Showing posts with label WikiLeaks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WikiLeaks. Show all posts

Monday, May 9, 2011

Australian award for Julian Assange

The Sydney Peace Foundation, founded within the context of the University of Sydney, makes an international award known as the Sydney Peace Prize.

The City of Sydney is a major supporter of this prize, in particular at a financial level.

The gold medal of the Sydney Peace Foundation will be awarded to Julian Assange on 10 May 2011 in London. The citation is "for exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights". The director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Stuart Rees, says:
"By challenging centuries old practices of government secrecy and by championing people’s right to know, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have created the potential for a new order in journalism and in the free flow of information. Instead of demonizing an Australian citizen who has broken no law, the Australian Government must stop shoring up Washington’s efforts to behave like a totalitarian state. The treatment of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning confirms a US administration at odds with their commitment to universal human rights and intent on militaristic bullying."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hicks fights back

David Hicks—the Australian who was imprisoned and tortured in the US concentration camp of Guantanamo—is now assisted by a group of supporters who are contributing greatly to his healing process.

Click the banner to access the Guantanamo file of Hicks, made available by WikiLeaks. In the wake of the release of this data, Hicks and his supporters published a critical statement. Click the following banner to access a presentation by Jeffrey Kaye, in The Public Record, of this statement by the Hicks group:

Here's an extract of the book, Guantanamo: My Journey, published by David Hicks in 2010:

I awoke on a concrete slab with the sun in my face. I looked around and saw that I was in a cage made out of cyclone fencing, the same as the boundary fence around my old primary school. Internal fences divided the cage into ten enclosures, and I was in one of the corner-end cells. Around me, I saw five other concrete slabs with what looked like bird cages constructed on top. A fence covered in green shadecloth and topped with rolls of razor wire was wrapped around these six concrete slabs, able to house sixty unfortunate human beings. Hanging on the inside of this fence were signs saying, ''If you attempt escape, you will be shot'', complete with a featureless person with a target for a head.

All around the outside of the shadecloth, civilian and uniformed personnel cleared and flattened grass and trees. They poured cement and assembled the wire cages, calling them ''blocks''. There was nothing much else around us except guard towers boasting large, painted American flags and manned by armed marines.

My block was only the second to have been built, but that would change over time. As this prison grew out of the grass, more ''detainees'', as they liked to call us, rather than POWs, arrived. About a month later, around 360 of us lived in these outdoor enclosures. They were open to the wind, sun, dust and rain and offered no respite. The local wildlife was being disturbed as their homes were bulldozed to make room for the concrete blocks, and scorpions, snakes and 23 centimetre-long tarantulas tried to find shelter in what were now our enclosures.

My cage, like all the cages, was three steps wide by three steps long. I shared this space with two small buckets: one to drink out of, the other to use as a toilet. There was an ''isomat'' (a five-millimetre-thin foam mat), a towel, a sheet, a bottle of shampoo that smelt like industrial cleaner, a bar of soap (I think), a toothbrush with three-quarters of the handle snapped off and a tube of toothpaste. When I held this tube upside down, even without squeezing, a white, smelly liquid oozed out.

This bizarre operation was called Camp X-Ray. Our plane was the first to arrive on this barren part of the island, and we remained the only detainees for the first three or four days. We had been spaced apart because of the surplus of cages. Every hour of the day and night we had to produce our wristband for inspection, as well as the end of our toothbrush, in case we had ''sharpened it into a weapon''. These constant disturbances prevented us from sleeping. We were not allowed to talk, or even look around, and had to stare at the concrete between our legs while sitting upright on the ground. If we did lie flat on the concrete, we had to stare at a wooden covering a foot or so above our cages, which served as some type of roof. Apart from blocking the sun for about two hours around noon, the roof offered no other benefit.

Sitting or lying in the middle of the cage, away from the sides, were the only two positions we were allowed to assume. We could not stand up unless ordered to, and the biggest sin was to touch the enclosing wire. If we transgressed any of these rules, even if innocently looking about, we were dealt with by the IRF team, an acronym for Instant Reaction Force. The Military Police nicknamed this procedure being ''earthed'' or ''IRFed'', because they would slam and beat us into the ground.

I first witnessed the IRF team a day or two after my arrival. An MP stopped outside the cage of an Afghan, my closest neighbour at the time. The MP demanded to know what the Afghan had scratched into the cement. He had not scratched anything and could not even speak or understand English. I heard the MP read, ''Osama will save us''. The detainee had no idea what the guard was on about, yet the MP was furious when he did not respond. ''I'll teach you to resist,'' the MP threatened and stormed off. Suddenly six MPs in full riot gear formed a line outside his cage. The first one held a full-length shield. He entered the cage first, slamming the detainee, pinning him to the cement floor with the shield, while the others beat him in the torso and face. The last to enter the cage was a dog handler with a large German shepherd. The dog was encouraged to bark and growl only centimetres from the Afghan's face while he was being beaten. In later cases, the dogs bit detainees.

When they had finished, they chained him up and carried him out. His face was covered in blood. A few hours later an MP washed the blood off the cement with a scrubbing brush and hose. To add to that injustice, an MP told me some weeks later that he himself had scratched that statement into the cement before any of us had arrived at Guantanamo, while they had been training and awaiting our arrival.


Every two or three days a planeload of detainees would arrive. They were always made to kneel and lean forward on the gravel while being yelled at and struck in the back of the head. They had to balance in this position while one detainee at a time was picked up from the line, escorted into a block and deposited into a cage. Those who were moved first were lucky not to have to endure the stress position for hours...

It was around this time that helicopters hovered above, and very large groups of civilians walked through the camp to view us in our cages - specimens in an international makeshift zoo.

The first two weeks of Camp X-Ray was a blur of hardships: no sleeping, no talking, no moving, no looking, no information. Through a haze of disbelief and fear, pain and confusion, we wondered what was going to happen. To pass time and relieve the pressure on my ailing back, I chose to lie down rather than sit up. During the day I would look slightly to my right, focusing my vision just beyond the wooden roof, and lose myself in the sky beyond. It was an escape, so peaceful, so blue and full of sunlight. I gazed at the odd cloud and spied big, black birds circling high above, called vulture hawks. It was never long, though, before a hostile face blocked the view, screaming, ''What are you looking at? Look up at the roof.'' All I could do was sigh and avert my gaze from the infinite, blue sky to a piece of wood.

Guantanamo: My Journey,
by David Hicks (William Heinemann Australia).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From Gallipoli to Guantanamo

I was struck by the fact (no doubt a pure coincidence) that the contents of WikiLeaks files on the Bush concentration camp at Guantanamo hit the proverbial fan on the very day set aside by Australians for the celebration of our heroes of Gallipoli and the Western Front. Consequently, yesterday's media sites offered us countless photographic reminders, not of Diggers in slouch hats, but of miserable inmates in orange convict clothes.

Australia's annual celebrations of the allegedly glorious deeds of her dead soldiers have always irritated me, for three precise reasons:

— No past wars, whether won or lost, should be celebrated. They remain a source of deep reflection, particularly for historians, but under no circumstances should they be envisaged as a pretext for marching triumphantly through the streets. [Readers might ask me: And what about Bastille Day in France? My answer: It's a modern military pageant, and in no way a nostalgic evocation of past conflicts.]

— In the horrible context of the so-called "great" war of 1914-1918, it is difficult to find anything other than absurd butchery, enhanced by ample military blunders, often based upon the stupidity of the commanders. No cause for celebrations

— In drawing attention to the exploits of her Diggers, Australia runs the risk of downgrading all the other countless victims of 20th-century armed conflicts, many of whom were innocent civilians. To take just one example, is there a place in the Anzac Day marches for individuals wearing the striped uniforms of Auschwitz?

People might say: Gallipoli was one thing; Guantanamo was a different affair. Let's not forget that John Howard was a buddy of Bush, and acted constantly as if the Sun shone out of the Texan's anal orifice.

So, in a certain sense, Guantanamo remains a symbolic stain on Australia's recent political profile just as surely as it infects memories of the Bush war against "the axis of evil". For Bush and his cronies and lapdogs, all these men in orange were assumed to be eviluntil proven innocent (if ever). Even today, as the WikiLeaks data reveals, the files of Gitmo inmates are so inextricably fuzzy that Barack Obama is having a tough job trying to introduce some clarity into the situation, in the hope of shuttering this hell hole as soon as possible.

Beyond pure symbols, let us not forget that the Australians David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib once wore the orange convict clothes, and endured the typical US treatment of Gitmo inmates.

Today, it is thanks to another Australian, Julian Assange, that we have become more aware of the unpardonable sins of many of the world's would-be leaders. This fellow has been celebrated throughout the planet. But is he an Anzac Day hero in his native land? That's like asking: Is there a place in the Anzac Day marches for individualslike Hicks and Habibwearing the orange convict clothes of Guantanamo?
[Click on the WikiLeaks symbol to access
the two Gitmo files for Australians.]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Julian can go out walking

While still restrained to a certain extent (huge bail and electronic bracelet), Julian Assange will be able to go out walking in the grounds of Ellingham Hall in Bungay (Suffolk). This stately home belongs to the British TV journalist Vaughan Smith, who's a friend and supporter of Assange. Smith is the owner of London's Frontline Club, near Paddington station, whose self-proclaimed mission consists of "championing independent journalism".

Most prisons are not as nice. At present, the grounds are not quite as green, and there's snow on the lawns. In any case, Julian is a special prisoner. A sort of Count of Monte Cristo.

Strictly speaking, he's not a prisoner at all. Not even a clearly-accused suspect of anything less trifling than one-night-stands with groupies that got screwed up... Julian more so than the mindless groupies, who should be able to take better care of themselves.

I was shocked to learn that it was the British, not the Swedes, who had been determined to keep Julian Assange in jail [link]. Were Australian governmental authorities worried about this unexpected behavior on the part of our "motherland"? Well, yes, I have the impression that Kevin Rudd has been trying to do his bit (maybe a rather little bit, as a consequence of his demotion from power) to inject some clarity into this affair. Meanwhile, what is Julia Gillard doing to protect the rights of her limply-accused compatriot? I don't know. Maybe, one of these days, she'll tell us.

FOOTNOTE: Many people have confused the home of Vaughan Smith with another Ellingham Hall located at Chathill up in Northumberland. I myself made this mistake yesterday, for ten minutes or so. This other Ellingham Hall (which, I repeat, has absolutely nothing to do with the place down in Suffolk where Julian Assange is staying) is a luxurious country house located up towards the Scottish border [website], which has become a popular venue for corporate events, weddings and special occasions.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Most famous Australian in the world

Poor old John Howard (an Aussie cricketing enthusiast who once found himself heading the nation for far too long) didn't even get more than a fleeting mention in the memoirs of his Texan mate George Bush. Jeez, from a prestige and posterity viewpoint, how much lower can you sink than that?

Google has just stated that "WikiLeaks" is now twice as well known as "Wikipedia".


And the most famous Australian in the world, Julian Assange, has made it onto the cover of Time magazine. The French media are crammed with stories about Assange, WikiLeaks and attempts to censor and capture them in one way or another. Meanwhile, reactions in the two Aussie press organs that I happen to browse through from time to time (The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald) go from dismal down to disgusting… and I'm more determined than ever to cease wasting my time reading the depressing rubbish that comes out of my native land.


The web page named WL Central seems to offer a wide range of the latest relevant articles about this huge planetary affair.

But the best way of keeping up-to-date on the affair is to follow WikiLeaks on Twitter.

The following article provides a good summary of recent happenings:

Getting back to the ugly Aussie prime minister whom I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I would have imagined that Australia would look back with shame upon the way in which our nation once groveled on the ground in front of the USA, when Howard allowed Bush to keep our compatriot David Hicks locked away for years in the Guantanamo concentration camp. Sadly, the groveling goes on...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Diplomatic disaster

Found at Télérama:


New address of WikiLeaks: http://46.59.1.2

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Modern Robin Hood

In a world in which most so-called "pollies" (Aussie term for politicians) are in the business for personal grabs, it's fabulous to find a fellow such as Julian Assange who, operating on a shoestring budget, has built a planetary reputation as a righter of wrongs. The following photo is amusing in that Assange seems to be presenting slides while wearing tinted glasses, no doubt to protect his eyes from the harsh lights. The final effect is to give him the sinister appearance of an evil personage from a James Bond movie.

I call this compatriot a 21st-century Robin Hood. Obviously, he's living dangerously, for the high sheriff of Nottingham and his ilk (not his elk, please) are assembling all their bloodhounds, and they're determined to run down Julian and string him up from the bough of a giant oak in the forest.

Meanwhile, I'm making an effort to actually browse through some of the more meaty US cables. Jeez, there's a lot of egg on a lot of faces. The so-called US diplomats imagined that they were eternally immune from eavesdroppers who might record some of their crappy communications. Hillary Clinton, of course, is furious. But so are many of the little guys. It's funny (but nevertheless disgusting, as I said yesterday) that the most bloodthirsty pursuer of our Robin Hood is none other than his fellow Aussie Robert McCelland. I would imagine that it makes the attorney-general feel important on the world stage to express indignantly his condemnation of WikiLeaks and Assange, while knowing full well that he's totally incapable of catching up with, and overpowering, a young guy who's obviously playing in a bigger ballpark than McCelland, with much more in the way of brainpower, technological resources and universal empathy. On the other hand, we're starting to hear absurd comparisons between WikiLeaks and such-and-such a terrorist attack. Soon—if it hasn't happened already—certain dickheads will start referring to this courageous and dynamic young Australian, forced to lead a clandestine existence, as "Osama bin Assange". I prefer Robin Hood.

BREAKING NEWS: China has blocked access to WikiLeaks [display], ostensibly because it "does not wish to see any disturbance in China-US relations". Consequently, WikiLeaks will join a blacklist that already includes YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Observing China's rapid reaction to the Robin Hood threat, Australia, so fond of the concept of censorship, will surely be green with envy.