June 1st 2012
Assange demonstration: “Drug smugglers are getting better treatment!”
A small but vocal group supporting WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, gathered in the rain in front of, Federal Member, Ewen Jones’ office in Townsville yesterday, calling on the Australian government to do all in its power to help Julian Assange. The demonstration follows the decision in London that he be extradited to Sweden for questioning over rape accusations - widely believed to be politically motivated and likely to lead to his removal to the US. There, the Walkley Award winning journalist, who lived as a boy on Magnetic Island, could be held in indefinite detention without trial in a military prison. Numerous American politicians have called for his execution after WikiLeaks embarrassed the US by leaking thousands of secret intelligence files.
The supporters, who numbered about 20 and included several Magnetic Islanders, held placards at the busy peak hour intersection of Ross River Road and Nathan Street. One woman huddled with a baby, another with a kitten. And while the swish of traffic nearly drowned out their voices the spirited group chanted “Free Assange” and, quoting the WikiLeaks founder, “Courage is contagious!”
Liz Hempel from Townsville said, “I think he has been treated most unfairly by the government. Drug smugglers are getting better treatment! They should be doing more to bring him home. Speaking the truth isn’t a crime.”
Demonstrators supporting Julian Assange at Ewen Jones' office yesterday
Joel Tann from Kirwan told Magnetic Times, “I think the Australian government has to stand up for its citizens. In the case of Julian Assange they have really shirked their responsibility. If they are not going to stand up for him will they stand up for us? Who’s next?”
Michael Smith from Townsville agreed with Joel Tann, saying, “I’m just worried if we allow Julian to be extradited to Sweden or the US under very false allegations then the same could happen to any of us.”
Former Magnetic Island resident, Jannette Stevens, told Magnetic Times, “The level of reaction and violence directed towards him (Assange) is like Jesus who told the truth and they killed him!”
To see more photos of the event visit our facebook page photo album (Click here)
Disclaimer: As a journalist I took the unusual step of joining the demonstration in solidarity with a fellow journalist and Magnetic Islander who has been more effective in exposing the truth, I think, than any other individual in history. This report of the demonstration is, however, I believe fair and accurate.
Story and photos: George Hirst
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