Wellington Scoop

Free Assange protest at Parliament launches world-wide campaign

Alex Hills plays a freedom song on her violin

Scoop report and photo by Roy Murphy
At Wellington’s Parliament today, a small group of activists today kicked off a world-wide series of protests in dozens of countries against the US move to extradite Julian Assange from the United Kingdom.

The US wants to try Assange under its Espionage Act for publishing details of war crimes committed by US soldiers in Iraq. The court hearing on his extradition began in London on Monday.

The protest was led by Alex Hills who started the Candles for Assange and the Free Assange movements from her Island Bay home.

A petition with 300,000 signatures opposing his extradition has been tabled in both Houses of the Australian parliament. It demands a stop to the torture of Assange and calls for his immediate freedom. A similar petition with 2,000 signatures organized by Hills failed in the New Zealand parliament because not one Member of Parliament would sponsor it.

Two Australian Members of Parliament, one conservative and one independent, visited Assange in Belmarsh Prison in London last week and called for his release. George Christensen, a conservative, said: “Enough is enough. Leave that bloke alone and let him come home.”

Andrew Wilkie, an independent, said that it would set a dangerous precedent that any journalist anywhere in the world could be extradited if they wrote about another country. He said the case was “about the future of journalism”.

They both said Assange’s physical and mental health had deteriorated. A letter signed by 117 physicians and psychologists from 18 countries came to the same conclusion, and called for an end to “the psychological torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange.”

Another letter organized by New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager calls for the same thing. That letter has been signed by more than 1,000 journalists, including John Pilger, Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, journalist and commentator Chris Hedges and renowned intellectual and writer Noam Chomsky.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, visited Assange with two doctors in July 2019 and they diagnosed him as having the typical symptoms of psychological torture. Melzer recommended that Assange’s extradition to US be barred and that he be promptly released.

Melzer said, “If investigative journalism is classified as espionage and can be incriminated around the world, then censorship and tyranny will follow. A murderous system is being created before our very eyes.”

1 comment:

  1. Pseudopanax, 28. February 2020, 11:57

    Shocking that no MP sponsored the petition to free Julian Assange. Where were the Greens?