One fact, apparently not properly appreciated amongst the vast popular movement in support of Julian Assange, both in Australia and overseas, is that, in spite of the fact that the Government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese could make the British Government release Julian Assange today, it has chosen not to.
Another fact, which has somehow also been overlooked by the vast majority of supporters of Julian Assange, both here and overseas is that, in this purported Australian democracy, no proper discussion of the plight of Julian Assange has been allowed on the floors of Australia's Parliament.
Were the above two facts properly appreciated by supporters of Julian Assange both here and, more so, overseas, much of the repudiation which is rightly directed against the UK and US governments would also be directed towards the Australian government and the Australian Parliament for their complicity.
In March 2020, Julian Assange completed his 50 week sentence in Belmarsh prison - the maximum possible sentence for his alleged misdemeanour of 'skipping bail' in June 2012 in order to seek asylum in the London Ecuadorian Embassy. He sought asylum to prevent his being illegally extradited, through Sweden, to the United States where an indictment, which at that point, had been concealed from public view, had been issued for his arrest. For that 'misdemeanour', after he had already endured almost 7 years arbitrary detention without sunlight in the confined spaces of the London Ecuadorian embassy, he was outrageously given that maximum 50 weeks sentence.
Julian Assange's incarceration since March 2020, even disregarding the monstrous treatment he has been made to endure inside Belmarsh Prison, is in violation of British law, international law and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which guarantees the right to free speech.
The recently elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese knows all this full well and that, because of this, he could have, more than four months ago, when he assumed office, put an end to both the UK's illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange and the US's illegal efforts to extradite Assange. He could still do so today, but he has chosen not to.
Were Anthony Albanese to demand of UK Prime Minister Liz Truss that she free Julian Assange, she would almost certainly comply immediately.
If Liz Truss did not comply, Anthony Albanese would have recourse to the United Nations and to the International Criminal Court (ICC) where the UK would not have a leg to stand on.
Similarly, even though it does not accept the jurisdiction of the ICC, if the United States had faced, just at the United Nations, an Australian Government resolutely determined to prevent one of its citizens from being extradited to the United States to face a kangaroo court, thence imprisonment for the rest of his life in conditions even worse than in Belmarsh, it would face overwhelming repudiation by member nations. Faced with this repudiation, the US would very quickly desist from its efforts to illegally extradite Julian Assange.
What sort of Parliament refuses to discuss the plight of its most famous and most revered citizen?
Whilst Mexican President Obrador has called for Julian Assange's freedom, whilst Claudia Scheinbaum has given to John Shipton, for his son Julian Assange, the keys to Mexico City of which she is Mayor and whilst many political leaders around the world are speaking up loudly for Julian Assange and whilst Melbourne Council and the NSW Randwick Council have passed motions in his support, the Australian Parliament has remained bizarrely silent about the plight of its most famous and most revered citizen.
Up until 2021, I had thought that a foreshadowed motion only needed a mover and a seconder to be put thence debated in our Parliament.
But this is not the case in either Australia's House of Representatives or its Senate. Motions not put on behalf of the Labor Party or else the Liberal/National Coalition - that is, motions put by the minor parties, by indepedents or even by individual members of the major parties - require a suspension of standing orders to allow them to be put.
Since 2020, at least three attempts to raise the issue of Julian Assange on the floor of Parliament have failed. On each occasion, they have failed because, on each occasion, the motion for the necessary suspension of standing orders has been lost.
Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie tried in 2020 to put a motion in support of Julian Assange but the necessary procedural motion to suspend standing orders was lost.
The same happened to a motion foreshadowed on 10 June 2020 by Labor MP Julian Hill. Again on 2 December 2021, Andrew Wilkie tried to put a motion in support of Julian Assange, which is include below as an Appendix, but, again the necessary procedural motion was lost.
So, unless the leaders of the major parties have something to hide, why do fear debate?
If Anthony Albanese's government had done all that it could have done and should have done on behalf of Julian Assange, then he and other government ministers need only explain this to the Parliament during the course of the debate. Similarly, if the previous Liberal/National Coalition government of Scott Morison had done all that it could have done and should have done on behalf of Julian Assange, then he and other former Coalition government ministers need only explain that during the course of the same debate.
The major parties have prevented this debate from occurring because they fear being held to account for their shameful complicity with the UK's illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange from as far back as June 2012.
A division would reveal which of our parliamentary representatives oppose free speech
Why should we allow free speech to be denied on the floors of our Parliament? Each and every one of our elected reprentatives in both houses must be told that, from now, if they can't bring themselves to support Julian Asange, they at least allow the case for Julian Assange be put by others. Should, say, in the next three-day sitting of Paliament, starting Monday 25 October, a procedural motion to allow debate on Julian Assange be lost, then, this time members of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Support Group should call for a division so that, at least will know the names of those MPs and Senators who oppose free speech.
It is long past time that the rules of Parliament were changed to prevent this denial of free speech.
What you can do
(1) Inform yourself about developments in the fight for Julian Assange through Facebook pages including "Melburne 4 Assange," "Julian Assange Sydney Town Hall Gathering," "Northern Rivers NSW 4 Assange," "Melboune Supporters for Julian," and web-sites like https://candobetter/.
(2) Attend protests for Julian Assange. Information about protest times and venues can be found in the resources listed in (1).
(3) Print and distribute leaflets for Julian Assange. You may choose to produce your own leaflets or else you can download PDF files from web resources such as are listed above in (1).
(4) Contact your local Member of Parliament and/or your state Senators and ask to speak to him/her, preferably with other supporters of Julian Assange. Ask that member to support motions in support of Julian Assange such as that below in the Appendix. Let us know of his/her response so that we can put it on record.
Appendix: Andrew Wilkie's most recent foreshadowed motion in support of Julian Assange
On 2 December 2021 The House of Representives refused to allow Andrew Wilkie's following foreshadowed motion to be put.
That the House:
(1) notes that:
(a) Walkley Award winning Australian journalist, Mr Julian Assange, remains incarcerated in HMP Belmarsh in the United Kingdom, despite a British Court earlier this year finding that Mr Assange could not be extradited to the United States of America for health reasons;
(b) the US continues to pursue Mr Assange and has recently been back in court in the UK appealing the earlier decision to refuse the extradition;
(c) the reason for the US's determination to extradite Mr Assange is limited to Wikileaks' exposes in 2010 and 2011 of US war crimes and other misconduct in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in Guantanamo Bay, including the release of the 'Collateral Murder' video in which a US helicopter in Iraq gunned down innocent civilians including journalists;
(d) recent revelations in the media show the Central Intelligence Agency developed plans to abduct and assassinate Mr Assange; and
(e) the continuing incarceration of Mr Assange, and any extradition to the US, would not only be a grave injustice but a severe threat to his health and life; and
(2) calls on the Prime Minister to:
(a) speak directly with his counterparts in the US and UK to bring an end to this madness, including the US dropping all charges against Mr Assange and the UK allowing his immediate release; and
(b) commit to not allow the extradition of Mr Assange to the US from Australia.
Leaflet produced by James Sinnamon on Friday 7 Oct 2022. I can be contacted on 0412 319669, on my Facebook page or by email to [email protected].