On the 3rd of July 2021 Julian Assange turned 50. A landmark for most people who hold parties, organise family get togethers. Alas he can’t, he is defending Press Freedom with his body and this heroic journey has taken him in the bowels of a maximum security prison, for simply publishing truthful information in the public good, evidence of war crimes, illegal surveillance, torture, arbitrary detention, how warfare is conducted, environmental dumping, and a myriad of other information that educate and empower democracy loving people all around the world.
Supporters and family around the world have been marking the occasion with protests and vigils and The Committee to Defend Julian Assange organised a Birthday vigil outside Belmarsh prison. Many Thanks to the many who attended and also to those who worked tirelessly to make it a success despite a very hostile policing environment. A special thanks to those who donated towards our equipment and materials.
Our wonderful friend and Independent Journalist Gordon Dimmack caught the moment we cut the cake:
— Gordon Dimmack (@GordonDimmack) July 5, 2021
John Pilger’s message:
Many speeches were given, cake cut, music played by Brian Vickery and Joe Brack, messages read from John Pilger, Andrew Feinstein and Chris Williamson, and solidarity shared. Enjoy JADC’s speech by Maxine Walker and the many photos and videos below.
Welcome today on behalf of the Committee to Defend Julian Assange. We know that in many parts of the world, Julian’s 50th birthday – his third in this vile Belmarsh prison – is a cause for solidarity actions, and events. The mass of people internationally are with Julian. We want to see him free.
So we defiantly celebrate his birthday because we want him to know we are with him, that we will never give up this struggle until we see him as a free man, free to return to his life, his work, his family. We will not allow this fight to be plunged into darkness by lying governments and media, we will continue to shine a light on the man and his cause – the right of the public to know the truth about the US, British and other NATO countries war machine. A war machine that kills, tortures, uses rendition, drone assassinations, bombs and oppresses millions all over the world. Most of them the poorer people on earth.
We salute Julian’s courage. When he and Wikileaks released the truth about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Guantanamo, the diplomatic cables- the war crimes, the torture- he showed courage of a high order, he knew how serious the consequences could be. Despite 11 years of injustice, frame ups, smears, arbitrary detention, isolation, illegal 24-hour surveillance in the Ecuadorian Embassy, a flagrantly unfair judicial process, psychological torture, unable to continue his work, separated from life and loved ones – Julian Assange endures. He has become a symbol of the fight against injustice and the fight for truth.
Truth is the enemy of empires – empires which ceaselessly pump out propaganda or as it should be known just plain lies. On Wednesday, Donald Rumsfeld, one of the main architects of the US British and others 2003 war in Iraq died. Unfortunately, this war criminal died comfortably of old age.
The war in Iraq continues today as we saw a few days ago with President Biden ordering the bombing of Iraq and Syria – this 19 years after the invasion was sold to the publics of the US and the UK on lies. In 2003 we were told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the dossier produced by Alastair Campbell and Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair said that these weapons of mass destruction could reach London in 45 minutes.
Andrew Feinstein’s message read by David:
US Secretary of State Colin Powell held up a vial of pretend anthrax in front of the United Nations . And so the invasion, war and occupation began and is estimated to have caused almost half a million deaths. We now know that these were lies used to swing opinion to the side of war. As Julian said of the war: ‘There was death on every corner.’
Amongst his other crimes, Donald Rumsfeld issued a special order, Frago 242, disclosed in the leaked Iraq War Logs, that there was to be no investigation of torture that was not directly carried out by US personnel. So the Iraqi forces, trained and supervised by the US carried out many forms of torture. They used whipping with chains, hanging from the ceiling by wrists and ankles, sexual molestation, drills, burning with boiling water and many more wicked methods.
The world should ask itself who should have been imprisoned? Donald Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheyney, our very own Tony Blair? But the war criminals are free. It is the truth teller Julian Assange who is in prison . I would know I lived in a better society if these men were behind these walls in Belmarsh paying the price of millions of dead throughout the Middle East. Even better if we threw in with them, the arms dealers, the merchants of death who wreak havoc in the world.
At Julian’s Extradition hearing, Khaled El-Masri was due to appear but the Prosecution objected and the usual ‘technical difficulties’ prevented this. Bravely Julian stood up in his glass box and shouted that he would not allow a victim of torture to be censored. El-Masri was arrested in Macedonia, kidnapped by a CIA rendition team who cut off his clothes put him in a nappy and put a bag over his head and ear muffs. During his captivity he was severely beaten, sodomised, shackled and hooded and subjected to total sensory deprivation. He was finally released after 5 months and got back home to Germany where the authorities refused to believe his story. His lawyer was threatened and had his office bugged.
In 2010/2011 that it became clear what pressures had taken place to preserve secrecy in his case. One of the Cablegate cables showed that the USA had warned the Germans that the issuance of international arrest warrants for the personnel involved in his rendition would ‘have a negative impact on our US-German relations.’ And Germany ensured that the case went no further.
El-Masri says: ….it has been journalists and investigators, informed by Wikileaks documents that have been able through their painstaking and diligent work, to corroborate my story…’
That is what Julian Assange and Wikileaks have given the world. A glimpse behind curtain of deceit at not a few isolated war crimes but the systematic nature of them. And that is why they hate him and many states The US, the UK, Australia, Sweden, Ecuador and more have lined up against him for the past 11 years.
Their allies in this campaign to stifle truthful journalism includes, as we know only too well, the corporate media who have willingly spread the US intelligence fictions and smears about Julian Assange. As john Pilger has said: As John Pilger has said:
The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, an ‘invisible government’. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us — our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.
The case against Julian Assange is political and has no substance, it has further unraveled in the past week as one of the FBIs cultivated witnesses Sigurdur Thordarson, has admitted that he lied in his evidence, evidence claiming that Julian Assange had hacked documents in Iceland. Thordarson is an ideal FBI witness, a convicted sex offender and serial fraudster and a diagnosed sociopath The charge based on his evidence was introduced only six weeks before the extradition hearing began leaving the Defence no time to amass the evidence they needed to fight it. . But no reports on this striking new development have been published other than in independent media. Craig Murray’s excellent article should be circulated as widely as possible to counter the media blackout on this. Craig Murray as we know is now himself facing a frame-up in Scotland which may could see him imprisoned.
I want to end by talking about the role of the British state and government in this case. We are sometimes transfixed by the extraordinary military power of the US, the resources it devotes to killing people, coup-making, murderous sanctions and so on. But let us remember the long imperialist record of the British ruling class – pioneers of colonial rule, coup making and wars against struggles against colonialism in India, the Middle East, Africa. It, like the US, killed millions. It was instrumental in setting up the settler state of Israel which it continues to arm and support fully as it massacres Palestinians and denies them all rights.
Pioneers too of the torture techniques used by the USA in the Middle East – the British laboratory for this being the six counties of Ireland. When internment without trial was introduced by the British in 1972 Ireland they selected 14 men to be the guinea pigs of new torture techniques. They are the Hooded men who are still fighting for justice and were again in court in recent weeks. They suffered sensory deprivation, hooding, loud white noise, stress positions and other torture. They were permanently psychologically damaged.
Britain is seen as merely a junior partner today but it remains a strong imperialist power and has certainly proved its worth in the case of Julian Assange, using every possible trick in the book to get him extradited to the USA. It continues to fight many wars today, to supply training and arms to Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships.
It, alongside the US, with other NATO countries is building towards wars with Russia and China. The propaganda against China is so relentless that few realise that it has a military budget a quarter the size of the US and three times that of the UK with 20 times the population.
Britain is increasing its nuclear arsenal. It is staging provocations in the China seas and the Black Sea where we saw Russia fire warning shots at a British vessel. A war between nuclear powers will be catastrophic for all humanity. As Julian Assange said during this long time of his persecution: This is not about me, it is about you. And he was right.
If we want peace, if we want to prevent further catastrophic wars, then we must fight imperialism. Part of that fight will be an information war. We need to know what our rulers are doing and planning. Julian Assange and Wikileaks gave us that. We must win the battle to free Julian both for him but also for ourselves.
Many Thanks to Antonia and Joe for the photos and videos.
In solidarity Free Assange!