Belmarsh Tribunal puts US government’s 21st-century crimes on trial

Journalists, campaigners and politicians demand the Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange’s release

Oct. 22, 2021
Photo: Progressive International

A PEOPLE’s tribunal putting the US government on trial for its 21st-century crimes was held today as journalists, campaigners and politicians gathered to demand the release of Julian Assange.

The second round of hearings of the Belmarsh Tribunal, held ahead of the Wikileaks founder’s latest extradition hearing due next week, sought to hold the US accountable for its war crimes.

The event, the second of its kind and the first to be held in person due to the Covid-19 pandemic, saw figures such as former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP, whistleblower Edward Snowden and legal observer Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver urge the US to drop its case against the journalist.

Organised by the Progressive International, the Belmarsh Tribunal hearing sought to expose attempts by the US and its allies to persecute, imprison and plot to assassinate Julian Assange for exposing the criminality of the War on Terror.

Philosopher and Belmarsh Tribunal chair Srecko Horvat said the hearing would not only defend Mr Assange, but look to appraise the “bloody crimes” of Western governments, security agencies, and other war criminals who had not been put on trial.

Mr Horvat reiterated that legal attempts to remove Mr Assange are “nothing more than assassination in broad daylight” after he unveiled “the dirty and monstrous crimes of the military-industrial complex.”

He said: “We know very well that no tribunal can bring justice to the victims of war crimes.

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“If the British judges decide either to extradite Assange to the US or keep him in the British Guantanamo they will effectively sentence him to death.”

Speakers gathered at Convocation Hall, Church House, in Westminster — which was used for sittings of Parliament during World War II.

The tribunal is styled upon the well-known 1966 people’s tribunal on the Vietnam war, which also investigated the US government, and named after the prison where Mr Assange is being held.

Veteran anti-war activist Tariq Ali, former Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, a number of left-wing Labour MPs and politicians from across the globe also joined the fight for truth and to stop Mr Assange’s extradition.

The US government’s appeal against a previous judicial decision not to extradite the Wikileaks founder will be heard in London on Wednesday and is expected to continue until Thursday.

If convicted in the US Mr Assange faces a possible prison sentence of up to 175 years.

Mr Corbyn said Mr Assange has paid a high price for his lifelong goal to tell the truth, adding that holding public officials to account saves lives, stops wars and ensures democracies function properly.

John McDonnell MP, secretary of the NUJ’s parliamentary group, said the British government has been complicit in the persecution of Julian Assange, which has become a “stain on the history of this country and the people’s struggle to secure a free media.”

Historian Tariq Ali, who sat on the 1966 tribunal on Vietnam, told the tribunal Mr Assange had exposed the war on terror — which was responsible for the deaths of millions and the wasting of trillions.

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He said: “Julian, far from being indicted, should actually be a hero.”

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