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Julian Assange: the price of being a Western dissident

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Julian Assangeby Wei Ling Chua

Julian Assange is doing humanity a favour by exposing through the US Embassy Cables that “Oil motivates U.S. policy more than fighting terrorists,” and that the killing and torturing of tens of thousands of civilians by the US and NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan through the Iraq War Logs and Afghanistan War Logs were evidence of war crimes.

However, to Assange’s dismay, as a western dissident, he does not enjoy the soft-power of being a Chinese dissident; the “free” world politicians not only fail to acknowledge the nobility of his work in exposing human rights violations and war crimes committed by NATO and the US, President Obama described his act as a “deplorable documents dump”; former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich believed that he should be “treated as an enemy combatant”; Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell called him a “high-tech terrorist”; while Sarah Palin wanted him to be “hunted down like al-Qaeda”; Other politicians including some mainstream media “pundits openly calling for his death”.

As an instant response, WikiLeaks has been blocked from being accessed by federal employees of the US. So as in Germany.

In Canada, censors blocked his WikiLeaks website, Interpol issued an arrest warrant and the key advisor to Canada's PM Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan, called for his assassination by drone.

Facebook reportedly deleted his WikiLeaks page together with his 30,000 fans; US government funded press watchdog (press freedom group), Reporters Without Borders accused him of “irresponsible”.

His sources of finance have been blocked by western corporations such as VISA, MasterCard, Amazon, PayPal, Western Union and Bank of America. As a result, WikiLeaks was forced to shut down briefly in 2010 due to their inability to plug the funding gap;

We can hardly find the mainstream western media showing any zest in promoting him as a human rights campaigner or press freedom fighter. In fact, as The Australian has observed, “the editors turn on him”; The Guardian also noticed that “more American journalists back away from WikiLeaks and Assange”. An opinion piece in the Washington Post called for his prosecution and then reform the espionage law.

If you trust the CNN poll, the American people appear to abandon him as well with 77% opposing his released of the US government documents.

Assange’s legal team complain that they have been watched and was also experiencing other forms of pressure from Washington.

In Australia, Assange had definitely been let down by his mother country. The Australian government not only failed to show interest in defending his basic human rights and promoting press freedom, PM Julia Gillard has joined the US in condemning him and alleged that he act illegally but unable to “say what law WikiLeaks has broken”; the Australian government had in a couple of occasions threatened to arrest him, in spite of the knowledge that Assange has been badly treated in the UK since 2010 – his personal freedom had been deprived by an electronic tag and was held under virtual house arrest, and having spent nine days in solitary confinement in a London prison for a crime that he has not been charged with and in relation to allegations that he emphatically denies. Assange has basically received no assistance from the Australian government, according to his mother.

An article on the Crikey rightly points out that, Julian Assange will be better off smuggling weapons in Baghdad, as weapon smugger received more help from the Australian government. 

In fact, reports reveal that the Australian government has on one stage contemplated the idea of cancelling his passport; his Australian lawyer, Jennifer Robinson was once reportedly prevented from boarding a flight back to Australia at Heathrow airport citing the excuse that she was on a “watch list” and would need official approval to return to her native Australia.

Assange is a Western dissident, he does not enjoy the soft-power of being a Chinese one. His course may be noble and like the Russian suggested, deserve a Noble Peace Prize. However, the forces that determine his faith are powerful and merciless. He may end up like Bradley Manning in the notorious US military prison stripped naked every night in isolation and suffer from harassment and sleep-deprivation with accordance to the CIA interrogation manual. Some UN officials may occasionally comment about his treatment as “cruel and degrading”, most mainstream media will not report such commentaries anyway.

Manning trial by the “free” world will be in secrecy; his lawyer is reportedly struggling to have the government documents released so as to work out ways to defend him. Apparently, people who are concerned about his well being are also struggling to gain access to him.

The Australian government is fully aware of the mistreatment of Assange by the “free” world including the British authority and the Swedish, but Assange has been left alone to fend for himself.

Are human rights and freedom of press universal western values?

 Wei Ling Chua- Is an Accredited INS and ANFS Freelance Journalist


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