Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks, it’s been impossible to miss the news around the #Cablegate scandle and the drama and debate unfolding around Julian Assange’s public and private life.
I dip my toe into political discussion every now and again, but I’d say it’s more to do with having strong opinions on just about everything (and often not the sense to keep them to myself) rather than being passionate about politics. So it’s times like this that my more liberal side jumps out and wants to do something about the unjust world we live in. Or rant on Twitter, the lazy person’s way to be outraged.
If you’ve been following my Twitter feed over the last few days, you’ll have already noticed that I’ve been keeping up with the WikiLeaks (IP address link) developments. The Guardian in particular provided a fantastic post, The arrest of Julian Assange as it happened, updating readers regarding his arrest, bail refusal and subsequent updates.
Anyone who knows me in the ‘real-world’ will know that I am quite the feminist when the argument arises, however, not so much in the ‘I hate the entire male race’ and more ‘Things aren’t quite equal yet, lets work on that’. So the fact that Assange has been accused of rape (or ‘suprise sex’ as it’s apparently called in Sweden), should have had me torn between standing up for woman’s rights (especially when rape is involved) and standing up for the freedom of speech.
However, after reading about the apparent CIA connections with one of the women accusing Assange and watching the video below from Glenn Beck (a man who I usually can’t bear to listen to) it appears that all is not what it seems with the rape accusations. If this is the case, it’s not only disgusting that this has come to an arrest (and even more worryingly that this maybe due to pressure on Swedish government from the US) but also that these women would quite happily pull out the ‘rape-card’ to get a man behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit when so many rapist walk away without any punishment at all.
The leaking of the cables is something many people appear to be torn on. I’m personally not convinced on the argument that lives have been lost or put at risk as a result of the leaks. I think it has a lot more to do with powerful, political individuals having that horrible sticky feeling when someone overhears you talking about them. As many people have pointed out, the only people that were left in the dark about the issues released were the ‘average Joe’s', such as one American commenter on this US article points out:
There’s no way I would believe all sides of the leadership engaged in the various global confrontations currently taking place, don’t already know the information contained within the relaeased documents. This is not ‘news’ to them. The only people who didn’t know are the ordinary citizens of the world like you and me.
I also find myself very worried for Assange’s life, after he has put himself in the public spotlight for the good of getting information out to the public, a very dangerous position to be in. Those who disagree with the leaks are those with something to hide, such as Sarah Palin and Tom Flanagan who have both called for Assange to be hunted and assassinated. Though as The Guardian humorously points out, Palin’s call for him to be hunted down like Bin-Laden would result in a 9-year fruitless search and huge public spending. But then again it’s hard to take these American politicians seriously when they all call for him to be charged with treason, even though listening to just a few sentences of any of his widely available speeches on sites like YouTube will quickly help any listener determine he is a Australian citizen.
I’m a big believer in freedom of speech and I’d rather know about the appalling abuse by UN peace-keepers of refugee girls, how our government protected US interests in the inquiry into the Iraq war or how US troops are ordered to turn a blind eye to torture in Iraq.
I could go all day with the horrifying information the leaks have brought to light, simply by using this wonderful website – So, Why is Wikileaks a Good Thing Again?
So now my hopes turn to our own legal system, that our country might try and protect a man who has done nothing wrong but release information given to him by another and show the world the shameful secrets our governments try and hide from us. I only hope he is not extradited to Sweden and ends up in the hands of a group of people that would rather silence the truth than pay for what they have done. Also, like many others, I’m impressed by the work those involved with Operation Payback have done to punish companies like MasterCard and the Swiss bank PostFinance who caved in to pressure from governments, lets hope their efforts continue.
In the mean time for those who were unaware of the site and the award-winning journalism they have done, have a quick search online, particularly for the work they did to get information out about Scientology and Guantánamo Bay.
Finally let’s not forget one of the most famous videos Wikileaks publicised, in which Reuters journalists were murdered (caution the video shows loss of human life, so don’t watch if you don’t want to see this).
Also, lets hope my outburst on this issue doesn’t come back to haunt me, but as usual I feel a need to express how I feel about this and show my support!