Father of incarcerated journalist Julian Assange, John Shipton, is continuing his campaign for his son's freedom, writes Dr John Jiggens.
International Press Freedom Day fell on 3 May and this year it coincided with Labour Day in Brisbane. John Shipton, the father of Julian Assange, marched with Julian's union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) on Brisbane's Labour Day to remind Australia that his son, a famous Queensland-born journalist, whistle-blower and MEAA member was locked up in the UK on International Press Freedom Day and his plight was being ignored by the Australian Government.
His supporters marched alongside him, holding a banner that read, 'Home Run for Julian'. They wore t-shirts that said, 'He is in prison for us. We're out on the streets for him!' and carried placards that read, 'I am Julian Assange'.
Said John Shipton:
Julian Assange has been detained arbitrarily (in the judgement of the U.N.) for ten years for disclosing war crimes by the U.S. and their allies in Iraq and Afghanistan and is locked up in Belmarsh Prison, facing extradition to the USA where he may be imprisoned for another 175 years.
Julian's mistreatment is intended as an example to journalists everywhere of the fate that befalls journalists who expose U.S. war crimes. I marched with John Shipton on Labour Day to remind journalists that we are Julian, too.
That afternoon, John Shipton spoke at an International Press Freedom Day rally in Bunyapa Park in West End, with support from:
- Senator Larissa Waters - Australian Parliamentary Group to Bring Julian Home;
- Michael Cope - Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL);
- Paul Toner - Amnesty International;
- Kasun Ubayasiri - Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance;
- Nigel Powell, Queensland police corruption whistleblower; and
- perennial civil rights activist and public intellectual, Dan O'Neill.
Civil Liberties Council President Michael Cope welcomed the decision of the English Court to refuse to extradite Assange, but condemned the decision not to release him from gaol:
Because Senator Larissa Waters, Deputy Leader of the Greens in the Senate, was unable to attend due to illness, Imogen Bunting read a statement on her behalf that said:
Julian's father, John Shipton, urged resistance:
Mr Shipton had just begun a marathon tour down the east coast, travelling from Melbourne to Brisbane, talking first at the Mardi Grass in Nimbin, before travelling north for Labour Day and the International Press Freedom Day rally in Brisbane. After Brisbane, the tour headed south to Mullumbimby, Lismore, Byron, Coff's Harbour, Bellingen, Port Macquarie, Newcastle and Canberra.
John Shipton was on a journey to everywhere to rally support for his son and to reconnect with Assange supporters, before embarking on an even more impressive journey to the UK and the U.S. where he will plead with President Joe Biden to ease his family and Julian's decade-long suffering and drop the charges and free Julian Assange.
- Assange: What Australia is not doing to save its citizen and media freedom
- Julian Assange still not in the clear from prosecution or persecution
- Julian Assange's denial of freedom an affront to human rights
- Assange extradition denial: How human rights experts have responded
- Assange case: The 'right decision for the wrong reason'