We now know through Nils Melzer, the U.N. specialist on torture that Julian Assange has all the symptoms of someone who has been psychologically tortured over a period of time. We know that Melzer is also calling for Assange’s freedom and that he is not extradited to the U.S. where he will most likely be treated unfairly and his human rights will be violated even worse than they already have been. During his time at the Ecuadorian Embassy and even before, the United States government with the help of Sweden, Ecuador, and the U.K. tortured Assange in different ways. Let me explain.
- He was arbitrally detained for 7 years against 2 U.N. rulings calling for his release. He did without sunlight, fresh air, proper exercise, and proper medical care while he was a refugee in the embassy. Due to this, his health began to fail. He now has bone deterioration, a constant cough, tooth pain for a chipped tooth from his previous stay in a U.K. prison that needed a root canal 7 years ago. He has since suffered tooth infections.
- His last year in the Embassy, he was unjustly silenced and put in solitary confinement without access to a phone, the internet or visitors for over 8 months. During this time, Ecuador did everything they could to make his life miserable. If the embassy staff did not try to find ways to evict him, they were fired. They took his shaving kit away in order to hurt his self-image even. He was forced to give up his cat in fear that they would send it to a kill shelter.
- The media’s attacks were literally another form of psychological warfare used on Assange called “mobbing”. Definition of mobbing: crowd around (someone) in an unruly and excitable way in order to admire or attack them. Mobbing, as a sociological term, means bullying of an individual by a group. If you have ever been ganged up on by a group of people and talked about and attacked by them, you know what it’s like to be mobbed.
- Sensory Deprivation: Julian Assange mostly lived in a small office space. He was quoted as saying to his doctors that he knew that room as well as he knew the inside of his eyelids.
- Threats: Many people including a lot of politicians called for his death and torture. An example is seen below in the Stratfor email detailing how the U.S. wants to torture him.
Here is a video with the many death threats made about Assange: Assange death threats
By constantly surrounding the embassy with police officers they played on Assange’s fear which caused sleep deprivation on his part as he worried they would take him during the night by force. This also played on his paranoia. He often feared he would be poisoned. The U.S. and U.K. played with the man’s mind. Over an over, they have cast him as the evil villain in order to destroy people’s opinion.
According to Nils Melzer’s article Demasking the Torture of Assange:
“In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule, and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide.”
Long-term psychological effects include difficulty concentrating, nightmares, insomnia, memory loss, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. According to the PBS article seen here:
What happens in the brain? Clues come from studies of things like memory formation and stress — not torture — in animals. For example, repeated moderately stressful experiences, such as restraining a rat’s movements over a period of time, can physically alter structures that control fear and anxiety, said neuroscientist Bruce McEwen of Rockefeller University.
In fact, enough stress and trauma can damage memory systems, he added. Reflecting on news accounts of the torture, he said “it’s sort of counterproductive” when trying to get people to remember things. Physical torture can affect the brain, too. But by itself, “psychological torture undermines the very ability to think, and it doesn’t leave any marks,” said psychologist Steven Reisner. The concept of learned helplessness stemmed from experiments in the late 1960s that influenced depression research: Dogs were given mild jolts of electricity that they couldn’t avoid. Then they were put in a divided box where they could escape more zaps by jumping to the other side, but they didn’t try. They’d been conditioned to accept their fate.
By using psychological warfare against Assange, they may have damaged him mentally for life. Further incarceration and rights violations will only make things worse for the intellectual genius. Nils Melzer also stated the following:
“Collective persecution of Julian
#Assange must end now. My most urgent concern is that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights.”
If the persecution and prosecution of Assange is allowed this will set a precedent for other journalists worldwide to be handled the same way. It will change the western world forever. It will also change an individual’s human rights and the U.N.’s ability to protect them. We must stand together and fight this atrocity!