2010-12-11 Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane rally reports


Yesterday's Australian rallies saw thousands of people take to the streets in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Some 1,500 participants attended the Sydney rally at Town Hall. "Julian Assange is an Australian. That makes me and I'm sure it makes you feel very proud," Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon told the crowd, to loud cheers. Independent journalist Antony Loewenstein also addressed the rally, noting that it was necessary "to say to the Australian government, the Gillard Government ... (their) behaviour in the last two weeks has been utterly outrageous, outrageous," reported Al Jazeera.

Our WLCentral editor Asher Wolf also addressed the rally: "Wikileaks is an important public institution. Without transparency there can be no accountability and without accountability there can be no democracy," she said, quoted by IT News Simon Skew, Pirate Party spokesman, said whistleblowers were essential to democracy: "Public disclosure is in the public interest and it's completely legitimate," reports SBS.

Channel 10 has a video report from the Sydney rally. The Age has another video available online.

Our editor JLo has a photo gallery from the Sydney rally: imgur.com. ZDNet gallery: ZDNet.com.au

In Melbourne, criminal lawyer Rob Stary told the audience that the Australian government was a "sycophant" of the US. Mr Stary told the rally of hundreds of people outside the Victorian state library that the treatment of Mr Assange was proof of the "subservience of the government in bowing to the US," reports Nine MSN. He added that "What we need to do is continue to agitate publicly, we need to agitate with our so-called political representatives, to expose the sham of all this, to support WikiLeaks, to support Julian Assange, to show greater transparency and greater accountability," as quoted by ABC.

The crowd chanted "shame" and cheered another lawyer and Greens politician Brian Walters SC, who urged the government to uphold the rule of law and freedom of speech.

In Brisbane, at the second WikiLeaks rally in two days, lawyer Peter Russo told the rally that it was important to understand that the real issue at stake in the WikiLeaks case was freedom. "It's not only the freedom of the individual, it's the freedom of all of us," he said, as quoted by The Australian. Greens candidate Andrew Bartlett said: "We do not accept and we do not support governments using their power to persecute individuals, using corporate power, abusing and misusing the law, calling publicly for individuals who've not even been accused of any crime to be assassinated, to be called a terrorist," reports ABC..

Messages from London-based Australian journalist John Pilger and US dissident academic Noam Chomsky were also read at the event. Professor Chomsky said that Julian Assange was performing a civic duty. "Systems of power wish to protect themselves from citizens, while at the same time sparing no effort to intrude into private lives so as to better establish their control," the letter said, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

After a series of speeches outside the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the protesters marched through central Brisbane.

Further rallies and protests are scheduled worldwide in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Please see our current event list, spread the work and participate if you can!

(Photo credit: Luke Hopewell, ZDNet.com.au)