Statement of Support: Don’t Shoot the Messenger Rally Sydney Town Hall

[Read by Aloysia Brooks of the Justice Campaign]

It is with much regret that I can’t be with you today.

May I start by offering my condolences to Christine & Julian Assange and family for the loss of their beloved father and grandfather this week.  As a political refugee Julian Assange wasn’t granted permission to visit his dying grandfather, yet even in wars ceasefires have been negotiated to enable both sides to tend to their wounded and bury their dead.

Next I want to thank and acknowledge everyone who is here today. There can be no more noble cause than to stand publicly, shoulder to shoulder with your fellow citizens, in opposition to injustices brought to bear on any individual who refuses to abandon honesty and principle in the face of adversity.

Your presence here today is a selfless act for our common good, and that deserves much praise. I hope the gods have rewarded your humanity with a clear blue sky.

Those who have lost their way say that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are enemies of the State.  Perhaps it is more accurate to say they are enemies of the ‘present’ State.

In our present State, unfortunately, it’s safer and more comfortable and profitable for many to conform with authority, whether through active participation or silence, than to stand against wrong.  Even if that means condoning illegal wars; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; torture; unlawful rendition;  extrajudicial killings; bombing the poorest nations in the world;  executing men, women and children;  surveilling innocent citizens; incarcerating political dissenters and disregarding the exploitation of other people and the planet.  So ordinary people, without thinking, become part of the living dead, oblivious to truth and justice, and complicit in the unthinkable.

But through your actions today and the value of your words –whether written or spoken –you ease the burden and strengthen the resolve of those seeking to free themselves from this nightmare.

And people who think see the reality:  the US Military Analyst recently accused of communicating with the enemy revealed that she followed the UK Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Bradley Manning and Supporters of Julian Assange on Twitter; she attended a meeting at the Stop the War Coalition; she said she was not subverted into any organisations or their beliefs, but her beliefs were of her own based on what she had read publicly in the Guardian and New York Times newspapers; she said she loved the United States but did not approve of the treatment of Bradley Manning; she said she didn’t agree with the military values because they were incompatible with her personal beliefs, citing US military involvement in acts such as torture which were contrary to what she stood for; she thought WikiLeaks was a good thing and that some things should not be kept secret, a view being bolstered by watching a video of a helicopter shooting an unarmed man.

So who knows who may brush past you today or who may be watching online. I suspect that there are more than a few souls tormented by official secrets that compromise the fundamental human values we all hold dear.  Your presence today may unlock them from their anguish and provide the support, compassion and encouragement to do what they think is right.

As for Julian Assange and Bradley Manning we cannot underestimate the enormity of what is at stake for them as individuals, just as we cannot ever forget the importance of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the protection of whistleblowers, the presumption of innocence and international human rights law.

Standing up for our rights requires courage and strength of character. You have both. And those attributes will enable each of you to set your fears to one side, to maintain your desire for truth, to rail against indifference and to say no to the official word when it serves to orchestrate injustices.

I wish you all the best.  May our paths cross soon.


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