Last week Tuesday, 11th June I attended the first session of the Imperialism on Trial event supporting Julian Assange. I wrote the following the next day:
I had heard of some of the speakers and they were all excellent. The person whose work I knew best and particularly wanted to hear was Chris Hedges. A former foreign correspondent of the New York times, Chris writes a regular column in online magazine Truthdig and has a show called ‘On Contact’ hosted by RT. Chris writes and speaks with a particularly lyrical voice and a particularly moral one that perhaps reflects his background as a Presbyterian minister as well as a journalist, academic and activist.
I filmed parts of the meeting, intending to comment later but I needn’t have bothered since the whole event was being much better recorded. It is really worth watching the whole almost three and a half hours but I may use parts of this to make comments later. I found Chris’s opening speech particularly gripping. I learnt a lot about Equador as well as Assange from Fidel Navarez a former senior diplomat at the Equadorian embassy. Navarez was proud to call Julian a friend and reminded us that Assange had been granted Ecuadorian citizenship and that therefore his being hounded and handed over by the current Ecuadorian government was an act of betrayal. Navarez spoke of being proud of the former Ecuador under Rafael Correa and ashamed of the current one under Lenin Moreno. Listening to and finding out more about the experience of implementing socialism in Ecuador would be instructive for Corbyn supporters who, like me, are unaware of this history.
All of the other speakers – Vivian Westwood, Tommy McKerney, Lauri Love, Catherine Shakdam, Catherine Mercouris, John Wright, Ahmed Kaballo – were also excellent and there is plenty of material here for discussion and reflection. This series of talks is called Imperialism on Trial and one of the speakers said that Imperialism may seem like an old fashioned word but the power of an imperial America with its principal allies that, to use the image of perhaps another speaker, grasps nations like Venuzuela by the throat and berates them for not breathing properly. The Empire also tries to silence, discredit and disgrace anyone like Assange who would reveal their crimes. The mainstream press colludes in the creation of a false narrative and in the oppression of whistleblowers and dissidents like Assange and Chelsea Manning. The attack on Julian is an attack on all of us who seek to know and speak the truth. If we do not stand up for Assange and see his freedom as fundamental to our own freedom to speak and to think then we will lose that freedom. As someone who has always felt the need to speak the truth as I see it, whether anyone else, however powerful, likes it or not, as someone aware of the risks that the small run in contradicting powerful and popular people and narratives, as someone who appreciates the importance of primary sources in getting to the truth of things, supporting Assange is particularly important to me.
I will be at the second session of this event this evening and I will be joining Julian’s supporters outside Westminister Magistrate’s court on Friday morning.
I did attend the second session of the event on Wednesday and found it equally absorbing. I’m not going to write about it in detail as what I have to say doesn’t matter – also, because I knew that the event was being wholly recorded and would be published through the good offices of RT, I didn’t take extensive notes.
Unfortunately I could not join the demonstration outside Westminister Court on Friday morning as I had to prepare for an event of my own the next day.
The two videos total over six hours but they are well worth watching.