Friday, 17 August 2012

Ecuador's brave decision to provide asylum to Assange

This is what is called courage. This is the power of conviction. Even as the big bullies of global politics – US & UK – were trying to arm-twist Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, into submission, the South American leader showed how bold he was by giving asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who has changed the nature of journalism and the way the governments do their business – their dirty business.
Correa is a man of conviction. He has battled Ecuador’s robber barons – always backed by the US -- and the right-wing media on his way to the country’s presidency.  He represents that generation of South America's left-wing leaders who decline to give in to American pressure and refuse to be treated as America’s backyard.
In his interview with Julian Assange on his show on Russia Today (RT) television channel a few months ago, Correa was clear about what he thought of Washington. When Julian Assange asked him what do “the Ecuadorean people think about the US and its involvement in Latin America and in Ecuador?” Correa said: “Evo Morales (the Bolivian president) says, the ‘only country that can be sure never to have a coup d’etat is the United States because it hasn’t got a U.S. Embassy’.” Spot on!
Then he spoke about how the Americans funded and controlled the police in Ecuador – and hence its economy and politics. After coming to power, Correa cut that money trail, and that led to some anger in police units. “I’d like to say that one of the reasons that led to police discontent was the fact that we cut all the funding the U.S. Embassy provided to the police. Before and even after we took office, we took a while to correct this. Before, there were whole all police units, key units, fully funded by the U.S. Embassy whose offices in command were chosen by the U.S. ambassador and paid by the U.S. And so we have increased considerably the police pay…”
The Julian Assange Show – one of the best shows on television ever – was an eye opener. Even after Assange walked into the Ecuadorean embassy and stopped doing the show, RT continued following the story, though the WikiLeaks founder almost vanished from the screens of BBC and CNN. I have been following the Assange’s asylum drama on RT for months and now it’s clear to me what the western governments are really afraid of. Speaking on the channel in an interview on Wednesday, Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computers with Steve Jobs in 1976, said, “As far as WikiLeaks, I wish I knew more about the whole case. On the surface it sounds to me like something that’s good. The whistleblower blew the truth. The people found out what they the people had paid for. And the government says, ‘No, no, no. The people should not know what the people had paid for.”
Another big revelation came from Kevin Zeese, who has been running a campaign for Bradley Manning, the US army private who presumably leaked all the cables to Assange and is now rotting in a US prison. Speaking on RT, Zeese said the US calls Assange a “high-tech terrorist” because the “US is scared by the information disseminated by Assange, as it reveals corruption at all levels of the US government.”
“There is an embarrassment to the US Empire, but no one has been killed by this. There has been no undermining of US national security,” said Kevin Zeese, emphasizing that what really worries the government is that the public sees what the US does on a “day-to-day basis.”
Zeese is not the only one exposing the truth behind Britain’s “veiled threats” to storm the Ecuadorean embassy in London and hand over Assange to Sweden. The British call it their “binding obligation.” But their intention is highly suspicious. According to David Swanson, an author and activist, it is likely that if Assange was extradited to Sweden he would handed over to the US where he will be tried for espionage, given “the unusualness of the extradition with no charges in place.”
The threat to Assange’s freedom is real. According to an email from US-based intelligence company, Stratfor, leaked in February, US prosecutors had already issued a secret indictment against Assange. “Not for Pub. — We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect,” Stratfor official Fred Burton wrote in a January 26, 2011, email obtained by hacktivist group Anonymous.
Now, the question is if Assange can get out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London, get to the Heathrow and take a flight to Ecuador. It’s not easy. The British – in complete violation of international law – might arrest him the moment he steps out of the building. The Americans – in complete violation of international law – can scramble their fighter jets and force his plane to land in Guantanamo. They have already declared him a terrorist (That also makes terrorists of all journalists and newspapers who wrote and carried reports based on the leaked cables).
Taking out innocent people in the name of “war on terror” is America’s new business. Believe it or not, US President Barack Obama, the Nobel peace prize winner, personally has been signing death warrants for “terrorists”, who quite often turn out to be ordinary villagers, farmers, school children and women in the dusty valleys of Afghanistan. This is Dronophilia – killing people with a remote control, with a pilotless machine hovering over, with a missile that blows people to bits, and they don’t need to confirm if they got their ‘target’.
Ecuador has done the right thing by giving asylum to Assange. A small country has stood up to the big bullies of global politics even when the so-called giants of the new global order – India and China – have remained mute spectators to the whole drama. They have failed to speak for free speech, human rights and transparency in government affairs.  
Julian Assange exposed the crimes and dirty games the big powers play. So, they went after him. Now, Ecuador has given him shelter. They will for sure go after this small country now, for sure. This will be a good excuse to meddle into the internal affairs of South American again.
Ecuador has done a brave thing but now it needs to be careful. It needs to be very careful. The whole South American continent needs to be careful now… 

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