Speech by Tony on Friday 17/03/2023

Welcome to the 173rd week of Julian Assange Sydney Town Hall gatherings.

Corrupt power has an interest in preventing honest and open communication and there are various ways it can do it. One important way that corrupt power prevents honest and open communication is through creating the conditions that bring about  self-censorship. People censor themselves when they decide they will be better off if they keep quiet. As editor in chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange refused to be self-censored where public-interest information is concerned. For many years, Julian fearlessly published evidence relating to torture programs, war crimes, corruption, and other wrongdoing. Julian was eventually silenced when he was captured and placed in solitary confinement within a high security prison in the UK. Imprisonment of a journalist is an extreme form of censorship that is imposed on those who refuse to censor themselves.

Many people engage in self-censorship out of fear. The treatment of Julian Assange has been excessively cruel and this generates fear around publishing public-interest information. The extreme  treatment of Julian sends a clear message that if we communicate information our governments wish to hide, we will be severely punished, even if no breach of law has occurred. Corrupt power benefits whenever people keep quiet to avoid the cruel and degrading treatments they may otherwise receive.

The media play a crucial role in limiting public discussion through their attitudes to particular topics.  People are likely to steer clear of expressing certain views if those views have been labelled controversial. After publishing documents that revealed the extensive crimes of the military industrial complex, Julian Assange was smeared and even received death threats from prominent media personalities.  After he informed us about crimes committed against humanity, the mainstream media made ad hominem attacks on Julian.

Julian’s character was lied about so badly that no ordinary person would wish to endure the smearing that Julian received.

Julian Assange is an exceptionally brave human being, but by the time he was arrested and placed in prison, he was suffering from chronic anxiety which was judged to have been induced by collective political persecution of the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador.

People often fail to speak about serious corruption if they realise their employment and income are conditional upon their silence.

Self-censorship is not new! Corrupt systems have probably been limiting free speech from time immemorial. With the development of The Wikileaks anonymous drop box, Julian had a potent way to bring about transparent democracy.  The Wikileaks drop box made it possible for whistle blowers to divulge public interest information anonymously and avoid any backlash from corrupt power.

Defeating corrupt power requires courage. We all gain courage when more of us speak out. If you can see the need to defeat corruption, please come along to the Julian Assange Sydney Town Hall Gatherings each week, at 4pm in Winter, to 6pm, during Eastern Standard Time.

Free Julian Assange!

Free Julian Assange!

Free Julian Assange!

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