Free Assange: Ulster/Uladh Collective’s on-street action on February 20

Members of the Ulster/Uladh Collective (Ireland) are arranging a Free Assange on-street action at Derry Peace Bridge on February 20

Day X is here. It is the last chance for the British courts to stop Julian Assange’s extradition. The UK High Court has confirmed that a public hearing will take place on Tuesday 20 February and Wednesday 21 February 2024, which is why, in response, members of the Ulster/Uladh Collective (Ireland) are arranging a Free Assange on-street action at Derry Peace Bridge on February 20 from 15:30 to 17:30 local time.

The two-day hearing may be the final chance for Julian Assange to prevent his extradition to the United States. If extradited, Julian faces a sentence of 175 years for exposing war crimes committed by the armed forces of the US and the UK in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

In Ireland, we have our own similar experiences of violations of human rights by the British state forces with shoot to kill policies, which they are now trying to keep obscure with their ‘Legacy Act’ passed through the Westminster Parliament.

Our fight to free Assange is a fight to uphold and defend freedom of expression, including press freedoms around the world, since the US, with the connivance of the UK, is using the case in an attempt to set a legal precedent for extraditing and imprisoning any activist, journalist or publisher anywhere in the world who shares information with the public that powerful states do not want to be shared.

It is also important to highlight that this fight is not separate from the struggle against Israel’s efforts to keep journalism out of Gaza by assassinating reporters and blocking the press from entering the ‘concentration camp-like’ enclave. It’s also not separate from humanity’s overall struggle to build a truth-based civilization, nor ultimately from our greater struggle to become a conscious species, better able to collectively decide our own affairs in the interest of people, place and planet.

In Ireland, one of the reasons the case of Julian Assange resonates so deeply with us is because of our shared experience of being subjected to injustices perpetrated by a system which often showed little or no care for the protection and upholding of human rights, democratic liberties, and the delivery of justice to people. We as a people have witnessed throughout the generations many of our political champions and law-abiding citizens unjustly incarcerated and cruelly tortured in the British Penal System, just as is happening to Julian today.

This included some of the most infamous miscarriages of justice such as the cases of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four where innocent people spent long years in lonely prison cells in England because the UK authorities disregarded people’s rights and the rule of law as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

With the exoneration of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four as part of the process leading to the endorsement in referendums of the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ by a majority of the people on the island of Ireland, we saw this as hope for a new era of peace with justice to be extended not only to the people of Ireland and the UK, but also to the peoples of the rest of the world.

But sadly, since then, this feeling of hope was severely put to the test by the actions of UK Governments, collaborating with the US and other powerful states, to spread war and injustices to various parts of our planet. This includes directly providing ongoing political, material and weapons support for the military onslaughts on the people of Palestine. To add insult to injury, they hounded, harassed and continue to mete out to Julian a horrible injustice purely because he and WikiLeaks brought to the public the knowledge of the war crimes and human rights violations caused by the actions of these countries.

From the moment Joe Biden was elected as US president we have seen media reports that he is proud of his Irish roots and heritage, and likes to be associated with our people’s long quest and struggle for peace with justice throughout the generations. Well, to this we say that removing a bust of Winston Churchill from a White House office does not signify a serious and genuine intention for the establishment of peace with justice throughout the world.

If the US were genuinely interested in peace and human rights, Biden would heed the humanitarian appeal of Stella Assange to him to “end this now and let Julian’s two little boys have their father back”.  It is in his power as president to get his administration to stop the process for the extradition of Julian in the British Courts, and to drop the charges against this innocent man. In Ireland we echo this call from Stella, and hope that the US president has enough sense of humanity and justice to do the right thing.

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