On Julian Assange & Political Asylum

Within the last 24 hours, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been granted political asylum by Ecuador. Earlier this week, the Ecuadorian embassy in London reported that British police had threatened to storm the embassy in order to bring Julian Assange to justice. ABC News report here. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

Whoever it was that thought up the idea to storm an embassy must be completely bonkers… a single prisoner isn’t worth an act of war. To quote M in the James Bond movie Casino Royale: “You stormed into an Embassy. You violated the only absolutely inviolate rule of international relations…” I never understood why that was so until I discovered that an embassy is actually the territory of the country in question, so British police would be storming into Ecuador, pretty much. Not a good look.

It’s interesting that out of all the embassies in London that Julian Assange could have taken refuge in, he chose Ecuador. I suspect this was because Ecuador is one of the few countries that isn’t in bed with the United States… unlike Australia. Julian Assange is a citizen of Australia, and the Australian government should have offered Assange a far greater degree of assistance than they have. In essence, Assange seeking political asylum in Ecuador is basically saying that putting himself in Australia’s hands would have put him in personal danger. That’s not a thought I feel comfortable with, as the freedom from political persecution is a right I believe everybody should have.

I suspect the reason Australia haven’t given Assange more support is Geo-political in nature. Australia cannot defend itself in the case of invasion from either Indonesia or China (who I have little doubt would love to invade Australia for the sheer landmass that would afford them). We need the United States to offer us defense support, which is why they have air force bases in the Northern Territory (much as we don’t like them, they are a necessity for national security). If we support Assange against the United States, we’re basically giving a big F-you to the United States, which they won’t like very much… and on it goes.

Of course, this presupposes that Sweden has ulterior motives in it’s prosecution against Assange (that it wants to prosecute him simply to send him to the United States for further question), which is debatable. Very, very likely is that the CIA and FBI would like to question Assange, probably in a dark room somewhere.I remember reading about debate amongst academics in the US as to whether Assange had actually committed a crime (the gist is basically that he didn’t actually leak anything, just publish those leaks; not sure how legitimate those claims are) and thus whether a civilian (I guess US Supreme) court would convict would be marginal.

Basically, nobody could ever predict the outcome of what all this will be… but the way things have played out so far makes perfect sense. With that said, I believe Australia should offer Assange more support, starting now. The more teeth Australia shows in this matter, the more we can stand up and say we believe in human rights.

And then we can do something about the non-illegal “illegal asylum seekers”… but’s that for another day.

Zzz? Zzz!

This has to be the most entertaining federal election of all time… not. Both major parties (the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal/National coalition) agree with each other so much there’s nothing major left to argue about.

They’re both going to give us offshore processing of asylum seekers (though we have to decide between Nauru and East Timor). Personally, I’m appalled by the fact we are even considering either of these options. These are human beings we are dealing with here. We should be welcoming them with open arms into our country. No terrorist is going to come by leaking boat, so they pose a relatively small danger to the existing population. It’s all just a load of fear-mongering by the major parties, and I’m disappointed.

Both are making huge stuff-ups with Climate Change. The L/N coalition can’t even decide if it exists or not. The Labor party is having trouble committing to anything, and that’s showing through with climate change. We’re going to get a citizen’s assembly of 150 people to decide for us. This is a matter where normal citizens do just not have the information available to make the right decision. I (if I may) call myself a well-informed voter, and I don’t have the information for the job. The one man who does, Ross Garnaut (who wrote a report on this for the government), got his solution to the problem blown into a million pieces in parliament.

Both parties are completely over-using their campaign slogans.

One of the leaders is a backstabbing whining bitch; the other is also a backstabbing whining bitch.

There isn’t just a small number of people agreeing with me either. Here’s one of them.

At the election, I’ll be voting Green first. I think it’s the only rational choice. I don’t agree with every single policy they have, but the parliament needs a mix-up and a bit of discussion rather than simply disagreeing on the identical policy. I have no idea if they are running candidates in Tasmania, but if they are, the Liberal Democratic Party (basically a libertarian party) will get my second vote, simply because I think we need to stop turning into a nanny state.

So, unless something interesting happens, that’s all I really have to say about the federal election.

Note: As of the time of writing, the LDP’s website appears to be down for maintenance. I think they may need to fix that, being an election on and all…