Free Julian Assange! Journalist pressures Australian government at a Colombo meeting

Our Correspondent 

Yesterday (21) one journalist stood alone in expressing his protest against Australian government and took it opportunity to demand that government’s intervention to secure the release of the witch-hunted journalist Julian Assange, when the Australian High Commissioner (HC) to Sri Lanka, Paul Stephens, was delivering a speech at an event held in the Central Bank (CB) building. 

The event was a certificate awarding ceremony to about two and a half a dozen journalists who had followed a macroeconomics course conducted by the CB in association with the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI). Several journalists had been sponsored  by ‘Australian Aid’, while others had paid for themselves. At the event, CB governor, Nandalal Weerasinghe and SLPI Chairperson,  Kumar Nadeshan were sharing the head-table together with the HC.

The Governor’s speech was followed by Stephen’s.  During the HC’s whole speech for about eight minutes, Journalist Sanjaya Jayasekera, raised a placard to show, “Free Julian Assange – the Journalist of the People!”.

Jayasekera raising the placard, “Free Julian Assange!” [Photo by Shabeer Mohamed]

Following the event, Jayasekera spoke to thesocialist.LK. He is the editor of theRepublic.LK, and a writer for theSocialist.LK. He was a  writer for the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), and a member of its Sri Lankan editorial panel. Presently, he is also the Chairperson of the Colombo Action Committee. 

Jayasekera stated as follows:

The Australian government is responsible for the life of the journalist Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblower website, the WikiLeaks. Assange is an Australian citizen. He has been deprived of his personal life for 14 years now, incarcerated in prison cells under extreme conditions, just for exposing the blood-soaked war crimes of the United States  military and the government in Iraq and Afghanistan. This award-winning journalist is a hero of the people, as his exposure was based on his belief that the people should know the truth,  as their monies are squandered without their consent for waging imperialist wars abroad, and for killing men, women and children. 

“The Biden administration is seeking Assange’s extradition to the US where he will face charges of espionage that carry a life sentence and even death penalty. His only “crime” is the publication of classified documents and footage exposing the war crimes and diplomatic conspiracies of US imperialism and its allies. Chelsea Manning, a former US Army intelligence officer, who provided these videos to Wikileaks was also kept in detention and harassed. 

“After he was forcefully arrested and dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London in April 2019, Assange has been confined to UK Belmarsh prison. The Australian government has been complicit in the continued persecution, personal slander, conspiracy and spying against him by US imperialism. US used Sweden to level fabricated allegations of sexual assault against Assange, which were later dropped. Established media are part of these sins.  

Assange in Police custody outside Westminster Magistrates Court after his arrest []

“Assange’s persecution is intended to terrorize all journalists and whistleblowers, anywhere in the world, by all governments.

“For more than three decades US has been waging continuous imperialist wars abroad to offset its declining global economic dominance and is now engaged in a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, with the full support of NATO and its allies including Australia. Severe austerity is implemented to place the burden of the war on the working class domestically.  The war is drawing the world toward the danger of a nuclear catastrophe. This war is just a prelude to a greater war against US’s main rival, China.

“These wars have to be stopped to save humanity.  That requires the building of a united global anti-war movement. Journalists have their own social responsibility in this regard.  Assange is undoubtedly their role model,” Jayasekera said.

“I believe the highest task of a genuine journalist is to search for, analyze and expose the truth- the truth about the society and the world around. He should be faithful to the truth. To know the truth, he should have a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of society, and always be biased towards people and social justice. That is true journalism.”

Jayasekera also said the defence of Assange is a litmus test of those who claim to represent democratic rights. 

Late March this year, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong effectively declared in the Senate that the Labor government of prime minister Anthony Albanese could do nothing to secure Assange’s freedom, due to “legal processes” in another country, contrary to its fraudulent claims of using “quiet diplomacy” to address his dire plight. These assertions contradict its own precedent practices. 

Assange’s freedom is not secured by imperialist allies like Australia. “The war serves their class interests. Saving the life of Assange and freedom of journalism, as well as halting the war are matters that rest solely on the hands of the working people”, Jayasekera stated further.   

It is the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and the WSWS that have systematically exposed the persecution of Assange, US imperialism’s preparations for world war and called for the building of an international anti-war movement of the working class. 

Free Julian Assange Now! Build the International Anti-war Movement! 

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