[Picture: Fighting from the Front: Paddy Crumlin and Julian Assange During Meeting At Ecuadorean Embassy in London]
Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin released the following statement on the one-year anniversary of Julian Assange entering the Ecuadorean embassy in London on June 19, 2012, to seek political asylum:
"Throughout the MUA’s long history, our union has been at the forefront of a global human rights movement seeking justice and transparency.
We continue that long tradition today as we mark the one-year anniversary of Julian Assange entering the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
Two months later he was granted asylum by Ecuador and he has subsequently been effectively imprisoned in the Ecuadorean embassy.
I recently met with Julian Assange where we discussed his status, his work and a way forward.
Julian’s cause has captured the support of leading human rights activists and lawyers all over the world.
In the MUA, we have an acute understanding of conspiracies targeting individuals and organisations. Our own union was targeted by a broad assault during our fight for the rights of workers with the Patrick dispute on the waterfront in the late ‘90s. This attack was found by the high court to be a probable conspiracy by the federal government, together with the Patrick corporation and others.
The MUA supports the call for Mr Assange to be granted safe passage to Ecuador as a matter of adhering to the rule of law. As the Foreign Minister of Ecuador has said: “By not granting him safe passage they are violating the human rights of a citizen, and every day that passes the effects of that violation hurt the person more and more.”
More recently, the Foreign Minister, following a visit with Assange, made clear that Ecuador’s granting of asylum was done to protect Assange’s life so that: “he not be extradited to a third country where the death penalty is an option and as such his life could be endangered.” That third country is the United States.
Beyond his current status, however, Mr Assange and WikiLeaks have played a ground-breaking role in bringing transparency, truth and accountability around the world.
As a media organisation, WikiLeaks has filled the role abandoned by the traditional press, from the liberal The New York Times across the spectrum to the rabidly-right wing Murdoch empire. Those media organisations have proven that they are incapable or unwilling to hold politicians and governments accountable.
Without WikiLeaks and Julian Assange’s courage, and the courage of Bradley Manning who was willing to risk his personal liberty to hand over a trove of documents to WikiLeaks, the people of the world would never have know the details about the immoral conduct of the US driven-wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We would never have been privy, to mention just a few examples, to the corruption of the family of the former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, or the operating procedures for Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, which revealed that it was policy to hide some prisoners from the International Committee of the Red Cross, or how global oil trader, Trafigura, dumped toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, or details on the CIA's activities involving rendition flights. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial diplomatic iceberg.
Julian, Bradley Manning and, now, Edward Snowden have one thing in common: they have played an instrumental role exposing the role of the military-industrial complex, a broad conspiracy of powerful elites, which has pillaged and devastated the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide for many generations.
Our Australian media union granted Mr. Assange union membership.
I agree with the statement of Ged Kearny, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, who says: “WikiLeaks is simply performing the same function as media organisations have for centuries in facilitating the release of information in the public interest. Mr Assange’s rights should be respected just the same as other journalists. WikiLeaks has broken no Australian law, and as an Australian citizen, Julian Assange should be supported by the Australian government, not prematurely convicted.”
Because WikiLeaks plays a critical role in holding governments accountable, we also call for the end of the prosecution of Bradley Manning in the US.
In recent days, we have gained a new insight into government attempts to invade the privacy of people worldwide. The release of documents by Edward Snowden shed light on efforts by at least the U.S., Canadian and British governments to illegally wiretap the phone conversations and emails of innocent civilians.
We also stand with Edward Snowden and reject attempts to prosecute him for his efforts to expose illegal behaviour.
Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are all part of a movement of citizens who are demanding that leaders all across the globe hear the clear call for moral governance where secrecy, duplicity and aggressive foreign policy are replaced by openness, transparency and cooperation.