” I thought that there would be more people here,” said an elderly lady.
I agreed. True, in the end there may have been between 300 and 500 people gathered around the Melbourne city library front steps. As an event that keeps Assange front of mind and puts his plight on social media the day was a success but in terms of public awareness and activism, it was a pretty piss poor effort from a community that prides itself on fairness.
If Julian Assange was a sportsman there would be 5000 people in attendance. If he was a pop star virtue signalling some crazy idea there would be 20,000 mindless sheep cheering him on every inch of the way.
But he isn’t. He’s far braver and much more ethical than any sportsperson or celebrity. He’s also been demonized by political orthodoxy and mainstream media.
So the attendance is what it is.
I am disappointed, but I am also encouraged by the range of people that have gathered. All ages many different races. A love of freedom and democracy has no skin colour.
Some look to have done it hard. Their eyes tell the stories of battles fought and lost. Others have a fanatical crusading gleam in their eyes. Some wear yellow vests. There is one Anonymous tee shirt lots of red free Assange shirts and an occasional WikiLeaks shirt.
There is hope while these people maintain the rage and hold our treasonous government to account. But the enormity of the task is overwhelming.
The speakers are all good. They are preaching to the converted on this issue and the response is enthusiastic.
Of course, there is no mainstream press coverage.
Assange is literally the unperson of Orwell’s 1984. He has ceased to exist as far as the press is concerned. The “journalists” who rushed to defend Peter Greste and that soccer guy who’s name I forget are nowhere to be seen. In their world, despotic governments are always foreign. Contraventions of human rights by our minder countries the US and UK are mere technicalities. One day they will have to account for their sins of omission.
I buy a “Free Assange” tee shirt from a friendly guy at the Socialist Equity Party stand. He wants to engage me in conversation and pretty quickly makes an attempt to recruit me into the party fold. I smile and shake my head. Political parties aren’t my bag. “I’m not a socialist,” I say.
He smiles back. “You can’t be a capitalist if you’re here though.”
It’s an interesting perspective,and one that gives me pause for thought.
Freedom s not the preserve of one political philosophy. In fact, one of Assange’s greatest hurdles has been the successful portrayal of him as an enemy to particular party loyalists. The ALP, Liberal/National, Democrat, Republican, Tory, British Labour and even the Greens have all found Assange at best an inconvenience and at worst a traitor who must be silenced.
None of them deserve a freedom lover’s vote.
If you’re upsetting everybody then I reckon you’ve pretty much nailed it.
But the comment grates at and annoys me because ultimately it exposes the essential weakness that the movement to free Assange must deal with.
Julian Assange and Wikileaks belong to everybody who wants to know the truth. They open governments and hold them to account.
To frame his persecution in left/right capitalist/socialist paradigms is plain wrong. It is playing into the enemy’s hands
His freedom is a simple matter of right and wrong.
The Unity4J movement has made great strides in bringing commentators from all sides of politics together to support Assange, but the impact is negligible when compared to the monolithic two party system that 70% of voters are rusted on to.
Voting left or right is no longer a valid option. Voting for common decency is the only option.
Vote for candidates who believe in freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of movement and the freedom to publish.
The votes matter when enough people realise the truth. And the only way they’re ever going to hear it is if we speak it. Consistently, loudly and unflinchingly.
The truth is on our side.
At the next rally I’ll bring a friend. If everyone did that we would have a thousand people there.
That’s a small step in the right direction.