It seems it’s surprisingly
straightforward to tolerate the torture of your residents in the event you’re a rustic with an extended
document of it. Dr Lissa Johnson weighs in on the Australian Authorities’s silence
on Julian Assange.
As an Australian citizen, Julian Assange has set a variety of
firsts for Australia.
He was the primary particular person to ascertain an encrypted dropbox
media platform via which whistleblowers may anonymously share troves of
info within the public curiosity, a apply which has now been adopted by
information shops worldwide.
He stands out as the world’s first writer with a monitor document of
100 per cent accuracy.
He isn’t the primary Australian to win a Walkley Award for
Most Excellent Contribution to Journalism after all, however he’s the primary
Walkley winner whose award-winning journalism has attracted a doable 175
years in US prisons.
That outstanding first makes him the primary Australian
journalist to be prosecuted as a spy by america authorities. In reality,
he’s the primary journalist ever to be prosecuted as a spy by america
authorities, below its 1917 Espionage Act.
If Assange’s prosecution is profitable, he’ll go down in historical past because the Australian whose take a look at case served to redefine journalism as espionage.
Amongst all these firsts, maybe probably the most hanging is that Assange is the primary citizen of an ostensibly democratic state whom a UN official has discovered to be the goal of a marketing campaign of collective persecution and mobbing by a gaggle of different so-called democratic states.
Upon reporting this discovering, the UN Rapporteur on Torture,
Nils Melzer, observed
that: “In 20 years of labor with victims of battle, violence and political
persecution I’ve by no means seen a gaggle of democratic States ganging as much as
intentionally isolate, demonise and abuse a single particular person for such an extended
time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of regulation.”
As a part of the marketing campaign of mobbing and collective
persecution documented by the UN Rapporteur, Julian Assange is the primary
Australian journalist to be publicly tortured for journalism within the UK.
On 9 Might 2019, Professor Melzer turned a part of Australian
historical past when he visited Assange in Belmarsh jail, accompanied by two medical
specialists specialising within the evaluation and documentation of torture.
On 31 Might, Melzer reported
that he and his medical group had discovered Assange to be struggling all signs
typical of extended publicity to psychological torture.
On 1 November 2019, Melzer warned that, except the UK authorities urgently modified course and alleviated the inhumane circumstances of Julian Assange’s state of affairs, it could quickly find yourself costing his life.
If Nils Melzer is correct, Assange is on monitor to change into not
solely the primary Australian journalist to be tortured, however tortured to dying, on
on 9 December 2019 that “possibly he can maintain out for one more yr, possibly even
two. However he may also be completed tomorrow”.
For all of those causes, Julian Assange is the primary
journalist whose abuse has prompted medical doctors and psychologists from everywhere in the
world to write down to the Australian authorities, begging it to intervene to cease
the torture of its citizen, and arise for his rights, earlier than it’s too late.
Docs for Assange
On 22 November 2019, a world group of medical doctors and
psychologists*, then numbering 65 and now over 200, wrote to the UK authorities
following Professor Melzer’s warnings.
In an open
letter to the UK Residence Secretary the medical doctors stated, “We now have actual issues,
on the proof presently out there, that Mr Assange may die in jail”. In
their letter, the medical doctors underlined the seriousness of the extended
psychological torture recognized by the UN Rapporteur.
They defined that Assange additionally suffered from an extended
historical past of untreated medical circumstances, and obstruction of enough well being
care, within the Ecuadorian Embassy. The medical doctors pressured that, as a sufferer of
torture in a fragile state of well being, jail is a medically harmful atmosphere
for Julian Assange.
After receiving no response from two open letters to the UK
authorities, on 16 December 2019 the medical doctors wrote
to the Australian government with an pressing enchantment: “We name upon you to
intervene as a matter of urgency…. You’ve an plain authorized obligation to
shield your citizen in opposition to the abuse of his basic human rights,
stemming from US efforts to extradite Mr Assange for journalism and publishing
that uncovered US battle crimes…. That we, as medical doctors, really feel ethically compelled to
maintain governments to account on medical grounds speaks volumes concerning the gravity
of the medical, moral and human rights travesties which can be going down.”
It’s a particularly severe matter for an Australian citizen’s survival to be endangered by a overseas authorities obstructing his human proper to well being. It’s an much more severe matter for that citizen’s personal authorities to refuse to intervene, in opposition to historic precedent and quite a few converging strains of medical recommendation.
The medical doctors awaited a reply, however none got here.
With concern over Julian Assange’s life and well being mounting,
in February 2020 the medical doctors’ warnings have been published
within the medical journal The Lancet, below the title ‘Finish Torture and Medical
Neglect of Julian Assange’. The medical doctors pressured, “Ought to Assange die in a UK
jail… he’ll successfully have been tortured to dying. A lot of that torture
can have taken place in a jail medical ward, on medical doctors’ watch…. We’re
calling upon governments to finish the torture of [Julian] Assange.”
The medical doctors’ unprecedented letters, on this unprecedented
case, be part of a world consensus among the many world’s main authorities in
human rights, press freedom and worldwide regulation.
Without Borders to the Council of Europe to Human
Rights Watch, these authorities are denouncing not solely
Assange’s imprisonment, however the Espionage Act fees and US extradition
proceedings in opposition to him. Amnesty Worldwide, as an illustration, has written,
“The US authorities’s unrelenting pursuit of Julian Assange for having printed
disclosed paperwork that included doable battle crimes dedicated by the US
navy is nothing in need of a full-scale assault on the correct to freedom of
In case the UK authorities hadn’t seen the worldwide refrain denouncing its persecution of Assange, in a letter to the UK Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice in June 2020 the medical doctors wrote: “The convergence of warnings from as broad a base of civil society as this underlines the truth that Mr Assange’s life and well being are inseparable from the life and well being of our democracies. The basic rights upon which these democracies are based threat ending up on life assist together with Mr Assange if his torture and medical neglect aren’t delivered to an finish, instantly.”
Julian Assange is being held in what is named ‘Britain’s
Guantanamo’, Belmarsh jail, a high-security facility designed for these
charged with terrorism, homicide and different violent offences. He’s being detained
with none custodial sentence or UK cost in place.
Furthermore, he’s being arbitrarily detained according
to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In different phrases, he’s being
held with out ample foundation in due course of or regulation. As Unbiased Australian
MP Andrew Wilkie has observed,
“The truth that Julian Assange is in jail within the first place is full
Though an un-sentenced, un-convicted, non-violent, arbitrarily detained one that is harmless within the eyes of the regulation, Assange has been held in solitary confinement for 22 to 23 hours a day. Whereas remoted, he’s disadvantaged of actions to distract him from the torments that await him if extradited to america.
He is aware of that US-aligned safety contractors have written
that he’ll make a pleasant bride in jail, and desires his head dunked in a full
bathroom bowl at Gitmo. He is aware of that he’s headed for life
in US supermax prisons, the place prisoners are held in perpetual solitary and
chains, and whose circumstances have been condemned by earlier UN Rapporteurs on
Torture and the UN Committee Towards Torture.
Assange is conscious that as way back as 2010, the CIA refused
to confirm or deny whether or not it was planning to assassinate him. At his
current extradition listening to, the court docket heard that the US authorities had
thought of a plan to kidnap or poison him whereas he was within the Ecuadorian
Embassy. He understands very nicely the designs that the US state has had on him
for a few years, and the hazards, torments and abuses he would face within the US.
Professor Melzer has cautioned,
“If this man will get extradited to america, he can be tortured till
the day he dies”.
To intensify the phobia and torment of this actuality, Julian
Assange has been prevented from getting ready his defence in opposition to US extradition,
in violation of his human rights as a defendant. He has been granted negligible
entry to attorneys in Belmarsh jail, and negligible alternative to learn, let
alone handle, the paperwork within the case in opposition to him. He has no pc with
web entry, and is prevented from researching his personal defence.
The one function that this serves is to render him helpless,
making him straightforward prey, intensifying his trauma by stoking his hopelessness, his
powerlessness in opposition to hazard, and the omnipotence of the risk.
It’s no shock on this context that Assange’s
psychiatrist instructed the court docket in the course of the first part of his extradition listening to, “I
am as assured as a psychiatrist can ever be that, if extradition to the
United States have been to change into imminent, Mr Assange would discover a method of suiciding”.
On the time of writing, along with being rendered
helpless in opposition to US extradition threats, Assange is just not solely persevering with to be
denied enough medical care, together with rehabilitation from torture, he has been
denied emergency bail in gentle of the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of assembly
internationally agreed standards for launch. Assange is susceptible to the
deadly results of COVID-19 given his years of medical neglect, the
immunosuppressive results of continual psychological torture, and chronic
Even earlier than the coronavirus outbreak, persevering with to carry him
below psychologically torturous circumstances in Belmarsh jail was tantamount to
taking part in Russian roulette along with his life. Coronavirus has added one other bullet in
that chamber, intensifying
his torture and his medical neglect.
For 23 hours a day, day in and time out, there isn’t a human contact or human consolation to ease the trauma, the risk, the concern and the helplessness of his state of affairs. No companionship; no-one to share the burden or the pressure. No mutual laughter for aid.
No shared moments. Minimize off from his kids, his fiancée,
his household, buddies and colleagues. Nothing however a barren cell and a fastidiously
imposed savagery of absence.
Little marvel that he referred to as his good friend Vaughan Smith on Christmas Eve 2019 to say, “I’m slowly dying in right here”.
A Message from the
Julian Assange is slowly dying as a part of a ugly authorized
experiment in criminalising journalism. His prosecution is a Frankenstein’s
monster of dismembered and reassembled sections of various treaties and Acts,
with key authorized protections excised, in a lurching world quest for unbridled
Whether or not he’s extradited or not, his lengthy gradual dying in UK
custody units an instance to anybody watching and considering of airing the soiled
secrets and techniques of these in energy: the genuinely soiled secrets and techniques, similar to wantonly
slaughtering and torturing harmless folks and overlaying it up. Like all public
torture, it sends a message to onlookers: this might occur to you.
And the message from the Australian authorities to any
Australian journalists trying on? You’re by yourself. Journalists are more and more
liable to persecution worldwide.
In 2019 Reporters With out Borders wrote
that “hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an
improve in concern. The variety of international locations thought to be secure, the place journalists
can work in full safety, continues to say no.”
One yr later, journalists lawfully overlaying protests in
america in 2020 are being arrested, shot with rubber bullets,
asphyxiated with tear fuel and punched – onerous – on digicam, unprovoked and
This extremely seen decline within the variety of international locations which can be secure for journalists is accelerating at pace with the persecution of Julian Assange. His pursuit throughout nationwide boundaries units a precedent leaving nowhere on this planet for journalists to cover.
He’s being prosecuted with out heed of sovereign borders or
jurisdictions, for journalistic exercise that was authorized the place and when it
With a view to criminalise the journalistic exercise that gained
him Australia’s highest journalistic honour, the US authorities is looking for to
retrospectively apply its personal Espionage Act to non-US residents in overseas
lands, whereas concurrently withholding the free speech protections of its
The upshot can be that non-US residents, and non-US
journalists, can be susceptible to prosecution wherever they could be, every time
america noticed match. Ought to a bunch nation oblige, that journalist’s solely
hope can be the safety of their very own authorities.
And the message from the Australian authorities? Not a
However what may the Australian authorities moderately do to assist a tortured Australian journalist in a overseas land even when it wished to? Had been the medical doctors justified in writing to the Australian Minister for Overseas Affairs, “you have got an plain authorized obligation to guard your citizen in opposition to the abuse of his basic human rights”? Can the Australian authorities do something to cease the torture of Assange within the UK? Or are its arms tied?
A Local weather of Consent
Australia ratified the Conference Towards Torture in 1989. As
a celebration to the treaty it has what is named a optimistic responsibility to take “efficient
legislative, administrative, judicial and different measures to stop acts of
torture” of its residents.
In keeping with the Australian Federal Lawyer-Normal’s website,
nonetheless, that responsibility applies to “territories inside Australia’s jurisdiction”. So
who’s liable for defending Australian residents from torture abroad?
The Australian Human Rights Fee web site explains
that “the federal authorities has the general obligation for making
certain that your human rights are protected” as an Australian citizen. However how is
that achieved in apply, when these rights are violated elsewhere?
Throughout Senate Estimates hearings in March 2020, whereas
questioning officers from the Division of Overseas Affairs and Commerce (DFAT)
concerning the therapy of Julian Assange, Australian Senator Peter
Whish-Wilson reminded DFAT representatives that Australian officers can elevate
issues with their abroad counterparts when they’re involved about gross
violations of Australian residents’ rights.
With respect to Nils Melzer’s findings the Senator added, “Given
the extraordinary nature of his very public claims… you have to be involved”.
Historic precedent signifies that, if the Australian
authorities is certainly involved, representatives can and do elevate issues with
their abroad counterparts, as they did within the instances of Melinda Taylor, James
Ricketson, David Hicks and Peter Greste.
Along with elevating issues with abroad counterparts,
below Article 21 of the Conference Towards Torture (CAT), “a State Celebration [may
claim]that one other State Celebration is just not fulfilling its obligations below this
Conference” via a submission
to the Committee Towards Torture. Furthermore, below CAT Article 5, “Every State
Celebration shall take such measures as could also be crucial to ascertain its
jurisdiction over the offences… when the sufferer is a nationwide of that state”.
In different phrases, the Australian authorities has choices.
In Julian Assange’s case, nonetheless, quite than set up its
jurisdiction over the offences, elevate issues with their abroad
counterparts, and/or alert the Committee Towards Torture, the Australian
authorities has opted for what’s termed “consent and acquiescence” below CAT
Consent and acquiescence is listed alongside inflicting and
instigating torture as a part of the very definition of torture, within the first
sentence of the primary Article of the Conference, putting it on the coronary heart of
Nonetheless, so consenting and acquiescent to Assange’s
torture has the Australian authorities been that the UN Rapporteur on Torture
Nils Melzer has referred to as Australia the “evident absentee” in Julian Assange’s
Consent and acquiescence are the antithesis of the
duty to stop torture below the CAT. A optimistic responsibility entails an
obligation to behave.
“Optimistic obligations are, broadly talking, obligations ‘to do one thing’ to make sure respect and safety of human rights,” explains the UN Workplace of Medication and Crime. All of which locations the Australian authorities’s dedication to do nothing below the complicity highlight.
You Name It
Paying homage to Abu Ghraib. We Name It ‘Normal’ Fare
Following the primary part of Assange’s extradition listening to
in February 2020, the Worldwide Bar Affiliation’s Human Rights Institute
(IBAHRI) issued a statement
becoming a member of “the widespread concern over the ill-treatment of Mr Assange”,
describing it as “surprising and extreme”.
The Institute added that his therapy was “paying homage to
the Abu Ghraib Jail Scandal”.
On the problem of the Australian authorities’s inaction over
that therapy, throughout Senate Estimates in March 2020 Senator Peter
Whish-Wilson summarised Assange’s ill-treatment thus: “politically motivated
prosecutors, denial of justice, manipulated proof, biased judges, illegal
surveillance, denial of defence rights and abusive jail circumstances”.
In response, DFAT representatives assured the Senator that Assange’s therapy within the UK was completely regular. ‘Normal’ was the time period repeatedly used, as if determined upfront. “The strategy taken in relation to Mr Assange is not any totally different” than that in the direction of different UK prisoners, DFAT knowledgeable the Senator.
Routine, in different phrases. Nothing to see right here.
When the Senator reminded DFAT officers that Assange had
been handcuffed 11 occasions, stripped bare twice and moved between 5 totally different
holding cells after the primary day of his extradition listening to, a DFAT
consultant described this as “normal jail to court docket and court docket to jail
Assange’s therapy was “not totally different from every other particular person
in his circumstances”, the Senate heard. Besides that no different particular person has ever
been in Julian Assange’s circumstances. Not one time. He’s the primary particular person in
historical past to have been prosecuted for publishing exercise below the US Espionage
What the Australian authorities officers failed to clarify
to the Australian Parliament is that Julian Assange’s therapy by the hands of
Belmarsh jail authorities and Belmarsh Magistrates Courtroom is barely ‘normal’
and regular for prisoners charged with terrorism or different violent offences.
What is just not normal or regular in any respect is for Walkley Award-winning
Australian journalists to be prosecuted as spies by america, and
subjected to most safety circumstances in consequence.
It’s not normal for somebody charged with nothing
in any way below United Kingdom regulation to be handled precisely like somebody charged
with terrorism. It’s not normal, or remotely regular, for journalists with no
felony historical past, no custodial sentence, and no historical past or threat of violence to
be detained below the harshest and most punitive circumstances that UK regulation
enforcement has to supply.
Neither is it normal for publishers to be held behind
bullet-proof glass whereas on trial for his or her journalism, thereby stopping them
from sitting with or instructing their attorneys, as if their journalistic expertise
would possibly break free and terrorise the court docket.
DFAT representatives, nonetheless, maintained in very measured
and ‘normal’ tones that there isn’t a cause to imagine “that something different
than due course of is being adopted in the UK”.
As an train in consent and acquiescence, the DFAT representatives carried out their duties nicely. Sanitising, normalising language, which minimises and trivialises abuse, is a ‘normal’, very regular, supremely routine psychological instrument for fostering passive acquiescent consent, the social bedrock of state-sanctioned violence.
The collective psychological methods supporting atrocity
similar to torture serve primarily to foster such silence and acquiescence, by
numerous psychological means, enabling perpetrators to proceed perpetrating
unopposed. Systemic abuse similar to torture is, in spite of everything, a collective,
Overtly abusive actors depend on a supporting forged of
characters who collectively create the atrocity-generating circumstances by which
torture and in poor health therapy might thrive. Except carried out in secret, systemic atrocities
can’t unfold with out consenting observers who decline to carry perpetrators to
Thinker Adam Morton calls them brokers of or accomplices in horror.
When selling a local weather of consent to torture, as well as
to sanitising abusive acts, it’s crucial for these in official capacities to
divest themselves of their tasks. That is sometimes achieved by
displacing duty onto others throughout the body.
At occasions it’s performed with intent, however typically it displays
unconscious, reflexive processes geared toward letting oneself off the ethical and
psychological hook. Duty could be displaced upwards, as within the case of
the guard who’s ‘solely following orders’, or downwards, within the case of the
supervisor who outsources the soiled work to the guard.
Alternatively, it may be displaced sideways, as an illustration
when authorities authorities handball duty to their abroad
counterparts. ‘Not our duty’ has been the Australian authorities’s
chorus with respect to Julian Assange.
Australian authorities officers “don’t present operating
commentaries on authorized issues earlier than the courts in different elements of the world”, asserted
the Minister for Overseas Affairs throughout Senate query time.
Australia is “not a celebration to the authorized proceedings within the
United Kingdom”, pressured a DFAT official when requested why Australia had not
intervened in Assange’s case throughout Senate Estimates. Assange’s therapy “is a
matter for the UK system”, DFAT representatives maintained. “We
don’t have any standing within the authorized matter that’s presently earlier than the courts”. “At
no cut-off date has the UN Particular Rapporteur been in any contact with the
Australian authorities to boost these issues immediately.”
Beneath the Conference Towards Torture, with its optimistic
obligations to ‘do one thing’, ready for an invite to intervene within the
torture of a citizen is just not what the Conference meant. However maybe the
Australian authorities doesn’t perceive the seriousness of the abuses taking
place within the UK. Maybe ministers and their advisors are unaware of the
distinction between psychological torture and a ‘authorized matter’. Psychological
torture is, in spite of everything, not generally nicely understood.
It’s doable that the Australian authorities merely fails
to know the gravity of ignoring Professor Melzer’s warnings. To handle these
prospects, once they wrote to the Australian authorities in December 2019,
Docs for Assange detailed
the medical and psychological foundation of their issues for Assange’s life and
well being. In a letter to Australia’s Minister for Overseas Affairs the medical doctors
“Whereas it could be handy within the quick time period for
governments and their authorities to disregard findings that Julian Assange has
been psychologically tortured, finally these governments achieve this at their very own
threat. Psychological torture can show deadly… Opposite to fashionable false impression,
the accidents attributable to psychological torture are actual and intensely severe. Extended
solitary confinement [for instance]doesn’t merely trigger loneliness, boredom
It reduces neuronal exercise within the mind, resulting in extreme and long-lasting mind injury, together with cortical atrophy and reduce within the measurement of the hippocampus … and 26% elevated threat in untimely dying … After a interval of extended solitary confinement, as soon as social contact is restored and therapy applied, restoration can take years and even many years, after which hurt can nonetheless persist.”
On the time of the correspondence, Assange had been topic
to 22 hours of social isolation a day, for months. As of June 2020 his time in
isolation has been elevated to 23 hours per day below coronavirus measures.
Given its potential to trigger irreversible hurt after simply
two weeks, solitary confinement of greater than 14 days has been deemed
to constitute torture and different merciless, inhuman and degrading therapy by the
UN torture mandate since 2011. Along with its neuro-cognitive results,
solitary confinement could cause extraordinarily extreme melancholy, disorientation and
suicidality, all of which have been noticed and documented throughout Assange’s
court docket appearances and extradition proceedings.
The medical doctors continued: “Removed from being purely psychological
in nature, psychological torture causes bodily hurt along with its
emotional and cognitive impacts. Through immunosuppressive and cardiovascular
mechanisms, persistently and chronically activated stress physiology causes
susceptibility to a variety of probably catastrophic sicknesses and illnesses,
together with, however not restricted to, most cancers and cardiovascular pathology.”
Two months later the Australian authorities replied,
sustaining that “The Australian Authorities can’t intervene within the authorized
means of one other nation”. The medical doctors wrote
back, emphasising the Australian authorities’s duty to its
citizen: “Within the case that an Australian citizen’s human rights are being
abused, together with his human proper to well being [and]his proper to be free from
torture… we’re reliably suggested that, consular help apart, authorities
ministers can advocate for due authorized course of, and lift issues with their
abroad counterparts…. These are certainly issues by which authorities ministers
haven’t solely the flexibility however the obligation to boost issues about gross
violations of rights.”
The Australian authorities responded as soon as once more: “Mr
Assange’s extradition proceedings are a matter for the UK and america
Not our duty. Not our concern. You name it human rights abuse, we name it a ‘authorized matter’.
We Don’t Torture Right here
One other technique of selling a local weather of consent is to capitalise
upon frequent psychological blind-spots. By invoking a psychological course of
often known as ‘system justification’, psychological sleights of hand trigger systemic
abuses similar to torture to psychologically disappear.
System justification is a pervasive type of self-deception,
akin to self-enhancing biases, whereby the flexibility to see one’s personal society’s
flaws is impaired. The system-justifying impulse entails a propensity to view
one’s personal social and political methods in a beneficial gentle, as being good, proper,
truthful and simply. When confronted with proof on the contrary, such because the
torture of a writer and journalist, many individuals double-down defensively on
the system’s legitimacy, to rationalise, defend and bolster the established order.
On condition that system justification serves to guard in opposition to
harsh realities, it has been described as a basic delusion concerning the
social and political world. Accordingly, invoking system-justifying blind-spots
is a strong psychological instrument.
Examples of system-justifying reactions conducive to acquiescence and consent embrace flatly rejecting proof of torture and ill-treatment; refusing to answer particular allegations with specificity; asserting systemic legitimacy in sweeping, blanket phrases; or casting an accused authority, course of, society or establishment as past reproach.
As an example: “Australia has a really excessive stage of confidence
within the British felony authorized course of.” Australia has “religion within the rule of
regulation, due course of and the independence of the judiciary in the UK”.
There’s “no proof in relation to the UK court docket proceedings”
concerning Julian Assange’s therapy “that might discovered an Australian concern”. “The
Australian Authorities rejects any suggestion by the UN Particular Rapporteur on
Torture that it’s complicit within the violation of Mr Assange’s rights.” “Australia
expects the authorized methods of each the US and the UK to ship” due course of.
The British system is a ‘judicial system’ that Australia has
‘each confidence in’. ‘He’ll get a good listening to in court docket, and justice will
finally be served.’ ‘Australia is a staunch defender of human rights and a
sturdy advocate for humane therapy.’
We don’t torture right here.
Regardless of, or due to, the failure to particularly handle
any particular allegations, glorifying the established order on this method is music to
system justifying ears. It’s the social-psychological equal of closing
the torture chamber door, shutting out the screams, and turning the classical
music up loud.
Screaming? What screaming? I hear violins.
The New Regular in
Julian Assange is just not the primary particular person in Australia to be
subjected to torture and different merciless, inhuman or degrading therapy. Neither is he
the primary particular person to be left for useless below a local weather of consent.
Australia’s abuse of asylum seekers and refugees has been found
to violate the Conference Towards Torture. Aboriginal Australians have been
dying in custody, buried below acquiescent consent, for many years, and traditionally
for tons of of years. Aboriginal Australians are among the many most incarcerated
teams on earth. They undergo a racially biased justice system that rivals
apartheid South Africa.
The Human Rights Measurement Index 2019 has given Australia
out of 10 ranking for ‘freedom from torture’, noting, “Torture is a severe
downside in Australia… a wide range of individuals [are]at explicit threat of
torture or ill-treatment, with Aboriginal folks and Torres Strait Islanders at
the highest of the checklist.”
The societal silence on these points has been deafening,
relieved just lately by the general public present of assist within the Black Lives Matter
protests and rallies. In each case, the local weather of consent is normal from
the identical social-psychological materials, whether or not the goal is a persecuted
journalist, group, race or nation. The truth that it’s Julian Assange in
Belmarsh jail issues not as a result of he’s a person, or an Australian
citizen. It issues as a result of he’s a journalist. It issues as a result of he’s a
journalist able to piercing the local weather of acquiescence and consent round
different abusive acts, such because the oppression of the susceptible, the exploitation
of the oppressed, the battle on terror, and battle itself, with its victims within the
tens of millions.
Via sending a message to journalists worldwide by torturing Assange, the abusive licence deployed in opposition to different persecuted teams is being expanded to absorb journalism.
The concentrating on of journalists all over the world issues
as a result of journalists – actual journalists – are those who reduce throughout the
acquiescence and consent, take away the deadbolt on the torture chamber door, flip
down the music, and expose what’s going on inside. Each persecuted and abused
group or particular person wants them, to interrupt the cycle of violence by breaking the
In Assange’s case, his torture and prosecution below the
Espionage Act are about making state crime a protected exercise and journalism
a prohibited one. His torture is about making a local weather of consent via a
local weather of impunity and concern.
Journalists the world over, and people whose tales they
inform, are in danger if his persecution and torture are allowed to face. His
abuse, due to this fact, is the enterprise of each citizen and each authorities. Not
least the Australian authorities.
We do torture right here. It’s our downside. In Julian Assange’s
case, the most important downside seems to be that torturing journalists is changing into
the brand new regular in Australia.
* Dr Lissa Johnson is a signatory to the medical doctors’ open letters. It is a chapter reprinted from a brand new e-book A Secret Australia, particulars of which can be found here.
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