Roy Drew, Mullumbimby
In the middle of this wretched coronavirus pandemic Australian citizen and journalist Julian Assange is still being detained in Belmarsh Prison, UK.
He has been kept on remand for the last six months because the presiding magistrate has declared him a flight risk. A further hearing on his extradition to the US is now delayed until September, owing to COVID-19.
COVID-19 is sweeping through British prisons. Due to a high infection rate and increasing death rate there are plans to release 4,000 low risk prisoners.
Despite not having committed any act of violence, or being charged with any crime by the UK, Julian Assange is not one of them.
Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur, said in May 2019 ‘that in 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States (UK, US, Ecuador and Sweden) ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law’. He concluded by discussing ’the inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (of Mr Assange), the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture’.
Melzer could also have included Julian’s own country of Australia in this number. Thousands of Australians, and tens of thousands around the world are calling on all politicians to take a stand and demand justice for Julian Assange.
Nils Melzer once again: ‘… telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny’.
We urge all politicians to show courage and compassion and stand up for the principles of free press and free speech and to call for the release of Australian citizen Julian Assange.