Statement on Julian Assange and Pussy Riot

The contrasting treatment of Pussy Riot and Julian Assange by the British government and media serves to expose the hypocrisy at the heart of their agenda.

The trial and jailing of three members of the group " Pussy Riot " must be considered in the context of current political life in Russia.  Putin's Russia is characterised by the power of oligarchs, rampant corruption, rising food prices and utilities rates, a drastic fall in living standards, bureaucratic arbitrary rule, contempt for democracy and ever-increasing social inequalities.  While the treatment of the group members and the disproportionate sanctions imposed are to be condemned the media hype obscures the hypocrisy of bourgeois governments and, in particular, the role of the British Government.

Has the British press and the Tory Party forgotten their outrage when schoolchildren protesting against tuition fees climbed on Churchill's statue on Parliament Green and on the Cenotaph ?.  One student was sentenced to 16 months in prison.  Or when an anti-cuts protestor was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for picking up a joke shop smoke bomb from the pavement or the protestors who entered Fortnum and Masons who were arrested, charged and convicted of aggravated trespass ?.  Or the policy of severe and disproportionate sentencing imposed after August 2011 London riots ?.

The European Union immediately call the decision " disproportionate " while Washington urged Moscow to review the case.  Is this the same US which jailed the Miami Five, holds political prisoners in lifetime solitary confinement and continues to engage in the practice of indefinite detention without trial ?.  Is it the same US which continues to hold Bradley Manning, the young US soldier charged with multiple counts relating to leaking embassy cables and other documents to the WikiLeaks Website, in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, checking him every five minutes under a so-called " prevention of injury order ", stripping him naked at night apart from a smock and which has prevented a UN expert on torture from giving evidence on his behalf.

Is this the same European Union which continues extradite political prisoners to the US and whose member states actively collude in the unlawful rendition of " terror " suspects ?.

Contrast the reaction of the British Government and press to the recent developments in the case of Julian Assange.

Ecuador has made a decision to grant political asylum to the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.  Last Wednesday, the the UK government made an unprecedented threat, in gross violation of the norms and principals of international law and recognised diplomatic conventions, to invade Ecuador's embassy if Assange is not handed over.  The grossly bullying and disproportionate nature of such a response supports the contention that this issue has little to do with extradition to Sweden and more to do with a desire to assist their allies, the US, in some future attempt to remove Assange to the United States where he would likely, on the basis of a Grand Jury indictment, to face persecution for his activities as a journalist and prosecution for espionage, which carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.

WikiLeaks, while most certainly not a socialist organisation, has done much to expose the true criminal nature of imperialism, the massacre of civilians, torture, the abuse of technology, the acceleration of repression and the denial of political rights, political and financial corruption, environmental damage and pollution and the secret collaboration between governments in Europe and the US.

Ecuador's decision to grant political asylum to Assange was a decision for Ecuador.  We salute that decision and support the right of sovereign states to grant political asylum to those seeking to avoid persecution by the US.  We support the right of nations to govern their own affairs without the threat of external interference by imperialist powers.  The contrasting treatment of Pussy Riot and Julian Assange by the British government and media serves to expose the hypocrisy at the heart of their agenda.
The Workers' Party
21 August 2012

Peace, Work, Democracy & Class Politics