Julian Assange's Extradition Hearing Resumes Friday
I just got this e-mail update from London from a Catholic Worker activist there who's organizing another street vigil outside Julian Assange's extradition hearing when it recommences tomorrow (Friday Feb 11) next to Belmarsh Prison in London. I'm taking some liberties in editing but essentially I got inspired by what Ciaron O'Reilly writes:
Julian Assange's Extradition Hearing Resumes Friday, Bradley Manning Remains Buried Alive & What's Left of the Anti-War Movement is on the Streets!
The two great anti-war show trials of our "Iraq/Afghanistan War" era continue apace. But 10 years into these wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, the persecutions of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange could mark a similar turning point as witnessed with the prosecutions of anti-war resistors during Vietnam: the "Chicago 8"; "Catonsville 9" ; the "Harrisburg Conspiracy" and the "Pentagon Papers".
The Swedish extradition farce serves merely as a sideshow and holding action while reports swirl of the U.S. Attorney General working on a secret grand jury indictment of Assange. This could likely be facilitated through a kind of plea bargain offered to Manning, after months of softening him up through abusive solitary confinement & sensory deprivation in the Quantico, Virginia Marine Brig. The British government did its best to put Assange also in solitary (and off-line) in December but it only worked for a few days. They presently have Assange electronically tagged and curfewed.
Bradley Manning and Julian Assange have bet their lives on the assumption that if only people in the countries (U.S., U.K., Australia, Ireland , et.al) prosecuting these illegal wars, invasions and occupations KNEW the truth, they would be compelled to act against, or at least discuss, the wars! Well, the jury is still out on that one, as (with a few honorable exceptions) Bradley and Julian have largely been hung out to dry by the human rights, church, liberal media bureaucrats, authoritarian left and @ scene in England.
(Above photo shows London Catholic Workers reading a Litany of the Afghan Civilian and British Military War Dead outside the extradition hearing of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange.)
On Monday February 7, 2011, at the Woolwich Court (conveniently located next to the infamous Category A Belmarsh Prison...most probably connected by a trap door under the dock), the world's media were assembled, private and state security deployed. The Catholic Workers rocked up, establishing a shrine comprised of images of the Afghani and Iraqi war dead and three men who may spend the rest of their days incarcerated for opposing these wars on the poor.
*23 year old Welsh American U.S. Army Intelligence Officer Bradley Manning accused of leaking this footage of a U.S. helicopter massacre of unarmed Reuters journalists and the Iraqi family who arrived at the scene to tend to the wounded. (Here's a song by Lovers Electric performed for Bradley Manning at the "Free Assange! Free Manning Free Speech" gig last Saturday night at Giuseppe Conlon House.)
*Shaker Aamer, a Saudi-born London resident, husband and father of four Londoners, the only British resident remaining in Guantanamo . The only British resident to be tortured with a British agent in the room.
* Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder
Throughout the day, the Catholic Workers dressed in Guantanamo outfits labeled:
• Bradley Manning, Quantico
• Saker Aamer, Guantanamo
• Julian Assange ????????
• You Next??????
Reading out a litany of the dead, the names of Afghan civilians and British troops killed in the war, the true nature of which Julian Assange & WikiLeaks have exposed and Bradley Manning is accused of exposing. Folks from "WikiLeaks London Support", "Justice for Assange" and other folks boosted numbers to around 30 max at the court opposed to the extradition and judicial farce. A dissident member of the U.S. military turned up in civvies, but turned away when there was no large crowd to blend into.
The police inspector approached me on the second day, kind of concerned and incredulous, saying: "Where is everyone?"
"Maybe they are all in cyberspace, maybe the English peace movement is dead in the arse, maybe people don't like Julian because he's a hippy kid. Maybe they don't like him because he's Australian, or too blunt, too direct, maybe they're jealous of him? Who knows? Go figure? But they ain't prioritizing mobilizing around a free speech anti-war advocate who's looking at a lifetime in a U.S. gulag or getting shanked once he arrives!"
The cops looked sympathetic, confused and left.
The world's media looked confused and came over to interview me. They were kind of desperate and dateless, anyone else who was up for an interview was trying to get into the court's public gallery-- have you noticed how Brit court public galleries are designed to accomodate the least number of the public?
We will be back at Woolwich Court / Belmarsh Prison on Friday morning Feb 11th as this court case resumes. We'll set up camp by 8 am, court case kicks off at 10 am with closing arguments. We will be joined by Razz (and his guitar) who recently played John Lennon in this great Christmas anti-war youtube hit and also by a British combat veteran of the Iraq war who will join us in reading out the names of the Afghan and British war dead.
I (Ciaron) write this as someone who has spent the last 30+ years being dragged through the courts, cells and jails for anti-war resistance. I'm beat up but upbeat. I'm pissed off but not depressed. I'm tired but not out of ideas. I'm hoping that this piece stimulates debate and fast. I'm not risking a life buried alive in the American gulag like whoever released this footage hoping to stimulate a broader debate about the wars. Or Julian Assange for circulating it.
Please consider joining us in solidarity with Bradley, Julian, Shaker and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan who remain in the firing line. Join us here or make a public statement there where you are.
Be there or be square or be anywhere! Free Julian Assange! Free Bradley Manning! Free Speech! End the War!
"The poor tell us who we are,
The prophets tell us who we could be,
So we hide the poor,
And kill the prophets."