Grassroots actions to #FreeAssange should align with the interests and objectives of the campaign – Lessons from Sat 29/8/20

Several supporters of the JADC have contacted us (or have tweeted) expressing consternation at the appearance of a JADC banner and placards at the Saturday 29 August anti-lockdown event in Trafalgar Square, for example Joe Lauria, Gary Lord, and Christine Assange as well as many many other accounts on Twitter.

What had happened was that a flyering expedition to Trafalgar Square between 11am-12noon to raise awareness of the plight of Julian Assange was organised by a member with no information that there was a rally taking place at noon, what the demonstration that followed was about, who was organising it and who was speaking at it.

A small number of supporters with banners and posters joined the action flyering away at Trafalgar Square from 11 am as they often did in the past unaware of the nature of the rally that was happening from 12 noon onwards and continued flyering throughout .  However others may have been more aware of the nature of this event.

Photos were taken and shared in social media that were picked up by a supporter who lives abroad who recently started helping with the JADC twitter account. He shared them at @JA_Defence  on two occasions stating that supporters had actually joined the protest in support of the rally’s objectives.

This was not how this action was presented to supporters when the call out was put out.

It is important to unreservedly apologise for this and learn the lessons it offers us because we have been in this journey for far too long to allow controversies like this one to hamper the effectiveness of our work.

This demonstration included speakers like the far-right Irish Freedom Party’s Dolores Cahill, David Icke who propagates among other things the Reptilian conspiracy theory, Piers Corbyn a weather forecast scientist who holds particular views on climate change. The objectives of the rally was to demonstrate against government covid related lockdown measures.

Neither the speakers not their objectives are compatible with what WikiLeaks stands for, raising the bar of the public’s understanding of the world through scientific journalism. The truths exposed by WikiLeaks for which Assange is facing an extradition to the US and a US Trial, are vital in mobilising people against the endless wars currently under way armed with the truth. It is about the right of journalists to publish and reveal the secret wars, treaties, war crimes as well as economic and environmental crimes perpetrated by those who yield tremendous power to govern over the fate of the world. Neither the speakers nor their objectives are in any way aligned with the interests of the campaign to Free Julian Assange.

In our campaign we have argued that Julian Assange is at very great risk of contracting Covid in Belmarsh. We have campaigned for his release (as well as the release of many prisoners) from prisons which are potential epicentres of infection. That is not compatible with views that regard this pandemic as fiction!

Whilst the JADC includes supporters of differing political outlooks, it is important to have the greatest care when organising events that we are building on the good will of the general public and we do not strengthen the hand of those who wish to discredit our efforts.

The usual media outlets who ignore the case of Julian Assange or slander both him and his supporters, have been quick to associate the Julian Assange campaign with this demonstration.

….those taking part espoused anti-authoritarian grievances ranging from the lockdown to the imprisonment of Julian Assange to claims of elite child sexual abuse (Guardian).

It drew a broad coalition of protesters from across the country from those espousing causes such as opposition to the imprisonment of Julian Assange to so-called “anti-vaxxers” and advocates of 5G and QAnon conspiracy theories. One individual was pictured brandishing the flag of the British Union of Fascists (Guardian).

There were also QAnon supporters, a handful of “Free Julian Assange” boards and several claiming that NHS Test and Trace is an attempt by the government to monitor citizens (The Independent).

As grassroots organisation we help and encourage initiatives of those who join us in the struggle to free Assange. We commit to stay clear from such controversy that brings our cause and our efforts into disrepute and will re-establish our organising committee meetings (stopped due to the covid pandemic) to continue organising effectively actions in support of Julian Assange.

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5 Responses to Grassroots actions to #FreeAssange should align with the interests and objectives of the campaign – Lessons from Sat 29/8/20

  1. Laura Roslin 7 says:

    Thanks for addressing this so thoughtfully. The Free Julian Assange movement has to beware efforts to co-opt, side track or otherwise de-rail the movement.

  2. May Ayres says:

    It is sad that Christine Assange so strongly objects to JADC campaign’s presence in Trafalgar Square last Saturday, but I have absolutely no patience with the ‘liberal left’ objections.
    The struggle for Assange and for press freedom grew from the grassroots, the core team from the beginning have built a powerful movement with relentless and tenacious campaigning in the streets in all weather. The liberal left were slow to respond.The mass protest on Saturday that I was proud to participate in, was clearly a grassroots uprising, demonstrated perhaps by the abundance of home-made signs and placards. I spoke to many people, everyone being incredibly friendly and welcoming. Many people were linking the struggle for Assange and press freedom with the very real threat now facing us, to all our freedoms.
    The speakers that day included NHS doctors and nurses all suffering the consequences for speaking out against the lies, misinformation and fear-mongering from our governments.
    The ‘liberal left’ can’t win Julian’s freedom by restricting itself to large hall events, preaching to the converted. It is the campaigners who connect with ordinary people in the streets who are genuinely winning the battle against tyranny.
    I’m glad the JADC were in Trafalgar square on Saturday they have no need to apologise.

    May Ayres

  3. deninbtn says:

    That is very disappointing.

    I was at the event on Saturday along with 32,000+ people – are they all right wing conspiracy theorists?

    I was really pleased to see the banner at the event, which was drawing attention to Julian’s predicament. Many of those present will not be aware of what has happened to Julian – but they will learn that it is very similar to the stifling of free speech and the censorship of any articles or videos challenging the official Covid narrative on ANY media platform.

    I was actually going to contact you to say that I would give out fliers at the next event on the 26th September, but it sounds like you don’t want that to happen.

    I have shared the excellent film ‘The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange’
    on a lot of pages dedicated to fighting the erosion of our civil liberties and the decimation of our economy, and everything that goes with that – the increase in suicides, the rise in domestic violence, the increase in poverty and the dependency of food parcels to feed children as well as the thousands of people who had their life saving treatment disrupted and will die prematurely as a result.

    At the end of that film we are told “they are about to take every right taken away from you, you will not be able to fight for any other cause”…

    Are we not seeing that play out in front of our very eyes?

    The police seized the screens at the event and Piers Corbyn was given a £10,000 fine for being involved in the organisation of it, what happens if he refuses to pay?

    A GoFund me page was set up to help pay the fine, but it was taken down and our donations refunded.

    Although I am disappointed that you have chosen to tarnish an event because of the political stance of a very few people who were at the event, I will continue to be a voice for Julian.

    All the best

    Denise

    • pollymilnerlivecouk says:

      I also feel we need to be careful of being too strongly a ‘Left-Wing’ movement for Assange. I am to the Left/Green, but the issues at stake are central to humanity & needn’t be solely Leftist. I’m worried about JADC wishing to limit the campaign in this way: surely what counts as an “aligned” group for one supporter might be off-putting to the next, meaning we need as wide a support base as possible. I’m also uncomfortable with the response to Tommy Robinson: yes, he has some vile opinions -but isn’t he allowed to show concern for Assange, especially having been briefly in Belmarsh himself? Whilst leafletting for Assange (not in London) I’ve had several Tommy Robinson ‘fans’ voice their genuine support for his cause. Some might say this is only because they, like TR himself, have got ‘the wrong end of the stick’ re. Julian, but couldn’t it just as likely be that this is something (the only thing, even) that they’ve got right? Wouldn’t it have been better, more aligned with valuing freedom of speech, for folk to chat with him about his reasons for being there & his interest in Assange etc rather than just to chase him away? No criticism intended of all those giving so much time & energy to defend Assange -just feel concerned about the above points…

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