Saving Assange

By Daniel Deceder, March 20, 2020

“It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to detect and expose delusion and error.” Thomas Paine

“We must engage in whatever nonviolent actions appeal to us. There is no act too small … The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at critical points to create a power that governments cannot suppress.” Howard Zinn

The author of the article below is a young activist who takes these admonitions seriously.  His name is Daniel Deceder; this is what he wrote about working to expose what is happening to Julian Assange and to free speech in general, and what he is doing to try to thwart the the fateful trend toward Orwell.

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When I first set out to get in the streets and do something for Julian Assange, I thought there would be a local group or action team I could easily plug into, but research turned up nothing. The lack of activism in support of Julian is a testament to the effectiveness of widespread mainstream media propaganda pumped out by politicians, talking heads, and perfidious pundits. 

In the absence of a pre-existing group in my area, I decided I had to start one myself.  For the past few months I have been going out every Tuesday and Thursday evening putting up flyers around Durham, NC. The flyers are simple, one with what should be an obvious statement across the top: “Journalism is not a crime;” another with photos of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning reading: “Free Speech *except for war crimes.” The flyers include a proton email encouraging people to contact me if they would like to help in the fight for Julian’s freedom.

People have been receptive, and most people are willing to talk about Julian and hear about what I am doing. I have found that many more people support Julian Assange and Wikileaks than the mainstream media would have you believe. There are many who see through the propaganda.

I have been doing this work for months now and I am happy to report that the action team has grown here in Durham. I now have other individuals helping with actions here in the city. We have been meeting regularly and have worked on other actions such as writing postcards and sending them to Belmarsh Prison in support of Julian. I have heard that most postcards do reach him and are helping keep his spirits up.

While doing this work locally I have been keeping up with a variety of groups that are speaking out and working to save Julian. One group that I made contact with is called Action 4 Assange. The group consists of Taylor Hudak, Christy Dopf, Andrew Smith, and Steve Poikonen. They describe their group as a decentralized activist network working to promote the cause of free speech and Julian Assange’s freedom. They have taken responsibility for the weekly online vigils that the group Unity4J had been holding.

I reached out to them to see how I could get involved and let them know about my work in Durham. They thanked me for the action team I had put together, and asked if I would be interested in Durham becoming the first official branch of the Action 4 Assange Network. I of course said yes, and the Action 4 Assange team continues to grow with branches now in Argentina, New Zealand, and Denver.

Our most recent action was protesting UK plans to extradict Julian to the U.S. where he would spend the rest of his life in prison. Taylor Hudak was covering the hearing live in London, while I joined the rest of the Action 4 Assange team in Washington, DC. When the extradition hearing began on February 24th, we took part in actions each day of the week on the streets of DC. We have already started planning our second phase of actions for the continuation of the extradition hearing beginning May 18th and we would welcome your getting in contact with Action 4 Assange if you would like to get involved. 

Meanwhile, I am constantly seeking out information to share to help activate people into speaking up for Julian. An especially helpful resource to use to dispel the slurs and propaganda is an article by Caitlin Johnstone: Debunking All The Assange Smears. The amount of propaganda out there is unconscionable, and the work to debunk the smears should be on the shoulders of actual journalists instead of ordinary people like us, but what is, is; and this is the reality of Julian’s case. The amount of meticulous work that Caitlin did is what makes the article so good, but it is also what makes it hard to share with those unfamiliar with Julian’s case. I would like to work this article down into a handout of talking points, or a frequently asked questions flyer to be used by volunteers. No matter what, this is essential reading for anyone working to save Julian.  

Beyond the amazing work of journalists like Caitlin Johnstone, we have something else on our side in the fight to save Julian, and that is Nils Melzer the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. He has become one of the loudest voices speaking on Julian’s behalf and his work should be recognized. Who could be a bigger authority on the unfair treatment of others than the UN Special Rapporteur on torture?!

Melzer’s work had been completely ignored by the United States mainstream media, but the Swiss online magazine Republik released this detailed interview with Mr. Melzer: «A murderous system is being created before our very eyes». If there were one article I would ask someone to read who is not familiar with Julian’s case, it would be this one. Melzer completely destroys the smears and lies about Julian in one interview.

We all know what the worst smear is, the false accusation of rape. I hate that we even have to keep talking about it and debunking it, but unfortunately we do. This interview does that beyond any shadow of a doubt. Since this interview was released, it has been encouraging to see that Newsweek put out an article relaying what Nils Melzer has been saying for a while now. I have actually begun to make copies of this interview to hand out to people as I am walking the street and putting up flyers. 

I have been inspired by many to get out in the streets and do something: John Pilgur, Nils Meltzer, Craig Murray, Roger Waters, just to name a few, but no one inspires me as much as Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. They are selfless and they are fighting for all of us…even for those who don’t realize it. 

Julian’s case is so important for free speech and the future of journalism. In my most pessimistic moments, I worry that most of the damage has already been done and that our media will continue to be bought and sold. There are so few truth-tellers out there, and most of them have been marginalized to different corners of the Internet and independent media. It is hard to think of any that exist within our corporate media. Tucker Carlson is one of the few that come to mind. So few journalists today are brave enough to step out of line, and now that they have seen the torture of Julian Assange, I fear that the number will continue to shrink. 

To cheer the persecution and imprisonment of Julian Assange is to cheer the fact that our rights are being taken away. It is cheering the fact that war criminals like George W. Bush (Iraq) and Hillary Clinton (Libya) walk free while the person who exposed them is tortured for his shining a spotlight on their wrongs. It really blows my mind how upside down and backwards our world has become. I guess we have been heading this way for awhile. Even back in the 1960s Malcolm X said, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

We have to save Julian or things will only get worse. I hope for the day that he is free and is finally recognized by all as the hero that he is. If we fail, people will remain in the dark, believing the opposite of the truth, continuing to cheer as heroes like Julian are tortured and our rights are stripped away. 

I have always had positive feelings about Julian and Wikileaks, but I also remember a time when I was — I don’t want to say afraid — but I didn’t speak my mind about how I felt about Julian. I was self-censoring. I felt it was not worth the argument or blow back I would get, because I knew, or at least I felt, that this was not a popular opinion to have. I think it is important for us all to remember that. Few of us were as conscious of gross injustice and our duty to confront it, as we are today. So have empathy and remember that everyone is on his or her own journey and not everyone is as far down the road. We have to help them understand.  Even Nils Melzer has acknowledged that initially he had himself been deceived by the spurious rape and other smears published in the media

I don’t know what else I can do to get others to recognize the importance of Julian’s situation besides continuing to spread the truth around. I wish there were some magic words. I can’t say it any better than Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek, so I will end with a quote from him, “Think about what Assange stands for. Assange needs you, but at a deeper level you need him. He’s fighting for you.”

Author description: Daniel Deceder (35) works for a non-profit in Durham, NC. Deceder and activists he has recruited in the Triangle area are trying to get the truth out about the injustices Julian Assange continues to suffer, and to help prevent his extradition to the U.S.  His group is one of several springing up to defend Assange and to thwart what Deceder calls “the Orwellian future that both major political parties in the U.S. are driving us toward”.