WATCH: Varoufakis — Try Those Guilty of Persecuting Assange

The Belmarsh Tribunal is all about trying those who are guilty of crimes against humanity and those who are trying to cover them up by persecuting Julian Assange. (With transcript).

Yanis Varoufakis, co-founder DIEM25 for Progressive International Belmarsh Tribunal, Great Hall, Sydney University, March 4. 

Hello, this is Yanis Varoufakis, addressing you from Athens on behalf of the Progressive International. This is the first time the Progressive International is in-situ in Australia, in Oz, doing important things. And what could be more important than the Belmarsh Tribunal on behalf of Julian Assange and the immensely important campaign to secure his freedom and his life on behalf of all whistleblowers, all journalists, all people around the world who care about free expression, free journalism, and for the possibility that we may glean, just about glean the truth about what our governments do on our behalf in our name.

But first, a few words about the Progressive International. It was late in 2018 when Bernie Sanders, myself and quite a few others met in Vermont, in the great state of Vermont in the United States and issued a call, a call to all progressives around the world to do that which the authoritarians, the fascists and the bankers have been doing so successfully for yonks, unite, in order to pursue a progressive agenda against the agenda of the nationalists, the racists, the fascists, and, of course the bankers.

Officially, the Progressive International was put together by DIEM25, the splendid pan-European transnational democratic movement that we set up in Berlin, in Europe, back in 2016 and the Sanders Institute. Since then, the Progressive International has spread its wings across the world. We’ve campaigned against Amazon, against the exploitation of people and nature in Africa, Asia, in Latin America, in North America, in Europe.

It was about time we came to Australia. On a personal note, let me express my utter jealousy at all of you who are gathered in the splendid Great Hall, a stone’s throw from the Meriwether Building, where I spent 12 good years lecturing economics and political economy at the University of Sydney. I mentioned that period of my life… it was in the 1990s.

At the time, I believe my great friend Phillip Adams was also being made aware of Julian Assange’s ambitions, for creating serious problems for those who are trying to usurp power straight out of our hands and wield it in misanthropic campaigns. Reading about Julian Assange back then was a great relief for me. For the first time, I felt there was an answer to what George Orwell was prognosticating in ‘1984’.

Since Big Brother was always going to gain the technological means to peer into our lives, to turn us into transparent beings, Julian’s answer was to use the same technologies that Big Brother was turning against us, to construct – think of it as a large scale digital mirror – which we turn towards the face of Big Brother. So while he’s watching us, we can be watching him.

That was the essence of WikiLeaks and that is the reason why the global establishment is so inimical to WikiLeaks and so determined to destroy the life and spirit of Julian Assange. For us at the Progressive International, at DIEM25 here in Greece, political party MERA25, Julian Assange is not just a celebrated cause. He’s a comrade. He was a founding member of DIEM25.

He appeared on the screen at the Fox Bruno Theatre in Berlin with us when we introduced DIEM25 to the world. For us, Julian Assange signifies and symbolises resistance to exorbitant power and to a ruthless, tiny oligarchy determined to destroy the world, if needs be, to preserve its own power. Liberating Julian Assange, saving his life and his spirit is a duty for all of us.

Speaking also as an Australian citizen, I want to call upon Mr. Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, to move heaven and earth in order to unsully the bad name of previous Australian governments and the Australian state that stood idly by while one of its citizens was effectively taken to the cleaners by a recalcitrant, violent series of American administrators.

Mr. Albanese. Free Julian and bring him home. But friends, we’re not here today simply to issue calls and to defend Julian: his body, his spirit and his legacy. This is the Belmarsh Tribunal. Our decision as the Progressive International to hold Belmarsh tribunals, first in London, then in the United States, now in Australia, wherever we can, stems from a prior decision, our decision to go well beyond simply defending a man whose only crime was to unveil power’s dirty secrets.

We’ve pleaded for too long for them to stop torturing his body and mind. We have spent too long warning the good people out there that first they came for Julian. Then they will come for anyone who tells a truth inimical to the interests of the very few. We have used too much energy trying to impress upon journalists, who have not lifted one finger to defend Julian Assange, that their profession is under threat if Julian’s persecution continues.

Enough! The Belmarsh Tribunal is all about trying those who are guilty of crimes against humanity and those who are trying to cover them up by persecuting Julian Assange. If we are truly in the business of allowing unalloyed truth to shine through, we must make the transition from defending Julian Assange; from warning against the dire consequences of him being extradited to the supermax prison system of the United States;

From explaining to the apathetic that their apathy is feeding into their helplessness; we must make the transition, to turning the tables against those who are persecuting Julian. We must turn the current judicial process into a process for trying those who killed innocent civilians, who maimed and murdered journalists, who shrouded whole communities in pain and tears. We must turn Julian’s prosecutors into defendants, and in so doing, allow the great jury out there, a well-informed demos, to reach the verdict that history demands.

This is not hard to do. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we have all the information we need. The evidence is at our fingertips. We need to remind even those who still claim to be liberal, that to save what is left of liberal democracy’s instruments, we need to take the fight to Julian’s accusers, with a glorious, a magnificent, a righteous, a collective “We accuse you”.

For this reason, I salute the Belmarsh Tribunal. I salute today’s event. I salute all of you for being here, either as speakers or as active observers. Above all, I salute Julian for having sacrificed so much so that we can accuse all those who deserved to be accused, as is our duty. Free Julian Assange.


The Belmarsh Tribunal was hosted by Mary Kostakidis & Mark Davis; organised by Progressive International & Wau Holland foundation and co-sponsored by the Search Foundation, Jacobin, PEN Sydney, PEN International, Declassified Australia, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Consortium News and The Walkley Foundation.

14 comments for “WATCH: Varoufakis — Try Those Guilty of Persecuting Assange

  1. March 8, 2023 at 10:35

    History does not demand a verdict. Better to say that history suggests a truth and reconciliation commission, for all people are worthy of mercy.

  2. Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
    March 7, 2023 at 22:51

    “We must turn Julian’s prosecutors into defendants …” ; ABSOLUTELY !

  3. C. Parker
    March 7, 2023 at 20:08

    It is discouraging to witness the apathy of the general public. Especially when it comes to Julian Assange. I wonder how Australians could allow a fellow countryman to be so brutally treated. He exposed war crimes and other atrocities, this should render him a Nobel Peace Award. Where are the Australian public? We know the Americans and the Brits are indifferent. This partly due from the lack of good mainstream reporting, and the reporting done is full of the lies told about about Julian Assange. However, there are reports-one need not go too far underground-to learn Assange was kept under full time surveillance while at the Ecuador Embassy. We learned there were plots to silence Assange. Where are the protests? the voices of indignation?

    I recall the movie based ‘The Time Machine.’ There was a scene of a group of Elois nonchalantly sitting around a lake as a drowning woman screams for help. Elois were people who’ve been programmed not to react to injustice, or to care about others, all they knew was to obey. We are getting close to that stage, too close.

    It is an abomination what civilized countries are doing to Julian Assange. It makes on dislike the US, the UK and Australia. The US has gotten the governance this attitude of indifference deserves. It will only get worse. Julian Assange delivered the truth. How did we thank him? There is a lot of shame to go around. We should be shouting every day to free Julian Assange.

  4. Graeme
    March 7, 2023 at 18:33

    Thanks to Yanis for his thoughtful words.
    And to CN.

    Further to Yanis’s comments, which I agree with, that
    “We must turn Julian’s prosecutors into defendants, and in so doing, allow the great jury out there, a well-informed demos, to reach the verdict that history demands.”

    Sadly, the hope for “a well-informed demos” – one that extends beyond the minority who dig deeper than corporate media’s neglect &/or utilisation of Julian’s case to push their own barrow – has failed to gain traction.
    Because that is not what those in power, and their apologists the corporate media, deem fit.

    And let’s face it, corporate media only came to their feeble defense of Julian’s case when it seemed that they too may be in the US judicial system’s firing line.

    The Belmarsh Tribunal’s Sydney forum received virtually no Australian coverage in either the corporate or public (ABC, SBS) outlets.

    I could only find one singulat mention; that being in Guardian Australia in relation to the case of Daniel Duggan* whose “speech was read at the fifth sitting of the Belmarsh Tribunal.”
    In the same article, the Guardian scribe described the Belmarsh Tribunal as “an ad hoc panel of legal experts focused on the case of Australian publisher Julian Assange.”

    At the same time as The Guardian, and other MSM, bemoan threats to their press freedom and declare their support for freedom of speech, comments by readers that even reference Assange are promptly censored.

    German artist Georg Grosz described the masses are “a herd of obedient sheep that choose their own butchers with a sense of immense self-satisfaction.”
    I think he was correct, and so long as the masses restrict their ‘news’ to what corporate media shovels down their throats any hope of “a well-informed demos” being anything beyond a minority seems remote.

    * Duggan, a former US marine pilot now naturalised Australian, was arrested last October at the request of the US government, which is seeking his extradition on charges of arms trafficking and money laundering, arising from his alleged training of Chinese fighter pilots, more than a decade ago. The allegations have not been tested in court.


  5. mpschaefer
    March 7, 2023 at 18:12

    The world over how do those in power escape justice? Do they have the government and power structures to protect them? Those with power ever wanting to turn on those in the club. How to bring them to Justice? Overwhelming revolt from the people perhaps? Populism in inundating numbers? Overwhelming populist revolt is difficult to do when populations are controlled by the government and power institutions with information in todays age.

  6. CaseyG
    March 7, 2023 at 16:15

    I think of Julian Assange as the Tom Paine of the 21st century A . truth teller and a man who could see the problems and errors of so many in power. Truth telling does not seem to be a popular skill in most governments of the world—-but without them what we currently have is what we get—and what we currently get is so very sad.

    When I see how badly, both England and America treat Julian Assange as a kind of poison—though sadly, the poison comes from our own corrupted government.


  7. JonnyJames
    March 7, 2023 at 12:15

    Most folks are unaware, or have forgotten about Julian Assange, despite great efforts of CN and others to spread the word. The Mass Media Cartel (quasi-monopoly) has smeared and then ignored Assange, and other political prisoners of the Empire. Mumia Abu Jamal, and Leonard Peltier are still languishing in prison after so many decades.

    If the “rule of law” and “democracy” were not relegated to cruel jokes, Assange and others would be free, and folks like Tony Blair, Bush Jr. Icky Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and many others would be in prison for life.

    Not to be overly negative (moi?), but it looks like we are entering a post-imperial, neo-feudal, techno-totalitarian dark age. However, this is no reason to give up, it’s just part of the historical cycle. The Dark Ages weren’t as “dark” as we were taught. And if the human species survives, there will always be dissent, and honest journalism, albeit hard to find.

    • Rex Williams
      March 7, 2023 at 16:43


      You did miss one who should be on your list. Victoria Nuland and almost all the members of the House and Congress, those who are enjoying their privileged lifestyle due to sponsorship using Israeli money from its “American” stooges. But why stop there. Let’s have yet another search for un-American activities, closing down the AIPACers and the hundreds of un-American organisations that have been allowed to prosper, and prosper they certainly have.
      What a different world that would become. Palestine may become Palestinian again. Now that is a plus.The Middle East would be calm again. Countries could return to the ownership of their residents. US stooges would be pilloried in public and the world could be peaceful yet again.

  8. Me Myself
    March 7, 2023 at 12:03

    The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) of 1970 seeks to strengthen the legal tools in evidence gathering by establishing new penal prohibitions and providing enhanced sanctions and new remedies for dealing with the unlawful activities of those engaged in organized crime.

    This statute would be the vehicle to escort the DNC & RNC to their new home.

  9. Vera Gottlieb
    March 7, 2023 at 10:29

    If the ICC had more teeth to render more painful bites…There are a lot of people who should stand in front of the ICC.

  10. John Corey
    March 7, 2023 at 10:19

    Well said!

  11. Jack Stephen Hepburn Flanigan
    March 7, 2023 at 07:35

    By the lack of comments, it appears Julian’s plight is fading into history. His supporters have, and are still, going to great efforts to awaken people from their general apathy,that should not prevail in an informed society. The public response should be boiling anger at the cruel injustice and the lies, brutality and coverups perpetuated by western governments and the media. This has exposed the inherent corruption of the Pommie judicial system (or cistern) and its yellow kotowing to its corrupt political masters and the gutless Australian government, its State and Federal parliaments, its media and stupid and zombie population. If Jesus (assuming he ever existed) was to reincarnate and come to earth he would, no doubt receive the same treatment as Julian.I find the lies, the apathy, the indifference overwhelming.


    • Valerie
      March 7, 2023 at 14:05

      Well Jack, a lot of the problem lies within the MSM not promoting Julian’s plight. This of course ties in with the brit “poodles”, who as you say, show servile deference and fawning (in many things) to the USA. On the occasion of the protest for Julian around the houses of parliament, there were no accounts in any major UK newspapers of the 7000 people who took part. This is no accident.
      Then we have the current and former “british leaders and politicians”. (I use the terms loosely) It’s scandal after scandal; people unfit to serve; lies and deceipt; villainous treatment of refugees and much more.
      Any of us with an ounce of compassion find this unwarranted treatment and persecution overwhelming and frustrating.
      However, many prominent people are involved now and things are moving in the right direction with new approaches.


    • Blessthebeasts
      March 7, 2023 at 15:57

      The general public is only interested in the scandal/crisis of the week. I wear an Assange button and the absolute ignorance of people just horrifies me. Someone asked me if it was David Bowie.

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