7,000 people form human chain in London to protest treatment of Assange

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Around 7,000 people formed a human chain around the Houses of Parliament in the UK on Saturday, protesting the UK government’s persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Part of the human chain for Assange outside Parliament, Saturday October 8, 2022 [Photo: WSWS]

The chain ran continuously from Parliament Square along the Palace of Westminster, across Lambeth Bridge, along the South Bank to Westminster Bridge, then back across the River Thames to Parliament Square , or about two miles. The event was organized by the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign.

Assange is currently being held in the maximum security Belmarsh prison in London. The United States government seeks his extradition under the Espionage Act for exposing war crimes and human rights abuses by US imperialism and its allies. He plotted his assassination and brought charges that carry a life sentence. The WikiLeaks founder is seeking to overturn UK court and Home Secretary orders approving his extradition. His legal team filed an appeal with the High Court in August.

Stella Assange, the WikiLeaks editor’s wife, told protesters on Saturday: “Julian is suffering and part of the point of creating this human chain was to show that what is happening here is not a legal process. , it is not a legitimate process, it is the instrumentalization of the law in order to persecute a person, a journalist, in order to keep him in prison indefinitely.

Julian Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, speaks to protesters outside the High Court in London, October 27, 2021. [AP Photo/Frank Augstein]

“People all over the world are witnessing this atrocity and that’s what compels them to come here to show their solidarity, to show that they care about Julian. That they believe in justice, that they see this what is happening here is a State that has committed crimes against innocent people, which is now committing crimes against a journalist who has exposed these crimes that they have committed.

“Let’s not forget that the US planned to assassinate Julian in the UK, while he was in the embassy and now they’ve put him in the UK’s toughest prison for almost four years.”

WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said the prosecution of Assange was “not a court case”, due to the way the justice system has “bowed to the demands and demands of the government. .it’s appalling”.

He continued: “Julian is a political prisoner. He is politically persecuted. The chain around Parliament sends a message to those inside. They are there to serve people on the outside. And these are Julian’s supporters. Thousands of them here today, and millions around the world who know it’s a travesty.

Labor MP and former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell had the iron neck to announce: ‘As we enter the 18 months to the general election, this will become a general election issue. Every MP will be asked: are you defending journalism, are you defending the rights of journalists to report freely, are you defending their basic human rights, are you defending justice?

McDonnell was present with his close ally Jeremy Corbyn, who deliberately kept quiet about Assange throughout the 2017 and 2019 general elections when he was the Labor leader, despite facing the issue. Corbyn was asked, “Do you stand up for journalism?” and refused. McDonnell too. They conspired to prevent Assange’s case from becoming “a general election problem”. It is only now that they have been left helpless – McDonnell on the Labor benches, Corbyn expelled from the Parliamentary Labor Party – that they issue the call for a campaign.

The journalists of World Socialist Website spoke with some of the protesters.

Nigel, who works in construction, explained that Assange’s work was important because “the government is lying to people, trying to trample the world. How many deaths of people is enough for the money, that’s what it boils down to. And freedom of expression. Locking people up for telling the truth is criminal in itself.

Nigel demonstrating for Assange outside Parliament, Saturday October 8, 2022 [Photo: WSWS]

“It’s not just about a man. It’s about the world. The world should watch out for each other and not trample each other all the time. Governments shouldn’t care about big business and industry: they should care about people – that’s their job, and they are failing massively in this area.

Nigel said he thought the cost-of-living crisis was helping to energize Assange’s campaign: “People are starting to wonder why they’re struggling so much. It’s a huge problem and it’s going to get worse. »

Asked about the international situation and the danger of war, he said: “They go to the country that pleases them, destroy it with war or proxy war and rebuild it as they please. They can then take all the goods from that country. In the reconstruction, they give themselves the contracts. The arms industry makes the first chunk of the money, other industries next, and then all the resources of those countries go back to the United States, or to Britain, we’re not perfectly clean in this domain.

“That’s what’s happening with Ukraine. America has been there for a long time forcing the Ukrainians to do their dirty work. And the main losers here are the Ukrainians. And the rest of Europe, because America has its sights set on Europe. He wants Europe because it is a good market, especially for gas and energy after the explosion of the Nord Stream gas pipeline.

Nigel said the Americans were responsible for the sabotage: “The Russians aren’t going to blow up their own pipeline if they can put it out. The mainstream media doesn’t talk about any of this. You have to look deeper.

A number of those protesting traveled to London from other countries to do so. Mantas, who traveled from Lithuania that day to support Assange as part of the channel, told our reporters: “Assange spoke the truth about war crimes, and he fought for human rights. ‘man and the freedom of the press’.

Mantas protesting for Assange outside Parliament, Saturday October 8, 2022 [Photo: WSWS]

The US and UK governments “want to set a clear and obvious example of Assange so that no one tries what he did. The powers that be are trying to impose their own view of the world, to control the way people think , to seduce them into believing that nothing can be done or that the world is the way it’s supposed to be, when we’re actually going into total madness in the world.”

He said of the war in Ukraine that arms manufacturers and companies “want to promote a new war, and they don’t care about the consequences for the Ukrainian people or the Russian people.” I don’t agree with Putin’s actions, but I think there was another option, but Zelensky was encouraged to take a hard line and oppose any deal from the Russian Federation.

Mantas said of an anti-war movement: “The seeds are growing. There is hope.”

Another young worker described how Assange had “exposed what our governments are doing on our behalf. We need to be aware of what is really going on and he helped to find out. No one responsible for the crimes he denounced has been prosecuted, but he did. They basically shoot the messenger. And people need to know that. »

A young worker demonstrating for Assange outside Parliament, Saturday October 8, 2022 [Photo: WSWS]

Listing the crimes revealed by WikiLeaks, he said: “Where to start? You can watch video of an Apache helicopter firing on civilians. Afghan and Iraqi war diaries, etc. People should educate themselves. There is too much to say here that many crimes have been uncovered. People should look at what WikiLeaks has done, what it exposes, and be objective about it. »

Assange’s case “shows that if someone finds out something like this and tries to tell the public, they can be prosecuted for it. So obviously it can threaten anyone.

Speaking of the war in Ukraine, he said he was equally concerned about Palestine. “I don’t just think the big bad scary Russians are a problem. It is any world power that causes problems in the world. Britain, he added, was “not a force for good” in the world.

Jenny, a retired teacher, said Assange’s case was “clearly unfair, clearly impinges on our rights to hear what happened”. She continued: “From the point of view of the establishment, [it’s important to] keeping all that nasty information hidden, and that’s what made him a particular target.

Jenny, retired teacher, protesting for Assange outside Parliament, Saturday October 8, 2022 [Photo: WSWS]

Jenny drew a comparison between the slander of Assange and the anti-democratic campaign against left-wing members of the Labor Party: [Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn] to be a spy.

“And then they found ground with the campaign against anti-Semitism, which was so ridiculous you wouldn’t think it was being attempted, but it worked. It was a very emotional issue. In this particular issue, I think it was particularly despicable. To use anti-Semitism as a weapon was to be anti-Semitic. The number of Jews who suffered, who were accused and who were expelled from the Labor Party… it was a particularly ignoble aspect.

Speaking about the struggle for socialism and an anti-war movement, Jenny said, “I think it will be a long struggle, but we have to take every opportunity. If a revolution broke out tomorrow, I would support it.

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