Photos & Short vids (thanx to Bradleylibero)
Wed June 19th will mark a year since WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange entered the
Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking sanctuary. The Ecuadorian government
was immediately threatened in private correspondence from British Foreign Minister
Hague with the loss of diplomatic status and a consequent raid. The Ecuadorian
government made the private threat public, held their ground and conducted an inquiry
into the Assange case. This was the same government that had previously responded
to a U.S. request for a U.S. military base in Ecuador with, "if you let us have an
Ecuadoran base in Florida?"
During this period of inquiry, the London Met were deployed in large numbers around
the embassy with 30 police stationed there 24/7. Anti-War, human rights, Latino,
Veterans for Peace, Catholic Worker, Occupy & other activists maintained a solidarity
vigil at the embassy. Following the completion of the Ecuadorian inquiry and the formal
granting of asylum for Julian Assange in August 2012, the Met bobbies left to be
replaced by 10 members of the Diplomatic Protection section of the Met and a police
conference van permanently parked. This 24/7 police presence has been maintained
for the past year at a cost of 4 million quid. On a significantly smaller budget, a daily
vigil of solidarity activists has been sustained (presently 4-6pm).
Sunday June 16th. 2013 was chosen as a time to mobilise as Ecuador’s Foreign
Minister Ricardo Patino was to visit Julian Assange before his meeting with British
Foreign Minister William Hague the following day.
The first sight that greeted activists on exiting the Knighstbridge tube
station http://tinyurl.com/lydl5ap was Sue & Roland’s motor home transformed into
the "Free Tea, Free Assange" takeaway. The caboose was parked next to an
exclusive Gran Cafe facing Harrods, serving folks throughout the afternoon. We
started setting up banners and were soon joined by the Ecuadorian community.
Support grew to about 130+ by about 4pm. Word came through that the foreign
minister had been delayed with an ETA of 6.30pm. We were blessed with fine
weather and settled in for the duration. Fortunately, John McClean had brought
his guitar! Songs alternated between an Aussie Kiwi combo http://tinyurl.com/ktm9j7m
and the Ecuadorian community http://tinyurl.com/mztg4v8 .
In breaks between songs, media interviews were conducted and the Ecuadorian
folks led us in chanting. At 6.30 the Ecuadorian foreign minister arrived waving to
the crowd and entered the embassy. Singing resumed and after a while curtains were
drawn back and Ricardo Patino and Julian Assange appeared at the window of the
embassy. Between us and them were the London Metropolitan Police, mainstream
media and a sealed U.S. Grand Jury indictment for the WikiLeaks founder.
In other places, Jeremy Hammond & Bradley Manning are already in chains, Edward
Snowden is hotly pursued by the same powers. The courage of these people, the
WikiLeaks crew and the Ecuadorian people inspires us all. Hopefully such courageous
and solidarity is contagious. The world literally depends on its transmission. If that
sunny afternoon on a sidewalk in Knightsbride/ London with the Ecuadorian
community and friends is anything to go by, it’s worth the effort.