The Irony of Condemning The Russian Invasion of Ukraine & Jailing Julian Assange

In Brief

  • The Facts:
    • The condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is coming from governments that have committed war crimes, without media coverage, for decades.

    • This does not justify Russia's actions.

    • Any actions taken by governments that harm, displace and kill innocent people should be condemned and forbidden.

  • Reflect On:
    • Why do we only hear a one-sided story from Western legacy media?

    • Why are people who have a different view of this conflict, and other issues, instantly condemned in today's society?

    • Are we creating a culture where people who oppose narratives can't even speak, share their opinion or fear to do so?

    • What's happening in our world when relationships are ruined due to a certain narrative we believe?

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Human rights groups, civil liberty groups and press freedom advocates received a glimmer of hope when Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, won the right to ask the Supreme Court to block his extradition to the United States.

At that time last January, the High Court ruled that Assange had an arguable point of law and that he can petition the Supreme Court to hear the case. This was allowed to happen over concerns about how the US justice system would treat Assange, especially given the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wanted to assassinate him.

Heart’s sank on Monday when the British Supreme Court refused Assange’s latest appeal to prevent his extradition to the US. The case now moves to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to authorize the extradition.

According to his Lawyer Barry Pollack, Assange will continue the legal process fighting his extradition to the United States to “face criminal charges for publishing truthful and newsworthy information.”

Assange was charged under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, largely for actions rightfully recognized as protected news-gathering practices. He made public previously classified documents exposing various war crimes carried out by the US and other governments.

A favourite quote of mine comes to mind here from Nils Melzer, the Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law who has served as the UN Rapporteur on Torture and Other Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

“How far have we sunk if telling the truth becomes a crime? How far have we sunk if we prosecute people that expose war crimes for exposing war crimes? How far have we sunk when we no longer prosecute our own war criminals? Because we identify more with them, than we identify with the people that actually expose these crimes. What does that tell about us and about our governments? In a democracy, the power does not belong to the government, but to the people. But the people have to claim it. Secrecy disempowers the people because it prevents them from exercising democratic control, which is precisely why governments want secrecy.”

 Nils Melzer, Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law

This is why it’s ironic that the western military alliance and their allies overseas are condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The point is not that it shouldn’t be condemned, any violent conflict that escalates to the point where innocent people have to fear for their lives should always be condemned. The point is that it’s hypocritical given that the West has done the same, and in many cases the citizenry is programmed to praise it.

Multiple governments, the United States included, are guilty of some of the most significant war crimes in human history. Just look at what’s happened in Iraq and various parts of the Middle East over the decades. Governments funding, arming and even ‘creating’ terrorist organizations that they claim to be ‘fighting against’ has been a common theme exposed by Assange and many others.

Again, this doesn’t justify the Russian invasion, but it’s important to note that facts about tensions that have been boiling for quite some time have been omitted.

War and geopolitical issues are always followed by propaganda campaigns by governments to influence the perception of their own citizenry. The screenshot below is a great example. This is an unfortunate part of our reality, and the most horrendous atrocities have always been committed and disguised as a noble action.

Stella Moris, partner of Julian Assange and mother to his two boys explains,

“Julian was just doing his job, which was to publish the truth about wrongdoing. His loyalty is the same as that which all journalists should have: to the public. Not to the spy agencies of a foreign power. He published evidence that the country that is trying to extradite him committed war crimes and covered them up; that it committed gross violations that killed tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children; that it tortured and rendered; that it bombed children, had death squads, and murdered Reuters journalists in cold blood; that it bribed foreign officials and bullied less powerful countries into harming their own citizens, and that it also corrupted allied nations’ judicial inquiries into US wrongdoing.”

Stella Moris

The US alone has displaced between 38 and 60 million people across eight countries since 2001. Keep this in mind the next time you hear US government officials pledge to defend “international law,” “human rights,” or “sovereignty and territorial integrity” abroad, or any government for that matter.

There is ongoing conflict on this planet almost at all times, the US-Saudi led war in Yemen has killed nearly half a million people and more than 20 million are facing famine.

Making Sense of War Is Difficult

These days it’s nearly impossible to decipher what’s actually happening, but does it really matter? Innocent people have become the sacrifice of governments who seem to enjoy playing their war games. When it comes to the Russian Ukraine conflict, we are only presented with one side from legacy media, while all other perspectives, whether legit or not, are deemed a “conspiracy theory” or, in this case, “Russian propaganda.”

We saw the same thing with COVID. Thousands of doctors and scientists were censored on social media platforms, including the British Medical Journal, as well as ridiculed by legacy media for presenting evidence calling into question government measures like lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

An open, balanced and grounded discussion is never had. Opposing points are never addressed, and dialogue is not welcome. You’re not allowed to ask questions about COVID in the same way you’re not allowed question the mainstream narrative with regards to what’s happening in Ukraine. If you are, you’re condemned for it.

Is this a slippery slope? Have we created an unsafe space for meaningful dialogue? What will the effects be of continued shut down of dialogue?

This underlying cultural theme is why people like Julian Assange are in jail – and suffering. This is why the US Department of Homeland Security has stated that sharing “misinformation” online may be considered domestic terrorism. The only issue is, they (the US government) are the ones acting as ‘the ministry of truth.’

A few days ago Saudi Arabia executed 81 people for having “deviant beliefs.”

Ben Wizner, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, American Civil Liberties Union, explains with regards to Assange,

“For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information…It establishes a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets. And it’s equally dangerous for U.S. journalists who uncover the secrets of other nations.

Ben Wizner, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project

Seeking truth threatens the power and control governments and corporations continue to grasp day by day. What we see today is the justification of unethical actions that are deemed by government to be justified for the good of the world. This requires massive propaganda campaigns to convince a large portion of the citizenry to obey, and stigmatize those who don’t.

“National Security” has become a term used to justify secrecy on virtually anything that threatens the power, control, and reputation of governments and organizations that are tasked with looking out for humanity’s best interests.

What’s The Solution?

It’s high time citizens of the world refuse to get caught up in the back and forth banter of what’s happening, what’s right and what’s wrong. This doesn’t mean running away from truth seeking, but instead seeking a different and more balanced conversation on the grounds of good faith. It means being ok with the idea that the “popular” narrative and the one presented to us by our “leaders” may not be the only one.

The world is growing tired of people being divided on both sides of a crisis to the point where relationships with friends and family are ending because we cannot find comfortable ways to discuss ideas.

At the heart of any meaningful action in our world is our ability to make sense of reality and unite on a direction. The problem we face in sensemaking is breaking down as we are shutting out balanced inquiry and pretending that anyone who opposes an idea in the mainstream is just operating off of ‘misinformation.’

We need to unite in something where most of us agree, allowing and giving governments the power to kill innocent people should not be tolerable. It’s not fair that innocent people continue to suffer with regards to complications that have nothing to do with them. I’m not sure what the solution is. A massive shift in consciousness is needed on this planet, and that shift needs to happen in those who “govern” us and seem to desire more power and control. At the same time, an “us versus them” mentality also seems useless.

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