Do you have cabin fever from the winter? Are you quarantined and experiencing the feelings of isolation and need to be around others? Imagine how Julian Assange feels after months of solitary confinement. How he must feel knowing it’s not coming to an end any time soon.
I’ve been inside the walls of a high-security prison as a prison ministry volunteer. The feelings of distress and evil weigh you down. It’s like the oppression is in the air you breathe. There is something that wants to hold you down, it wants to eat your soul. The feelings of despair are everywhere and the pain is there too. The cold cement walls and all that steel close in on you and you feel claustrophobic even if you aren’t. I experienced this for a few short hours. Imagine day in and day out, hearing screams during the night, knowing you are surrounded by murderers and rapists, not knowing if you will be hurt.
Julian Assange has spent nearly a year in this kind of environment having done nothing wrong. He is being punished for doing his job as a journalist. The publishers and journalists who put lives in danger are walking free, yet he is going to die in prison. What kind of justice system does that to the innocent? What kind of government with the kind of power that the U.K. and the U.S. have, seeks to destroy one man?
Imagine putting your life on the line by publishing war crimes and the award you get is 10 years in a room the size of an office, then you are dragged out, brutally arrested, tortured and slowly begin to die because of the conditions you are in. You are surrounded by killers, terrorists, men with no moral content whatsoever. Your IQ shows your intelligence but it also makes your imprisonment that much harder.
You spend over 20 hours in a cell, surrounded by nothing but cold walls and your own isolation. You are not allowed a simple hug, or a handshake. Touching is not allowed in any form which is part of your torture. Imagine being put in a “hot box” before one of your hearings. You suffer in the heat as your mouth dries out and you become severely dehydrated. When you are in court you can hear your supporters shouting for your freedom but they keep you in a glass box where you can’t even talk to your own lawyers.
Imagine your despair, the feeling of hopelessness, knowing that you may see much worse if extradited. Imagine knowing you gave the best part of your life for the public and they have turned a blind eye to your plight. Instead of fighting for your freedom, they choose to believe the lies and propaganda spread about you. Imagine having young children who do not even know their father because of what the U.S. government would do to them if they had the chance.
Imagine a cold dark cell day in and day out until you know nothing but each spot, each cold tile on the floor that you pace. Imagine knowing that others have suffered because they are affiliated with you., knowing your family suffers. Imagine being an innocent man stripped, searched, and denied his basic rights as a human being. You cannot even see a doctor for your health issues including deteriorating bones from lack of sun, a shoulder injury and a cracked tooth that has needed a dentist for ten years. Imagine Julian Assange’s suffering as you sleep peacefully in your bed.
How can anyone not cry for this man, not want to free him? He is a hero and a saint for what he has endured already, yet there is no hope without the help of the people in this case.
Julian Assange has no chance in hell of walking away from this without our help. It doesn’t matter how good the defense is. It doesn’t matter how hard they fight. He needs us, the working class, to stand up for him and our own rights at the same time. If you think governments are dirty and corrupt now, wait until there is no longer a free press that can hold them accountable.