This Sunday will be ANZAC day. ANZAC day is not a celebration of a victory or glorification of war. We remember the defence personnel and the lives lost or changed forever by war.
As a multigenerational Australian, I have family who fought for Australia at war. On his birthday in January 1944, my father joined the RAAF as an 18-year-old while World War II was in progress. He was a complex and troubled man. I don’t know if this was due to his time in service, but I often wonder. I have letters written to my teenaged grandmother by her young friend fighting in Gallipoli, asking her to look after his girl.
Julian Assange’s mother wrote in a tweet that her granddad was a POW drowned at sea, her father was in the intelligence core, her uncle Bert had a leg amputated on the battlefield with no anaesthetic, her uncle Neville suffered 3rd degree aircraft petrol burns and her son, Julian Assange is being persecuted for his multi-award-winning journalism revealing US war crimes.
Some of us here were present to hear the courageous whistle-blower former Army Major and lawyer, David McBride speak in Canberra last month at a rally for Julian Assange. In part, he said.
“I grew up in the shadow of the second world war – the greatest generation. I believed that. He said I did not protest the Iraq war in 2003. I was one of those people that believed that if our government was doing something it was probably close to the truth or okay. So, it hit me harder than most to find out that the protesters were right, and it was a totally fake illegal disgusting action carried out by our governments. He said, here is a guy who saw what was going on and he was disgusted, and they want to put me on trial. The whole thing is run as a spin operation to make themselves look good. They want to win the progressives over. They do the report. They are scared of the conservatives, so no one ever goes to trial except the truth teller.”
Julian believed that if wars can be started by lies, they can be stopped by truth. We commemorate those men and women who have fought, sacrificed, or been damaged by war. Good men and women want to see the wars stopped and peace waged around the world. This is why Julian Assange took the brave action to start up Wikileaks. So that the truth of war crimes and corruption could be exposed, and whistle-blowers would be protected. He believed that once the truth was known by the public, they would stand up and demand accountability and action be taken.
This is why the men and women here at the Sydney Town Hall Gatherings meet weekly. We want Julian Assange free. We want everyone to know of the good he did. We want people to understand the travesty of justice taking place in the UK at the behest of the United States.
The judge at Julian’s UK extradition trial ruled that he would not be extradited to the United States. He has committed no crime in Australia. He has committed no crime in the UK. Yet, he is still be held in solitary confinement in a London prison. He was not given his winter clothing over the harsh UK winter. As he was unable to consult with his lawyers while in jail, he asked for a laptop to assist him prepare for his trial. He was given a laptop with the keys glued down. The treatment of Julian is unjust, inhuman, degrading, and cruel. This is vengeance. This is not justice. Free our Australian Walkley Award winning journalist, Julian Assange.