I was so excited when I arrived in London even though I got lost on my way to the hostel several times. London can be very beautiful in some areas and very poor in others. Arriving there I met several vigilers and then made my way over to meet Ciaron O’Reilly.
I spent 14 hours a day standing watch at night while Ciaron slept 8 of those. Hans Crescent is very quiet and lonely at night. I spent a lot of my time reflecting on the world, feeling very sad for Julian and contemplating the future. Often I thought of the persecution and torture of the man inside.
People truly don’t see the absolute injustice of what is happening to Assange. They don’t understand the irreparable damage be done by years of sensory deprivation, lack of sunlight, fresh air and medical care. They do not understand what 8 months without phone, visitors or internet can do. Solitary confinement after 15 days is considered torture according to the UN Nelson Mandela Act.
I have written before about the effects of solitary confinement on the mind,(seen here). Unfortunately the situation has not improved much for Julian. Fortunately, his father John Shipton was able to visit him for Christmas but Assange is suffering physically and there is no end in sight. The absolute horror of this atrocity does not hit you quite hard enough until you’ve stood outside that building for hours knowing what is happening inside.
It is easy for us to say there are other tragedies happening in the world today. It is easy to sit back and do nothing and expect others to take care of it for us. However, no one has ever built a skyscraper by themselves. The movement needs action not just words. People need to contact their elected officials by email, phone and letters. We need to stand in unity and solidarity or he will die in that embassy.
The reality of his plight and the need to fight harder became stronger for me by standing watch for 23 days. I met many wonderful people who are truly dedicated to this cause, but mostly it taught me that the fight to Free Assange must not only continue but strengthen.