I will leave the long-form writing about the injustice of imprisoning Julian Assange to those with a more eloquent voice then mine. However, the importance of what is happening now should be well understood by all of us, eloquent or not. On Saturday, December 10th Assange suffered a stroke in his Belmarsh prison cell after hearing that a British High Court overturned a previous judgment that was prevented his extradition to the United States. If that extradition moves forward, it is very likely that Assange will be sent to prison for the rest of his life. And why? For exposing the monstrous and illegal actions taken by the American military. Actions that include the robotic-murder of Iraqi civilians and children. If you are not familiar with the crimes committed during the occupation or still consider the U.S. as liberators, as many do, then stop reading and do some damn research.
And for his brave act of truth and transparency, Assange will pay with his life. They have already taken many years from him. Only the prosecution of Julian Assange is about much more then his imprisonment and which specific atrocities WikiLeak’s exposed. Beneath the surface of the case is the continued establishment of a National Security State and the death of our, so called, Fourth Estate. Topics many refuse to confront. Remember, us Americans like to talk about transparency only in the abstract or when America is pointing out the deficiencies of some other country. But above all, we don’t appreciate anyone reporting on the truth when it comes our American Values.
Just like our belief in an independent press, Americans love to talk about our values; Freedom, Justice and Truth. Sounds great? We talk about these values at every opportunity but do those words have a deeper worth to us? Can they mean anything as the American government is prosecuting the one news publisher revealing the truth? Or are those cherished values just slogans for a holiday? Fun to say at the 4th of July barbecue but, ultimately, empty and meaningless.
So what could you do? If you live in the US, you could call your member of Congress today and demand the case against Assange be dropped. Whatever your political affiliation, direct contact with Representatives and Senators can prove to be a useful tool in building political pressure on the current US Administration. The phone number for the Congressional Switchboard Operator is 202.224.3121 or use this link to contact your specific Congressional Representative.
Granted, much more work needs to be done then a phone call. A public outcry must be built from the ground up. Unlike other countries around the globe, the U.S has very little of the infrastructure needed to get people organize, educated and into the streets. Perhaps that is beginning to change. We begin here. One by one.
Finally, let us consider author and historian, Howard Zimm’s thoughts on remaining silent when faced with corrupt rulers, ”Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty”.