by Caitlin Johnstone
April 12, 2019
This speech was given at a Free Assange rally in Melbourne, where the Socialist Equality Party Australia assembled to protest the forced eviction, and arrest, of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London, in the UK. This speech was retranscribed here with the "unconditional permission" of the author herself. Thank you, Caitlin.
Today is the day when the rubber meets the road.
Today is the day when the nice guy mask has been ripped from the face of the inverted totalitarian state under whose boot we live.
We were told, concern trolled, that it was all about his cat, his body odour, his love affair for Trump or Putin or the Catalan people, Nazis, rape, transistor radios, and his hatred of truth, justice and the American way.
A thousand different stories about what this was all about, all created to confuse the casual viewer as to what was going on.
In the end, it was about what any clear-eyed rebel could see from day one. It was the reason he was granted asylum in the first place. The powerful people he embarrassed with his leaks want to punish him. He is being bullied by the power whose wrongdoings he exposed. And those powerful people want to make an example of him and send a message to all of us.
Now I've heard it said, and I'm sure you've heard this too, that this sting was timed in part so that it occurred within the timeframe of the caretaker government given our forthcoming federal election here in Australia on May 18th. They reckon this'll be good for them. They reckon this'll mean that nothing can be done!
Ha, yeah well I don't think so mate. I know that I will bailing up every politician I see on every street corner and demanding to know what their position on Julian Assange is.
I know that I will be making this a core election issue from which they cannot sheepishly demur as they have done til now.
I know that this will be the election issue that will be the decider on who I vote for, and who I do not.
And I know that I am joined by many of my fellow Australians in my outrage.
Australians are pretty easy-going, but only to a point, and that point has been reached.
Australian politicians and the Australian media have been put on notice as of today — we will not lie down quietly and utter that infamous Aussie phrase of the defeated — “Aww well whatever you reckon's a fair thing…”
Because this not a fair thing.
We will not let this rest.
We will not let a son of ours be made a precedent for the death of the free press everywhere.
That will not happen on our watch.
Because that's what's happening. He is the thin edge of the wedge for the death of press freedoms all around the world.
Think about it — this is an Australian, wrenched from the Ecuadorian embassy, being held by the UK, for journalism via WikiLeaks which has no office or affiliation in the US at all.
The long arm of the US empire has shown that it can nab any journalist, anywhere in the world, if it doesn't like what you're revealing, whether you're a citizen of theirs or not.
This is truly a global totalitarian show of might and it must not go unchallenged. We have to win this one.
Without the ability to shine a light on the evil wrongdoings, on the war crimes, of this empire through journalism, we are lost.
Once our ability to bring power to account has been neutered, you can forget about fighting for anything else.
Our environment will continue to be degraded beyond habitability, our rights will continue to be eroded to nothing, the war crimes will get more flagrant and more deadly in the endless stupid wars that will continue to fuel the oil addiction that is poisoning our planet.
The fight for Julian Assange's right to shine a light on war crimes is the nexus point fight for all of us humans as a species.
Without the ability to make the powerful accountable for their crimes, we have lost already. May as well smooth the pillow on a dying world. That much is clear today.
On that point, keep an eye on where the Australian journalists fall on this.
There is no doubt that by now it is clear, in their minds at least, how this will be a fatal blow to investigative journalism everywhere and this is a mortal threat to every journalist who has ever sourced evidence to fight wrongdoing at the highest echelons of power. They all understand this now. There is no doubt that by now they are crystal clear on that point.
Watch which side they fall on, because it will be clear that those journalists who fall on the wrong side of this never intend or intended to do any kind of journalism in their lives.
They don't care because they are not in danger.
They are lackeys, bootlickers, mindless repeaters of power, blue-tick propagandists who never ever intend to upset even one of their plutocratic masters.
They don't care because they do what they're told. They don't care because they know that underneath it all, that's not their job, their job is to protect power, not to bring it to account.
They don't care because they are not journalists.
Where they fall on this will tell you what they are. Watch carefully and take notes.
So on that note I want to thank you all for coming today. You too, have shown me who you are. You are on the right side of this.
When history has had time to put things in its proper context and looks back on this day in abject horror, when it is realized that this is the day that nice guy mask was ripped off and the full brute force of the corporatist totalitarian state was seen in the harsh light of truth, you will be remembered as the ones who did not flinch.
You did not freeze.
You did not run and hide.
You will be remembered as the ones who stared down this horror with the same conviction as Julian Assange.
When you get a chance, do something for me. Take a look at Julian's face as he is being taken to court.
I know you were probably as shocked as I was at his physical appearance. We were warned that his detention was taking its toll on his health but it still was really hard to see.
But now the shock has worn off, take a second look.
Look in his eyes.
You will see, the fire still burns bright.
That is no broken man.
They have not broken him, and they have not broken you.
Looking around today I see the same fire in all your eyes.
This is our time.
This is when we rise.
This is when we shout a giant "NO!" to those who have us suffocated into a fatal dream at this crucial moment in human history, a moment where our eyes must be wide open, where we must stare down our plutocratic masters who are driving our species into extinction, and take back the wheel.
So I urge you to pull from your convict roots, your refugee beginnings, or your indigenous stock, from all the many ways that the people of this country largely come from either being imprisoned by, fighting off, or fleeing the very self-same empire that has its talons in Assange today, I urge you to pull from that anger that is wound deep into your DNA.
And say NO, we will not be silenced any more.
NO, we will not be enslaved anymore.
NO, we are not livestock to be herded into pens convenient to the oligarchs, bleating praise in a chorus for their demented agendas.
We demand our freedom in the same breath that we demand freedom for Julian Assange.
We must rise, now, as one, and defeat this evil once and for all.
Make this one stick, people!