I made this video at the request of Christine Assange for the Newcastle Forum – The song is by Pete Murray, call ‘Free’ and looked great on the triple screen
Hi everyone, my name is Gail, thank you so much for coming. I’m here representing the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition.
We are a small but growing group of activists formed in an effort to stop the extradition of Julian Assange, by informing the public and encouraging them to bring pressure to bear on our Government. In just 5 weeks we had organised the first Public Forum and we managed to fill the UTS lecture theatre with 400 odd people. We have had vigils and distributed information leaflets in an effort to cut through the media campaign of smear, directed at Julian Assange and give people the facts of the case.
I think we often underestimate what we are capable of when it comes to making change, as Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I think this quote is borne out by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. It is not the time to sit on the sidelines, it is time to take hold of our Democracy, it belongs to us, use your democratic rights, empower yourself. Democracy fits the old adage: “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” Christine has given you some salient pointers in this regard, don’t think you are bothering our politicians, they are our servants, that is fundamental, they are to govern in our name, not to rule us. Governments regarding imperialists wars … I’ve missed some … excuse me … unaccustomed as I am … (laughter)
Anyone is welcome to join us, to attend our meetings; although I think that is probably a little difficult for you here, but you can find out all about us on the web site you’ll find the information on the leaflets there, or you can just Google. As most of you are not from Sydney you may like to use the information there and print up your own flyers, as has been mentioned earlier. You could start a little group as Christine said, you could meet in the Town Square … there’s a lovely Park I’ve noticed with a reflection pool … you could have a snap rally in … (audience question) … it may be a little cooler by then …What we are facing now is not a just a legal fight, it is a political battle and that is why we encourage everyone to become involved. Our Government can’t ignore us when we lobby in great numbers. I believe in people power, we have seen it work in far less democratic countries than ours, think of Corey Aquino in the Philippines. We need to make some noise, now is not the time to wait and see, we need to rattle political cages. We need to let our government know we are supposed to live in a free word democracy, as part of a democracy free speech and freedom of the press is an axiom. Isn’t this the reason we were told that Iraq and Afghanistan were invaded, to bring democracy and free speech to a long-suffering citizenry? The WikiLeaks releases of the Iraq War Diaries and the Afghan War Logs, prove this to be a lie. These highlighted the deception of governments used regarding imperialist wars. I would like to tell you a story about some friends of mine, the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, they hale from Bamiyan where the giant Buddhas were. During my first Skype conversation with them, I was asked where I was from, I told them Australia and there was an audible buzz amongst the boys and standing out from their native tongue, I understood Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. This was an icebreaker. Months later I was speaking again with their mentor Hakim and Kathy Kelly, Hakim told me he’d asked one of the boys, Faiz; ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ The reply came, ‘I want to be a Journalist.’ Hakim asked him, ‘what kind of a Journalist do you want to be?’ Faiz replied, ‘I want to be a journalist, like Julian Assange’. Hakim wanted me to let Christine know this, now I have. My conversations with the boys cemented for me, the importance of WikiLeaks for those seeking peace through truth. This is not to be underestimated.
There are several ways you can help this fight, you can join these snap rallies that have been spoken of. You may like to organise your own as we’ve mentioned there’s plenty of lovely places in Newcastle where you can have your rallie … but also you can write, you can ring, you can stand on their doorsteps and demand a meeting with your local MPs. You can write to Gillard to Bob Carr, to our Attorney General, Nicola Roxon and then as Christine mentioned earlier we have tomorrow … is it tomorrow? … the 5th, is a day of action ‘Beat the Blockade’ and donate $5.00. The aim is to protest the financial blockade of WikiLeaks and to help raise vital dollars for the continuation of their work and to fund their ongoing legal battles. Since December 7, 2010, arbitrary, unlawful financial blockade has been imposed by the Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union on WikiLeaks. Essentially these companies have cut off WikiLeaks, refusing to allow them access to donated funds. This attack has destroyed 95% of WikiLeaks’ revenue.
The blockade came into force within ten days of the launch of Cablegate. This is part of a continued, concerted US … US-based political attack on a free press, publishing organisation that has breached no law in any country.
In 2011 WikiLeaks won the Australian Walkley Award, for outstanding contributions to journalism, this added to the substantial cache of awards given to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. It is also testament to the fact WikiLeaks is a media outlet and Julian Assange is a Journalist, something the US is loathe to admit. Many of the aforementioned financial institutions permit donations to groups akin to the KKK and neo-nazi groups, yet WikiLeaks has been singled out. It appears extremely likely that this has occurred as a direct result of pressure from the US Govt in the wake of the 2010 releases. Although this may seem churlish for a ‘super power’, hell hath no fury the like a US embarrassed. This is not only a concern for WikiLeaks, and there is no denying it has been devastating for them, but any organsation that displeases powerful interests could face a similar attacks. Consumers’ rights are also an issue. Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has queried whether the blockade is legal under Australian … Australian Trade Practices Law. At the very least it clearly affects our rights as consumers to use our credit card as we see fit. Many of us object to participating in what is effectively censorship by corporations, just because we may have a Visa or MasterCard. The blockade has been criticised by many bodies including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. WikiLeaks have lodged an anti-trust complaint about the Blockade at the European Commission.
You can log onto beattheblockade.org on April 5th and donate at least $5.00; there are several easy payment methods. By doing this, people around the world can send a message to the companies engaged in the blockade and the governments that regulate them, that censorship of a free press publishing organisation and denying consumers their rights will not be tolerated.
I’d like to thank you again for all being here and I hope you found tonight to be informative … thank you again.