>> DiEM25’s volunteers participated in support of the WikiLeaks editor and DiEM25 member, Julian Assange
By Cristina Soler-Savini
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, June 19th, 2016.- A European meeting, a global conference like no other, the #freeAssange event, which took place in Brussels’ Bozar theatre this evening was to remember those that should never be forgotten.
WikiLeaks’ founder and editor, Julian Assange, has de facto been imprisoned at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for four years. As part of a unique initiative worldwide to denounce this cruel and illegal detention, the Belgian capital was one of the more than a dozen cities to hold the „First They Came for Assange…“ global event.
The evening started with a brief exchange with the audience and the opening of a signature point for DiEM25’s Transparency petition, which was organized by the movement’s local volunteers.
„Movements such as DiEM25 help redefine new ways of engagement, as they give voice to those who have previously been excluded from debates,“ explained a young participant.
Over 2,000 people were present in Brussels to join the call for Assange’s „persecution to be brought to an end.“ Noam Chomsky, Patti Smith, Brian Eno, PJ Harvey, Ai Weiwei, Vivienne Westwood and Michael Moore were among the DiEM25 members and friends voicing their support for the Australian publisher.
Srećko Horvat, co-founder of DiEM25 and speaker at the Bozar event, warned: „We are experiencing a critical period for whistleblowers and if political pressure is not maintained, we will see no change in the fate of Julian Assange. We meet today to talk about Julian Assange, because he spoke on behalf of us all.“
Greece’s former Finance Minister and also DiEM25 co-founder, Yanis Varoufakis, delivered a warm and strong message of support as well: “Assange is symbol of this collective effort which creates bonds of friendship between us”.
Varoufakis underlined, “Democracy is nothing without the right to free speech. It’s a bit like being on the moon and speaking of an oxygen deficit when there is no oxygen at all.“
Last February, a UN panel ruled that Assange had been “arbitrarily detained.“ The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has called upon the UK and Sweden to end Assange’s deprivation of liberty, as it concluded that the WikiLeaks editor had been “arbitrarily detained by the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” In addition, the UN panel sentenced that Assange “is entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation.”
Emotions ran high during the live connection with Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
“There are some consolations to being arbitrarily detained,” Assange explained, “there is some luck in being an accused person. Luck in being spied [on] as terrorist, luck in being accused of being a sex criminal. You might think that surely it is a shock and a devastation to wake up and find one transformed into a demon, into a thing, into an unspeakable thing. A frightening thing. No, it’s wonderful, because it is not that you change, it is that others change. You stay the same, but you now have a gift. You now have a super power. The super power of the accused. This super power is to reveal the true character of others.”
As of today, Julian Assange has been deprived of his freedom for 2,022 days.
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