On Monday 13th December at 5 pm, concerned Australian academics, artists, activists and expats occupied the foyer of the Australian Embassy on The Strand, London. They refused instruction by embassy security to vacate the building reading aloud a letter of demands addressed to the Australian High Commissioner.
Related: Video of protest
The letter calls for the Embassy to be proactive in securing the immediate release from custody of fellow Australian citizen and founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange. The letter has been signed by celebrated journalist John Pilger, Australian born human rights activist Peter Tatchell, veteran Australian anti-war activist Ciaron O'Reilly and a growing number of British based Australians outraged with the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder. Assange is presently held in London's Wandsworth Prison having been denied bail at an intial hearing at Westminister Court last week. Mr. Assange's next bail appearance, which will take place on Tuesday 14th December.
Armed members of the Metropolitan Police’s Diplomatic Protection Unit were first to arrive on the scene, followed by three vans of riot police deployed in the vicinity for unrelated student protests and finally a more relaxed member of the local Charring Cross police station arrived on foot Following the exit of the five protestors, the closure of the embassy and the departure of the police the protestors commenced a vigil outside the embassy
The front steps of the embassy were employed as a makeshift stage as the vigil was addressed by Australian academics Proffesor Michael Dutton, university lecturer Saul Newman, Australian activist Ciaron O'Reilly and entertained by Australian band "Lovers Electric".
A makeshift shrine was constructed in front of the embassy consisting of candles, images of civilian victims of the war on Afghanistan and framed photographs of Julian Assange presently jailed at London's Wandsworth Prison, defendant in the initial U.S. military case against WikiLeaks Corporal Manning presently jailed at a U.S. marine base at Quantico, Virginia, USA and London resident Shaker Aamer who enters his eight year of detention in Guantanamo Bay
"Australians for the Immediate Release of Julian Assange" believes that the refusal to grant bail to Mr. Assange is unjust and unwarranted'. 'They argue that this denial of bail and present imprisonment of the WikiLeaks founder are politically driven by forces with which the Australian government are in connivance. They believe the actions of the Australian government and embassy in relation to Mr Assange, an Australian citizen, amount to a dereliction of duty. They are also demanding that the Australian government immediately cease co-operation in the persecution of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
A spokesperson for the group, veteran Australain anti-war activist Ciaron O'Reilly, stated:
"Many of us share Julian's background of being raised in the authoritarian state of Queensland where civil liberties were denied as matter of course. This formative experience shaped Julian in terms of his passion for free speech as it shaped us before him. Others of us are dismayed that, like Vietnam and Iraq, the present Australian government has followed the United States into another immoral, illegal and unwinnable war in Afghanistan. Julian's work with WikiLeaks has been courageous and revelatory. He's in that jail for us and we're out on the streets for him! We need to free him and bring this war and invasion of Afghanistan to an end!"
For more info contact:
Ciaron O'Reilly Mobile 079 392 905 76
(outside the UK) +44 79 392 905 76 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +44 79 392 905 76 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Note to editor:
- Photographs available of the incident
- Video footage of the incident available
* Present signatories of the (attached) Letter to the High Commisioner
Letter from "Australians for the Immediate Release of Julian Assange" to the Australian High Commissioner attached to this press release.
John Pilger (from Sydney, Australia) http://www.johnpilger.com/
Peter Tatchell, (from Melbourne, Australia) London based, Human Rights Activist
Michael Dutton, (from Brisbane, Australia) Professor of Politics, Goldsmiths University of London.
Deborah Kessler, (from Brisbane, Australia) Concerned Citizen.
Ciaron O'Reilly, (from Brisbane, Australian), London Catholic Worker/ Ploughshares.
Eden Boucher, (from Adelaide, Australia) Musician "Lovers Electric".
David Turley, (from Adelaide, Australia), Musician "Lovers Electric".
Sharon Turley, (from Adelaide, Australia) Classical Musician.
David Warburton (from Adelaide, Australia), Coffee Brewster
Saul Newman, teaches Political Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London.
John Hutnyk, (from Melbourne, Australia) Professor of Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London.
Peter Thomas (from Rockhampton, Queensland) teaches History of Political Thought at Brunel University, London.
Maria Albrecht, (from Melbourne, Australia) Catholic Worker Farmhouse
Olivia Ball (from Melbourne, Australia) Author
Eric Snowball (from Sydney, Australia) Social Worker.
Errol O'Neill (from Brisbane, Australia) Actor.
Mary Kelly (from Brisbane,Australia) Trade Unionist.
Dan O'Neill (from Brisbane, Australia) Scholar.
Dr Linnell Secomb (from Melbourne, Australia) Head of Department of Social, Political and Cultural Studies, University of Greenwich
Errin Collins, (from Lithgow, Australia) Occupational Therapist
Rik Garfit (from Sydney, Australia), Sound Engineer.
Nick Gill (from Perth, Australia) Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bristol
LONDON PHOTOS/ VID - FREE JULIAN ASSANGE -"Juilan Assange Dacks the Rich and Powerful"
PHOTOS from outside the Bail Hearing at Wetminister Court today
PHOTOS from occupation of, reading of letter in, vigil outside, speak out and Lovers Electric on the steps of the Australian Embassy.
VID - CW Ciaron, celebs and lawyer outside of court
SKYNEWS (vid 3 mins) -Assange's Lawyer speaks after today's bail hearing