#E8FFFF">A comment containing excerpts from this page has been posted beneath #comment-76762">Assange Arrest Imminent: Ecuadorian Embassy To Expel Him In “Hours To Days” (5/4/19) by Tyler Durden | The Duran (21/4/19).
The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind Ecuador's Foreign Minister stating that they have no plans of revoking Julian Assange's asylum status.
After news broke that Ecuador was planing on expelling Assange from their London Embassy, people gathered in the streets of London, and online voices blasted Ecuador's decision to deliver Assange to UK authorities, with eventual extradition to the United States.
The Ecuadorian government was compelled to quickly release a statement refuting the news of Assange's expulsion.
Comment by James Sinnamon: In this otherwise insightful and informative discussion of 8:53 minutes, I think Alex Christoforou and Alexander Mercouris are far too kind to the UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn has had six and a half years to act to force the UK government end its illegal detention of Julian Assange. Corbyn, who purportedly supports Julian Assange, could have easily led many thousands of Labour Party supporters to protest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in support of Julian Assange. Such a crowd could easily have escorted Assange to Heathrow Airport and onto a flight back to Australia. Certainly, had he spoken more loudly in support of Julian Assange in all of these years, it would have been politically impossible for Theresa May to have persisted with her government's criminal and secretive collusion with the United States against Julian Assange.
I write to ask you to act to bring to an end circumstances faced by Julian Assange which certainly have already harmed his health and may well end his life if those circumstances are not rectified soon.
An investigation by the Australian Federal Police into Julian Assange ordered by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2010, found that he had committed no crime.
In spite of that, he was threatened with extradition to the United States to face, in its rigged court system - as attested to by former CIA officer John Kiriakou, amongst others - charges that the United States is not even prepared to reveal to the public. Julian Assange, who is not even a United States' citizen, could face many years of imprisonment - or worse - for merely having made known, through Wikileaks, information that the public should know about world events of recent years.
To prevent this, he sought asylum inside the London Ecuadorian Embassy in October 2012. Asylum was granted to him by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa as required by International Law.
Unfortunately, Assange's asylum inside the Ecuadorian embassy has been turned by the British government into an illegal detention. This has been found twice - on 5 February 2016 and on 30 November 2016 by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. This illegal detention has now lasted six and a half years and has had terrible consequences for Julian Assange's mental and physical health. In all this time, he has seen no sunlight, had little exercise and has been refused medical attention - clearly a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of international law.
President Lenin Moreno, who succeeded President Rafael Correa in 2017, has made Julian Assange's already dire living situation worse - putting him under constant surveillance, denying him access to the Internet or even reading material and restricting visitors.
On top of this, there are rumours that the Ecuadorian government may soon expel Julian Assange from the Embassy. Should he be expelled he faces what he has endured so much up until now to avoid - extradition to the United States.
Surely, neither the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, nor his continued confinement under the degrading conditions he has been made to endure for so long, are alternatives that should be acceptable to an Australian government showing a basic duty of care to each and every one of its citizens.
I therefore urgently request that you act now to end the illegal detention of Julian Assange. You could despatch today a contingent of Federal Police to fly to London, go to the Ecuadorian embassy and escort Julian Assange back to Heathrow Airport and thence back to Tullamarine Airport. I doubt if any British government authority would dare obstruct a contingent of Federal Police clearly acting to uphold the law and to end such a cruel denial of basic human rights.
Should your efforts to free Julian Assange somehow fail, you could try to ensure that he receives fair judicial process in the United States. He should be given an attorney of his choice funded by the Australian government and the United States be asked to conduct the trial in public. Certainly any charges arising from what is already been revealed to the public through Wikileaks should be tried in public.
Only then, if found guilty by a fair-minded and impartial jury, could any of what Julian Assange has endured since 2010 be seen to have been deserved. However, I believe that he would almost certainly be found not guilty if such a trial were to occur and he would then be able to walk free.
So, I appeal to you, even at this late stage, to use the powers vested in you to end Julian Assange's ordeal and to ensure that justice and the rule of law ultimately prevail in this instance.
On Friday 5 April 2019, as revealed by John Pilger on Twitter from a high level source within the Ecuadorian Government, Julian Assange would shortly be expelled from the London Ecuadorian Embassy. Once evicted, he stands to be arrested by the UK police, extradited to the United States where he faces a secret trial based on a secret indictment. He may face many years behind bars - even the death penalty can't be excluded - all for just publishing, through Wikleaks, facts about world events that the public would be entitled to know in a fair and just world.
In 2010 then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, before Julian Assange was forced to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in October 2012, had ordered the Australian Federal Police to investigate Assange in the hope that they would find he had committed a crime. They found none.
In February 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) stated that his detention was unlawful. This was reaffirmed by the Working Group in November 2015
An Australian government - if it was committed to the rule of law, free speech, human rights and democracy - could could act now to end the British government's illegal detention of Julian Assange in a matter of hours. It could send to London a contingent of Federal Police to escort Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy back to Heathrow Airport and thence to Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.
Were the British government to dare attempt to interfere with Australian Federal Police escorting Julian Assange back to Australia, the outcry would be enormous - from within Britain, Australia and the rest of the world.
However, not one Australian government, that of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, nor any of the subsequent governments- those of Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull have enacted this basic duty of care towards Julian Assange. They have not even shown any sympathy for him, or interest.
Not one of the political parties with representation in parliament - The Liberals, the Nationals, Labor, the Greens, nor any of the Independent members have spoken up for Julian Assange. This seems an appalling failure of our parliamentary system and those members of Parliament who supposedly represent us. (One exception to this is the now demonised OneNationParty.)
What You Can Do
Give your first preference to candidates who promise to act for Julian Assange. With a federal election looming, it should now be possible to hold to account those elected members of Parliament who have behaved so shamefully towards Julian Assange. Where you are asked to vote for a sitting candidate from one of the major parties, ask him/her should vote for a candidate who has been silent - or worse - about Julian Assange. Where any other candidate asks for your vote ask him/her what he she intends to do for Julian Assange. Give your first and subsequent references to those who give the best responses and put the major parties last.
At 1:00pm on Sunday 10 March originally, incorrectly the given date was 10 May - Ed) outside the State Library in Swanston Street Melbourne, supporters of investigative journalism, free speech and human rights will rally to demand that the Australian government act to free journalist Julian Assange from the arbitrary imprisonment he has faced inside the London Ecuadorian embassy since October 2012 when he sought asylum, that is more than 6 years ago.
Assange's living conditions inside the narrow confines of the Ecuadorian Embassy were already poor. They have been deliberately made worse by the new Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno. This is consistent with President Moreno's treatment of the Ecuadorian people to whom he made many promises in the election 19 February 2017, which he subsequently broke.
As described below by John Pilger in his address to the Sydney rally of last Sunday 3 March, Assange's health and even his life are now at risk. So, the need for the Australian government to act to protect one of its citizens is even more urgent.
Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy after the Swedish government requested that he be extradited to Sweden to be questioned by police over allegations that he had sexually assaulted two women. The women had initially made the allegations when he visited Sweden in August 2010, but Swedish police, who interviewed Assange closed the case and told him he could leave the country.
However the case was re-opened by a special prosecutor in November 2010. The prosecutor requested that Julian Assange be extradited from England for questioning, but failed to give him any assurance that he would not be extradited to the U.S. Assange then sought asylum in the Ecuadorian emabassy.
At this point, the Australian government could easily have acted to resolve the situation. They could have insisted that the Swedish government give Assange a guarantee against extradition to the U.S. or, failing that, expedite his return to Australia, if necessary, with an escort by members of the Australian Federal Police.
But the Australian government failed to act. In more than 8 years since then, it has either done either nothing or has acted to make Assange's circumstances worse.
Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador on 16 August 2012, but the UK government refused to allow him to leave the UK to go the Ecuador. As he has been threatened with arrest by the UK authorities for "skipping bail" should he step outside the embassy, Assange has been effectively imprisoned inside the embassy and, since February 2017 has faced additional hardships deliberately imposed upon him by the new Ecuadorian government, as described above.
On Sunday 3 March, the Socialist Equality Party, publishers of the World Socialist Web Site organised a rally in Sydney to support Julian Assange. The speech by John Pilger and the embedded video, previously published on their web site, is re-published below:
"Whenever I visit Julian Assange, we meet in a room he knows too well.
There is a bare table and pictures of Ecuador on the walls. There is a bookcase where the books never change. The curtains are always drawn and there is no natural light. The air is still and foetid.
This is Room 101.
Before I enter Room 101, I must surrender my passport and phone. My pockets and possessions are examined. The food I bring is inspected.
The man who guards Room 101 sits in what looks like an old-fashioned telephone box. He watches a screen, watching Julian. There are others unseen, agents of the state, watching and listening.
Cameras are everywhere in Room 101. To avoid them, Julian manoeuvres us both into a corner, side by side, flat up against the wall. This is how we catch up: whispering and writing to each other on a notepad, which he shields from the cameras. Sometimes we laugh.
I have my designated time slot. When that expires, the door in Room 101 bursts open and the guard says, “Time is up!” On New Year’s Eve, I was allowed an extra 30 minutes and the man in the phone box wished me a happy new year, but not Julian.
Of course, Room 101 is the room in George Orwell’s prophetic novel, 1984, where the thought police watched and tormented their prisoners, and worse, until people surrendered their humanity and principles and obeyed Big Brother.
Julian Assange will never obey Big Brother. His resilience and courage are astonishing, even though his physical health struggles to keep up.
Julian is a distinguished Australian who has changed the way many people think about duplicitous governments. For this, he is a political refugee subjected to what the United Nations calls “arbitrary detention.”
The UN says he has the right of free passage to freedom, but this is denied. He has the right to medical treatment without fear of arrest, but this is denied. He has the right to compensation, but this is denied.
As founder and editor of WikiLeaks, his crime has been to make sense of dark times. WikiLeaks has an impeccable record of accuracy and authenticity which no newspaper, no TV channel, no radio station, no BBC, no New York Times, no Washington Post, no Guardian can equal. Indeed, it shames them.
That explains why he is being punished.
For example: Last week, the International Court of Justice ruled that the British Government had no legal powers over the Chagos Islanders, who, in the 1960s and 70s, were expelled in secret from their homeland on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and sent into exile and poverty. Countless children died, many of them from sadness. It was an epic crime few knew about.
For almost 50 years, the British have denied the islanders’ the right to return to their homeland, which they had given to the Americans for a major military base.
In 2009, the British Foreign Office concocted a “marine reserve” around the Chagos archipelago.
This touching concern for the environment was exposed as a fraud when WikiLeaks published a secret cable from the British Government reassuring the Americans that “the former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve.”
The truth of the conspiracy clearly influenced the momentous decision of the International Court of Justice.
WikiLeaks has also revealed how the United States spies on its allies; how the CIA can watch you through your i-phone; how presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took vast sums of money from Wall Street for secret speeches that reassured the bankers that if she was elected, she would be their friend.
In 2016, WikiLeaks revealed a direct connection between Clinton and organised jihadism in the Middle East: terrorists, in other words. One email disclosed that when Clinton was US Secretary of State, she knew that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were funding Islamic State, yet she accepted huge donations for her foundation from both governments.
She then approved the world’s biggest ever arms sale to her Saudi benefactors: arms that are currently being used against the stricken people of Yemen.
That explains why he is being punished.
WikiLeaks has also published more than 800,000 secret files from Russia, including the Kremlin, telling us more about the machinations of power in that country than the specious hysterics of the “Russia-gate” pantomime in Washington.
This is real journalism—journalism of a kind now considered exotic: the antithesis of Vichy journalism, which speaks for the enemy of the people and takes its sobriquet from the Vichy government that occupied France on behalf of the Nazis.
Vichy journalism is censorship by omission, such as the untold scandal of the collusion between Australian governments and the United States to deny Julian Assange his rights as an Australian citizen and to silence him.
In 2010, Prime Minister Julia Gillard went as far as ordering the Australian Federal Police to investigate and hopefully prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks—until she was informed by the Australian Federal Police that no crime had been committed.
Last weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald published a lavish supplement promoting a celebration of “Me Too” at the Sydney Opera House on 10 March. Among the leading participants is the recently retired Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop.
Bishop has been on show in the local media lately, lauded as a loss to politics: an “icon,” someone called her, to be admired.
The elevation to celebrity feminism of one so politically primitive as Bishop tells us how much so-called identity politics have subverted an essential, objective truth: that what matters, above all, is not your gender but the class you serve.
Before she entered politics, Julie Bishop was a lawyer who served the notorious asbestos miner James Hardie, which fought claims by men and their families dying horribly with asbestosis.
Lawyer Peter Gordon recalls Bishop “rhetorically asking the court why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”
Bishop says she “acted on instructions ... professionally and ethically.”
Perhaps she was merely “acting on instructions” when she flew to London and Washington last year with her ministerial chief of staff, who had indicated that the Australian Foreign Minister would raise Julian’s case and hopefully begin the diplomatic process of bringing him home.
Julian’s father had written a moving letter to the then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, asking the government to intervene diplomatically to free his son. He told Turnbull that he was worried Julian might not leave the embassy alive.
Julie Bishop had every opportunity in the UK and the US to present a diplomatic solution that would bring Julian home. But this required the courage of one proud to represent a sovereign, independent state, not a vassal.
Instead, she made no attempt to contradict the British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, when he said outrageously that Julian “faced serious charges.” What charges? There were no charges.
Australia’s Foreign Minister abandoned her duty to speak up for an Australian citizen, prosecuted with nothing, charged with nothing, guilty of nothing.
Will those feminists who fawn over this false icon at the Opera House next Sunday be reminded of her role in colluding with foreign forces to punish an Australian journalist, one whose work has revealed that rapacious militarism has smashed the lives of millions of ordinary women in many countries: in Iraq alone, the US-led invasion of that country, in which Australia participated, left 700,000 widows.
So what can be done? An Australian government that was prepared to act in response to a public campaign to rescue the refugee football player, Hakeem al-Araibi, from torture and persecution in Bahrain, is capable of bringing Julian Assange home.
The refusal by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra to honour the United Nations’ declaration that Julian is the victim of “arbitrary detention” and has a fundamental right to his freedom, is a shameful breach of the letter and spirit of international law.
Why has the Australian government made no serious attempt to free Assange? Why did Julie Bishop bow to the wishes of two foreign powers?
Why is this democracy traduced by its servile relationships, and integrated with lawless foreign power?
The persecution of Julian Assange is the conquest of us all: of our independence, our self-respect, our intellect, our compassion, our politics, our culture.
So stop scrolling. Organise. Occupy. Insist. Persist. Make a noise. Take direct action. Be brave and stay brave. Defy the thought police.
War is not peace, freedom is not slavery, ignorance is not strength. If Julian can stand up to Big Brother, so can you: so can all of us."
#EDF5FA">The following article by Paul Craig Roberts, reprinted with the author's kind permission, has been previously published (23/7/18) on Russia Insider with the same title and on both The Unz Review (4/7/18) and the author's own web-site PaulCraigRoberts.org (4/7/18) as "Washington Moves Against Rafael Correa".
As President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa (pictured above) was a Godsend for the Ecuadorian people, for Latin American independence and for WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. By serving justice and truth instead of Washington, Correa earned Washington's hatred and determination to destroy him.
Correa was succeeded as president by Lenin Moreno, who Correa mistakenly believed to be an ally, but who has every appearance of being a Washington asset. The first thing that Moreno did was to make a deal with Washington, block Correa from being able to again stand for the presidency and turn on Julian Assange. Moreno wants to revoke the asylum granted to Assange and has prevented Assange from continuing his journalistic activity from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In other words, Moreno has conspired with Washington and the UK to effectively imprison Assange in the embassy.
Now Moreno has taken another step that highlights his character as a blackguard. Correa, realizing that he and his family were in danger, moved to Belgium. An Ecuadorian court has now ordered the Belgians to detain Correa and extradite him to Ecuador on a fabricated kidnapping charge.
Correa thinks that Belgium will not comply with an absurd charge for which no evidence is presented and that the charge is intended to smear his name. If I were Correa, I would not be so sure. Look at the ease with which Washington was able to use its vassals—Sweden and the UK—to effectively nullify the political asylum that Ecuador gave Assange. Belgium is also Washington's vassal and will experience threats and bribes—whatever it takes—to deliver Correa into Moreno's hands, which is to say into Washington's hands. If I were Correa, I would get myself over to the Russian embassy and request asylum from Putin.
At 1:00pm on Sunday 17 June, there will be a demonstration at the Town Hall Square in Sydney to demand freedom for the heroic and visionary Australian journalist, Julian Assange. Julian Assange has been illegally imprisoned  in the London Ecuadorian Embassy for almost six years now The alternative to his ongoing imprisonment is extradition to the United States, show trial, and long imprisonment, should he be made to leave the embassy. Should Assange remain, he faces grave threats to his health due to a lack of exercise within the embassy walls and lack of direct sunlight, so far, for six years.
Assange's situation stems directly from the Australian government's refusal to protect one of its citizens from persecution by other governments. Canberra has instead trampled on Assange's rights in the most reprehensible manner.
The American state accuses WikiLeaks and its personnel of "espionage" for publishing leaked data in 2010 that exposed the extent of its war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and its sinister intrigues around the world. Last year, WikiLeaks published further material that exposed CIA operations to hack and spy on Internet and other communications.
If Assange were put on a show trial in the US, he could face decades of imprisonment, or even the death penalty (my emphasis), for doing what a journalist should do: provide the world with the truth.
In late 2010, the Australian Labor government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard took no action when a Swedish prosecutor initiated a politically-motivated investigation into allegations that Assange “may” have been involved in sexual assault. Under conditions of a furious campaign against WikiLeaks for the damning information it was publishing about US war crimes, the aim of the slander was to both discredit Assange and justify a warrant for his extradition to Sweden for “questioning.” If he were detained in Sweden, Assange and his lawyers rightly feared he could have faced rendition on to the US.
Instead of defending Assange, Gillard and her Labor ministers denounced WikiLeaks for "illegal" actions and declared they would assist the US to prosecute him.
Denied any protection by Australia, Assange was forced to seek political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on June 19, 2012, after a British court rejected his last legal appeal against extradition to Sweden. For six years, he has been effectively imprisoned in the embassy by the insistence of the British government that if he leaves the building it will arrest him on a charge of absconding on bail. The British government, moreover, has refused to give any guarantee that it would not facilitate his extradition to the US (my emphasis).
This was despite the finding of a United Nations working group in February 2016 that Assange had been arbitrarily detained in contravention of his human rights, and should be allowed his freedom.
In May 2017, Swedish authorities, after finally agreeing to question Assange in Britain, dropped their investigation. No charges were ever laid against the WikiLeaks editor.
The Australian government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, however, refused to intervene and demand that Britain drop its pursuit of Assange over bail-related issues and allow him to leave the London embassy.
After six years of confinement inside a small building, with no direct sunlight and deprived of necessary medical treatment, Assange's health was already severely compromised before the immense pressure of almost total isolation was inflicted on him. Reports indicate that Assange is being pressured by Ecuador to leave the embassy, or that the Ecuadorian government may even renege on its grant of asylum and hand him over to waiting British police.
Under conditions in which the British government will not relent on its determination to charge Assange, or guarantee he will not be extradited to the US, the full culpability of the Australian government and the broader political and media establishment is evident.
The Australian state has undeniable means at its disposal to extricate an Australian citizen and journalist from persecution. It can act to return him to Australian territory and provide him with an unconditional guarantee that he will not be extradited.
There are obvious recent precedents.
Australian journalist Peter Greste was arrested by Egyptian authorities in December 2013, along with other Al Jazeera employees, on framed-up charges of “damaging national security.” He was subjected to a show trial and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.
In response to immense public outrage in Australia, the government, backed by Washington and the United Nations, called for Greste’s release. Intense diplomatic pressure was applied on Egypt. On February 1, 2015, Greste was released and deported back to Australia.
Earlier, in 2007, under the pressure of widespread anger over the imprisonment of Australian citizen David Hicks in the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, the government entreated the Bush administration to release him.
If the British government continues to insist on railroading an Australian citizen into an American prison or worse, then there are a wide range of actions that the Australian government can take to secure his return to Australian jurisdiction.
It would only do so, however, under conditions of the greatest pressure produced by the mobilisation of the working class. Under both Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition governments, the Australian state has demonstrated its hostility to Assange and WikiLeaks.
The article cited above is spot on when it says:
The Australian state has undeniable means at its disposal to extricate an Australian citizen and journalist from persecution. It can act to return him to Australian territory and provide him with an unconditional guarantee that he will not be extradited.
Had the Australian government carried out its basic duty of care as suggested in the above quote and as it had towards Peter Greste, also cited in the article, this whole shameful episode could have been ended years ago.
Every Australian voter, who shares our concerns about Julian Assange, should ask of his local member of Parliament, what he/she has done to help Julian Assange during his last six years of imprisinment. He/she should also ask of every candidate, seeking his/her vote in the next federal election, how he/she intends to help Julian Assange once elected.
Other rallies for Julian Assange in Sri Lanka and India - #whyNotMelbourneAlso">Why not Melbourne also?
The Socialist Equity Party must be applauded for publicising Julian Assange on the pages of the World Socialist Web Site and for taking the intiative to organise this rally in Sydney. However, I am sure that a good many others in other parts of Australia - Brisbane, Townsville, where Julian Assange was born, Melbourne, where he spent more than 15 years of his life before leaving Australia, Canberra, etc. - would also like to show their support.
Unless another rally is officially called in the meantime, those, in Melbourne, who want to show their support for Julian Assange could, perhaps, at 1pm on Sunday 17 June, the same time as the Sydney rally, assemble, with placards and leafleats, on the steps of the Victorian State Library as supporters of Syria did on Monday 30 April.
In the video embedded above, Bob Beckel, a former presidential strategist calls for the U.S. to "illegally shoot the son-of-a-bitch". Also, in that video, another spokesman for the U.S. government said of Julian Assange "that if we catch you, we're going to hang you."
 Two rulings by the United Nations have found the detention of Juian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy to have been illegal. So, figures in the the Swedish government, the British government, including Prime Minister Theresa May, and others complicit in the detention of Julian Assange since 19 June 2012, almost 12 years ago, have broken international law and should face trial before the International Criminal Court for their actions.
Access to the Internet to be informed, to inform others, and to express one's own opinion, is considered by most to be a basic human right in the 21st Century. Yet, this basic human right has now been taken away from Julian Assange by the Ecuadorian government. Wikileaks Publisher, Julian Assange, could be compared with Martin Luther, who used the printing press to challenge a corrupt Roman Catholic empire. In Assange's case, he used of the internet to challenge the corrupt, oppressive, warmongering global regime headed by the United States. We all live under this regime, but we have almost no media through which to question its dark sway. Assange provided that media through Wikileaks. The Ecuadorian Government must be recognised for having given Assange asylum as a political refugee for many years, when his own country, Australia, so shamefully turned its back on him, and on the international crimes he exposed. This granting of asylum by the Ecuadorian Government was the only thing that prevented the Swedish Government and the British Government from handing Assange over to the United States Government. The US has threatened to try Assange for espionage even though he is (a) not a US citizen and (b) has performed an heroic service to the world in exposing the US government's illegal actions against prisoners of war, as well as its multiple illegal surveillance of ordinary citizens. In fact, such a trial would present the rogue US government with much embarrassment because it would throw more light on the secrets that Wikileaks exposed. It is thus correct to fear that Assange would not be tried, but simply imprisoned without a public trial. Assange has also exposed many similar crimes to the US's that have been carried out by other governments. Recently he tweeted an opinion on the independence movement in Catalonia. The Ecuadorian Government, his long-term asylum hosts, who have recently also become his country of citizenship, have claimed that this tweet caused them embarrassment. The upshot has been that his internet access has been removed by his new country and asylum-giver. Assange's only contact with the world and with witnesses to his frightening imprisonment by global conspiracy is via the internet. Without internet contact, he may as well be in a dungeon in Ecuador's London embassy. This seems like a terrible punishment for a solitary tweet. Some might question his judgement for tweeting something politically compromising for Ecuador in the light of his dependence on its goodwill. Many others would defend the world's need to open access to information about the Catalan problems. The situation is intolerably difficult, morally, politically and humanly. However, what we most hope for is that Julian Assange, a once-citizen of Australia who we are so sorry to have lost to this country, will be granted access to the internet and also that he will saved from the imprisonment that the United Nations has deemed to be illegal and unjust.
A Reuter's press release published in the Australian ABC in an article entitled, "Julian Assange has internet access cut off by Ecuador's Government," summarises, "Relations between Mr Assange and his host nation have often grown prickly. Ecuador suspended his internet access in 2016 after a WikiLeaks dump targeting Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign." However, it adds, "Former president Rafael Correa hailed Mr Assange's work but the nation's current head of state has called him a hacker and warned him not to meddle in politics," which context makes Assange's situation sound as if it has overall worsened.
History of Assange's wrongful imprisonment by the United Kingdom
On 12 June 2012, Julian Assange, threatened with extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations - not even formal charges - that he had raped two Swedish women, sought and received political asylum in the London embassy of the Republic of Ecuador.
Assange feared that once inside Sweden, he would be extradited to the United States, to face the same imprisonment and torture that Chelsea Manning, another whistleblower, was enduring at the time. The US has considered trying him for espionage under the circa World War 1 Espionage Act.
Had the Swedish government given Assange a guarantee to deny any request for extradition by the United States, there can be little doubt that Assange would have gone to Sweden and the whole issue whould have been expedited and finalised very quickly.
As the Swedish government refused for years to even come to London to conduct interviews with Assange, there can be little doubt that the allegations of rape were no more than a cynical ploy by the supposedly neutral Swedish government in complicity with the United States' government, to arrest Assange, make an example of him and reduce the ability of Wikileaks to inform the world of the nefarious actions of the United States and its allies.
Since then the British government concocted another excuse to arrest Assange on behalf the United States.
Assange is charged with skipping bail for seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy, even though the original fabricated rape charges upon which the extradition of Assange was sought have been dropped by the Swedish government.
Why the United Nations classifies Assange's situation as a case of illegal imprisonment
On Friday 5 February 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) announced its decision finding that the detention of Julian Assange is unlawful. The United Nations Working Group has ordered that he be released immediately and compensated by Sweden and the United Kingdom. Julian Assange’s petition was filed in September 2014.
Interview with former UNWGAD Chair and Norwegian international Law Prof. Mads Andenæs
The Norwegian lawyer, Professor Mads Andenæs, is a legal academic and the UN Special Rapporteur on arbitrary detention was, since 2009 a chair of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, an expert panel which called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Julian Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.
Professor Andenæs, who presents in this interview his opinion about the mainstream media coverage regarding to Assange case, too, is a professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Oslo, the former Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London and the former Director of the Centre of European Law at King’s College, University of London. He is also a Research Fellow of the Institute of European and Comparative Law, University of Oxford and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London.
He has been the General Editor of the International and Comparative Law Quarterly (Cambridge University Press), the General Editor of European Business Law Review (Kluwer Law International) and on the editorial boards of ten other law journals and book series, including the Nijhoff Series on International Trade Law.
He is an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Legal Studies (UK), a Fellow of the International Academy of Commercial and Consumer Law (where he is a member of the board), an Honorary Fellow of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and a Fellow of the The Royal Society of the Arts.
He was the Secretary General of the Fédération Internationale de Droit Européen 2000-2002, the Hon Secretary of the UK Association of European Law 1997-2008 and the Hon Secretary of the UK Committee of Comparative Law 1999-2005. He was the Chair, Association of Human Rights Institutes in 2008.
Please tell us about your job at Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), during the initial part of Julian Assange case before the United Nations (UN)?
I was chair of the UN Working Group when the complaint was received, and the exchanges between the UN and the parties took place. I did not take part in the discussions of the Working Group leading up to the opinion in the Assange case. My term ran out in July 2015, and the decision was published in February 2016.
Why do you advocate for Mr. Assange?
I have spoken out in support of the opinion of the UN Working Group. Mr. Assange is in arbitrary detention and the UK and Sweden should abide by the UN ruling against them and take the steps that are necessary to bring his detention to an end.
Please specify the accusations against Julian Assange, and who accuses him.
The current case about the extradition to Sweden concerns allegations of sexual misconduct. Of course, the allegations relating to Wikileaks involves a strong interest of the security apparatus in many countries.
The fear is that the latter is allowed to influence the process and outcomes in the first case.
How do you see Washington’s allegation that Assange has threatened US security?
That are allegations that usually are fielded against use of the right to provide information and the freedom of speech. There is every reason to be sceptical to such assertions.
How do you see the UN’ decision to free Mr. Assange?
It is very clear. The UN WGAD had to decide two questions. First, whether there was a ’deprivation of liberty’ as opposed to a ’restriction of liberty’. Secondly, whether that deprivation of liberty was ’arbitrary’.
The UN WGAD clearly accepted the argument that Assange’s conditions are not ’self-imposed’, that is, if he stepped into the street, he would be arrested. There was also a ’substantial failure’ of the authorities ’to exercise due diligence’ in the ’performance of criminal administration’ (par. 98).
The line between a ’restriction of liberty’ and ’deprivation of liberty’ is finely drawn in European human rights jurisprudence. Liberty deprivation doesn’t consist only in the easily recognizable conditions of state detention. You must consider the length of time that Assange has remained in the Ecuadorian embassy, and his ongoing circumstances.
Liberty must be capable of being realized in actuality. Where the exercise of such liberty would have significantly coercive results, such as further deprivations of liberty or putting other rights at risk, this cannot be described as liberty in practice. The fact that Assange is resisting arrest doesn’t resolve this issue, as this would be to argue that liberty is a right contingent on his co-operation.
Assange is not free to leave he Ecuadorian Embassy of his own will. He fears extradition to the US and prosecution for his involvement in Wikileaks. The Swedish authorities have refused to provide assurances of non-refoulment which respond to this fear. Assange’s deprivation is ’arbitrary’. One ground is that it is disproportionate.
There are other, less restrictive ways of proceeding. Before issuing a EAW, the Swedish authorities could have followed the normal practice of interviewing Assange in a British police interview room.
After Assange took residence in the Ecuadorian embassy they could have relied on ’mutual assistance’ protocols, questioned Assange by video link, and given him the chance to respond to the allegations against him.
Please clarify ’deprivation of liberty’.
The UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights prohibit arbitrary deprivations of liberty in Articles 9. That is something more than a "restriction on liberty". It includes house arrest.
How do you evaluate the United Kingdom (UK) and Sweden’s decision of not respecting UN’ decision?
Rulings by the UN WGAD are not always followed by states, but rarely do they result in such personal attacks as made by UK politicians after the Assange opinion.
I know that the words used by the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister were not the ones provided by the the civil servants advising on human rights and international law. The UK politicians aimed at weakening the authority of the UN body for short term opportunistic gain.
I fear that these politicians have weakened the international community’s possibility to protect some of the most vulnerable victims of human rights violations.
Their words have circulated among the states responsible for the worst human rights violations. The words of these UK politicians will cost life and human suffering.
The UK may lobby for some support when the matter is reported to the UN Human Rights Council, but the UK will certainly be criticised by other states for its response, and clearly deserve that.
The damage done to the UK in the UN and its moral authority in human rights issues is another matter, but there is no doubt about the damage done to the authority of the UK.
Professor Andenæs, comment the current status of the ’preliminary’ investigation in Sweden, and US ’pending prosecution’ against WikiLeaks.
Also those who are convinced that Mr. Assange is guilty of rape, whether or not you think he is a self-publicist deliberately resisting arrest (and I do not), the fact remains that the authorities could use less restrictive means without compromising the initial investigation into the allegations regarding his sexual conduct in Sweden.
It is timely to remind ourselves that Assange has not been found guilty of rape: at this stage the prosecutor and courts in Sweden has held that there are probable grounds. Professor Andrew Ashworth, Oxford, stated in an Expert Opinion from 2011 that Assange’s team has made reference to, that "I do not consider that any of the incidents alleged in box of the EAW (that are the allegations cited in the arrest warrant) is sufficient of itself to constitute any offence under English law".
The Swedish Supreme Court Vice President has reminded us that the accused is presumed innocent until found guilty (video below), and that when there are contradictory statements, it is for the courts to decide whether there the requirements for a conviction are satisfied. (See video)
The Swedish courts, also the majority in the Swedish Supreme Court, the Vice President was not on that panel, expressed that the arrest warrant even if it could not be executed against Assange, limited his liberty in a way that was relevant to question whether it remains proportional. The majority noted with approval that steps were now taken to interview Assange in London.
Over time, the Swedish Supreme Court may well grow sympathetic to the dissenting judgment of Justice Svante Johansson, that the conditions of the investigation are now disproportionate (a view presented by Anne Ramberg, head of Sweden’s Bar Association and Judge Charlotte Edvardsson, the reporting staff judge in the Supreme Court, in her (public) proposal to the court in the case).
Certainly, Former Legal Counsel to the United Nations and Legal Adviser to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hans Corell, has stated that he ’does not understand why the prosecutor had not questioned Julian Assange during all the years he has been at the Ecuadorian Embassy’.
Reasonable and judicial minds have differed on many of these issues. No doubt they have been coloured by views on the integrity of Assange himself. But human rights are not meant to favour the popular amongst us; they are meant to favour us all.
Why do you think the UK is acting so strongly according to US interests in this case?
Wikileaks has made very important contributions to our knowledge about the diplomatic and political process. It has changed my perception of major events and institutions. Wikileaks makes it much more difficult to manipulate us.
The so-called intelligence community base itself on working methods that are cloaked in secrecy. There are strong institutional forces that want to put an end to Mr. Assange’s activities. That go for very many countries.
How do you see Ecuador government regarding Mr. Assange, and the importance of world solidarity with him not only by other governments, but also by activists and civilians in general, Professor Andenæs?
Ecuador’s government has made a very important contribution to the protection of an international public sphere, and to the protection of freedom of information, freedom of expression and accountability for human rights violations. The expressions of solidarity for him not only by other governments, but also by activists and others around the world arre very important.
How do evaluate the mainstream media approach regarding to WikiLeaks revelations, especially involving Assange judgement?
I had expected a more muscular defence of the right to provide information and the freedom of speech. But media in all countries operate in a complex interaction with governments and take account of the state interest in different ways. In my view, in this case with too much respect for the perceived state interest.
How do you evaluate recent WikiLeaks revelations of US spying on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a private climate change strategy meeting in Berlim, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)?
They reveal wholly unacceptable practices. They also justify the work of Wikileaks.
Interview by Edu Montesanti
WHAT IS THE UN WORKING GROUP ON ARBITRARY DETENTION (WGAD)?
Under the authority of the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, the WGAD was established in 1991 to investigate and adjudicate whether states are in compliance with their international human rights obligations. It receives submissions from the individual complainant and the respondents (the states), and decides whether the case amounts to arbitrary (that is to say unlawful, or prohibited) detention. The European Court of Human Rights draws on judgments of the WGAD in cases concerning deprivation of liberty (violations against Article 5).
WHAT IS THE DECISION ABOUT?
The WGAD decides, according to pre-defined criteria:
Whether a person is ’detained’
Whether that detention is ’arbitrary’ (unlawful)
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found that Julian Assange is arbitrarily detained. The UK and Sweden must immediately release and compensate him. The decision is binding, as the UN Office of the Hight Commissioner for Human Rights has explained.
WHAT TREATIES AND INTERNATIONAL LAW DIRECT WGAD INVESTIGATIONS?
The international laws looked to by the WGAD include:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the most universally-ratified human rights treaty;
The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;
The UN Declaration on Human Rights;
The European Convention on Human Rights.
WHICH OTHER IMPORTANT CASES HAS THE UN WGAD DECIDED?
Against Myanmar: WGAD found that Aung San Suu Kyi (2007) had been arbitrarily detained while under house arrest. The regime released her in 2010. Last year her party won 86% of the vote in democratic elections.
Iran: (December 2015) for arbitrarily imprisoningWashington Post journalist Jason Rezaian. Iran released him on 16 January 2016.
Maldives (October 2015) for illegally imprisoning former pro-democracy president Mohamed Nasheed, who was promptly released. On 23 January 2016 Nasheed visited 10 Downing Street with his lawyers Amal Clooney and Ben Emerson QC.
Malaysia: for the arbitrary imprisonment of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in a politically motivated sodomy case.
Egypt (April 2014) for arbitrarily imprisoning former president Mohamed Morsi, deposed by current President al-Sisi. He has not been released.
WHO ARE THE MEMBERS OF THE UN WORKING GROUP ON ARBITRARY DETENTION?
Sètondji Adjovi (Benin, Second Vice-Chair)
Adjovi, an academic and practitioner specialising in international criminal procedure and judicial reform, worked at the International Criminal Court and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda before his appointment to the UN WGAD.
Mads Andenas (Norway, Chair and member until mid-2015)
Chair of UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention until mid-2015. Has previously held positions as Director of the Centre of European Law at King’s College, University of London and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London. Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Oslo.
Mr. José Guevara (Mexico, First Vice-Chair)
Guevara is a legal academic and practitioner who focuses on Human Rights Protection and International Criminal Law. Prior to joining the WGAD, worked in the NGO sector, Mexico City’s Ombudsman’s office and in government in the area of human rights. Guevara is the recipient of the Open Society Foundation’s New Executives Fund leading the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights.
Seong-Phil Hong (Chair-Rapporteur, Republic of Korea)
An expert member of the Asian Council of Jurists of the Asia Pacific Forum and legal academic, Seong-Phil Hong has specialised in the case for reparations regarding Japan’s Enforced Sex Slavery during the Second World War and accountability for human rights violations by the North Korean regime.
Vladimir Tochilovsky (Ukraine)
A legal academic and practitioner whose expertise lies in international criminal justice and procedure. Tochilovsky was part of the Preparatory Committee and Commission that drafted the guidelines on criminal procedure for the International Criminal Court.
Leigh Toomey (Australia)
An expert in the UN Human Rights system, Toomey has taught at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and has served as a UN human rights expert both in the capacity as an NGO representative and as a representative for Australia at the UN General Assembly and Commission for Human Rights.
WHO SUBMITTED THE COMPLAINT ON JULIAN ASSANGE’S BEHALF?
On behalf of Julian Assange’s international legal team:
Julian Assange submitted a complaint against Sweden and the United Kingdom to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on 12 September 2014. For press inquiries, contact Julian Assange’s legal team:
Afshin Rattansi goes underground with the world's most wanted publisher - the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. He has just co-authored a book - the WikiLeaks Files, and it paints a picture of systemic US torture and killing as well as the destruction of the lives and livelihoods of billions of people right around the world.
Australian citizen Julian Assange is believed to have been 'victimized' by Swedish prosecutors following revelations that they interviewed 44 people in the UK, but refused to interview the WikiLeaks head in the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been for over three years.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Hazel Press news organization has revealed that Sweden has granted 44 requests to interview witnesses or suspects in the UK since 2010, the Press Association reports. This has led supporters of the WikiLeaks founder to claim that Assange has been "singled out," as he has also agreed to be interviewed by Swedish prosecutors inside the embassy concerning sex allegations in the Scandinavian country.
A member of Assange's legal team, Jen Robinson, says that a number of important questions have been raised, adding that "Julian hasn't been charged, yet he is being punished."
"First, they refused to take his testimony while he remained in Sweden. Then they refused to hear it in the UK, saying it was illegal to come here. Five years later, after being rebuked by their own courts, they say they'll consider it," she told the Press Association.
"Instead of hearing what he had to say, the prosecutor chose to cast a shadow of suspicion over Julian by seeking his extradition. We offered his testimony from London before the arrest warrant was issued, and have continued to offer it since."
In March, the Swedish director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, agreed to question Assange on Ecuadorian embassy soil, as the sexual assault allegations reach the statute of limitations in August.
However, the meeting planned for June 17 was called off at the last minute, as Ny said Sweden had not received official permission from Ecuador to enter its London embassy. Assange scorned Ny's decision, saying it was nothing more than "a public relations exercise."
Meanwhile, UK human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell#fn1" id="txt1"> 1 said that by agreeing to interview 44 people in the UK, but not Assange, Sweden was "guilty of double standards and victimization," adding they are "making an exception of him."
"It is wrong to deny Assange the option to be interviewed in the UK, which has been extended to others and which he has been offering for five years," the Press Association cited him as saying.
"The Swedish authorities are not applying the law about overseas interviews consistently and fairly. They are acting in an exceptional and discriminatory way towards Assange. Julian Assange has been in various forms of detention for five years, without ever having been charged with any offence. This amounts to pre-trial punishment and is a gross abuse of his human rights and the legal system."
If Assange steps out of the Ecuador Embassy, he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden. Police officers are keeping a round the clock watch on the Australian's refuge, which has already cost the British tax payer more than £12 million ($18.6 million).
"Will the Cameron government spend another £12 million to detain a person who hasn't been charged, simply because Sweden refuses to make use of the mechanisms available to resolve Julian's case?" Robinson asked.
The 43 year-old sought asylum in the embassy because he fears that his extradition to Sweden on suspicion of rape and sexual assault will lead to his transfer to the US, where he could face trial over WikiLeaks' publication of classified US documents.
Assange denies Sweden's accusations, calling them politically motivated. He claims that the ultimate goal of this legal process is to transfer him to the United States.
The country's rulers have ambitions to be a regional and, eventually global, power. Having nuclear weapons would give them leverage and a place at the top table in international affairs. Tehran calculates that the world would have to take them seriously, and would not be able to pressure them, if they had the bomb.
Iran's desire for expanded geo-political influence in the Middle East echoes the existing US and Saudi Arabian influence in the region. The ayatollahs are already projecting their power beyond their own borders; supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and Assad in Syria.
The Ecuadorian embassy in London has provided refuge for Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks and candidate for the Victorian Senate in the 2013 Federal elections.
Facing a large backlash, resignations, and protests, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has decided that it will not make an intervention at the Canadian Supreme Court in the case involving Chevron Corporation’s contamination of the Ecuadorian rainforest.
In a letter sent to members, CBA president Michele Hollins stated "The [Legislation and Law Reform] Committee concluded that while the factum was well-drafted and of a high standard of quality, it did not meet the specific requirements of CBA’s Intervention Policy. Consequently, under the terms of the Intervention Policy, the CBA came to the conclusion that without the certification of the factum, the Intervention could not move forward and would be withdrawn."
Although the previous letter to members made mention of opposition to the CBA intervention, this second letter did not. Santiago Escobar, a member of the Anti Chevron Committee of Canada, in an interview with teleSUR stated "The CBA won’t admit this but they withdrew because of the protests they were facing, they knew that they couldn’t be seen supporting a corporation that has negatively affected the lives of so many Indigenous people in Ecuador."
The CBA’s legislative and law reform committee had recommended against proceeding. Meanwhile the environment, aboriginal, and civil litigation committees has urged the CBA not to intervene on behalf of Chevron. Kathryn Deo, who had resigned from the CBA in protest told the Globe and Mail "I’m sure it was a difficult decision but it was clearly the right decision and we are appreciative of their courage in reversing course." Lawyers in Canada were upset that the board of the CBA had authorized a law firm with ties to Chevron, Blake Cassels and Graydon LLP, to submit the brief.
At issue is whether the Ecuadorian plaintiffs can seize the assets of Chevron corporation in Canada in order to collect a USD $9.5 Million judgment against Chevron for the contamination it cause in the Lago Agrio region. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the case could indeed be heard. Chevron has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will hear the case in early December of this year. Chevron maintains that courts in Canada have no jurisdiction in this case, should the Supreme Court rule against them, the full judgment could be collected and paid to the Ecuadorian plaintiffs.
#F3E2A9;line-height:120%;">Antonia Juhasz, an oil industry expert and author, will visit Ecuador to see the contamination that Texaco, now Chevron, left behind in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, and to meet with members of the local communities that were affected by the massive environmental contamination.
Juhasz is visiting the South American nation in response to an invitation made by the National Secretariat of Communications of Ecuador to join the international campaign launched by President Rafael Correa in September to raise international awareness about the environmental disaster caused by the oil giant when it operated in the country between 1964 and 1990.
Antonia Juhasz is an oil and energy expert, author and investigative journalist. She is the author of three books related to the oil industry and the influence of multinational oil companies in international politics. Juhasz is a well-known critic of Chevron, having conducted years of extensive investigations into its operations, and writing about Chevron in each of her three books and in dozens of articles. In one of her earlier books, The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, Juhasz exposed the use of corporate globalization policy as a weapon of war during the Bush administration, and the role that major corporations, like Chevron, played in the creation of this agenda.
Juhasz will visit one of the contaminated areas in the province of Sucumbios, where actor Danny Glover, visiting last week said that “Chevron must be held accountable” for the damages. Many of these oil pits were operated exclusively by Chevron-Texaco. Juhasz will be able to confirm first-hand a fact that Chevron fails to admit in its press releases, that during its operations in Ecuador, Chevron’s predecessor, Texaco, used substandard and outdated methods to handle the toxic wastes, and systematically dumped over 18 billion gallons of wastewater and oil by-products into unlined pits, that subsequently caused the contamination of the soil, rivers, streams and groundwater in the areas where the company operated.
In February of 2011, Ecuador’s Superior Court of Nueva Loja issued a judgment (Aguinda v. Chevron No. 2003-0002), ordering Chevron to pay $18.3 billion for damages to the environment and the health of the local communities. Chevron refuses to pay the award claiming that the ruling is illegitimate, and instead has filed a lawsuit in a federal court in New York against the Ecuadorians and their lawyers based on the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The trial began on October 15 in New York. The judge overseeing the trial, Lewis Kaplan, has been accused by the plaintiffs of bias in favor of Chevron through a petition for Writ of Mandamus, which was filed at the U.S. Court of Appeals. (11-2259) The case is Chevron Corp. v. Donziger et al., case number 2:11-cv-00691, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Antonia Juhasz is promoted by her PR agency as a regular guest commentator on issues related to the energy industry, appearing on major U.S. TV networks and national radio. They add that "Her writings have appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, Washington Post, The Huffington Post, International Herald Tribune, Rolling Stone Magazine, and others.
Images here were trawled for from Google Earth. The photos are by Marco Imbaguingo. They do not necessarily relate to the companies mentioned above, but give an idea of the terrain and of the size of some old explorations.
[image from Sheila Newman & wikipedia] ScienceDaily (Feb. 2, 2009) — "The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has released photos from the first large-scale census of jaguars in the Amazon region of Ecuador—one of the most biologically rich regions on the planet.
The ongoing census, which began in 2007, is working to establish baseline population numbers as oil exploration and subsequent development puts growing pressure on wildlife in Ecuador's Yasuni National Park and adjacent Waorani Ethnic Reserve. Together, these two protected areas make up some 6,500 square miles (16,800 square kilometers) of wilderness."
Mother Nature recognised at law
In September 2008 Ecuador became the first country in the world to declare constitutional rights to nature, thus codifying a new system of environmental protection. Original Article source.
Reflecting the beliefs and traditions of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador, the constitution declares that nature “has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” This right, the constitution states, “is independent of the obligation on natural and juridical persons or the State to indemnify the people that depend on the natural systems.”
Nature not just an object for economic appropriation
The new constitution redefines people’s relationship with nature by asserting that nature is not just an object to be appropriated and exploited by people, but is rather a rights-bearing entity that should be treated with parity under the law.
Mari Margil, Associate Director of the Environmental Legal Defense Fund, worked closely over the past year with members of Ecuador’s constitutional assembly on drafting legally enforceable Rights of Nature, which mark a watershed in the trajectory of environmental law.
Ecuador’s leadership on this issue may have a global domino effect. Margil says that her organization is busy fielding calls from interested countries, such as Nepal, which is currently writing its first constitution.
Flawed by failure to mandate indigenous community consultation
For all of the hope and tangible progress the Rights of Nature articles in Ecuador’s constitution represent, however, there are shortcomings and contradictions with the laws and the political reality on the ground. A fundamental flaw in the constitution also exists due to Correa’s refusal to include a clause mandating free, prior, and informed consent by communities for development project that would affect their local ecosystems.
“I expect them [the multinational extractive industries] to fight it,” says Margil. “Their bread and butter is based on being able to treat countries and ecosystems like cheap hotels. Multinational corporations are dependent on ravaging the planet in order to increase their bottom line.”
Mining treats countries and ecosystems like cheap hotels
The new Mining Law, introduced by Ecuador’s own President Rafael Correa and backed by Canadian companies, which hold the majority of mining concessions in Ecuador, is a testament to Margil’s forecast. The Mining Law would allow for large-scale, open pit metal mining in pristine Andean highlands and Amazon rainforest. Major nationwide demonstrations are being held in protest, with groups accusing Correa of inviting social and environmental disaster by selling out to mining interests.
Carlos Zorrilla, executive director of Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag, who has been a tireless defender of the environment against transnational mining companies, says that while the new constitution looks good on paper, “in practice governments like Correa’s will argue that funding his political project, which will bring ‘well being and relieve poverty,’ overrules the rights of nature.”
Yet even as Ecuadoran President Correa embraces the extractive economic model of development, the inclusion of the rights of nature in a national constitution sets inspiring and revolutionary precedent. If history is any indicator, Ecuadorians will successfully fight for the Rights of Nature, with or without their president.
U.S. Media: Update by Cyril Mychalejko
When Ecuadorians drafted and passed a new constitution, which gave nature inalienable rights, the US media largely ignored this historic development. In the case of the Los Angeles Times, one of the few mainstream outlets to cover the story, the newspaper’s editorial board trivialized the development (“Putting Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution,” September 2, 2008) by suggesting it sounded “like a stunt by the San Francisco City Council” and that it seemed “crazy.”
“As ecological systems around the world collapse, we need to fundamentally change our relationship with nature. This requires changes in both law and culture, and ultimately our behavior as part of nature,” said Mari Margil, Associate Director of the Defense Fund, who is disappointed in how the US media largely ignored the story.
In Ecuador, at the time of the constitutional vote, the optimism over how the “Rights of Nature” clauses would translate into policy was guarded.
“As exciting as these developments are, it was also inevitable that the people in power would, and will, find ways to circumvent, undermine, and ignore those rights,” said Carlos Zorrilla, executive director of Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag.
Multi-national mining companies dangerously influence national laws
According to Zorrilla, a major disappointment has been President Rafael Correa’s new mining law.
“The law takes rights-to-nature loopholes and widens them so that giant dirt movers could easily drive through them,” said Zorrilla, who has been working with communities of Ecuador’s Intag region to resist mining and promote sustainable development. “To mention a couple of examples, the law does not prohibit large-scale mining in habitats harboring endangered species, nor the dumping of heavy metals in rivers and streams.”
See also,"Ecuador Rising"..
Indigenous leaders file law-suit
Indigenous leaders responded by filing a lawsuit before Ecuador’s Constitutional Court in March 2009, seeking to overturn the mining law, which they believe is unconstitutional. Article 1 of the “Rights of Nature” clauses states: “Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution.”
Regardless of the ongoing struggles to ensure that the true meaning and scope of the constitution is upheld, Dr. Mario Melo, a lawyer specializing in Environmental Law and Human Rights and an advisor to Fundación Pachamama-Ecuador, believes that the nature clauses which reflect the traditions of indigenous peoples could offer a path to an ecologically sustainable future.
Rights to nature = progress
“I consider that the recognition of the ‘Rights to Nature’ as a progress on a global scale and one that deserves to be globally broadcast and commented on as a contribution from Ecuador towards the search of new ways of facing the environmental crisis due to climate change.”
The struggles of Ecuadorian social movements and the Ecuadorian government to uphold the “Rights of Nature” and to create a new development model that places human beings as interdependent parts of nature, rather than dominant exploiters of nature, is something we should continue to monitor and learn from.
Source: Upside Down World, September 25, 2008
Title: “Ecuador’s Constitution Gives Rights to Nature”
Author: Cyril Mychalejko
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Student Researcher: Chelsea Davis
Faculty Evaluator: Elaine Wellin, PhD
Sonoma State University