australian embassy protest over assange - reportTagged as: afghanistan assange wikileaks
on monday afternoon a group of protestors delivered a letter at the australian embassy calling for the australian government to support its citizen, julian assange. after being removed by armed police and riot police, the vigil continued peacefully outside the embassy.
at around 5pm on monday, the protest group occupied the foyer of the australian embassy to read out and deliver their letter of support for julian assange. the letter was signed by many people including john pilger, peter thatchell, and ciaron o'reilly. media were quickly forced out of the building, and then armed diplomatic police and several vans of riot police turned up for the small peaceful group.
the front doors of the embassy were closed, but the group continued its vigil outside with speeches and music, after constructing a small shrine in front of the embassy linking other issues to the assange case. there were images of civilians murdered in the afghan war (which australia supports), as well as photographs of assange, bradley manning (the US corporal currently jailed for leaking documents to wikileaks), and shaker aamer (the british citizen who has spent eight years in guantanamo bay without charge, and who was tortured in the presence of british operatives).
the letter accuses the australian government of a dereliction of duty to their citizen assange, through inflammatory and prejudicial comments by the australian PM, through a lack of concern for assange's fair treatement, and through a willingness to allow american politicians to make death threats against australian citizens without challenge.
the protest was called and organised by 'london catholic workers', who are an anarchist catholic group of peace activists who believe in non-violent direct action to prevent war-crimes.
there is a film of the evening on youtube
the full text of the letter and signatories are copied below:
High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
London WC2B 4LA
Dear Mr Dauth,
We Australians, here in London and from further afield, ask you to convey our urgent and emphatic request to the Gillard Government to do its utmost to defend Julian Assange’s human rights and the free and lawful operation of Wikileaks.
Australians around the world watch with grave concern as an Australian citizen is vilified by his own Prime Minister and Attorney-General, experienced lawyers whose words display a shocking disregard for the human right to the presumption of innocence, and risk prejudicing any legal proceedings Mr Assange may face.
We welcome the Government’s subsequent assurance that Mr Assange’s passport will not be cancelled and that your embassy will afford him “all appropriate consular assistance.”
We learn from an Australian Government website that the High Commission has a duty to ensure Mr Assange “is treated no less favourably than local citizens detained for similar offences.” UK citizens, of course, enjoy the protection of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantee their right to freedom of expression, presumption of innocence and fair trial. That is, UK citizens enjoy a significantly higher degree of legal protection than do Australians, and the Australian High Commission must ensure Mr Assange’s treatment by UK authorities accords with those more stringent standards.
May we remind all consular staff and the Australian Government that Mr Assange “has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” and to do so “without interference by public authority.”
Further, Mr Assange has a human and legal right to be “presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law” and to be given a fair trial.
As you must know well, it is unlawful under s104 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 for anyone intentionally or recklessly to cause death or serious harm to an Australian citizen outside
Australia. And yet the Australian Government has voiced no objection to the death threats levelled against Mr Assange by high-profile US citizens and others.
In light of the above, we, the undersigned:
1. Ask that Ms Gillard publicly and unequivocally withdraw her statement alleging illegal conduct on Mr Assange’s part, explain to the public why it was wrong for her to say that, and to apologise to Mr Assange.
2. Call on the Gillard Government to robustly defend Mr Assange both at home and abroad and to respect and defend his right to receive information and impart information freely, without interference by any public authority.
3. Ask the Attorney-General to initiate investigations into threats of violence against Mr Assange by persons in the United States and Canada, including Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, in violation of Australian law.
4. Urge the Gillard Government to oppose strenuously any application to have Mr Assange extradited to the United States, because it is unlikely he would receive a fair trial there.
We thank you for your attention to these matters of fundamental importance to a free and democratic society.
 ‘Consular services: Arrested, detained and jailed overseas’ (http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/faq.html)
 Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (emphasis added). The same is stated more fully in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia is a party, and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which also applies to Mr Assange.
 ECHR, Art. 10(1)
 ECHR, Art. 6 and elsewhere
 Including “harm to a person’s mental health (whether temporary or permanent) [including] psychological harm to the person;” and conduct that “endangers, or is likely to endanger, a person’s life” (s146)
 See http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/41914.html
Sincerely, your compatriots,
* Present signatories of the (attached) Letter to the High Commisioner
Letter from "Australians for the Immediate Release of Julian Assange" to the Australian High Commissioner attached to this press release.
John Pilger (from Sydney, Australia) http://www.johnpilger.com/
Peter Tatchell, (from Melbourne, Australia) London based, Human Rights Activist
Michael Dutton, (from Brisbane, Australia) Professor of Politics, Goldsmiths University of London.
Deborah Kessler, (from Brisbane, Australia) Concerned Citizen.
Ciaron O'Reilly, (from Brisbane, Australian), London Catholic Worker/ Ploughshares.
Eden Boucher, (from Adelaide, Australia) Musician "Lovers Electric".
David Turley, (from Adelaide, Australia), Musician "Lovers Electric".
Sharon Turley, (from Adelaide, Australia) Classical Musician.
David Warburton (from Adelaide, Australia), Coffee Brewster
Saul Newman, teaches Political Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London.
John Hutnyk, (from Melbourne, Australia) Professor of Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London.
Peter Thomas (from Rockhampton, Queensland) teaches History of Political Thought at Brunel University, London.
Maria Albrecht, (from Melbourne, Australia) Catholic Worker Farmhouse
Olivia Ball (from Melbourne, Australia) Author
Eric Snowball (from Sydney, Australia) Social Worker.
Errol O'Neill (from Brisbane, Australia) Actor.
Mary Kelly (from Brisbane,Australia) Trade Unionist.
Dan O'Neill (from Brisbane, Australia) Scholar.
Dr Linnell Secomb (from Melbourne, Australia) Head of Department of Social, Political and Cultural Studies, University of Greenwich
Errin Collins, (from Lithgow, Australia) Occupational Therapist
Eric Snowball (from Sydney, Australia) Social Worker.
Rik (from Sydney, Australia), Sound Engineer.
Nick Gill (from Perth, Australia) Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bristol
Contact email: rikkiindymedia(At)gmail[dot]com