Just after the bombshell revelations about the CIA plot to kidnap and assassinate WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange while he sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the Progressive International comes to London with the first physical Belmarsh Tribunal. The intervention comes ahead of Assange’s extradition proceedings, which are set to continue in London’s High Court from October 27 to 28.
Inspired by the famous Russell-Sartre people’s tribunal, the Belmarsh Tribunal places the War on Terror on trial and holds the US government accountable for its war crimes. It is named for the London prison that has held Assange in permanent confinement for the last two years, as he faces extradition to the US, whose government plotted his assassination. The Belmarsh Tribunal will hold its first physical proceedings in London on October 22 at the Convocation Hall, Church House, Westminster, which was used for sittings of parliament during the Second World War.
The Belmarsh Tribunal will gather leading figures from politics, the law and journalism, to shed light at the US crimes that were revealed by WikiLeaks – torture, violence, illegal spying – but also to speak about the existing crimes of both US and UK against Julian Assange for exposing their illegal and unjustifiable actions.
Srećko Horvat, cabinet member of the Progressive International and one of the founders of the Belmarsh Tribunal, said:
“After the revelations about the murderous CIA plans to kill a publisher and journalist on British soil, not only the current US government but also the UK government must be held responsible for still keeping Assange in prison.
“The Biden administration should drop the charges against Assange and the UK government should free him immediately and end the suffering and torture of a courageous man who has comitted no crime. In a society in which telling the truth becomes a crime, we are all accomplices of crime as long as Assange is in prison.”
Jeremy Corbyn, Progressive International council member and member of the Belmarsh Tribunal, said:
“Wikileaks exposed crimes of US empire in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond. At the Belmarsh Tribunal, we will turn the world the right way up, placing crimes of war, torture, kidnapping and a litany of other gross human rights abuses on trial.
“The perpetrators of these crimes walk free, often still prominent public figures in the US, U.K. and elsewhere. They should be held accountable for the lives they destroyed and the futures they stole.”
Tariq Ali, member of the Belmarsh Tribunal and member of the original Sartre-Russell Tribunal, said:
“The Tribunal takes inspiration from the Sartre-Russell Tribunal, of which I was also a member. In 1966, Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre issued a call for a War Crimes Tribunal to try the United States for crimes against humanity in their conduct of the war in Vietnam. A number of us were sent to North Vietnam to observe and record the attacks on civilians. I spent six weeks under the bombs, an experience that shaped the rest of my life.
“The tribunal convened in Stockholm in 1967. The jury members included Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Isaac Deutscher, Vladimir Dedijer, Mahmud Ali Kasuri, and David Dellinger, among others. The aim was not legal but moral: to bring the crimes to the notice of the public.
“In London on 22 October 2021, we will do the same. Assange must be freed and the many crimes of the War on Terror placed centre stage.”
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