Women Against Rape (WAR) http://www.womenagainstrape.net/ have made several public statements about the context of the attempt to extradite Assange, including this:
"The rape allegations against Julian Assange have become entangled with the politics centred on WikiLeaks. In the last few months this has led to the publication on the internet of the names of the women involved, and to a call for women who report rape to lose their anonymity. Rape victims’ right to anonymity and defendants’ right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, are both crucial. We oppose the use of rape for political agendas which undermine protection and justice for both rape victim and accused. We are appalled that rape allegations may be manipulated to facilitate Mr Assange’s extradition or even rendition to the US where elected officials have called for his execution for his Wikileaks activities. WAR cannot ignore this threat. We oppose the death penalty for any crime, let alone when no charges have been brought."
and this letter to the Guardian by Katrin Axelsson of WAR after Assange was refused bail in December:
"Many women in both Sweden and Britain will wonder at the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange is being pursued for rape allegations (Report, 8 December). Women in Sweden don't fare better than we do in Britain when it comes to rape. Though Sweden has the highest per capita number of reported rapes in Europe and these have quadrupled in the last 20 years, conviction rates have decreased. On 23 April 2010 Carina Hägg and Nalin Pekgul (respectively MP and chairwoman of Social Democratic Women in Sweden) wrote in the Göteborgs-Posten that 'up to 90% of all reported rapes never get to court. In 2006 six people were convicted of rape though almost 4,000 people were reported.' They endorsed Amnesty International's call for an independent inquiry to examine the rape cases that had been closed and the quality of the original investigations.
"Assange, who it seems has no criminal convictions, was refused bail in England despite sureties of more than £120,000. Yet bail following rape allegations is routine. For two years we have been supporting a woman who suffered rape and domestic violence from a man previously convicted after attempting to murder an ex-partner and her children – he was granted bail while police investigated.
"There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women's safety. In the south of the US, the lynching of black men was often justified on grounds that they had raped or even looked at a white woman. Women don't take kindly to our demand for safety being misused, while rape continues to be neglected at best or protected at worst."
SUPPORT FROM STOP THE WAR?
Stop the War Coalition held a public meeting on Monday night attended by about 300, with all the usual speakers rallying in support of Assange and WikiLeaks.
It's a shame that most of them and most of the rest of the anti-war movement, with a few notable exceptions http://uk.news.yahoo.com/19/20110207/img/pwl-britain-wikileaks-8e64f-054ca1772516.html, didn't manage to show their support and solidarity outside the court. If the movement fails to visibly support its prisoners, how can we expect anyone to stick their heads above the parapet, risk a lifetime in prison or execution?
A BIT OF HISTORY ON ASSANGE FROM BRUCE GAGNON
Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space wrote yesterday:
The leaflet above was advertising a protest I organized at the space center in Florida in 1989. This was during the period from 1987-1997 were we held one large protest after the other against the nuclearization and weaponization of space. Sometimes there were 500 people there, frequently about 1,000 came, and our biggest ever was more than 5,000.
Just today my son Julian, who grew up attending these events during his childhood, sent me an email with a link to a book written by Suelette Dreyfus with Research by Julian Assange that was published in 1997. The book was called Underground: Front Page. You can find the book here:
Julian told me, 'One of the debate topics for the Harvard tournament is about WikiLeaks and I've been doing a lot of research on Julian Assange. Here's a link to a book he worked on...read the first chapter!!!' So I dutifully clicked on the link.
Much to my surprise I found that the authors began their book with an account of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice's 1989 campaign to oppose NASA's launch of the Galileo plutonium-238 space probe that garnered international media coverage. This was the first of three major nukes in space campaigns that I led (the others Ulysses in 1990 and Cassini in 1997).
The authors wrote:
"For weeks, the protesters had been out in force, demonstrating and seizing media attention. Things had become very heated. On Saturday, 7 October, sign-wielding activists fitted themselves out with gas masks and walked around on street corners in nearby Cape Canaveral in protest. At 8 a.m. on Monday, 9 October, NASA started the countdown for the Thursday blast-off. But as Atlantis's clock began ticking toward take-off, activists from the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice demonstrated at the centre's tourist complex.
"That these protests had already taken some of the shine off NASA's bold space mission was the least of the agency's worries. The real headache was that the Florida Coalition told the media it would `put people on the launchpad in a non-violent protest'. The coalition's director, Bruce Gagnon, put the threat in folksy terms, portraying the protesters as the little people rebelling against a big bad government agency. President Jeremy Rivkin of the Foundation on Economic Trends, another protest group, also drove a wedge between 'the people' and 'NASA's people'. He told UPI, 'The astronauts volunteered for this mission. Those around the world who may be the victims of radiation contamination have not volunteered.'"
I'll always remember the 1989 launch of Galileo because it was delayed over and over again for about a week. The international media was gathered at the Kennedy Space Center tourist area with nothing much to do so each day during that week we'd assemble as many activists as we could get and hold another vigil and news conference which helped us tremendously get the word out around the world about the deadly plutonium space launch.
In chapter 1 of this book is a whole section about a computer worm that got planted inside of NASA's computers during this very time. Was the Galileo delay due to a hacker trying to help us stop that launch? Was a hacker also trying to symbolically "sit on the launch pad"? We've got to learn more about this story. I've already pointed it out to journalist Karl Grossman who helped us break the Galileo story open in 1989.
It just goes to show that you never know who is paying attention to your efforts. Who could have known that Julian Assange, who has become such a big name due to his courageous work with WikiLeaks, would be moved enough by our campaign to feature it in the first chapter of his book? Maybe it was because it was a classic story about out-of-control technology and the "little peoples" reaction. Any way you cut it one has to acknowledge that it has a nice twist.
One side story should be told here as well. My son Julian was nine years old in 1989 and one day I came home and he had my gas mask on. In his most serious voice he told me, "Don't worry Dad, if Galileo blows up I could wear this gas mask for the rest of my life." He was trying to make me feel better. His words cut right to my heart and my soul and virtually every day since that time I have stayed true to the cause because I believe that no child, my own or anyone else's, should ever have to think of living in a radioactive wasteland wearing a gas mask for their whole life.
Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
globalnet [at] mindspring.com
MAKE SPACE FOR PEACE!
We need to be making and taking space for peace right here and now, on the ground, out in the streets. It's happening in Egypt. We've got a few lessons to learn here in Britain.
Just do it.