Report on Picket of the Guardian 22 October 2020
By Maxine Walker
In 2019, the UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer said that since 2010 “there has been a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation against Mr. Assange, not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom…” This campaign, he said, included an endless stream of humiliating, debasing and threatening statements in the press and on social media. This mobbing has been an integral part of the persistent, progressively severe abuse that Julian Assange has suffered.
And which newspaper has led the mobbing? The Guardian. Its role – lies, smears and ridicule- has been key to Julian Assange’s abuse and isolation. Lies have consequences. At the Old Bailey we saw the US Prosecutors actually using Guardian lies as evidence against Assange in his Extradition case.
Therefore on 22 October (the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War Logs publication) the JADC decided to do a bit of righteous mobbing of our own and picket the Guardian HQ. The picket attracted 50 people and made itself heard within the building. A range of placards made the necessary points:
Guardian on Assange – a Disgrace to Journalism
Guardian Why so Silent About Assange’s Torture?
US Prosecutors of Assange – Using Guardian Lies as Evidence
Guardian published same leaks -Only Assange in the Dock And you attack him???
Luke Harding – There’s Vacancies at MI6
Shame on You Jan Thompson Editor of the Villavicentcio/Harding Fairytale of Manafort meeting Assange at the Embassy!
Individual journalists who have played the most despicable role in the smear campaign were loudly named and shamed: Hadley Freeman, Luke Harding, Marina Hyde – Shame on them!
Speeches and statements included:
Jonathan Cook – former Guardian journalist and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism
“The Guardian should have stood up for Assange long ago, when the threats he and investigative journalism faced became unmistakable. It missed that opportunity. But the threats to Assange – and the causes of transparency and accountability he champions – have not gone away. They have only intensified. Assange needs the Guardian’s support more urgently, more desperately than ever before.”
Chris Williamson -Former MP and victim of Guardian smear campaign:
“It’s the Guardian’s treachery that is central to the efforts of the US to silence Assange, destroy WikiLeaks and crush any future attempts to expose the abuse of state power.”
Maxine Walker – JADC:
“The Guardian has remained silent and shown not a flicker of curiosity about his prison conditions, psychological torture, illegal surveillance in the Embassy or Court hearings. Instead they have waged warfare against Julian Assange.”
Mike Jackson brought solidarity from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and talked about the reality of violent state power that met the striking miners in 1984, especially at Orgreave. 6000 police attacked the Orgreave mass picket and many people were severely injured. (The miners were labelled ‘The Enemy Within’ by the Thatcher government.) Mike told the picket:
“So, the link between our two campaigns is that in a democracy the whistleblowers should be able to speak with impunity. Democracy of course is a relative thing. And I look forward to us one day having democracy in Britain. Until then people like your campaign and people like our campaign will do whatever we can to further democratic justice.”
Elsa Collins, Wendy Higazi, Tony Greenstein also gave rousing speeches.
The Guardian lives off a liberal reputation acquired in the past when it also had actual journalists of note. The reality is very different today. Its fastest growing market is in the US and its content is more tailored to the neo-liberalism, militarism and anti-Assange sentiments that are bi-partisan there (and here). Whether the dictates of profit and the paper’s own dominant political inclinations can be changed is unlikely. But we will continue to expose them and encourage people to Dump the Guardian and instead support independent outlets that do actual journalism.
Here follows a compilation of the speeches, statements, videos and photos from the event. We will return to The Guardian on 27/11/20 please make a note in your diary and join our action! Many who can’t attend our events support our actions by sharing our photos and blog posts in social media. We thank them and all those whose generosity helped share the costs of printing flyers, banners and posters throughout this year including this event. United we are strong! In solidarity #FreeAssange“
Photos and videos: