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Can Melbourne supporters of Julian Assange find a way to work together?

Today (Friday 9 April, 6:30PM) Come to our weekly vigil for Julian Asssange at the Melbourne Flinders Street Railway Station. Listen to speeches, whilst helping us to hold our banners and hand out leaflets. For further information, see @LorineBrice.

James Sinnamon (aka @malthusista) 'belittling' Melbourne for Wikileaks , 'twisting' and not sharing their Tweets, ...? In January this year, after years of searching, I learned that there was a group in Melbourne actively, visibly, and regularly, campaigning for the release of Julian Assange. I immediately made contact with its organiser, (Lorine) Anita Brice (@lorinebrice) and began attending her group's weekly vigil for Julian Assange, in front of Flinders Street Station, starting 6:30pm each Friday.

To help make these vigils more effective, at considerable trouble and expense for both myself and Sheila Newman, another supporter of Julian Assange, we made a large (4.8mx1.7m) banner. That banner, featured, in the embedded Twitter video below, included a large likeness of Julian Assange with the words:

Demand your Government

act to end the illegal

imprisonment and torture of

Julian Assange

The words "Julian Assange" were considerably larger than the rest.

The banner made a good impression, both at Flinders Street and elsewhere. An example is a tweet by Denver Free Assange (@DNVFreeJA), which featured a small amount of film footage of our use of this banner:

I also started, with the help of Sheila and others, to compose and produce leaflets which explain, in greater detail, the facts behind the nine-year confinement and imprisonment of Julian Assange [1].

I also began to give speeches, both off-the-cuff and pre-written. Others also began to give speeches. These speeches, which were filmed, served to arouse further interest from passersby. A number of recorded speeches have since been uploaded to YouTube and have been embedded in other articles about Julian Assange, here on https://candobetter.net/.

When I learned that another group Melbourne for Wikileaks (@melbourne4wiki) was also campaigning for Julian Assange, I wondered why that group and Anita's group were not working more together.

Since then, whilst I have promoted and attended the Friday night vigils of one group, I have still done all that I could to publicise the @Melbourne4Wiki group's activities, and Sheila filmed, transcribed, and published on candobetter, John Shipton's speech at the recent @Melbourne4Wiki event at the State Library Victoria.

I was troubled by the clash in timing of events for the upcoming second anniversary of Julian Assange's imprisonment on the 11th of April, and Sheila asked for details of place from the organiser, who said these would be announced closer to the event. I then posted Melbourne protest at British Consulate to mark 2nd anniversary of illegal arrest of Julian Assange - 4:00pm Sunday 11 April (4/4/21). In that, I wrote:

After [the 4:00pm protest outside the British Consulate] we will walk to Flinders Street Station for another protest at 6:00pm. (Whilst, for now, this seems to clash with @Melbourne4Wiki's plans to protest somewhere in St Kilda, 4km away, at 6:30pm, [2] I hope that our two groups can find a compromise that will enable us to work together effectively on the day.)

Late last night, as I was trying to help prepare for our protest outside the British Consulate this coming Sunday 11 March, as part of the worldwide protest to mark the second anniversary of the British government's illegal arrest of Julian Assange, on 11 April 2019, I was confronted with the following in my Twitter 'Notications':

@Melbourne4Wiki @malthusista

How about you read our events properly? They were on the Assange Freedom Network on March 28. Why couldn't you just share our tweet instead of twisting it? All the info is there.

My response is that I did not know of the Assange Freedom Network, and Sheila was still awaiting more information about the venues. In no way did I wish to undermine the plans to protest at the still unspecified places in St Kilda at 3:00pm and the Melbourne CBD at 6:30pm on the 11th. It seems unwise and unfair to publicly imply that there was any malice on my part. That could have the effect of further splintering activism in Melbourne, which is already very thinly spread.

Raine (who has the account @melbourne4wiki) seems to be presuming that I knew of the Assange Freedom Network and that I also must have known that it was the source of all critical information about the campaign in support of Julian Assange and therefore must have been aware of all of @Melbourne4Wiki's plans for the second anniversary of Julian Assange's imprisonment.

Other tweets in the exchange have been included in the Appendix below. However, 'exchange' is not quite the right term, because at least two of my responses, attempting to clarify, have, so far, been ignored. Furthermore, the harsh tweets by @Melbourne4Wiki are nowhere to be found on their author's (Raine's) Twitter Page. How then, will Twitter supporters of Julian Assange ever be able to read them and understand what happened?

I wish to make it perfectly clear here that I in no way intend to detract from @Melbourne4Wiki's efforts to date.

However, I am concerned at the effect the twitter dialogue may have on my reputation and thence on my ability to promote the cause of Julian Assange, so in the Appendix, below I have given my views in response to some of those Tweets. Where I have been able to find the links, they have been included in the reproduced tweets in the Appendix.

I remain completely open to cooperation with @Melbourne4Wiki and Wikileaks and anyone who understands the importance of defending Assange. We all have too much at stake to allow interpersonal misunderstandings to come between us. I invite Raine and anyone else in this movement to express their point of view about this or anything to do with Assange on https://candobetter.net in articles or comments. We do not censor and we would welcome their input.

How to build an effective mass movement to free Julian Assange?

The Vietnam Moratorium movement from the late 1960s ended Australia's participation in America's criminal war against Vietnam and, on 2 December 1972, helped remove from office the government that lied to get Australia into that war.

This shows that ordinary people can succeed in overpowering powerful vested interests. Whilst this popular triumph was reversed three years later by the removal of the Whitlam Labour government by the Governor General on 11 November 1975 and Gough Whitlam's subsequent defeat at the Federal election of 13 December 1975, it still gives some sign of what is possible in Australia.

Then in 2003, another, even larger Australian mass movement arose, this time, in opposition to the Iraq war. Whilst this mass movement did not succeed in stopping Australia's participation in the invasion of Iraq, I think that the Iraq war protests, and the previous experience of the Vietnam Moratorium movement, are still cause to hope that we can free Julian Assange.

One reason it has become more difficult to protest against war (and for Julian Assange) is that the mainstream media has stopped reporting on such protests. That is why it is so important to preserve and defend the global publishing source of Wikileaks and other internet platforms and publications that are independent of the US-based commercial giants like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Youtube.

In our experience at vigils and protests - holding banners, making speeches, handing out leaflets - far more members of the public that we encounter support Julian Assange than are against him. So, there is every reason to expect that we can persuade most Australians to support Julian Assange much more openly, a day at a time. When that occurs, politicians who have acted against Julian Assange, or who have been indifferent, can expect consequences at the next Federal election, no less adverse than that suffered by Liberal Prime Minister Billy McMahon on 2 December 1972, [3] if not sooner.

I believe that events such as the weekly Friday evening vigils for Julian Assange and protests such as the protest at the Melbourne British Consulate on Friday 26 March, are good examples of effective activism.

At those events, participants use banners and make speeches to arouse interest among nearby members of the public and to inform them.

Where passersby show interest, they are offered leaflets, which contain both more detailed information, and links to more resources on the Internet. This serves to raise the profile of a group and to increase the number of people who will attend such planned protests.

With the use of such speeches captured on video, thence uploaded to YouTube and other broadcast platforms, activists can use these vigils and protests to further lift the profile of the campaign and draw ever larger numbers to future events.

I hope that the Flinders Street group and @Melbourne4Wiki will pool their resources and work together effectively to win Julian Assange's freedom, despite misunderstandings that are bound to occur in such a politically tense environment.

I trust that this article and my statements have helped to clarify any misunderstanding.

Appendix: Heated tweets from @Melbourne4Wiki commencing late on Wednesday night, 7 April and my responses

I am not sure if what I have included below is comprehensive record all of the exchange which commenced late last night. Unfortunately, Brisbane Assange Action Queensland (@ActionAssange) retweeted @Melbourne4Wiki's without approaching me to know my side. @ActionAssange retweeted one of the heated posts listed below, the tweet commencing with "How about you read our events properly?" and 'liked' that and one other negative tweet.

@Melbourne4Wiki @malthusista

This is from April 2 Quote Tweet Melbourne4WikiLeaks @Melbourne4Wiki Apr 2

Here's the 2nd event Alex @GreenweaverArch. So many worldwide and more to come! Like John Shipton says the movement to free Julian is a 'rising tide worldwide'. Genuine grassroots groups are uniting. Thanks for listing all our events

Red heart

Ill try get them all on the AFN site soon.

(My comment: I don't see any details of any of @melbourne4wiki's planned events, that I was said to have overlooked, in the above tweet.)

@Melbourne4Wiki @malthusista

And here is our second in CBD at 6.30pm.

'There is a war on journalism. Julian Assange is at the centre of that war. If this precedent is set then what happens to Assange can happen to any journalist. – GG. Join us at 6.30pm April 11 Melb. @jlpassarelli #FreeAssangeNow #HomeRun4Julian #Resist https://assangefreedom.network/event/truth-is-out-street-film-4-freedom-of-julian-assange/

(My comment: The time of the event, but NOT the precise location, is given in the above tweet. The event notification features less prominently, near the end of the tweet, so it seems likely to me that many visitors would have missed that notification.)

Malthusista @malthusista Apr 5 15h

This is confusing, St Kilda is not in the CBD It is about 5km S-E of the Melbourne CBD. Again, our protest will be at 4pm at the British Consulate, 90 Collins Street, roughly 1.6km N-E of Flinders Street Station https://candobetter.net/node/6100 Help us hold banners, hand out flyers, ...

Melbourne4WikiLeaks @Melbourne4Wiki 11h

Excuse me? We have 2 events in Melb that were announced well before yours. Our first at 3pm is St Kilda. The 2nd street film in CBD is at 6.30. Please stop trying to belittle our events and read descriptions properly.

Melbourne4WikiLeaks@Melbourne4Wiki 8h

Replying to @malthusista

How about you read our events properly? They were on the Assange Freedom Network on March 28. Why couldn't you just share our tweet instead of twisting it? All the info is there.

Footnotes

[1] See pdf (double A5 - 210K ) of Uphold the Rule of Law - demand that the Australian government act to end the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange (1/2/2021) and pdf (double A4 - 972K) of Open Letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison: Act now to end the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange! (11/3/2021))

[2] I included this correction; [Correction, 8 Apr: clearly the 6:30pm @Melbourne4Wiki event in St Kilda clashes with the 6:30pm Melbourne4Wiki event in the CBD. I now understand that the St Kilda event is scheduled for 3pm and not 6:30pm.]

[3] On 2 December 1972, the Liberal/Country Party Coalition government of William (Billy) McMahon was defeated by the Labor Party of (Edward) Gough Whitlam.

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