Australian Prime Minister confronted with Betrayal of Julian Assange to U.S. War Machine
by Ciaron O’Reilly
As Prime Minister Julia Gillard arrived at the Stamford Plaza in Brisbane Tuesday night to deliver a speech at the opening dinner of the Economic Forum, she was confronted by Catholic Workers and other anti-war activists over her betrayal of Australian born citizen Julian Assange to the U.S. war machine.
Like Bradley Manning, Australian Prime Minister Gillard has Welsh roots, coming from a small village in the Vale of Glamorgan called Cwmgwrach or ‘Valley of the Witch’. Her family emigrated to Australia in the sixties. The synchronicity of events was compounded by Lady Gaga also being ensconced at the Stamford Plaza on Tuesday night. The U.S. military has accused Bradley Manning of downloading secret cables including footage of U.S. war crimes in Iraq while he was pretending to listen to a Lady Gaga CD. In 2010, the then 22 year old Manning was serving as a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Baghdad Iraq at the time of the alleged offence.
The Assange solidarity vigil in Brisbane comprised of four Catholic Workers and two doctors who support WikiLeaks. The vigil took up position at 4.30 p.m. on the footpath outside the Government Corporate LoveFest branded as an “Economic Forum”. Those gathered inside included the Prime Minister, the Treasurer Wayne Swann, Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens, Rio Tinto managing director David Peever, GM Holden chairman Mike Devereux, QR National chief executive Lance Hockridge, and ASX chief executive Ed Funke Kuepper.
As the solidarity vigil was established with a banner reading “JUSTICE FOR JULIAN ASSANGE: Help WikiLeaks keep Governments Open”, Catholic Worker Ciaron O’Reilly deployed with a portrait of Julian reading “TRUTH” to the other side of the driveway taking up position where P.M. Gillard would surely enter.
After a short time, two suited and booted members of the Public Order Squad approached Ciaron from behind calling him by name. Threatening him with arrest for failing to possess a permit to comply with public indemnity laws related to an empty taxi rank, Ciaron walked away from the Plaza driveway toward the corner where the Prime Mnister’s cavalcade would surely have to enter the street. Another plain clothes police officer and two uniformed officers were deployed to keep Ciaron company for the evening. Ciaron was joined by Dr. John Jiggens carrying a “Justice for Julian Assange” sign and Dr. Peter Kuestler carrying a “made for measure for the occasion & assembled” placard reading “The only Economic Question Remains Have I Taken too Much, Have I Given too Little?”
Meanwhile, at this stage, the Lady Gaga fans assembled outside the Stamford were left unharassed by the police. The good Lady herself was inside her suite recovering from a bruised and black eye sustained in a stage accident during her performance in New Zealand the previous Sunday. The injury occurred when she was whacked in the head with a pole. An experience and injury shared by some of the WikiLeaks supporters at the hands of the Queensland police on other occasions over previous decades on the streets of Brisbane.
The Prime Minister’s all white wedding-like cavalcade of sedans and four wheel drives turned into the street at 6.30 pm. As the great and the good unloaded from the now gridlocked vehicles Ciaron, the doctors and their uniformed and plainclothes police tails moved into driveway. Ciaron berated his captive audience with the crime of Julia delivering Julian to the U.S. war machine, the continued deployment of cannon fodder from Brisbane’s Gallipoli Barracks to kill and die in a lost U.S. war in Afghanistan that her government can’t defend or rationalise. Ciaron shared the saying “truth is the first casualty of war”, appealed “Don’t be scared of the truth” and delivered the scriptual promise “the truth will set you free, Julia.”
See also this previous post for background, quotes, link to interview etc.