MP Andrew Wilkie has said in Parliament that Julian Assange is in isolation. Two independent medical experts determined he is suffering from serious psychological and physical ill health consistent with psychological torture and a dodgy trial it has implications for freedom of the press here in Australia. No publisher can be confident that the same thing won’t happen to them. This includes me.
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx
MP Andrew Wilkie is himself a former intelligence officer from the Office of National Assessment. He is a whistleblower who came out citing Australia’s case for the war in Iraq was false as there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s). He received death threats. An excerpt as follows:
He remains adamant that the Howard government’s decision to support the invasion of Iraq was wrong and had compromised the nation’s security in the years since. “Our involvement in the Iraq war is a symptom of poor governance and this is why I continue to argue for an effective inquiry into Australia’s involvement,” he said. “Until the politicians who dishonestly got us into this mess are held to account, we are bound to repeat their mistakes.”
The whistleblowers are revealing high level criminality whereby many have not been held to account. They have the resources and powerful connections to silence those with the courage to come out publicly at great risk.
I interviewed Andrew Wilkie and spent time with Scott Ritter, a former CIA operative, who was part of the weapons inspections team sent to Iraq to check for WMD’s. Scott Ritter stated the US intervention was about name change not regime change. He classified the war as an illegal war of aggression.
Other examples of the consequence of whistle blowing mindful of the right to freedom of speech. As follows:
In Australia we have seen public servants facing jail terms. For example:
Richard Boyle could have walked away with a pile of cash from his former employer. Instead he turned down a settlement offer from his former boss, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), to tell the media about what he saw as some unfair debt collection tactics adopted by the agency. Now he faces the possibility of 161 years in prison. The Adelaide-based public servant worked at the ATO for years as a debt collector, but turned whistleblower last year to reveal disturbing practices at the agency to a recent joint Fairfax-ABC Four Corners investigation...Now the question is whether Mr Boyle may be protected by public interest disclosure laws passed in 2013, specifically relevant to public servant whistleblowers...In February 2018, the ATO tried to settle with Mr Boyle over an alleged breach of the Public Service Code of Conduct, offering him a payout and a statement of service, with no admission of liability. The catch would also be that he would be unable to speak to media about what he knew.
Detention Centres are another area where it is evident human rights are not observed. Human rights and emotional disconnection from human suffering is the core issue and sadly, the government is pursuing a path that will change the way Australia is viewed by the world. Here is an excerpt from the Guardian article below:
‘Pacific Solution’ ends but the boats restart: The detention camps housed more than 1,500 people. Between 2001 and 2008, 705 people from the offshore centres were resettled in Australia and 401 in New Zealand. Some asylum seekers remained in detention for years, but the boat arrivals slowed, and in 2008 offshore processing was dismantled by the new Labor government, led by Kevin Rudd…However arrivals began again and several high-profile tragedies, including an explosion on a boat near Ashmore Reef in 2009 and the crashing of Siev 221 on the coast of Christmas Island in 2010, contributed to a death toll at sea estimated at more than 1,000…A deal under then prime minister Julia Gillard, signed in mid 2011 with Malaysia, was supposed to see 4,000 refugees taken from Malaysia’s camps in return for it taking 800 asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat, but this was struck down by the high court…Later, the Coalition immigration minister Scott Morrison would successfully negotiate a $55.5m deal with Cambodia to host refugees, but it would be taken up by just six people, with many returning home shortly after arriving. Following recommendations from an expert panel which focused largely on the need for a “no advantage” policy, offshore processing on Nauru and Manus Island restarted in August 2012. An “enhanced screening” process – criticised for its lack of transparency – was introduced to deal with the overwhelming backlog of asylum seekers, which grew to 20,000 by mid-2013. Amnesty International and the UNHCR released reports condemning the conditions inside the two centres, and the indefinite nature of the detention. Amnesty labelled the Nauru centre “a human rights catastrophe”.
The Guardian reports a repressive culture in Australia in the article ‘Creeping Stalinism’: secrecy law could imprison whistleblowers and journalists.
Government whistleblowers and journalists who report on leaked information could face 20 years’ imprisonment if changes to Australia’s official secrecy laws pass parliament...Proposed changes to Australia’s official secrecy laws a threat to democracy, say human rights and media organisations,,,The overhauled offence provisions, introduced to the House of Representatives in December just hours after marriage equality became law, form part of the Coalition government’s broader crackdown on treason, espionage and foreign interference. If passed, the reform will increase tenfold the maximum penalties for anyone communicating information potentially harmful to the national interest, where that information is obtained via a government official without authorisation.
Australia is no longer the lucky country. The key question is:
Is the national interest the same as the public interest?
So it is not surprising that Julian Assange’s consular rights as a citizen are being ignored and there is no outcry about indefinite detention or torture despite Australia as a signatory to the Convention Against Torture. It is clear the Australian Government is in alignment with the US and not Australian citizens as representatives. It is becoming apparent that citizens lose their democratic rights if they do not comply.
MP Andrew Wilkie spoke in Parliament making the case that Julian Assange, an Australian Journalist revealed US war crimes. He did not break any US laws as he did not publish in the United States.
The extraordinary collaboration between democratic countries to ignore habeus corpus and to hold a person without a fair and free trial is reflective of cultures of secrecy which J.F. Kennedy stated was repugnant to democracy. It is evident the legal quagmire is to attempt to silence whistleblowers revealing criminality.
QC Geoffrey Robertson is representing Julian Assange. Geoffrey is an Australian and one of the world’s most experienced human rights lawyers. He would not be involved if he did not think there were serious human rights violations.
MP Wilkie as a former whistleblower himself, flew to London to see Julian, as he knows the intelligence community and what is at stake for the future of democracy.
We are in a pivotal moment not only for Australia but for freedom around the world. Australia is a test case.
Here is what MP Andrew Wilkie has to say:
Julian Assange should be allowed to return to Australia
The Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, will make a statement in the Federation Chamber this morning urging the Federal Government to do more to allow Julian Assange to return to Australia.
“Yes Julian Assange is a controversial figure. But he is an Australian citizen and must be treated like any other Australian.
“He was not in the US when he provided evidence of US war crimes in Iraq. He can’t possibly have broken their laws.
“If Assange is indeed extradited to the US, he faces serious human rights violations including exposure to torture and a dodgy trial.
“And this has serious implications for freedom of speech and freedom of the press here in Australia, because if we allow a foreign country to charge an Australian citizen for revealing war crimes, then no Australian journalist or publisher can ever be confident that the same thing won’t happen to them.
“The man’s an Australian. He’s not an American. And he wasn’t in the US when he spoke out about the war crimes. Put simply he must be allowed to return to Australia.”