Australian voices rally to bring Julian Assange home. Dr John Jiggens highlights the growing pressure and heartfelt plea for his freedom.
OVER THE PAST MONTH, there has been a significant increase in Australian pressure on the Biden Administration to drop the charges against Julian Assange.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – who has been at the forefront of this call – earned the gratitude of Assange's father, John Shipton.
On May 4, Prime Minister Albanese made his strongest statement yet on the Assange issue, declaring:
"The U.S. Administration is certainly very aware of what the Australian government's position is. There is nothing to be served by his ongoing incarceration."
On May 9, members of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group – a cross-party alliance of 48 Australian senators and members of the House of Representatives – met with U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. Their aim was to convey a warning that the continued persecution of Julian Assange endangered the U.S.-Australian alliance.
Three days later, on May 12, the Sydney Morning Herald published an editorial titled, 'The time has come to end the sorry Julian Assange saga'.
In this editorial, which was surprising considering the newspaper's stance on the war with China, they stated:
'The time has come to end this sorry saga. In our new spirit of friendship, the visit by the U.S. president is surely an opportunity for the governments to show and share some common humanity.'
A poll accompanying the editorial revealed that 79% of Australians wanted the Biden Administration to drop its pursuit of Assange, while 8% were unsure and only 13% agreed with the continuing U.S. prosecution.
Assange supporters, like those behind the editorial, were hopeful that President Biden's proposed visit to Australia would lead to the charges against Assange being dropped. It would have been a simple gesture for Biden, unlike the burden of the $368 billion war chest being asked of the Australian people.
The Assange Campaign had organised a protest rally and march in Sydney on May 24, coinciding with Biden's expected visit for the Q.U.A.D. meeting. Julian's closest family, including his wife Stella Assange, his brother Gabriel Shipton, and his father John Shipton, were set to speak at the rally. Stella was also scheduled to speak at the National Press Club on May 22 and meet with the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group on May 23, in addition to speaking at the rally on Wednesday.
Despite Biden's non-appearance, Stella Assange took centre stage and filled the media void brilliantly. She delivered a moving address at the National Press Club on May 22, recounting Julian's bleak imprisonment in HM Belmarsh, where he has spent the last 1,500 days locked down for 22 hours a day in a two-metre by three-metre cell. Stella also shared the challenges she and her children face, enduring long queues to see their husband and father.
Stella painted a vivid picture of Julian's life in Australia, from catching yabbies and fishing with his grandfather Warren in the Sandon River to rearing a fledgling rainbow lorikeet on Magnetic Island. She expressed her vision of Julian's freedom, cycling through Melbourne or feeling the sand beneath his bare feet on Bondi Beach, in stark contrast to his current reality.
Stella's presence, partnered with Jen Robinson, was a formidable force during the Q and A session, deftly addressing the often ignorant questions posed by the Australian press. One question from a young woman, representing The Australian, a Murdoch media outlet, attempted to vilify Assange by falsely claiming that he published leaked material from Russia that had a major impact on the U.S. Election. Stella quickly debunked this misinformation, highlighting that the material over which Assange faces extradition actually came from Chelsea Manning, a U.S. intelligence analyst. Her response garnered laughter from the audience, exposing the ignorance behind the question.
Following her powerful speech at the National Press Club, Stella Assange met with many members of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group. However, Prime Minister Albanese, a member of the group, did not attend and declined a private meeting with Stella.
On May 24, alongside John and Gabriel Shipton, Stella addressed a gathering of Assange supporters in Sydney's Hyde Park. She expressed her gratitude to the audience and confidently declared that it wouldn't be her last visit to Australia.
With conviction and amidst wild applause, she stated:
"This is my first time to your land and it won't be my last, obviously, because I'm going to come back here, home, with Julian. And our kids, who are Australian citizens, will come home too."
Her speech served as a rallying call to Australian supporters, positioning them at the forefront of a global movement for justice. Stella emphasised that a turning point had been reached, with people recognising the wrongfulness and cruelty of Assange's imprisonment. She asserted that no decent human being would tolerate it and that those who remain interested in Julian's continued incarceration are the very individuals implicated in the crimes he exposed.
Stella concluded her address with a heartfelt plea for her husband's freedom:
"Let this man be. Let him live. Enough is enough. Let him come home to our children. Let him just have dinner at home. Let him sit on the couch. Let him take a nap. Let him feel the air on his skin. It's been denied to him for so long. Let's make it happen, you guys. Thank you."
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