“First they came for…Assange”

Julian Assange

This Sunday June 19th marks 4 years that Wikileaks founder & whistleblower Julian Assange has been unlawfully detained in the Ecuadorian Embassy here in London.
To mark the day a global event celebrating whistleblowers and freedom of expression will be held simultaneously in ten major cities.
The events will be simulcast on freeassangenow.org .
‘Before it is too late, the global event” First they came for Assange… “wants to stress that we live in a critical time in which everyone opposed to the political and financial powers might soon become a target’.
Vivienne Westwood, long time campaigner for Julian’s situation, has her MAN SS17 show in Milan on the same day & has made a video which will be broadcast both at her show & the Assange event later.
The title ‘First they came for…’ comes from the famous German Pastor Martin Niemöller poem about the cowardice of intellectuals and purging of dissidents, in his case in pre-war 1930’s Berlin, but it is also a popular model for describing the dangers of political apathy everywhere.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”.

British filmmaker Ken Loach, one of many supporters taking part in the event says:
“our legal system is being manipulated to keep a brave man in isolation” and that “all who care about freedom of information should demand that the threats made against Julian should be lifted. He should be able to leave his place of safety without fear of deportation or being handed over to those who intend him harm.”

 See a live stream of the Westwood show & video here:

Julian Assange

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One thought on ““First they came for…Assange”

  1. Dear Ben, Dear Vivienne,

    I always tried to treasure those “First they came for…” wise words. Maybe because my grandfather survived the Nazi Camp, and managed to walk back home from Germany to Naples, at the end of the II World War.
    Today, as I was concluding the last day of a free workshop on Cinema, organized in a Youth Centre in the outskirts of my City, I thought that the crisis of our Education system has become so deep that people don’t even notice they have no opportunity. Not anymore. With my association, we had organized a selection of films to discuss about outskirts and opportunities. Today Kassowitz’s La Haine was scheduled. Though a lot of kids had said there where interested, no-one but one showed up, a joyful and clever roma-boy. Our offer was the only one in the Youth Centre, for which the Municipality pays utilities only, plus the time of 3 educators, twice a week, with no budget for doing anything. It’s getting worse and worse every year. At a National level, our Government just launched a call for application for 2 mln €, to be used by associations and NGOs for projects on Global Citizenship Education in the whole country for the next one year and a half. But in the last 10 years, Education national budget has been cut to the point that students have to bring the toilet paper from home, especially in the poorest neighbourhoods. In a school where we have a Human Rights Education Program, our former Mayor (Municipality of Torino, Italy) had inaugurated, two years ago, 2 volleyball courts. Unfortunately, students cannot use them because there’s no budget for the maintenance.
    As a former primary school teacher, Vivienne should know that with no education, brains shrink. And there’s no private initiative which can replace the quality of a well organized public system, for the obvious reason that profit cannot be a goal. As in Orwell’s 1984, a system has being created, with a newspeak that will prevent the very idea of a different way to see the world to be imagined. For us it is difficult to explain why Assange deserves all our gratitude (and why Zuckerberg not, in a way), because youngsters cannot perceive the problem.
    The reason why I am writing this here, is that I would love to see a Vivienne Westwood collection dedicated to Governments DUTY to properly fund their National Education Systems. NGOs are not enough, and they shall not be used as placebos. It is more urgent now than ever. NGOs themselves, they cannot do it in the proper way, because they work on campaigns, and this is a long term goal. A strong voice, enough to be heard where it counts, would help a lot. I had the luck to study up to the PhD without paying a single euro, gaining scholarships that have helped me not to depend on my parents. Now I am becoming father, and I fear to be my child will consider my story as a fairy tale, as I was in Wonderland.

    Thank you for your kind attention.

    Emanuele