The father and brother of award-winning Australian journalist Julian Assange toured the United States in June 2021, calling on the U.S. government to drop its prosecution and finally let Julian come home. CODEPINK organized and participated in actions supporting the Shiptons across the country. Below are recaps from events in Oakland, CA and Washington, D.C.!
June 30, 2021 - Press Conference - by Leo Flores, CODEPINK
In D.C., CODEPINK was proud to accompany John and Gabriel Shipton, Julian Assange’s father and brother, at a media appearance at the National Press Club. Speaking on a panel with Ryan Grim of The Intercept and renowned scholar Cornel West, the Shiptons decried the lack of media coverage over Assange’s case. The main witness in the extradition of Assange, Sigurdur Thordarson, who has a long history of embezzlement, financial crimes and sex crimes, recently admitted that he fabricated key accusations against him. This startling development has barely been reported on by the corporate media.
John Shipton also described the inhuman conditions in which Assange is currently held, which include 23 hours per day of solitary confinement, a punishment considered to be torture by the United Nations. Shipton also related how Assange’s 2-year-old son was subjected to an invasive oral search – a guard stuck his fingers inside the child’s mouth – on an occasion when the family was allowed to visit. As the child cried and attempted to twist free, Assange was forced to watch in silence, as any sort of protest would have ended the visit. Ironically, in January a London court ruled that Assange could not be extradited because of the threat of suicide and danger to mental health that he would face in a U.S. supermax prison.
July 1, 2021 - Rally at the Department of Justice - by Leo Flores, CODEPINK
[the Shiptons with CODEPINK's Free Assange Petition of over 8,500 signatures]
The day after the press event, dozens of activists gathered in front of the Department of Justice to demand Assange’s release. The Shiptons stopped by the event en route to the airport for their flight home and expressed their gratitude for all the help they received on their tour of the United States. Various speakers spoke about the travesty that a war criminal like Donald Rumsfeld lived a life of impunity, while a truth-teller like Assange sits in a cell. Other activists spoke of other political prisoners and whistleblowers, including Daniel Hale.
The prosecution of Assange represents a threat to freedom of the press, but it also should be contextualized in terms of the assaults on media outlets and journalists who challenge the official U.S. narrative. For example, PressTV had their websites taken down by the FBI, journalists from RT in the U.S. have to register as foreign agents, or t the Biden administration’s reported plans to set up a parallel Telesur that broadcasts out of Miami. On top of that of course are the many incidents in which progressive voices have been silenced on social media. It all points to a landscape in which dissent will not be tolerated.
If he were free right now, Julian Assange would be leading the charge against this censorship, just as he led the charge in exposing the worst war crimes of the 21st century. U.S. empire is weaker because of Assange and at CODEPINK we’ll keep fighting for his freedom.
June 26, 2021 - Home Run for Julian, Oakland - by Cynthia Papermaster, CODEPINK Bay Area
The CODEPINK Golden Gate Chapter played a large part in the Assange events here in the Bay Area. We had a small, private fundraising Reception with John and Gabriel which Jeff Mackler and I organized and I catered and it was fabulous. CODEPINK staff and members Nancy Mancias, Walter Riley, Shahid Buttar, Mike Rufo, Cecile Pineda, Rick Sterling were among the guests.
On Saturday we held a press conference and large in-person indoor Freedom Rally in Oakland and raised almost $9,000 for Assange Defense. I spoke on the program with the Shiptons and Alice Walker, who now has her own CODEPINK Face Mask! I made Assange masks and invited the Pinks to come up front and everyone chanted "We are all Julian Assange" together. Lots of applause for CODEPINK as usual. Dan Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky and Mumia Abu-Jamal joined the event with video greetings. We had a CODEPINK table and got over 50 letters to Merrick Garland signed.
July 3, 2021 - Assange Birthday Street Party - by Cynthia Papermaster, CODEPINK Bay Area
The evening gathering for Assange's 50th birthday at the Women's Building was great. Thanks to Steve Zeltzer, Jeanie Schmidt, Jeff Mackler and other organizers. Martha brought her excellent banner "THANK YOU WIKILEAKS". And there was a birthday cake - thanks Jeanie! While some came for the party, others interacted with passersby, including some extensive conversations, handed out leaflets with the Attorney General's contact info, and generally tried to get support for Assange's release from prison. Martha led us in the "Birthday Song" for Julian. Orion played an original blues sing-along in tribute to Assange, and Francis played a gorgeous song for us. Thanks to CODEPINKs Susan, Martha, Renay, Shirley, Annie, Jackie, Toby, Nancy, Elana, Eleanor, Catherine, Dianne Budd - visiting from Uruguay! - and Luck-key for coming out!
CODEPINKs haven't been out together en masse in so long. It was lovely seeing each other and being in action. The live music, delicious organic cupcakes with buttercream vanilla and chocolate frosting, made by yours truly, with "Release Assange" messages in English and Spanish, thanks to Blair, pink banners, and nice weather made for a good gathering. We handed out lots of flyers and talked to a lot of passersby, and then we paraded down Valencia, which is like a giant party on a Saturday night!
Actions to Take!
- Call the Justice Department comment line at 202-353-1555.
- Send a message to Attorney General Merrick Garland on the Department of Justice website.
- Mail letters to Merrick Garland at the DOJ.
- Sign the CODEPINK Free Assange Petition!
- "Key Witness in Assange Case Admits to Lies in Indictment", ProgressiveResistance.org
- CODEPINK Home Run for Julian Tour Photos
- Free Assange Birthday Party Video
- Oakland, CA Home Run for Julian Video, Richard Page