August 18, 2012
Horse 1350 - Assistance and Protection
In the front of Julian Assange's passport and indeed every Australian's passport, there is a blurb which reads...
The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, being the representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hinderance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need.
Take careful note of this. The Australian Government merely requests that every assistance and protection be rendered to its citizens, it does not promise that if its citizenry are in trouble or distress overseas that it intends to actually do anything about the problem; even if one of its citizenry faces almost certain arrest, imprisonment and torture without charge, for I can guarantee that that is what will happen to Mr Assange.
Currently, Assange is holed up at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. Not less than a week ago did this great city espouse the ideals of brotherhood and tolerance, and yet here we find that it is on the brink of destroying those ideals, violently and virulently.
Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) states that:
1. Consular premises shall be inviolable to the extent provided in this article.
Note that although the embassy and its grounds do not enjoy an exemption from the laws of the land, and the grounds of the embassy are not the sovereign territory of the sending country, the Vienna Convention does state that the premises does enjoy the right not to be inviolated; this is important.
Currently the British Government stands on the precipice of destroying the spirit of the Vienna Convention and has entertained the idea of sending in either the Police, MI5, MI6 or even the military to arrest Assange. Not even during the height of the Cold War when the USSR and the USA had nuclear weapons pointed at each other; not even during the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis when we could have come as close as 15 minutes from nuclear war, did either side think about invading each other's embassies. Even on the dismal side of the Iron Curtain, places like Poland, East Germany, Albania and Czechoslovakia still respected embassies if people sought asylum and protection there. From the stories that I've read concerning Germans in particular being reunited with their children and parents, the respect afforded to West German embassies in places like these was vital.
The problem is that Australia, the UK and Sweden are all very experienced boot lickers of Uncle Sam. When Sam says "go here", our governments all say: "Yes sir, thank you sir. Three bags full sir. Don't be mean to us, we're so hideously ugly".
I mean I don't actually know if the Swedish sexual charges against Mr Assange would hold up in court (though I suspect, given other reports I've read, they would not. BEar in mind that the prosecutor Marianne Ny inititally withdrew closed the case since "no crime had been committed"), but I do know that the US would be waiting for him in X Airport, and instead of a "diplomatic mail" sack such as is being discussed to ferry him out of London to Ecuador, it would forcibly be a burlap sack he would be thrown into the second he set foot on Swedish soil.
I must labour the point here but quite apart from whether or not Assange is guilty or not of a crime which he hasn't formally been charged with and of which we know not, not only will justice not be done, it will not even be seen to be done.
If there is weight behind the case in Sweden, for whatever reason, the whole entire case I suspect is being used as a front by the US Government to prosecute an equally nebulous crime.
America I'm afraid "has form" when it comes to violating international laws, and justice and decency generally, and Australia has form when it comes to abandoning its citizens in their darkest days.
It all makes me wonder what the point of that blurb in the front of the passport is actually for.
Maybe on the next draft of the blurb they could put "contains silica gel - do no eat", it would be as useful.
Posted by Rollo at 10:03