Organised by JADC and attended through the day by 100 strong supporters the three solidarity vigils traced Julian Assange’s steps on that fateful day when the British and Ecuadorian and American governments violated International Law on political asylum and arbitrarily arrested Julian Assange, for his publishing work with WikiLeaks. Our actions were accompanied by a mobile billboard designed and organised by @SomersetBean, so grateful for his support in the day’s events.
— Committee to Defend Julian Assange (@JA_Defence) April 11, 2021
An open top double decker bus independently organised and originally planned to tour London at a different trajectory spreading the #FreeAssange message to Londoners, joined our three actions facilitating safe transport from Westminster Magistrates Court to Belmarsh. It added a sense of fun in what was a very sober day marking two years of the Wikileaks founder losing his freedom.
Our action started with thanks and an outline of the day’s events:
and continued at 11:30 with a speech written by Maxine Walker and Emmy Butlin. Here it is:
“Thank you for coming here today to mark two years from the violation of Julian Assange’s political asylum, his arbitrary arrest, conviction of bail violation and imprisonment at Maximum security Belmarsh prison where he remains today in a cell 2 metres by 3, 23 hours per day.
He had been granted asylum by the progressive Ecuadorian government in 2012 – something which enraged the British and US governments. On the day that Julian Assange went into the Embassy the British Foreign Office snarled:
“As Mr Assange is in the Ecuadorean embassy he is on diplomatic territory and beyond the reach of the police,”We will seek to work with the Ecuadorean authorities to resolve this situation as soon as possible.”
They tried to invade the embassy in August 2012 to get him out then but were stopped by the presence of people here and others who mobilised. In the morning of the 16th I counted 120 uniformed policemen encircling the Embassy, whilst the Ecuadorean government of Rafael Correa announced that the Ecuadorian people gave him political asylum to protect his life and work from US persecution.
Seven years later, Alan Duncan, UK’s Foreign Minister in 2019 reported triumphantly in his diary the day Julian was dragged from this building. In his book he reveals details of Operation Pelican, he writes:
‘Suddenly it’s game on: I’m told Assange will be sprung from the [Ecuador] embassy today. So I drop everything and head to the Operations Room at the top of the Foreign Office. Operation Pelican is go — We watch a live feed which ironically was available on the web from Russia Today. Bang on 10am, two or three plainclothes policemen enter the embassy. We were expecting Assange to be brought out very soon after their arrival, but texts to the Ops Room revealed he had caused a bit of a commotion— at which point he was forcibly restrained. Then, with military precision, six police officers marched up to line each side of the entrance steps, to form a protective corridor through which Assange was bundled out at about 10.20am.
So, job done at last — and we take a commemorative photo of Team Pelican. It had taken many months of patient diplomatic negotiation, and in the end it went off without a hitch. I do millions of interviews, trying to keep the smirk off my face.’
We stand here today to say to Mr Duncan that Journalism is not a crime, the crime is to imprison a journalist and publisher who told us the truth about war crimes committed by our governments.
The US used tactics of subversion to get Lenin Moreno – onside. Moreno has been the recipient of a documented network of corruption running in the millions of dollars. He proved a willing candidate to be turned. And aside from the personal rewards lavished on him – amongst his political rewards was a $4.2b IMF loan and trade deals.
It is virtually unprecedented for an Embassy to allow police of a foreign nation in to drag out someone who has asylum. Nor can asylum simply be retracted because a government changes hands and politics. The lawless behaviour of the Moreno regime here was mirrored in Ecuador.
The Ecuadorian people were betrayed and made it clear that they were opposed to the actions of Moreno’s government. ‘In October 2019, the Moreno government unleashed a wave of repression to stifle widespread opposition to IMF-dictated policies of wage and public sector cuts, including fuel subsidies. Brutality from the police and the armed forces was systematic and widespread. Repression targeted hospitals, universities, and shelters, where children and elders were resting at night. Armed forces used live ammunition, grenades, and threw tear gas bombs. Citizens have denounced torture, illegal detentions, and trials in military quarters.’ This is the monsterous behaviour of Alan Duncan’s partner in crime in subverting International Law on political asylum.
The US and British propaganda and dirty tricks machine had also been cranked into top gear with every intelligence organisation including the Pentagon and hundreds of operatives working on bringing Julian to the USA to face a life sentence in isolation. This was the lawless behaviour of the US, Britain, Sweden and Ecuador.
And the surveillance of Julian and his visitors throughout Moreno’s rule –24 hour hidden filming inside the Embassy including meetings with his lawyers, doctors and family began in earnest. Illegal in every way – we know that the surveillance was done by the CIA who even toyed with the idea of kidnapping or even poisoning Julian Assange and the British Secret Services have been complicit.
Today there are Presidential elections in Ecuador. We hope for a wind of political change there that will reverse Lenin Moreno’s servile and corrupt policy, bringing back into power the pride and honour of the Ecuadorian people who chose to protect Julian Assange’s life and work by offering political asylum in this Embassy.
Such a wind of change will be unstoppable in revealing the details of British and US involvement in the plot to destroy Julian Assange’s political asylum, undermining International Human Rights law. It may reveal how CIA via Ecuadorian media and political personality Villavicencio fed The Guardian’s Luke Harding the lie that Paul Manafort visited this embassy offering a legal cover for USA and Moreno’s government legal cooperation in terminating his political asylum. The new Ecuadorian government may also sue in Spanish Courts UC Global who collaborated with the CIA in surveilling the Embassy.
These events did not happen and do not happen in a foreign land. None of the freedoms we enjoy in this country were handed over on a place. We stand on the soldiers of a proud tradition of Human Rights defenders, men and women, who with their bodies and even with their lives paved the way for our freedoms.
Julian Assange is such a Human Rights Defender, defending with his body press freedom and the right to publish truthful information telling the truth about how governments govern in our name. By defending him we defend our freedoms. Julian Assange’s body might be in Belmarsh prison but his spirit is here with us now! We are his voice and we say “Journalism is not a crime, the crime is to imprison a journalist and publisher who told us the truth about the war crimes perpetrated in our name” Let’s raise our voices together “Journalism is not a crime – Free Julian Assange” “Drop the charges” “US UK Hands Off Assange”
Our action continued with a unscripted speech by Fidel Narvaez:
Video of speeches Fidel Narvaez
Later on we followed in Julian Assange’s steps from the Ecuadorian Embassy to Westminster Magistrates Court. JADC’s Maxine Walker, Court observer Deepa Driver Independent Journalist Gordon Dimmack and artist Daniel Fooks all made rousing speeches in defence of Julian Assange.
We then moved on to Belmarsh Prison for solidarity chanting demanding Julian Assange’s Freedom. Where Joe Brack spoke out some truths about the torture and illegal imprisonment of the WikiLeaks publisher facing the cruel walls of Belmarsh!
We shall come every year on 11th of April to mark this event when the UK betrayed every Human Right it pretends to hold dear!
Today protesting for the freedom of Assange who is detained in #Belmarsh prison. The founder of #WikiLeaks has been there for 2 years now for revealing US crimes in #Iraqiwar #FreeAssangeNOW #DropTheCharges @wikileaks @thenation @greekemmy pic.twitter.com/dD9m7QiPwq
— Carolina Graterol #FreeAssange (@Moncaro) April 11, 2021
— 🎗#YellowRibbons4Assange #YellowArmbands4Assange (@TRUMANHUMAN2020) April 11, 2021
— Gordon Dimmack (@GordonDimmack) April 11, 2021
— Committee to Defend Julian Assange (@JA_Defence) April 12, 2021
#TeamAssange outside Belmarsh Prison, where @EfPress and #JulianAssange supporters tell the US prosecution team to "take their nonsense and go back home".#FreeJulianAssange #JailTheWarCriminals pic.twitter.com/n0gCA0EExQ
— Committee to Defend Julian Assange (@JA_Defence) April 12, 2021
Very grateful to the members of The Committee to Defend Julian Assange who worked tirelessly for the events to be a success I would also like to thank the many supporters whose donations helped meet the costs of the day.
In solidarity #FreeJulianAssange