7 June 2019 — Caitlin Johnstone
Hi everyone! I’ve never featured a guest blog before, but when I saw this excellent article by Elizabeth Lea Vos I immediately asked her for permission to republish it on my platform. For months I’ve seen supporters of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks stressing out about the question, “What can I do?” Vos has put together the most thorough answer to that question that I have seen thus far, and everyone should read and be aware of it. Enjoy! ~ CJ
Actions For Assange: Ideas And Examples Of How To Help, by Elizabeth Lea Vos
Image via Somerset Bean, used with permission.
One of the most common questions we receive during the weekly Unity4J vigils goes something like: “how can I help? I feel powerless” or “what can I do?”
While it is impossible to provide a comprehensive list of all possible actions, I am creating this basic inventory of examples and ideas to provide some kind of answer for those who ask similar questions now and in the future. The following is my own opinion and is not endorsed by anyone outside of myself.
- Join in at a vigil/protest in your area, especially if you are in the UK. You can find vigil times and locations in the UK via Wiseupaction.info, and in locations around the globe via the Socialist Equality Party, Unity4J and many others.
Image via Kayesem on Twitter, used with permission.
- If you create a new event in your area, use the hashtag #FreeAssangeRally on social media so that others can find you more easily. Other relevant hashtags to use include #FreeAssange and #NoUSExtradition. Remember to make the time, date, city, and meeting place clear when organizing and advertising your event, and if possible, try to contact the media to gain coverage of the action.
- If there are no vigils near you and you feel a new stand-alone event in your area would be unsuccessful, you can always raise your voice by participating in other events, like Pride Parades, as Shona Davidson effectively did! Piggybacking onto other established gatherings/marches/celebrations may be helpful in spreading awareness to a large group of people. Other events to join in with could include music festivals, agricultural events, marathons or athletic events, etc.
Image via Shona Davidson, Twitter. Used with permission.
Shona wrote of the above picture via Twitter:
“Kind lady sent this one 2 me. Difficult/take my own photos. Sunshine to celebrate
on Sat. so we’re party mode. @ topleft-Canadian MuseumofHuman Rights
so wish Julian could walk in sunshine/smile/health
Christine Assange echoed this sentiment, writing via Twitter: “Join another rally on another issue & carry your FREE ASSANGE sign! OR Put a FREE ASSANGE sign on the BACK of another sign!”
Image below via Truthisall1 on twitter:
- Write, email, and call your political representatives and demand they stand up for Assange. Also call on UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid to refuse Assange’s extradition to the United States, whether directly from the UK or onward from Sweden.
- Defend WikiLeaks (run by the Courage Foundation) suggests that supporters donate, challenge false reporting in the media, write to their political representatives, write to human rights organizations and Unions, sign petitions and join letter campaigns, and keep themselves informed.
Christine Assange, Julian Assange’s mother also said via Twitter: “You will get MOST impact for #FreeAssange If you write to OWN Federal MP, Senator, Congress Rep, Assembly Rep! Their job security depends on YOUR vote! You can always depend on a politicians self interest! They will in turn out pressure upwards on their higher ups & leaders.”
- If you are in the UK it is of special importance that you contact your political representatives in support of Assange: Defend WikiLeaks, run by the Courage Foundation, has an entire page you can look to for instructions on how to most effectively contact your MP.
- A list of UK MP’s and the areas they represent is available here.
- WiseupAction has provided a template letter you can use when writing to UK MP’s.
- If you’re in Australia, there are resources available to guide you in contacting your political representatives. Archive
- Resources are also available to aid those located in the United States to very easily contact their representatives. When I used the linked tool myself, it took less than three seconds to find my representatives, and one click to start to write to them. Handwritten letters and phone calls may also be more effective than an email message.
- A list of Twitter accounts of members of the European Parliament is also available here to make contacting them more accessible. (Please don’t harass anyone)
- Submit letters to the editor expressing support of Assange, WikiLeaks, and a truly free press.
- Contact NGO’s via letter, email, or phone call and ask them to support Assange.
- Donate to Wikileaks and Julian Assange’s legal defense fund, and/or buy from the Wikileaks shop. You can donate using credit cards, worldwide bank transfer, or even cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
Image via WikiLeaks shop on Twitter.
- Write (short) letters to Julian Assange attached to documentation of an action you’ve done or been a part of.
Image via WriteJulian.com
Image via WriteJulian on Twitter.
Independent journalist Gordon Dimmack also received an extensive list of advice from a listener, which can be found in a Twitter thread posted by Gordon recently. The thread states in part:
“Just spoke to Belmarsh Prison 0208 331 4400 and was told the following:
You can send Mr Julian
a money order of up to £250.00, out of which he will be allowed £15.50 a week for in prison purchases and this: phone calls.
You must make the money order out to HM PRISON SERVICES
Mail the money order in an envelope addressed to: Mr Julian Assange DOB 03/07/1971 HMP Belmarsh Western Way London SE28 0EB
You must write on the money order your name and address, most important. Ensure you write for Mr Julian Assange’s Account DOB 03/07/1971 on the actual money order.
He is not allowed [loose] stamps to be sent. You can write to him in the prescribed manner including a stamped self-addressed envelope for your own personal reply, but your name and address on the reply envelope must be in ink, not pencil. He is not allowed [loose] stamps or stationary etc from outside sources but must buy the items from the prison shop itself.
The prison receptionists I spoke to were most helpful and pleasant. They said to please phone for any further information.
All letters to him are read before he receives them.
- You can buy UK stamps here, and to my knowledge you will need two first-class stamps or three second-class stamps to attach to a self-addressed envelope, for return postage from Assange.
- Sign the numerous online petitions in support of Assange, and the Open Letter to President Trump run by the Courage Foundation.
I won’t share too many petitions here, as they are always changing/being created, and are time-sensitive, so any that I list will soon be out of date.
- If you are musical, consider dedicating a song or album to Julian Assange/ WikiLeaks/Chelsea Manning. An album, Beat The Blockade, was produced in 2012 and “Donated by a range of artists and make a creative, enjoyable way for people to Beat the [financial] Blockade.”
The Outer Light (@theouterlight) then created the following music video of the song, which I share as an example of the way that multiple people can have a hand in the creativity and creation of material in support of Assange.
- Any musicians who participate in street busking from time to time could do so with a Free Assange/Reconnect Julian poster and donate the proceeds of that day’s donations to WikiLeaks.
- Create other kinds of artwork of any variety, whether it is a painting, public mural, knitting, quilting, performance art, sculpting, whatever you can come up with. If you do create artistic pieces in support of WikiLeaks and Julian, consider tagging Wikileaks Art Force in the image on Twitter so that they see it. You can also find WikiLeaks Art online, and the website states in part:
“Submit art and links to us by tweeting with the hashtag
“Anyone creating WikiLeaks art in any artistic medium can participate. Whether you’re creating memes, gifs, video, animation, infographics, websites, games, street art, painting, drawing, photography, prose, poetry, mixed media, art happenings, design, theatre, comedy, music, dance, sculpture, robotics, code… if your art promotes and is inspired by WikiLeaks—the organisation, its staff, its overall philosophy and issues related to various leaks—and/or alleged WikiLeaks’ sources, the WikiLeaks Art Force has space for you and will help you connect with others. Please note that content will be curated.”
Some examples of art created in support of Assange/WikiLeaks, are included below via Twitter.
- Create and hang posters around your area. Free posters, badges, stickers, and banners are available from Somerset Bean for download (you will have to print them), and examples of individuals using Bean’s work are included below:
You can always make your own posters and hang them in your area, whether outdoors or indoors (coffee shop cork boards, etc)
Image via Andrew Zigmund on Twitter.
In addition to posters, you can always paste stickers in public, pin leaflets on public notice boards, and pass out leaflets/information, as Quinn Petersen did last year, writing:
“Stocked up on ink and 65lb paper for the guerilla marketing I’m doing. These book marks are going in magazines, newspapers and books at stores around Alberta Canada”
Image via Quinn Petersen, Twitter.
- Wear a WikiLeaks shirt or other gear in public, and become a walking billboard. You can buy Free Assange t-shirts and other items from the WikiLeaks Shop, which is also on Twitter.
- Create pro-WikiLeaks lawn signs and place them in your yard. A UK site to order materials for lawn signs if available here. I found one US site that provides a similar service but have not used it myself so cannot guarantee quality of the service.
- You can also make your own “whistle head,” with instructions shared by WikiLeaks’ Art Force.
- Share accurate reporting and vital information regarding WikiLeaks and Assange via social media and in real life. A recent and important story to share would include the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture’s report stating that Assange had been systematically psychologically tortured by Western governments. Melzer wrote in part:
“The evidence is overwhelming and clear,” the expert said. “Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.”
“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the deliberate, concerted and sustained nature of the abuse inflicted on Mr. Assange and seriously deplore the consistent failure of all involved governments to take measures for the protection of his most fundamental human rights and dignity,” the expert said. “By displaying an attitude of complacency at best, and of complicity at worst, these governments have created an atmosphere of impunity encouraging Mr. Assange’s uninhibited vilification and abuse.”
- It is also important to share accurate articles and information on the plight of Chelsea Manning, Ola Bini and others who have been unfairly targeted in relation to their association with or whistleblowing to WikiLeaks.
- In addition to sharing articles on social media and talking in person with friends and family, you can print accurate articles about WikiLeaks and share them via Tiny Libraries in your community, which you can find via this World Map.
The well-funded machine of power has devoted much time and effort in smearing and misrepresenting Assange, so every minute of effort spent in debunking smears via sharing true information (like this brilliant piece by Caitlin Johnstone debunking all the Assange smears in one place) on social media or in real life, and debunking lies, is time well spent.
- Most importantly: empower yourself. Don’t wait from orders on high to do something. We have been conditioned as a society to wait for instruction before acting. Actively break that pattern and use every tool in your power, including whatever is inevitably not listed here. Never underestimate the power of your voice: the unelected power structure puts untold money and effort into building a false consensus on topics like WikiLeaks for a reason.
Image via @mcmastersteve on Twitter.
Finally: As I’ve stated repeatedly, it is important to participate whether with a group you want to work with or none at all. The primary concern should be that you DO SOMETHING tangibly supportive in whatever way is most effective/accessible/comfortable to you. This short article is not intended to suggest that everyone must back one group, or any group at all, in order to make a difference.
Elizabeth Lea Vos is an independent journalist, a contributor to Consortium News, and the co-founder and co-host of the regular Unity4J pro-Assange vigil. Click here to follow her on Twitter for more great material.