Friday, 17 December 2010

Release of Julian Assange





Last night
The new snowfall still lay on gardens, but had melted on the streets. Some pavements were still encrusted with inches of slippery ice that had not melted after the last severe fall. The cobbled road on which the US Consulate is located is blocked off with concrete bollards, so it is not possible for cars to pass or pull up in front of it. But the pavement is unobstructed and as we walk towards it, we see a lone person standing in front of the doorway. It's H. She tells us that soon after she arrived someone came out to tell her that he is the chief security officer and he can have her arrested if she tries to obstruct his work in any way. She tells him she is not there to cause any obstruction, she is there to protest.
M and I take photographs and H asks who is going to hand in the letter in support of Wikileaks. It quoted from a letter published in the Herald by Scottish PEN's President. After mentioning how the Chinese Government put pressure on countries not to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony last week, he says:
'We have no room for complacency in democratic societies. Laws can be changed and individuals can be persecuted, slandered and marginalised at the point where they appear to pose any threat to powerful interests.'
I've never protested before H says. Do we have to ring the bell I ask, or can we just put it through the letter box? While we are discussing this a man comes out, goes up to M and asks him not to take photographs. While we say that we do not think it's against the law to take photographs he says that if we continue he will have to call the police. There are certain places where you are not allowed to take photographs because it's a security risk and this is one of these places. Eventually M says ok he won't take any more. The man heads back towards the door. Will you accept a letter? asks T. No he says, and goes back inside.
That's the one who said he could have me arrested says H. We stand around talking. The moon shines between the trees, and Jupiter becomes ever clearer above the dark shape of Arthur's Seat. About half an hour later the man comes out again, and, his manner affable now, says if we're waiting to deliver the letter, he will accept it. We hand it over and he goes back inside. He must want to go home we laugh, that's why he's decided to accept it. Maybe he wouldn't be able to leave, if we were still there.
We left the Consulate around 5.40 or 5.45.
I read in the paper today that that was the time Julian Assange was released and appeared in front of the court house – 5.46 – to a barrage of flashing cameras. One of the things he said was -
during my time in solitary confinement in the bottom of a Victorian prison I had time to reflect on the condition of these people around the world also in solitary confinement also on remand in conditions that are more difficult than those faced by me. These people also need your attention and support.”
International PEN supports writers in prison throughout the world. The Scottish branch of International PEN currently has an exhibition at the Writers Museum in Edinburgh featuring the work of their Writers in Prison group.

2 comments:

three sea horses said...

wow - good for you! i have been signing online petitions and things but no idea what good they do. real people and real letters handed over by hand probably much more relevant.
loads of beautiful photos, M, really lovely to see and read your doings as usual! hope you keep warm and ok in this next bout of cold and snow. Txx

dritanje said...

thank you! I just emailed you to see how you are. It was a last minute thing really if there had been more time to let people know about the demo - but there wasn't. Didn't think I could make it as it was snowing heavily in the morning. One of the people wrote a much longer account detailing what she experienced before the rest of us got there. I'll let you know if it appears anywhere, lots love xx