GUEST BLOG: Lois Griffiths – Julian Assange: WHO CARES?

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Two weeks ago, I emailed this very short letter to the Christchurch newspaper, The Press.

April 11, one week after Easter, was the second anniversary of the arrest of Julian Assange. He is still languishing  in Belmarsh Prison. 

Does anyone remember or even care, for that matter? 

Actually someone does.

 On Palm Sunday, the Pope sent Julian Assange a ‘kind, personal message’ , as reported by  Assange’s financeé Stella Moris. 

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More messages need to be sent, not just to Assange but to President Biden to drop the espionage charge.  

My letter wasn’t printed. 

I find the silence from our media very disturbing. Many international journalists   make the point that Julian Assange is being  abused as a warning to other journalists, wherever they are. The UN Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer has said, “The progressively severe suffering inflicted on Mr. Assange, as a result of his prolonged solitary confinement, amounts not only to arbitrary detention, but also to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Melzer is very concerned about Assange’s exposure to COVID-19.

Why is our media silent? For that matter, why the silence from our political, religious, academic and media élite? 

Why haven’t NZ clergy joined the Pope in writing to Assange?

 Is it fear? Or just indifference?

 I have recently read an essay by Richard Flanagan titled The Australian Disease where he says,“Yet in recent times we seem to have lived through not so much a crisis of politics as a collapse of that most human attribute, empathy…”

In an even more recent letter to The Press, again not printed, I referred to another issue that keeps me awake at night, the abuse of Palestinian children by Israeli forces.

Years ago, Martin and I were fortunate  to visit the Ramallah , West Bank , HQ of Defense  for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) . We met some of their lawyers, Palestinian and international. DCIP  issued a report in December 2020, Isolated and Alone: Palestinian Children held in Solitary Confinement by Israeli Authorities for Interrogation.

DCIP has accused the Israeli regime of practising “solitary confinement, amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international law norms.”

The report should be publicised and discussed.

The abuse of Palestinian children by the Israeli regime should be an international scandal. Yet the West looks the other way. 

Again, questions need to be asked. Why the silence? It is fear? In this case it is fear of  being accused of anti-Semitism, ie, the ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ treatment? 

Or paraphrasing Richard Flanagan , does New Zealand society too, suffer from , ‘a collapse of empathy?’

Lois Griffiths is a Human Rights Activist.

52 COMMENTS

  1. People are afraid to be empathetic. If one feels the stirrings of empathy one must look closer at the suffering. To do this one must put their head above the parapet. The net is closing on all but the 1%. The last year has seen them sharpen their skills considerably and objection is crushed. The MSM are puppets of the 1%. Revolution will come.

  2. I sent a post once to Mr Meurant, about a similar situation, that of the ‘Dreyfus affair’, I think there is much correlation regards ‘state’ intervention versus free speech,….

    Dreyfus affair – Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_affair

    There are , eerily ,… many similarity’s. Except that Assange was not military personnel. Does it really matter?

    I say, free , Juliann Assange.

  3. I’m pleased to hear that the Press has started rejecting your left-wing rubbish, especially your obsessive focus on Israel. It seems you care nothing for Israeli children who have lost their lives to Palestinian terrorism, much of it perpetrated by the minors you describe.

      • Gaby is a constant liar with all the moral character of his fallen hero ,,,, Harvey Weinstein.

        When he is honest ,,,, which is when he lets his mask slip ,,, he ‘comes out’ showing his support for Israels anti-miscegenation laws and segregated schools……… Gaby: “Israel must preserve the Jewish character of Israel, by any means possible” ,,,,

        Strangely, for one so repulsive ,,,,rat brain Gaby has Pride.

        The sort of upside down rotten pride that allows these Zionist pals of Gaby to express their honesty … the pride of the ethnic cleansers ….

        ‘Zionst Mobs Attack Palestinians’ ,, https://youtu.be/OhIrysVIMLc?list=LL&t=464

        Even shameless Gaby will be too chicken to go near the brutal honesty behind the ugly reality of what Israel is doing to Palestinian families and neighborhoods.

        And where is the 5 white’ys Governments ( or media ), condemnations on this ??, where is the NZ Govt being pressured to speak up about ‘human rights’ ???

        Dirty Politics WW ( world wide )

      • Look up Ma’aLot, 1974, if you can read, that is. Twenty seven defenceless Israeli kids gunned down by Palestinian terrorists, the 3 teens kidnapped and murdered in 2014, and little babies like Hadas Fogel, 3 months old, throat cut in her crib, her bothers 4 and 11 also murdered along with their parents. Hallel Ariel,13, slaughtered in her bedroom.Many, many more. You despicable apologists for Arab terrorism always shun the truth.

    • You must be a troll for the Israel’s. ZERO backing up of your claim and making the most non sensical remarks.
      I’ve no doubt Israel had had atrocities committed upon them by Palestinians. But they pale in comparison to the genocide that Israel is carrying out on Palestinians IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY.
      The western world and it’s propaganda newspaper ALLOW this to happen, by NOT reporting accurately what is going on. i.e. LYING either directly or via omission.
      Shame on or Government(s) and our propaganda, puppet, pathetic, corrupt and without mana, media. Shame on all of them……they make secondhand salesmen and average run of the mill-Nazis seem like half decent misunderstood people…..

      • Genocide????? The Palestinian population has increased 7-fold since 1948! both Hamas and the PA, however, have Charters that pledge genocide of the Jews if they ever get their paws on them…which of course they won’t. You people function on shameless lies and baseless propaganda. Embarrassing, all of you.

    • @ gaby. More Right Wing brain-fartery coming from a witless scribe who’s words are more boring than a bar mitzvah on a wet wednesday. gaby, like virtually every other right winger I’ve had the misfortune to ever meet or know is far more content to simply exploit the creative left than dare to attempt to match their craft, wit, style and class, hence here gaby is. Always outside looking in.
      The only waring losers who deflect their inept attempts at creativity by creating friction where there was previously none are always right wing. Every creepy, sleazy, manipulative pre-packaged freak show with a small cock and a big gun is a right winger. gaby gabs, That’s all gaby can do. Blah, blah, blah and not a single entertaining laugh, titter, word of wisdom, prose or even a sentence worthy of the label on a can of cat food comes from that beige space between gaby’s ever eavesdropping ears.
      Assange must be freed immediately and Edward Snowden most also be.
      We must come to terms with the fact that the Rothschild bank which owns the Federal Reserve which owns the Australian Banks which in turn, thanks to the manipulative nature if neoliberalism now own us.
      Every single monetarist manipulation has its roots firmly imbedded in that least creative element of humanity which is money.
      George Manbiot , a contributor to The Guardian puts it better than I can and even though his comments are c-19 centric the mechanism for control is the same.
      https://youtu.be/M4NNb0fmKR4

      • More left wing crap from ole countryboy, boring, fatuous and predictable. Assange will get what he deserves and your pathetic fulminations won’t make a jot of difference. Don’t you get tired of losing?

  4. Agree on all the points highlighted by you Lois. I cannot imagine the long term harm that has been done to Julian Assange’s mental and physical health. The silence from all quarters is deafening and shameful. The influence of the US is dominant and forever ugly.
    Free Julian Assange.
    Kia Kaha Lois.

      • Publishing US / NATO war crimes SAVES lives, by holding the murderers to account for their crimes. Assange published the Video of the killing of innocent Iraqi civilians and two Reuter canaramen in the streets of Baghdad. He revealed the torture of people at Guatanomo Bay and Abhugrai . The public has a right to now what is done in our name, that may save lives. Watch the video and listen to what this scum is saying while in the process of killing these people.

      • How do you manage to find all these opinion pieces written by clearly deluded or misguided human beings? Even the US security agencies have conceded that no lives were ever threatened by the Wikileaks disclosures of war crimes. The Swedes didn’t bother to pursue the rape charges once it was clear the Brits would either hand Assange over to the US or illegally continue to detain him, probably until death in Belmarsh because the key has been thrown away. How could he be a traitor? He is Australian, not a US citizen, or was Australia made the 51st State while we were not looking.

        By the way, have you bothered to read any of the other tracts of disinformation written by Michael Weiss? Probably not. If you had, you would have come to a sound conclusion that his views are anything but credible.

        Time you gave up on the emotive tirades and looked at the world just a smidgen more objectively.

      • If you believe anything the lying neocon Michael Weiss tells you in the Atlantic, then I have a bridge to sell you….

  5. Just briefly off the cuff. Its indeed a worrying trend that The Christchurch Press and other NZ media are increasingly suppressing free speech. I had a bit of a spat with the current Press editor who last year just out of the blue attacked me on two letters I had published the year before (NB!!) on the Salisbourgh Skripel poisonings case. Editors in my opinion should remain neutral. It appears that this new editor had been browsing through all my past letters over the years.
    Last year this same editor altered a sentence in my letter on the Assange case. I complained to the NZ Media Council, who deliberated broadly on it in its adjudication, (Nov No.2960) which The Press refused to publish. Reason: “Not of Public interest” !!
    The same is happening now with regards the Uighur affair in China’s Xinjiang province. Any letters expressing doubt are not being published. After sixty years of regularly writing to our media, I am now effectively marginalized from expressing my opinions.
    I have lately been toying with the idea to write to the Governments suggesting to consider having its own page in all NZ newspapers, where people can express their views freely and unobstructed by newspaper editors. Its Freedom of expression that currently is being controlled by our CORPORATE media. That’s a very worrying development! I like to hear from people who do support this idea.

    • Great idea. ANYTHING to stop the stranglehold the uber wealthy elites have on the media and THUS information flow and molding opinions to THEIR needs.
      Informed consent by Noam Chomskey comes to mind.
      But LINO will do nothing, unless it’s to prop up the current BAU mania

  6. He used his wealthy and powerful connections to evade trial for rape. When he redresses that I’ll care about him. Human Rights these days seems to be just another Industry – a vehicle for amassing personal fame and wealth, with high profile pro-bono cases worth a fortune in free advertising to the lawyer concerned.

    • Wrong. The “rape” case was just a pretext to get Assange extradited to the US. The way this brave man is now treated by the Establishment proves without a shadow of doubt how determined they are to conceal war crimes perpetrated by the US and NATO. It’s an assault on free speech and investigative journalism, which is becoming more and more obvious by the day..

    • There was no rape complaint and the only evidence the dodgy Swedish prosecutor had was an unused condom with no DNA on it. The charges have been dropped . They were always a ruse to get Assange back to Sweden for rendition by the scumbag USA.These are all admitted facts in the public domain. The young woman used as a honey trap only wanted an HIV test.This too is only public record. The Swedes let Assange go back to the UK after he handed himself in for questioning. This too is a known fact. Fuck knows where your head is Catherine not located in reality that’s for sure.It is not a crime to have wealthy benefactors Catherine. It is a pain the arse for thinking people to be subject to the idiotic comments of the woefully ignorant and uninformed though. So sharpen up and inform yourself.
      Starting here
      https://newmatilda.com/category/assange/

    • Please do some reading up on the ‘bullsh1t’ rape allegations Catherine.
      They were purely allegations. He was told he could leave the country as there was NO case to answer, when he voluntarily went to the police.
      The USA then got the Swedish chief prosecutor fired and a puppet to replace her/him. Then the case was reopened. The girl who alleged rape and then withdrew it, publicly stated she was being pressured to change her story and raise another allegation, She PUBLICALLY refused.
      Assange offered to be interviewed, BUT the prosecutor refused to travel to the UK to interview him, which is a regular ‘thing’. Assange offered to travel to Sweden to answer the allegations as long as they guaranteed NOT to send him to America afterwards. Sweden refused. i.e. it was PURELY a set up to get Assange into Sweden and then ship him off to the USA.
      Standard spy agency strategy. Ruin someone’s credibility with lies if needed to con the public, LIKE YOU, into disliking the guy and thus NOT caring that he is being persicuted.

      First they came for the gypsies, but I wasn’t a gypsy so I said nothing.
      Then they came for the Jews, but I wasn’t Jewish so I said nothing.
      Then they came for the gays, but I wasn’t a gay so I said nothing.
      Then they came for the me and there was no one left to speak up for me…

      Assange is ONLY guilty of telling the truth about a cruel, corrupt, immoral and bankrupt colonial power.
      I believe Tony Benn said, to know who is in charge, ask who you’re not allowed to criticize.

  7. Gaby On the contrary publishing war rimes SAVES lives, since the perpetrators can be hold accountable for their crimes and punished. Assange is doing what every investigative journalist with a grain of integrity and morality should be doing, but most of them are downright cowards only interested in their pay cheques. Assange reported the cold blooded murder of innocent civilians and two Reuter canaramen in the streets of Baghdad and listen careful about the foul language those basterds are using while committing their crime. He reported the torture of innocent men in AbuhGrai and Guantanamo Bay and much more. He makes the public aware what is kept secret. Visit my blog Contraviews ‘contraviewing.blogspot.com’ and go to post 270. The video can also be found on YouTube.

    • I wouldn’t touch your poisonous views with a 40 foot pole or give the slightest credence to any of your biased rubbish. Hopefully the Press has shut you down too.

      • gaby quotes a website that cites a outfit that dishes out dodgy awards and titles as absurd as Henry Kisenger when he got his nobel ‘peace prize’ ,,,, or Ron Briely being a “Sir”

        “Wiesenthal Center isn’t withdrawing prize given to Harvey Weinstein” ,,, “In 2015, along with the Simon Wiesenthal award, Weinstein received the Truth to Power Award”

        ” Interviewer: Does Israel advocacy play any role in your life, in supporting it at all?

        Harvey Weinstein: I’m an Israeli in my heart and mind. I love that country. I love what it stands for, I’m proud to be Jewish.” ,,,, except for the ‘kapo’ ones , eh Gaby ,, https://thewire.in/external-affairs/harvey-weinstein-israel-spies-sexual-assault

        This dodgy ‘award giving’ outfit ranks anti-Semites and threats to Jews, by which they mean Israel ,,,,

        They ranked Obama number one ,,,, mainly because he signed off on a deal giving Israel 38 Billion usa dollars aid over 10 years ,,, which is where the 3.8 Billion anual aid for Israel numbers you hear quoted nowadays come from….

        But it was not enough !!.,,,, so he became the number one anti-semite in the world along with the UN ,,,, according to the outfit who awarded Harvey
        Weinstein a humanitarian award.

        Gaby >>>> NZ Israel Institute for hard right Israel >>> and their ‘authority’s’ / propaganda https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5OJSUSbFmE&t=2291s

          • everyone but you ,,,, can see they have a rather warped and sleazy set of morals ……

            A bit like you,, saying nothing about the mass serial rapists and uber-Zionists Harvey Weinstein & Jeffry Epstein ,,,

            Yet Gaby peddles 5 eyes smears against Julian Assange louder than anybody …..

            Everybody can see right through you Gaby ,,,,

            Two faced double standard compulsive liar.

            You should apply for a position in that shitty Weisenthal farce outfit …

            Or maybe join the Israel spook and dirt digging outfit Harvey Weinstein hired to try and smear his victims …. Black Rube

            • And of course we all know the nationality and ‘religious’ affiliation of the Rochdale and Rotherham serial rapists of young white women, don’t we? Rape in that culture of course blames the woman and then stones her to death. You’re on very fragile ground there, aren’t you, as with all your spurious nonsense.?

      • Your followers are such a sad minority Gaby. The link does not represent a fraction of a percent of Kiwis views.
        Once again reality seems to be a state you are sadly missing out on.

          • You should go back to the drawing board Gaby! Your grip of mathematics and statistics is as dodgy as the apology for a poll that you cite. Please note, “However, according to the IINZ survey, only 27% believe the government was right to co-sponsor the resolution. 30% believe that the Government should have abstained and 43% are unsure.” That means that the difference between support and opposition to co-sponsorship was less than the margin for error. One can assume that the overwhelmingly larger proportion either considered they were not adequately informed, suspicious of the questionnaire or couldn’t give a stuff.

            The other salient observation is that the survey was conducted by the firm of an avowed Zionist for a Zionist propagandist organisation. Of course, if anti-Zionists engaged an outfit that was similarly tainted to do a similar survey, you would be the first on your hind legs barking your head off.

  8. MSM got rid of most of their honourable journalists and mostly spout pro neoliberal, advertorials and woke speak instead. Nothing of any analysis or worth.

    Journalists have been greatly effected by neoliberalism and the removal of ’employees’ in favour of contractors and gig workers in Media and the lack of protection for their own people have made the world a worse place full of greedy, amoral, rich individuals who control more and more, while pretending to be the opposite publicly using the new media to spread the messages.

    “Journalism is a notoriously precarious profession. Downsizing and layoffs are almost routine, and many journalists find themselves bouncing between news organizations and periods of freelance work during their careers. Yet journalism is not the only precarious profession — for decades, scholars have been documenting the increasing precarity of employment.”
    https://theconversation.com/journalism-jobs-are-precarious-financially-insecure-and-require-family-support-157012

    As for Julian Assange, I care and so do many others, it is just the MSM don’t publish it.

  9. Investigative journalism is not just part of the precariat economy, it’s now extremely dangerous and is allowing corruption and organised crime with political involvement, to flourish.

    Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/16/malta-car-bomb-kills-panama-papers-journalist

    2 journalists were murdered — but their investigations live on
    https://www.dw.com/en/2-journalists-were-murdered-but-their-investigations-live-on/a-48241808

    Jamal Khashoggi: All you need to know about Saudi journalist’s death
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45812399

    Jill Dando
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_Dando

  10. Record number of journalists jailed worldwide
    https://cpj.org/reports/2020/12/record-number-journalists-jailed-imprisoned/

    In its annual global survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists found at least 274 journalists in jail in relation to their work on December 1, 2020, exceeding the high of 272 in 2016. China, which arrested several journalists for their coverage of the pandemic, was the world’s worst jailer for the second year in a row. It was followed by Turkey, which continues to try journalists free on parole and arrest new ones; Egypt, which went to great lengths to keep custody of journalists not convicted of any crime; and Saudi Arabia. Countries where the number of jailed journalists rose significantly include Belarus, where mass protests have ensued over the disputed re-election of the long-time president, and Ethiopia, where political unrest has degenerated into armed conflict.

    This marks the fifth consecutive year that repressive governments have imprisoned at least 250 journalists. Lack of global leadership on democratic values – particularly from the United States, where President Donald Trump has inexhaustibly denigrated the press and cozied up to dictators such as Egyptian President Abdelfattah el-Sisi – has perpetuated the crisis. As authoritarians leveraged Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric to justify their actions – particularly in Egypt – the number of journalists jailed on “false news” charges steadily increased. This year, 34 journalists were jailed for “false news,” compared with 31 last year.

    Within the United States, no journalists were jailed at the time of CPJ’s prison census, but an unprecedented 110 journalists were arrested or criminally charged in 2020 and around 300 were assaulted, the majority by law enforcement, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. At least 12 still face criminal charges, some of which carry jail terms. Observers told CPJ that the polarized political climate, militarized law enforcement, and vitriol toward the media combined during a wave of protests to eradicate norms that once afforded journalists police protection.

    CPJ has published recommendations to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden for restoring U.S. press freedom leadership globally, which include ensuring accountability for the domestic attacks on journalists as well as instructing diplomats abroad to attend trials of journalists and speak out in support of independent media. CPJ found the lack of trust in media in the U.S. to be particularly dangerous during the global pandemic.

  11. My favorite ‘nothing to see here…’ reportage of Assange would have to be the very day that the Guardian was the main topic in court..as in a Guardian journalist included the real password in a book about WikiLeaks……and The Guardian didn’t cover the proceedings…pretty much sums up all you need ever know about the Guardian #fakenews as in #notreported

  12. This country’s media is complicit in suffocating the truth and the facts about a great many things including the suppression of any view point that is does not sympathise with neo liberal right wing propaganda particularly where the Nasty Natz are concerned.
    Anybody who hold’s the view that the current orthodoxy is biased and a threat to our human rights will be ignored and vilified by this countries neo liberal press.
    The freedom of speech disappeared some time ago in New Zealand under the guise of the freedom of democracy.

    • RNZ spews out Reuters bullshit daily. No evidence just hearsay.
      And we taxpayer fund the lies foisted upon Kiwis.

  13. The Press 4/05/21
    Old TV footage
    Monday night (3/05) on TV News images were shown of what were purported to Uighur prisoners hald in captivity in China’s Xinjiang province. To my utmost surprise I remembered having seen exactly the same footage many, many years ago. Unfortunately I could not remember exactly in what context. Perhaps some readers who had also recognized the same pictures are able to enlighten me on its origins. China’s Xinjiang province in the west borders Pakistan and Afghanistan. ISIS has been as reported operating in Xinjiang province for some time. This might account for the current vicious Chinese ‘Cold War’ (Kissinger 4/05) propaganda in our western news outlets.

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