has been part of the cheer squad which has led to Assange’s imprisonment.
I want to begin by saying something about the charges that have been brought against Assange:
Firstly the chief prosecutor in Sweden refused to proceed on the charges because of the lack of evidence. But a leading politician intervened and they found a prosecutor in Gothenberg who gets paid when she brings charges. So she agreed to resurrect the case.
I have little doubt now that Assange has been under surveillance for some time and that the women were approached after he had sex with him. The charge of rape was in all probability chosen to demobilise public support, especially among women.
If you want an exact historical parallel you have only to contemplate the case of the great Irish patriot Roger Casement. There was a great deal of public sympathy for Casement when he was charged with treason for attempting to assist the Irish uprising of 1916. The authorities countered this with leaked references to Casement’s diaries which revealed his homosexuality. That was enough to persuade many people not to support him.
I will say it now loudly and clearly: the charges against Assange are in themselves farcical. Don’t take my word for it. Go to crikey.com and read Guy Rundle’s article. But most important of all the charges are politically motivated and they are just one move in an organised campaign by the powerful to stop Wikileaks.
I want now to talk about the Australian connection. What have we learned so far about Australia from the wikileaks? For a start we have a couple of star informers and stool pigeons within the Labor government – Michael Danby of Victoria and Mark Arbib from New South Wales. We have also learned that we have an idiot as Foreign Minister – Queensland’s own Kevin Rudd.
We have learned that Rudd has been urging the Americans that they should get ready to attack China. Rudd has called himself a “brutal realist” about China. Well of course what he is offering us is not brutal realism but brutal stupidity. If the Chinese were to turn against Australia and refuse to buy our coal and iron ore, then our entire economy would vanish in less
than a minute.
So to that formidable intellect Kevin Rudd, I say, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Finally I would urge you all to think seriously about the meaning of Wikileaks and why it must be defended. It is true that Assange is a whistleblower and is performing a public good. It is true that the right to free speech is under attack and it must be defended. It is also true that we have a right to the free flow of information and a right to know what our rulers are up to.
However I would urge you all to realize that Assange’s crime is that he has given all of us the information we need to understand the kind of world we
live in. He has shown us that we live in a world dominated by America.
It is a world where if you tell lies and go to war – that’s ok.
It is a world where if you kill hundreds and thousands and lie about it, that’s ok.
It is a world where if you destroy an entire country that’s ok. You will probably get the Nobel prize for peace.
It is a world where you corrupt political leaders everywhere and torture or assassinate those you cannot corrupt, that too is ok.
But if you tell the truth about this world, that is not ok. Then you become a threat to national security and you must be punished.
So friends that is the world we live in. It is the world that we can no longer deny is thoroughly evil. All of us then must have the courage to face the truths revealed by Julian Assange and to undertake the task of building a different world and a better world.
Julian Assange in discussion with Chris Anderson. Oxford, July 2010.
A petition appeal from Avaaz.org.
The massive campaign of intimidation against WikiLeaks is sending a chill through free press advocates everywhere.
Legal experts say WikiLeaks has likely broken no laws. Yet top US politicians have called it a terrorist group and commentators have urged assassination of its staff. The organization has come under massive government and corporate attack, but WikiLeaks is only publishing information provided by a whistleblower. And it has partnered with the world’s leading newspapers (NYT, Guardian, Spiegel etc) to carefully vet the information it publishes.
The massive extra-judicial intimidation of WikiLeaks is an attack on democracy. We urgently need a public outcry for freedom of the press and expression. Sign the petition to stop the crackdown and forward this email to everyone — let’s get to 1 million voices and take out full page ads in US newspapers this week!
WikiLeaks isn’t acting alone — it’s partnered with the top newspapers in the world (New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, etc) to carefully review 250,000 US diplomatic cables and remove any information that it is irresponsible to publish. Only 800 cables have been published so far. Past WikiLeaks publications have exposed government-backed torture, the murder of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and corporate corruption.
The US government is currently pursuing all legal avenues to stop WikiLeaks from publishing more cables, but the laws of democracies protect freedom of the press. The US and other governments may not like the laws that protect our freedom of expression, but that’s exactly why it’s so important that we have them, and why only a democratic process can change them.
Reasonable people can disagree on whether WikiLeaks and the leading newspapers it’s partnered with are releasing more information than the public should see. Whether the releases undermine diplomatic confidentiality and whether that’s a good thing. Whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has the personal character of a hero or a villain. But none of this justifies a vicious campaign of intimidation to silence a legal media outlet by governments and corporations. Click below to join the call to stop the crackdown:
Ever wonder why the media so rarely gives the full story of what happens behind the scenes? This is why – because when they do, governments can be vicious in their response. And when that happens, it’s up to the public to stand up for our democratic rights to a free press and freedom of expression. Never has there been a more vital time for us to do so.
Ricken, Emma, Alex, Alice, Maria Paz and the rest of the Avaaz team.
Law experts say WikiLeaks in the clear (ABC)
WikiLeaks are a bunch of terrorists, says leading U.S. congressman (Mail Online)
Wikileaks: Brazil President Lula backs Julian Assange (BBC):
Amazon drops WikiLeaks under political pressure (Yahoo)
US Gov shows true control over Internet with WikiLeaks containment (Tippett.org)
US embassy cables culprit should be executed, says Mike Huckabee (The Guardian)
WikiLeaks ditched by MasterCard, Visa. Who’s next? (Christian Science Monitor)
Assange’s Interpol Warrant Is for Having Sex Without a Condom (The Slatest)