The prisoners who succeeded in getting Juilan Assange moved out of solitary confinement had a unique vantage point on his plight, writes Caitlin Johnstone.
By Caitlin Johnstone
In some refreshingly good news about Julian Assange, WikiLeaks is reporting that its founder has finally been moved out of solitary confinement to a different wing in Belmarsh Prison where he can have normal social interactions with 40 other inmates.
This fantastic news lifts a huge weight from the chests of those of us who’ve been protesting Assange’s cruel and unusual treatment at the hands of an international alliance of governments bent on making a draconian public example of a journalist whose publications exposed U.S. war crimes. Solitary confinement is a form of torture, and a UN special rapporteur has confirmed that Assange shows clear symptoms that he is a victim of psychological torture caused by his persecution from coordinated efforts by Washington, London, Stockholm, Canberra and Quito.
So what caused this shift in Assange’s treatment? Did the powerful empire-like alliance loosely centralized around the United States suddenly come to its senses and realize that torturing journalists for telling the truth is the sort of tyrannical abuse that it accuses other governments of perpetrating? Did officials in the British government bow to public pressure from the pro-Assange demonstrations which have been taking place in London month after month and have some faint flickerings of conscience? Did Belmarsh Prison authorities come to their senses after more than a hundred doctors warned that their cruelty was killing the award-winning publisher?
Why no. As it turns out, Assange was in fact rescued from the cruelty of this globe-sprawling empire by the concerted protests of high-security prison inmates.
Prisoners' revolt and pressure from legal team and campaigners forces Belmarsh to move Assange out of solitary. WikiLeaks statement: pic.twitter.com/9Af9y3zC93
— Don't Extradite Assange (@DEAcampaign) January 24, 2020
“In a dramatic climbdown, authorities at Belmarsh Prison have moved Julian Assange from solitary confinement in the medical wing and relocated him to an area with other inmates,” said WikiLeaks Ambassador Joseph Farrell in a statement. “The move is a huge victory for Assange’s legal team and for campaigners who have been insisting for weeks that the prison authorities must end the punitive treatment of Assange.”
“But the decision to relocate Assange is also a massive victory of prisoners in Belmarsh,” Farrell added. “A group of inmates have petitioned the prison governor on three occasions, insisting that the treatment of Assange was unjust and unfair. After meetings between prisoners, lawyers and the Belmarsh authorities, Assange was moved to a different prison wing — albeit one with only 40 inmates.”
Belmarsh is a notoriously harsh maximum-security prison full of violent offenders and prisoners convicted under anti-terrorism laws, one of many reasons that Assange supporters have so vigorously opposed his confinement there. What does it tell you about the society you are living in that this population has a superior moral compass to the people who are actually running things?
Infinitely More Ethical
For years I’ve been arguing with Democratic Party-aligned liberals on one side saying that Assange is a Russian agent who deserves to be tortured, and a bunch of Trump-aligned right wingers on the other side saying their president is extraditing Assange for the good of the world. These are the two mainstream views on Assange within the Western empire today. And a group of Belmarsh prisoners just proved themselves infinitely more ethical than any of them. They have a better sense of right and wrong than those running the empire, and they have a better sense of right and wrong than the propagandized apologists for that empire.
UN Special Rapporteur on torture: “In 20 years..I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law”https://t.co/UMGegjYrBS
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 31, 2019
Not that this should surprise us; the U.S.-centralized empire is spectacularly evil, and this group of Belmarsh prisoners had a unique vantage point on Assange’s plight. The prisoners demonstrated their moral superiority to the mainstream public not because prison inmates are on average inherently better people than those on the outside, but because they were confronted with the reality of Assange’s situation instead of mainlining mass media propaganda about Assange. They were dealing with reality rather than narrative, so they addressed that reality. And they did so admirably.
The smear campaign that has been conducted against Assange by the political/media class has distorted public perception of his plight so severely that there are far more people seeing his case through a distorted understanding than there are people who actually understand what’s happening to him. We saw this illustrated very clearly when the aforementioned UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer admitted frankly that before going to investigate Assange’s case for himself he’d been propagandized by this same smear campaign as well.
“When I was first approached by his defense team seeking protection from my mandate in December last year, I was reluctant to do so, because, me too, I had been affected by this prejudice that I had absorbed through all these public narratives spread in the media over the years,” Melzer told Democracy Now in an interview last year. “And only when I scratched the surface a little bit, I saw how little foundation there was to back this up and how much fabrication and manipulation there is in this case. So, I encourage everybody to really look below the surface in this case.”
Inmates of Belmarsh prison had a superior understanding of Assange’s plight because they wouldn’t have been affected by these narratives. They would simply have seen what’s right in front of them, with their own eyes: a nonviolent prisoner being caged in solitary confinement 23 hours a day for no discernible reason.
You couldn’t ask for a clearer example of the difference between fact and narrative than this. Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Whoever can see beyond narrative can see the truth. We must all strive for this.
Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on Facebook, Twitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a book, “Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.”
This article was re-published with permission.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
Donate to the 25thAnniversary Winter Fund Drive.
Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment Policy. Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive or rude language toward other commenters or our writers will not be published. If your comment does not immediately appear, please be patient as it is manually reviewed. For security reasons, please refrain from inserting links in your comments, which should not be longer than 300 words.
After a total of six years in various British prisons, I’m not at all surprised at the ethical behaviour of the people confined in HMP Belmarsh. I found some of the most trustworthy and intelligent people I’ve ever known behind those walls. I also met some wh0m I wouldn’t trust at all… but enough about the POs.
First Assange, now Greenwald. Who next? Anyone who deviates one line from the approved hymn sheet? The MSM hacks cheerleading the persecution of Assange may live to regret it.
First Soleimani and his Iraqi counterpart. Who next? Nasrallah? Khamenei? Marshal Shoigu? Putin? Xi?
Ms. Johnstone, I hope that the number of people that see things as you is growing and will continue to do so.
Your last comment: “You couldn’t ask for a clearer example of the difference between fact and narrative than this. Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Whoever can see beyond narrative can see the truth. We must all strive for this.”
Proving once again that the wrong people are in prison. Should be the government leaders of all those lapdog countries.
I’m reminded of:
“Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint”
Too bad that the likes of Pompous don’t understand which side of the religious divide they’re actually on.
You can’t have a flickering of conscience where you don’t have one. Sold it to the devil long ago.
Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning are heros and should be released from prison. The very governments keeping them hostage should be rounded up and tried for crimes against humanity!
Fact. A Kakistocracy is the worst of the worst in charge. Looks like we’ve already arrived. Heroes vilified, Villains glorified. Shall we pray? Nip
Well, the fact that Demrat so-called Left/progressive (whatever the latter term means) actually appear to *support* the TORTURE of *anyone* demonstrates clearly how amoral they are and fully in line with their Repcan counterparts.
Moreover, they also demonstrate their utter amorality by being supportive (as they would seem to be – but then Wikileaks cast serious shadows on the Obama government’s criminal actions, and that’s beyond the pale) of *any* government that happily bombs, slaughters, starves via sanctions another people anywhere in the world and does so for profiteering for US (and UK, FR, Ger) companies and, of course, the politicos own bank balances. These Demrat supporters obviously believe wholeheartedly in the USA’s right to kill who it wants, wherever, whenever, however it wants, whether by drone operators, bombing crews or by those *boots on the ground* troops – and do so without the world being permitted to see, to know, have the evidence of their criminality, their murdering, their pleasure in killing…
Obscene. Utterly amoral – all of them.
Insulated to an extent from the shreaking soundbox of Government propaganda and virulent lies of the MSM the incarcerated souls of Belmarsh have shown extroidinary courage and humanity in challenging the unjust, cruel and oppressive treatment of a another human being by a penal and legal system which has lost all legitimacy in the persecution and torture of the political prisoner Julian Assange a fact which those fellow prisoners whatever their crimes fully understand and see in themselves and their action a means to eclipse the injustice and vindictiveness of the UK State and its imperialist master the US.
I wrote to my ( Tory ) MP ( for Berwick on Tweed ) suggesting she say something to support Assange .
Surprisingly she replied .
Unsurprisingly she was ‘ confident ‘ in the justice of British Justice .
I have read that the judge in his case has connections that strongly imply she should recuse herself .
The British establishment : what a collection of skunks .
This is fantastic news for Julian and for all of us who have been unable to do something for him!
Thank you to all the prisoners there at Belmarsh as well as his legal team for getting this done for this maltreated man.
That’s great news, but it should not have taken this long, and Assange deserves better still. American and British politicians alike often loudly denounce foreign imprisonment of those found politically inconvenient – it is more than just irony that the same thing has happened here on behalf of these countries.
Before I read this article, my theory was that UK government signals USA that it is displeased with the denial of deportation of a perpetrator of vehicular homicide. I guess that American point of view is that the fault lies squarely on the British side: why they have this confusing left-hand traffic?
I LOL’ed at the last bit, but then again, this country you’re talking about (the USA) is one where, as Putin once said, people confuse Austria for Australia. Aside from a slipshod education system that isn’t helped by a money-hungry military-industrial complex, it also reflects an inability to think outside of the box and put oneself into another’s shoes
It is sobering to learn that prison inmates show more compassion, empathy and regard for Assange than our elected representatives. They either slandered him with their lies or ignored his treatment with a cowardly silence. An impressive bunch of thugs.
From Dissident Voice: The prison governor has been petitioned on no less than three occasions by a group of convicts insisting that the treatment being afforded Assange smacked of injustice. Human rights activist Craig Murray subsequently reflected on this “small victory for basic humanity – and it took criminals to teach it to the British state.”
I think the US “left” could learn something from these prisoners about the need for persistence in organizing