By Ameen Izzadeen
Did we see the hand of fascism in last week’s arrest of Julian Assange, the co-founder of the whistleblower portal WikiLeaks? Is democracy a charade in Britain, despite it being the repository of the mother of all parliaments?
Assange freed public-spirited journalism from its shackles and enable it to challenge the fake news industry of the corporate media. His type of journalism empowered the people. He believed in open government and exposed the fascist actions of the so-called democratic states. Therefore, his arrest on April 11 warrants public protests to demand his immediate release and condemn Britain’s move as an assault on free speech.
The arrest raises a key question regarding the State, in the context of the people’s right to know what the State is doing on their behalf. Does the State exist for people or people exist for the State? Like the Sabbath was made for man, and not vice versa, a democratic State — which is of the people, by the people and for the people — is the servant of the sovereign people. Only a fascist will disagree. Liberty, in an absolute sense, is the state of being free from oppressive restrictions on one’s way of life, behaviour, or political views. But we agree that rules restricting liberty are necessary to prevent society from being dragged into anarchy. Between absolute liberty and anarchy lies the golden mean which we call freedom with responsibility.
Exercising our responsibility, we the citizens give up some of our freedoms to ensure order in society. But our action of parting with some of our freedoms to allow the State to ensure our security and deal with external threats, should not make our rulers fascists. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. But we have become complacent, allowing the state to become secretive and rulers to turn fascists.
In such a secretive state where democracy is a façade, rulers do not want their wrongs to be exposed by journalists or WikiLeaks like whistleblower websites. In the world of media, there is good journalism and evil journalism. There is corporate media and there is public-spirited journalism.
While evil journalism works in collusion with fascist rulers in democracy cloak, public-spirited journalists strive to expose deception and corruption. This is why some governments see public-spirited journalism as a security threat. There exists an unbridgeable gap between what some governments say in public and what they do in secret. Famous US investigative journalist I.F. Stone once said “every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed”?
WikiLeaks’ postings only confirm that the outwardly democratic and inwardly fascist states do not share with the people what they should know. These states resort to lies and deception that enable them to champion human rights while committing war crimes.
While the United States and Britain take small countries such as Sri Lanka to the United Nations Human Rights Council to maintain the charade that they are the world’s human rights crusaders, WikiLeaks postings show they commit atrocities in theatres they are involved. With documentary proof, the WikiLeaks exposés confirm their crimes. For instance, in Afghanistan, after a convoy of US marines came under a suicide bomb attack near Jalalabad, the marines made a frenzied escape, opening fire with automatic weapons. As they fled along a six-mile stretch of highway, they hit almost anyone in their way — teenage girls in the fields, motorists in their cars, old men as they walked along the road. Nineteen unarmed civilians were killed and 50 wounded.
Based on WikiLeaks papers, the British Guardian newspaper published an account of this incident. The newspaper noted that in their military reports, no soldier gave the account of the rampage. The details, however, transpired in a subsequent 17-day inquiry. At the end of the inquiry, no one was punished, despite strong evidence from Afghan officials who witnessed the bloody trail left behind by the US soldiers during their trigger-happy ride back to the Jalalabad base.
The article also gives details of how US military investigators, who went to the scene of carnage, threatened the journalists there and got them to delete the photographs they had taken.
Here are a few other WikiLeaks exposés:
• A video clip posted on WikiLeaks showed US helicopter gunships killing unarmed civilians, including two Reuter journalists, in Baghdad.
• the US government was involved in moves to topple democratically elected governments in Turkey and elsewhere
• the British government colluded with Washington to “put measures in place to protect the US interests” during war crimes inquiries
• the US military personnel were given permission to carry out extrajudicial killings in Yemen
• The US knew some of its Middle Eastern allies were financing terrorists groups.
Until WikiLeaks came up with the stories, the American people knew little or nothing about these. Remember the Pentagon papers during the United States’ dirty war in Vietnam? The Pentagon Papers, leaked by a public-spirited military analyst, demonstrated that the Lyndon Johnson Administration systematically lied, not only to the people but also to Congress, and hid from public knowledge its war crimes in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. This was in the 1960s.
Even today, the so-called democratic States keep their people in the dark, with the help of the corporate media, which, as expected, insist that Assange’s indictment was not about journalism. Assange is the winner of the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award for exposing extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya, the 2008 Economist Index on Censorship Award and the 2010 Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence.
He is wanted in the United States for endangering the US national security. He is charged with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to classified information. The corporate media also claim that Assange worked in collusion with Russia.
Aussie national Assange’s troubles began in August 2010 when he returned to London after a visit to Sweden. Two Swedish women accused him of rape and molestation. He was arrested and granted bail. In May 2012, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that he should be extradited to Sweden. Fearing that he would be re-extradited to the US, Assange found refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in June 2012. After seven long years as a virtual detainee in the embassy, Assange was arrested on April 11. This came after Ecuador’s new government, seen to be a willing US poodle, ended the asylum granted to him and allowed the British police to enter the embassy and drag Assange away. This was, perhaps one of the darkest moments in Britain’s media freedom history.
The US justifies its call for Assange’s extradition on the basis that he, by publishing classified information, has put US soldiers in harm’s way and jeopardised US national security. Far from it, just as the Pentagon Papers triggered an anti-war movement and ended the war in Vietnam, WikiLeaks exposés can prevent conflict and bring about a rule-based global order.
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)
There exists an unbridgeable gap between what some governments say in public and what they do in secret. Famous US investigative journalist I.F. Stone once said “every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed”?
The arrest raises a key question regarding the State, in the context of the people’s right to know what the State is doing on their behalf. Does the State exist for people or people exist for the State? Like the Sabbath was made for man, and not vice versa, a democratic State — which is of the people, by the people and for the people — is the servant of the sovereign people. Only a fascist will disagree