3rd Oct 2023

Boycott America Free Assange

By C. Rice

America's extradition of Julian Assange, is driving a grass-roots effort to boycott American products throughout the world. With word spreading via the Internet, sermons, fliers and even mobile phone messages, the boycott seems to be slowly gathering force, especially against consumer products. 

An Anti-American Boycott Is Growing

Boycott American products - Don't be an accomplice! A boycott is a one-time affair intended to correct an outstanding single wrong.

Boycotts have a long history not only against companies but against industries, products, brands, countries, or ideas. Many past boycotts, especially those pressing for prosocial change, have had success.

This is not against Americans, but against America's illegal persecution of Julian Assange.

Assange has been an inmate of the UK’s Belmarsh Prison (dubbed “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay”) since April 2019, having previously taken refuge within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for almost 7 years. The US-UK Treaty under which Assange’s extradition is being sought explicitly bans extradition for political offences, but the proceedings continue despite the obvious political overtones of this case. Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers exposing US misconduct in the Vietnam War, was also prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Ellsberg, whose case was dismissed with prejudice. Ellsberg described Assange’s prosecution as a greater abuse of process than his own. Assange’s position has been defended by the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, media and human rights organisations, and politicians from around the world.

The reality remains that Julian Assange is an Australian citizen. He has won awards in Australia and internationally for his journalism. His prosecution in the US would raise concerning questions about the precedent set for journalists anywhere around the globe should they publish truthful information in the public interest and if that information is felt to be at odds with the US government’s perception of its own interest.

Can you go without American products?

You might be able to do without Heinz ketchup, you might give up drinking Starbucks or Coca-Cola, using Apple and Microsoft technology, or eating at McDonalds. People are beginning to feel that shouting slogans in reaction to what the U.S. is doing is not enough.

We must design detailed programs against specific goods and services that might involve the banking system, insurance and financial markets. To find some pressure points that can have an economic impact.

BDS’ (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) strategies are inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement. They call for a boycott of “American sporting, cultural and academic institutions” and “American companies.”

Boycotts, although a common form of non-violent protest and an effective way to raise awareness around an issue, are often not effective in creating a significant or immediate economic dent or policy change. In the late fifties, the African National Congress in South Africa called for foreign governments to withdraw investments, halt trade and enact a broad boycott of South African consumer goods, academia and sports.

The end of apartheid began in the early 1990s, when Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were freed. Apartheid officially ended in 1994, when Mandela became the country’s first black leader.

In the evening of December 16, 1773 in Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded three British tea ships and dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor. They complained “no taxations without representation.” Not long after, American colonial merchants called for boycotting all British products. The Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War ended up creating a new country, the USA.

In 1965 on Mexican Independence Day, Cesar Chavez organized Filipino American grape workers to protest for better wages and working conditions in Delano, California. The workers were paid a pittance. Consumers decided to boycott grapes. This decision led to an international boycott of grapes. Grape growers were left with the choice of paying more or letting their grapes rot. The boycott led to the organization of the U.S.’s first farm workers union, The United Farm Worker of America. The strike lasted for five years before reaching a settlement.

In July 2019, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution opposing the global BDS movement. President Biden's spokesperson Andrew Bates previously said that “Biden opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform.”

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU all decried the implications for free speech. “Advocating for boycotts, divestment and sanctions is a form of non-violent advocacy and of free expression that must be protected,” said Bob Goodfellow, the Interim Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, in a statement

The obvious solution to all these ethical issues is to refuse to travel to America. This way, you can be sure that you’re not supporting kangaroo courts or funding a corrupt government.

Tourism is a vital part of the economy of many countries, making tourists a powerful socio-economic force.

In many instances, boycotting a destination for ethical or political reasons has changed the world (for example it helped abolish apartheid in South Africa).

Travelers have ample places they can go to spend their vacation time and money.

There’s a long history of successful boycotts that have resulted in significant policy changes. The most well-known in the U.S. is, perhaps, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, during which people boycotted the transit system in Montgomery between 1955 and 1956 to protest racial segregation. While the social impact was clear, there was also a significant financial hit to the transit system: The strike, which lasted a little more than a year, cost the city an estimated $3,000 per day and resulted in up to 40,000 lost bus fares each day.

Which led to the United States Supreme Court declaring that the Alabama and Montgomery laws that segregated buses were unconstitutional.

"When Exposing a Crime is Treated as Committing a Crime, You Are Ruled By Criminals."

 -Edward Snowden

Assange could be immediately extradited to the United States where he will stand trial for 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act, charges that could see him receive a 175-year sentence, as early as this week.

CNN reported that a British court has denied Wikileaks founder Julian Assange “permission to appeal an order to extradite him to the United States, where he faces criminal charges under the Espionage Act.” Although Assange’s legal team will continue to explore its options, the snare around his neck is clearly tightening. Time is not on his side. The US and British authorities who are pursuing him can afford to wait for any remaining public interest in his case to dwindle in the face of wars, climate change, anxiety about artificial intelligence, and other global issues.

TheGuardian: “Let there be no doubt that if Julian Assange is removed from the United Kingdom to the United States there will a sharp and sustained outcry in Australia.”

Peter Dutton, opposition leader, says this bipartisan position is “matched by the wide cross-party and independent support within the Australian parliament itself, which in turn reflects the strongly held views of the Australian community”.

The Australian MPs and senators said they agreed with comments by the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, that “enough is enough … and that nothing is served from the ongoing incarceration of Julian Assange”.

The Australian politicians noted “with gratitude the considerable support in the United States for an end to the legal pursuit of Mr Assange from members of Congress, human rights advocates, academics, and civil society, and from within the US media in defence of free speech and independent journalism”.

“On that basis we ask Congresspeople, members of the press, and other relevant civil society stakeholders in the United States to speak up now in supporting an end to the prosecution and detention of Julian Assange,” they wrote.

Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, said: “Australians are told that we are great mates with our American friends, but Julian’s treatment says otherwise.”

Assange remains in Belmarsh prison in London as he fights a US attempt to extradite him to face charges in connection with the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as well as diplomatic cables.

Your Rights Are at Risk. Julian Assange's Right to Publish is Your Right to Know!

If an Australian journalist who published in Europe were to be prosecuted by a US domestic court under a US domestic law, what reporter would dare antagonise the US government — whatever evidence of wrongdoing landed in their lap?

Assange’s lawyer, London-based Australian Jennifer Robinson, has argued that his indictment represented “the most terrifying threat to freedom of speech in the 21st-century”. When she spoke at the National Press Club last year, Ms Robinson repeatedly referred to claims that in 2017 the CIA plotted to kidnap or assassinate Assange while he was a political refugee in London. She suggested that, if extradited, he might be subjected to Special Administrative Measures, a regime of extreme isolation described by human rights groups as inhumane and possibly amounting to torture.

Without a clamour that brings the U.S. government to its knees, we will spend the next few decades wondering why we did not speak up.

If you think that you have a right to know about actions carried out in your name, then make your voice heard now. Make some noise!!

READ MORE: Julian Assange: The Most Dangerous Man in the World

For more information visit www.dontextraditeassange.com.

Do yourself a favor. Think for yourself. Be your own person. Question everything. Stand for principle. Champion individual liberty and self-ownership where you can. Develop a strong moral code. Be kind to others. Do no harm, unless that harm is warranted. Pretty obvious stuff...but people who hold these things in their hearts seem to be disappearing from the earth at an accelerated rate. Stay safe, my friends. Thanks for being here.


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