Austin G Mackell’s statement read at Oct 6 rally for #Assange & #WikiLeaksFor those of you who haven’t heard the story, I’m a freelance journalist who’s also faced the wrath of a foreign government in the course of doing my work. Whilst attempting to interview a union leader in the town of Mahalla, my colleagues and I were mobbed and arrested. Three days later we were released on bail, facing charges of “incitement”. For six months my family, friends, union, and thousands of other supporters in Egypt, Australia and elsewhere campaigned hard. At the same time as this, the embassy staff here in Cairo made constant efforts on my behalf. Nothing happened. I stayed on a travel ban – stuck — with the threat of jail hanging over my head. They had me right where they wanted me. The foreign minister, Bob Carr, was conspicuous in his absence, clearly wanting nothing to do with the case.
That was, until, it was time for him to go to Egypt to make contact with the new government. Coming and going and leaving me here without resolving the issue would have been too embarrassing, and opened him up for a fresh round of hassles from my supporters and the MEAA.
Carr finally raised the issue with the Egyptian ambassador to Australia. Within a week we received news that the charges had been dropped.
The implications of this are clear, if Carr was serious about helping Assange, he wouldn’t be relying on the consular staff – he would be doing something himself. It is his job to guarantee Assange, who is the most important Australian journalist of his generation by a mile, and arguably the most important Australian in history, is not punished for the truth he has told.
Some may think that I am overstating my case here, by suggesting Assange may be Australia’s greatest gift yet to the world.
I would ask them to consider the story of the massacre of Ishaqi, a town in central Iraq where U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old child, calling in an air-strike afterwards to incinerate the evidence.
The confirmation of it in America’s own documents made available by WikiLeaks was, in Iraq, explosive. This happened just as the US was attempting to negotiate continued immunity from Iraqi law for US soldiers. The public pressure was too much, and the Malaki government had to refuse. IT was this decision that forced Obama into keeping his promise and ending the Iraq war.
This is just one of hundreds of stories around the world of how WikiLeaks documents are arming those who fight for justice with the one thing that has always been their secret weapon: The Truth.
You won’t hear these stories on channel 9, or even on the ABC or SBS.
Even stronger than the taboo preventing the substantive discussion of oppression, is the taboo against acknowledging of victories from below.
WikiLeaks is, as history will remember, perhaps the greatest such victory so far this century. Let me try and explain why:
The French philosopher Michelle Foucault, when seeking to capture the essence of power in modern societies, looked closely at the institution of the prison.
The archetypically modern prison, Foucault held, was the panopticon. In this design, cells are arranged in rings around a central guard tower. The wall of the cell that faces inward, toward the tower, is transparent. The cells are well lit. The guard can see into any cell at any time.
The guard tower, however, is darkened and obscured. He can see them, but they can’t see him. They can’t even tell if one is on duty or not.
What this means, is that they can never know if and when they are being observed, and so must assume at all times that they are.
“Surveillance” to quote Foucault, “is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action”.
Elsewhere he puts it more crisply, saying simply “visibility is a trap”.
Like prisoners in the panopticon, it is impossible for those of you who have made it here today to know if and when you are under electronic surveillance. Someone could be listening to this speech through the microphone in your Nokia right now. Your every movement and conversation could be logged.
One can never know if the sentry’s eye is on them, so one must act always as though it is.
What WikiLeaks – the intelligence agency of the people – is trying to do is turn the lights on in the guard tower.
This is our only option.
To leave ourselves naked to the invasions of privacy which we know every government is tempted to indulge in, whilst allowing them to operate in unaccountable secrecy, is a more total surrender than people want to realise.
To give up this fight is to turn ourselves into permanent children – to surrender our freedom, our dignity – to a state that will, if it can, decide for us in all things.
Put power itself under the strictest of surveillance. You can start right now by keeping your camera phones rolling on the cops if they get too pushy.
I’m sure this letter has been too long already, and so will now close with a quote from the famous protest band, Rage Against The Machine.
The song is called Voice of the Voiceless, it says:
“and Orwell’s hell,
a terra era coming through,
but this little brother,
is watching you too”
Sourced from: Support Assange & WikiLeaks Coalition