On Julian Assange’s 49th Birthday the second spent inside Maximum Security Belmarsh Prison, we celebrated his moral stamina and our commitment to him as a defender of Free Speech and a Free Press that has helped him, so far, survive state persecution by the USA and its allies. We salute Julian Assange as we commit to defend him as one of our own as he selflessly endures his ordeal.
Julian Assange Belmarsh Birthday Party 3 July 2020, Report by Joe Brack, EF Press
Noon saw over ten JADC members arrive to set up the marquee, info table, food stall, banners, PA, balloons, yellow ribbons and cake stand in just over an hour. By 1pm members, supporters, musicians and press arrived in a steady stream until a peak of at least 50 souls in total a few hours later. Plus at least 10 Serco staff including Deputy Governor, 6 guards and 3 canine handlers and their dogs. Somewhat reminiscent of a scene from ‘Cool Hand Luke’.
Over 30 JADC members, supporters and press marched to the gates of Belmarsh, forming a crescent of Banners and Signs a few yards from the HMP prison doors, chanting and singing Happy Birthday to Julian. Approached by a lone guard who asked me and several others to delete our photos and leave private property. Completely ignored, she retreated to the gate saying she was going to call the police. No police. 5 mins later the Deputy Governor with 2 guards appeared. Smartly dressed, nearing retirement age, the Deputy spoke to several people, calmly discussing the principles of private and public access (good cop) while three dog handlers (bad cop) and their Alsatians emerged from the goods entrance to the side but with little effect.They retreated back through the side entrance. I imagine that when called the police told them to deal with it themselves, we’re very busy with BLM & stuff, hence the suit and dogs. We enjoyed more music at the gates, as the chants continued before returning to the Marquee for the cake cutting ceremony.
Julian Assange has spent his last two birthdays isolated, confined in a maximum security facility, treated as the highest risk, vilified, persecuted, and made to suffer everyday, every loved one, every transfer, every movement. We celebrate his birthday outraged and desperate for his release. The cake is cut and as one, the 50 supporters, friends and media made the same wish, eyes closed, for one thing on Julian 49th Birthday, Freedom for Julian Assange.
The party continued, as advertised, until after 7pm, with music, speeches, live stream discussions and support. Former First Consul at the Ecuadorian Embassy till summer of 2018, Fidel Naverez honoured the congragation with his presence and spoke about the conditions and spying on Julian in the Ecuadorian embassy and the toll it took. As we were packing up we saw a convoy of three cars leaving the Prison car park with at least 4 guards inside, honking in support, fists raised. Astonishing reaction compared to a year ago. There are guards who understand the injustice of Julian’s treatment and liked the birthday party protest and we have since learnt from Julian’s partner and mother of his two very young children Stella Morris that this was communicated to Julian who knew of our celebration, Happy Birthday Julian! Without you the party was also a vigil for your freedom and the demand for due process so long denied.
Joe Brack EF Press
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