Roger Waters and John Pilger Make Powerful Defense of Julian Assange in London
September 3, 2019
Up to 1,000 people gathered in central London last night to hear internationally acclaimed musician Roger Waters deliver a tribute to the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
Performing outside the UK home office, just miles from Belmarsh Prison, where Assange was held as a Category A prisoner, Waters sings Pink Floyd's iconic song "Wish You Were Here." He was accompanied by guitarist Andrew Andrew Fairweather Low.
Proponents filled the front and floor on both sides of Marsham Street, many carrying flags and signs demanding Assange's freedom and the release of prisoner Chelsea Manning, a prisoner. Spontaneous chants rang: "Free, free Julian Assange!" And "There's only one solution: no extradition!"
Roger Waters plays "Wish You Are You Here"  John Pilger , a veteran filmmaker and investigative journalist and personal friend of Assange, opened the event with an eager speech. Pointing to the interior office, Pilger told the crowd: "The British Government's behavior towards Julian Assange is a disgrace. A curse on the very idea of human rights. It is no exaggeration to say that the treatment and persecution of Julian Assange is the way dictatorships treat a political prisoner. "
Pilger said he spoke to Assange over the weekend:" When I asked Julian what I would like to say. today he was adamant. "Say it's not just me. It is much wider. We are all All journalists and publishers who do their jobs are at risk. "
The importance of Assange's extradition couldn't be clearer, says Pilger," no matter who you are or where you are, if you uncover the crimes of governments, you will be wanted, abducted and sent to the US as a spy. "
John Pilger's speech at the rally
Pilger concluded:" Seventeen of the 18 charges Julian faces in America refer to the routine work of America an investigative journalist protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution…. All work is fraud. US prosecutors know it is fraud, the British government knows it is fraud, the Australian government knows it is fraud.
"Therefore, Julian is imprisoned 21 hours a day in a maximum security prison and treated worse than a murderer. It should be an example of this. What happens to Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning is intended to intimidate us, to silence us.
“In defending Julian Assange, we are protecting our most sacred rights. Talk now or wake up one morning in the silence of a new kind of tyranny. The choice is ours. "
Julian's brother Gabriel Shipton was greeted warmly as he spoke from the stage. He recounted his visit to Belmarsh Prison last month. "I hugged him and he told me that this place he was at was hell."
The brother of Julian Gabriel Shipton addressing the event
Shipton continues: "Then, my daughter wanted to know why her uncle was imprisoned. "Is there anything wrong, Dad?" She asked. I tried to explain in a way that a five-year-old could understand. As Julian's brother, and on behalf of my children, other siblings, nephews and nephews, mother and father, I call on the United Kingdom's Secretary of the House to block extradition to the United States. "
Waters took the stage shortly after 6.30 am He said to the sea of supporters," Seeing all of you here today is deep, deep moving. How to put yourself in the position of a Julian lounge in solitude? Or with that child in Syria, or Palestine, or the Rohingya, which was blown up by pieces of these people in this building here [pointing to the Home Office]? "
Waters introduced" Do I Want Here, "the title track from Pink Floyd's 1975 chart to the album's chart, explaining the meaning of the song," would you trade part of the war for a lead role in a cell? " "Well, no, I wouldn't. This is my act in this war, and I would much rather be here with all of you who are also walking in war than taking the lead in a cage. "
As Waters sang, the audience joined in, the texts were accepted as a statement of political solidarity with Julian Assange.
Concluding the event, Waters thanked the audience and shouted, “Julian Assange, we are with you! Julian Assange! "As the crowd replied," Free Julian Assange! Free Julian Assange! "
WikiLeaks Editor Christine Hraffson spoke to WSWS after the event:" I heard from how many people showed up. When trying to participate in Julian's release campaign, it's so important to meet the people who actually support him. My feeling is that despite the hostility of the mass media, support is growing. A fight is ahead and Julian knows this, but it is so important for him to receive this message. It gives me hope and optimism. "
Hraffsson met Assange 10 days ago and talked to him for the first time last night:" It took all this time to clear my number in front of the prison authorities. It is not in a good place and definitely not where it needs to be – and that needs to change.
He added: "We cannot rely on the mass media, we cannot rely on politicians, we certainly cannot rely on the judiciary here. People really need to understand how important this is. "
John Pilger told WSWS shortly before the rally that the concert was Waters' idea:" Roger emailed me and said he wanted to play "Wish You Were Here for Julian Outside Belmarsh Prison . But we had a look and it just wasn't possible. The closest you can get is the freeway, so we decided the next best thing was the inner office.
Pilger warned that Assange's condition was of great concern. "I worry a lot about him if he spends many months in Belmarsh," he said. "His regime imposes some isolation that is deeply psychological in nature. He is in a small cell in the hospital ward. They don't seem to know what to do with it. Of course, what they have to do is release it. He certainly should not be in a maximum security prison. "
Amy Butlin of the Julian Assange Defense Committee (JADC) also spoke with WSWS.
"John Pilger and Roger Waters roused our emotions tonight with their amazing words and song of solidarity with Julian Assange," Butlin said. "They spoke of empathy, peace, fighting the war and its gains, whose interests WikiLeaks disputes. We are very grateful for the wonderful turnout, a testament to the support we always find on the streets of the UK and continue our solidarity work on Saturday September 28th from 2pm outside Belmarsh Prison.
"As JADC, we are very grateful for the work SEP is doing worldwide for the Free Assange campaign and for the ongoing participation and assistance they offer in our events. WSWS offers accurate reporting on the Assange case and helps spread the solidarity campaign internationally far and wide. Thank you very much. ”
Emphasizing the point made by Christine Hraffson on the mainstream media, no major British television station reported on the event in its evening news programs. Today, with further and deliberate censorship, no British, Australian or American newspaper reports on Waters' initiative and rally.
But through social media and publications such as WSWS, news reports and videos about Waters 'presentation, Pilgers' speech and Gabriel Shipton's speeches are widely circulated and will be viewed by hundreds of thousands internationally in the coming days.
We Need Your Support
This week WSWS publishes its 75,000th article. Become a monthly donor today and continue this vital work. It only takes a minute. Thank you.
<! – blog comments powered by Disqus ->