Sunday 3 July marked the 45th birthday of WikiLeaks Editor Julian Assange, his fifth under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and the 6th consecutive under the confinement in the UK. As in previous years, supporters gathered at the embassy to show public solidarity with Assange and to convey positive, hopefully uplifting, birthday wishes in his direction.
A gathering comprising supporters of Assange’s and WikiLeaks’ work, anti-war activists, former political prisoners, and a large contingent from London’s Latin American communities created a lively and up-beat celebration.
The 2-hour event began with war resister Ciaron O’Reilly speaking about the importance solidarity with Assange – reflecting upon his own experiences in prison for disarming US military aircraft. Children from the Expression Inca group brought a party atmosphere, entertaining with song and dance, which stopped many passing by on the sunny Knightsbridge streets.
With balloons and ribbons also festooning the area opposite the embassy, a treat for the young performers – and everyone else – came via a table full of cake and snacks befitting a birthday party. Cards of well wishes for Julian were passed around and heartfelt messages added in many languages.
As we said adios and gracias to the youngsters, musical accompaniment continued via the brilliant Roland and Sue from Australia, so often a soundtrack of solidarity to Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning events in London.
Live music and a festive gathering attracts people, and as always, tourists and local residents came over to stare, photograph, chat and join in. Information gets distributed and people get informed. Moreover, the buzz and celebration cuts over the traffic and bustle of the street and will be seen and heard from No. 3b. Though birthdays for Julian Assange must certainly be bittersweet, he will know that many are thinking of him and I hope this gives him strength.
*An on-going solidarity vigil continues at the embassy of Ecuador, Tuesday-Thursday 4pm-6pm.
**The 4th anniversary of Ecuador’s granting of asylum to Julian Assange falls on 16th August. A solidarity vigil will take place on that date – details to follow.