The following was read on my behalf at a rally in Sydney calling on the Government of Ecuador to grant political Asylum to Julian Assange, Editor in Cheif of Wikileaks.
I would like to start once more by saying how honoured I am that the organisers sought to include my sentiments in today’s events, and for the continuous support I have received from so many of those who also fight for Assange and Wikileaks.
For those of you unfamiliar with my case, I am an Australian journalist who was arrested in Mahalla, a textile town outside of Cairo, while trying to interview a union leader. My colleagues and I were held for a total of 56 hours by the police, the state security services and military intelligence, as well as a few hours in the care of the general prosecutor’s office, where we were charged with inciting vandalism. Specifically it is alleged we promised to give money to children if they threw rocks at a police station. The charges carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Four months has passed without a decision about whether to set a trial date or let us go. While embassy staff have done all they can without leadership from Canberra, the Australian government is yet to speak out or act on my behalf.
It is my belief that one reason for their reluctance, is that by acting on my behalf, they would be setting their failure to act on Assange in too sharp a contrast. It is a reminder, one that should be heeded by the Australian press in particular, that giving up on the freedom of one, not only morally, but also practically, compromises the freedom of all.
Our arrest was part of an ongoing attempt by the corrupt and oppressive regime, which has survived the ousting of its leader, to paint all those who protest, strike, or dissent, as agents of an enemy force.
The great hypocrisy is of course, that it those who kill and imprison protesters, are themselves backed by a nefarious foreign power: The United States funds the oppressive Egyptian Military to the tune of 1.3 Billion dollars a year.
As I write this a coup is taking place in Egypt. Martial Law has been declared. Parliament has been dissolved. Truckloads of troops and police, and armoured vehicles are deployed around the country. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces, a group of generals who appointed themselves the countries leaders following the fall of Mubarak, are dropping the pretence that they intend to give up power.
The People and government of Ecuador, know better than I what horrors this may bode for Egypt. No one needs to tell them what terrible crimes the American empire is willing to commit.
It is these crimes, this empire in all its violent dirty detail, that Assange has exposed so extensively. In doing so he has shown great courage, and those he has embarrassed wish him a terrible retribution.
I urge the government of Ecuador to honour his courage, to protect his rights, and to take the side of truth against the side of power. To all of you gathered here today, congratulations, you have already chosen the right side. Keep up the struggle
Yours in solidarity
Austin G Mackell