European fundamental rights for everyone – except for Julian Assange
By Mathias Bröckers.
Last Thursday the Free Assange Committee Germany and freeAssange.eu handed over a petition to the German Bundestag for the protection of the basic and human rights of Julian Assange. The petition asks the Bundestag to use all available means to stop the injustice against Julian Assange and to protect his human rights. „The least that must happen for Julian Assange is to be transferred to a civilian hospital,“ the petition states. Although he has been serving his sentence for breach of bail since September, Julian Assange is still held in solitary confinement at Belmarsh Prison in London. Without sufficient contact with his defense attorneys and without the opportunity to adequately prepare for the trial, which involves his extradition to the United States, where he is supposed to disappear in prison for 175 years according to the allegation.
The fact that both this charge – which has been amended three times since July 2019 – and the way the British judiciary treated the Wikileaks founder is highly questionable from a legal point of view, that this has been established by renowned lawyers and that the United Nations Torture Commissioner, Nils Melzer, has concluded after visiting Assange that the treatment of Assange involves massive psychological torture – all this has so far been stubbornly ignored by the German government and the Bundestag. When some members of the party „Die Linke“ organized an expert hearing on the subject in the Bundestag last year, no one from the other parliamentary groups showed up – and UN representative Melzer, who had asked for an appointment at the Foreign Ministry, was dispatched with the remark that there was no reason to doubt the British legal system.
And, may we add, neither of course is the American one – and that our little Heiko, who wears his suits deep in Uncle Sam’s exhaust pipe, dares to give Pompeo some kind of response, or perhaps even has the idea of granting asylum to the most important investigative journalist of our days and making him the Federal Government’s whistleblower commissioner – because transparency is simply indispensable for any democracy….okay, that might be a bit much to ask of a small-caliber foreign minister. And for a government whose boss only shrugs her shoulders when when her phone is tapped by US intelligence.
But on the level of the European Union things don’t look any better: The current EU report on the situation of fundamental rights wordy emphasizes the threat to journalists and the need to protect whistleblowers – but the fact that the most important journalist and whistleblower in Europe is languishing in a European high-security wing because he has uncovered war crimes is completely silent, the name Julian Assange is not mentioned once. The conservatives, social democrats and liberals in the European Parliament have ensured this. A request by the left-wing confederal group in the European Parliament to include in the report at least the reference „that the imprisonment and criminal charges against Julian Assange constitute a dangerous precedent for journalists, as confirmed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe“ was rejected by 481 votes to 191.
The mass media, too, which worked with Julian Assange and produced headlines worldwide with the Wikileaks revelations – ten years ago today, their lead stories appeared on „Cablegate“, the diplomatic dépesche published by Wikileaks, who provided deep insights into the usages of U.S. foreign policy – have so far hardly lifted a finger for the colleague who had to flee to the Ecuadorian embassy due to bogus investigations, was isolated there for eight years and is now held in a British high-security wing for serious criminals. And also from the institution „Amnesty International“, which is responsible for political prisoners worldwide, only lukewarm things have come so far – although in February the US Secretary of Justice was asked to „drop the charges against Assange“, the current unbearable prison conditions are not mentioned with a word. In an open letter to „Amnesty International Germany“, supporters of Assange therefore now demand answers to the question why a „publicly highly respected institution for human rights like AID continues to ignore both the legal opinion of the UN Human Rights Council and the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture“.
This ignorance, especially on the part of those who constantly emphasize „freedom of the press“ and „democracy“ in speeches and editorials – that is, politicians, parliaments, mass media and institutions such as „amnesty“ – is intolerable. For it has long since ceased to be about the individual fate of a person, but rather, as UN envoy Nils Melzer put it, „to prevent a precedent that would seal the fate of Western democracies. For once it has become a crime to tell the truth while the powerful go unpunished, it will be too late to correct the course. Our voice will then have capitulated to censorship and our fate to unbridled tyranny“.
Edward Snowden put this succinctly: „If the uncovering of crime is treated like a crime, we will be ruled by criminals.“ The fact that the above-mentioned bodies and institutions remain silent on the blatant injustice done to Julian Assange makes it clear that even with more than one leg they are not on the side of the rule of law and human rights, but on the side of the criminals.
Thanks to the authors for the right to publish the article.
Picture source: John Gomez / shutterstock
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