Calling on the Labour Party both to defend Julian Assange, oppose his extradition to the USA

Maxine Walker reports on the latest JADC action:

On 19 June, JADC supporters lobbied Jeremy Corbyn’s  Islington North Constituency Labour Party.

The JADC is calling on the Labour Party both at national and local level to speak out for Julian Assange and oppose his extradition to the USA.

An open letter to the Labour Party was distributed to those attending as well as a model resolution which we were asking members to put6 to the meeting. The motion condemns the Espionage charges against Julian Assange, calls for the blocking of his extradition and demands both  his and Chelsea Manning’s immediate release.

We faced mixed reactions. Some were supportive and understood the issues at stake particularly around press freedom. Others were dismissive indeed hostile.  One charming Labour Party member said  Julian Assange should be locked up for life and questioned the veracity of WikiLeaks information on war crimes.  Clearly the Labour Party is split in profound ways.

We hope that someone in that organisation will put a motion to the Constituency Labour Party.   We are watching, as are many, to see if Labour will break its current silence and inaction.

The event was covered by wsws.org reporters and you can read their article here:
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/06/21/jadc-j21.html

OPEN LETTER TO LABOUR PARTY MEMBERS

Dear Friends,

We are delivering this letter publicly, asking you to join with us in campaigning for the unconditional release of Julian Assange.

As the UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer reported recently:

“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time.”

Julian Assange is now languishing in Belmarsh high security prison, supposedly for skipping bail. But he is there for one reason and one reason only: he dared to expose the most hideous war crimes committed by US and UK occupation forces in their war for oil in Afghanistan and Iraq. For that single reason he has been pursued and persecuted with the intent of silencing and punishing him, and any others who dare follow his example.

The new charges under the Espionage Act make this crystal clear. Any serious investigative journalism which reveals the true purposes and conduct of our rulers will be suppressed with an iron fist. Journalists can be locked up for life under a brutal regime of solitary confinement.

The velvet glove that seeks to mask this iron fist are the bogus rape allegations – instigated not by the women but by the police – in Sweden. Even the most cursory examination of Sweden’s “preliminary investigations” reveals a crude attempt at framing Assange. If extradited to Sweden he will face onward-extradition to the US under fast-track “temporary surrender” provisions–which was the aim all along.

Assange did not enter the Ecuadorian embassy to “evade” sexual allegations, he was granted political asylum due to his “well-founded” fear of persecution by the US. In 2010-11, US politicians declared Assange a “terrorist” and “enemy combatant” who should be “assassinated” or face the death penalty, and a secret grand jury was convened against him in May 2010.

It is a little-reported fact that Assange was always willing to go to Sweden to answer the sexual allegations against him, under guaranteed immunity from extradition. The Swedish state declined this offer. Meanwhile, in 2011 the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service illegally interfered to dissuade Swedish prosecutors from interviewing Assange in London. They were responsible for the seven-year embassy stand-off which the UN described as illegal and arbitrary detention. We note that in any case the investigation was closed after finally questioning Assange in the embassy in  November 2016.

Whilst Jeremy Corbyn initially spoke up for Assange, he and his front bench team have since back tracked, issuing statements that Assange should face Swedish extradition—even before an extradition request had been received!  In face of the  charges under the Espionage Act and Assange’s continued ill-health and incarceration, they have remained utterly silent.

This is not a time for fence sitting. Assange is a victim of a cruel and relentless state persecution. We ask you join with us in a single, unhesitant voice to demand his freedom from this torture.

AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL!

FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW!

MODEL MOTION SUGGESTED:

RESOLUTION

This meeting of Islington North Constituency Labour Party condemns the Espionage Act charges against WikiLeaks publisher and journalist Julian Assange.  The indictments issued by the US Department of Justice on May 23 carry a prison term of 175 years and are a frontal assault on the freedom of the press.

If extradited to the US, he could face additional charges that carry the death penalty. It is not just Assange’s fate that is in the balance. The democratic rights of the entire labour movement and of working people as a whole  are at stake here.

We demand Assange’s immediate release from Belmarsh Prison and that the UK government block his extradition to the United States and Sweden. We also call for the immediate release of courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning who has been re-jailed for refusing to testify against Assange.

We resolve to fight for Assange’s freedom and call on all Labour Party branches to come to his defence. An injury to one is an injury to all!

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