Photos & Short vids (thanx to Bradleylibero)
Support for Bradley Manning in Knightsbridge tube station
Pop-up Cafe: Free tea, Free Assange!
'Correa/Assange/Patino, amigo, el pueblo esta contigo!'
Ecuador protects Assange
Julian Assange and Ricardo Patino appear at Embassy window
Solidarity with Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden
Wed June 19th will mark a year since WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking sanctuary. The Ecuadorian government was immediately threatened in private correspondence from British Foreign Minister Hague with the loss of diplomatic status and a consequent raid. The Ecuadorian government made the private threat public, held their ground and conducted an inquiry into the Assange case. This was the same government that had previously responded to a U.S. request for a U.S. military base in Ecuador with, "if you let us have an Ecuadorian base in Florida?"
During this period of inquiry, the London Met were deployed in large numbers around the embassy with 30 police stationed there 24/7. Anti-War, human rights, Latino, Veterans for Peace, Catholic Worker, Occupy & other activists maintained a solidarity vigil at the embassy. Following the completion of the Ecuadorian inquiry and the formal granting of asylum for Julian Assange in August 2012, the Met bobbies left to be replaced by 10 members of the Diplomatic Protection section of the Met and a police conference van permanently parked. This 24/7 police presence has been maintained for the past year at a cost of 4 million quid. On a significantly smaller budget, a daily vigil of solidarity activists has been sustained (presently 4-6pm).
Sunday June 16th. 2013 was chosen as a time to mobilise as Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino was to visit Julian Assange before his meeting with British Foreign Minister William Hague the following day.
The first sight that greeted activists on exiting the Knighstbridge tube station was Sue & Roland's motor home transformed into the "Free Tea, Free Assange" takeaway. The caboose was parked next to an exclusive Gran Cafe facing Harrods, serving folks throughout the afternoon. We started setting up banners and were soon joined by the Ecuadorian community.
Support grew to about 130+ by about 4pm. Word came through that the foreign minister had been delayed with an ETA of 6.30pm. We were blessed with fine weather and settled in for the duration. Fortunately, John McClean had brought his guitar! Songs alternated between an Aussie Kiwi combo [flickr link] and the Ecuadorian community [YouTube link].
In breaks between songs, media interviews were conducted and the Ecuadorian folks led us in chanting. At 6.30 the Ecuadorian foreign minister arrived waving to the crowd and entered the embassy. Singing resumed and after a while curtains were drawn back and Ricardo Patino and Julian Assange appeared at the window of the embassy. Between us and them were the London Metropolitan Police, mainstream media and a sealed U.S. Grand Jury indictment for the WikiLeaks founder.
In other places, Jeremy Hammond & Bradley Manning are already in chains, Edward Snowden is hotly pursued by the same powers. The courage of these people, the WikiLeaks crew and the Ecuadorian people inspires us all. Hopefully such courage and solidarity is contagious. The world literally depends on its transmission. If that sunny afternoon on a sidewalk in Knightsbridge/London with the Ecuadorian community and friends is anything to go by, it's worth the effort.