Terina Hine reports from Monday's event in support of Julian Assange
Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters performed to a huge crowd outside the Home Office on Monday as part of the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign. Waters was ‘deeply moved’ by the vast numbers who greeted him to protest against the extradition of Julian Assange and hear his performance of ‘Wish You Were Here’. Citing his own lyrics, Waters said he would happily exchange “A walk-on part in the war/For a lead role in the cage”.
Roger Waters performing. Photo: Terina Hine
The street was full of fans and protesters (and a few police). Local residents were filming from balconies, while home-bound civil servants looked on in amazement as Waters played from a platform directly outside the main entrance to Priti Patel’s Home Office.
The event was introduced by veteran journalist, John Pilger, who spoke about his recent visit to seeAssange. Assange is currently at Belmarsh prison where he is being held in solitary confinement and has only recently been permitted outside for exercise for an hour a day.
Roger Waters and John Pilger. Photo: Terina Hine
Repeating Assange’s message to the protesters, Pilger pointed out that the British government’s actions against Assange should be a warning sign for every journalist and publisher, saying it is not only Assange but all journalists and publishers, past and present editors, anyone who published the Wikileaks revelations, who are in danger. Pilger added that Assange is neither an American citizen nor is Wikileaks an American publication, yet he has been hunted down by the American government on trumped up spying charges and his life is now in danger.
Assange’s brother also spoke movingly about his visit to Assange, commenting that he feared it would be the last time he might see his him.
After Monday evening’s event it is clear that the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign has stepped up a gear. Journalists and the rest of the media now need to join in, for what we are witnessing is not just an attack on an individual but an attack on free speech and the free press. As Pilger so eloquently said, Assange is being used as an example to intimidate and silence us all; by defending Assange we are defending our own rights to free speech and a free press.
Don’t Extradite Assange: Wish You Were Here was an encouraging beginning to what must now become a much larger and more prominent campaign.
The next Don’t Extradite Assange protest will be held on 28 September at 2pm outside Belmarsh prison.