Letter sent by Julian Assange to the XV Encounter of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defence of Humanity, held in Caracas, Venezuela over March 6-7, 2017. Translated by Federico Fuentes, Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network.
Dear friends in the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements for Humanity meeting in Caracas,
In the book of Proverbs, it says, “A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense.”
“Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.” Yet there is more to it.
The next verse says, “The wise are mightier than the strong.” Knowledge is power.
I have the great honour of addressing you on the anniversary of the death of a man who fought long and hard against imperialism, neo-colonialism and other forms of oppression of the peoples, especially in Latin America.
[Former Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez played the most important role on the global stage, with his tireless efforts to continue down the path of regional integration and cooperation and build a multi-polar world.
He denounced injustices as he saw them and in 2001 was the only leader to denounce the killings by the US of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, noting, “You cannot fight terrorism with terrorism”. A little over six months later, the US supported a coup against him that was defeated when hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets, many of them with the constitution in hand.
Like all of us, he was not free from sin, but his virtues shook the world.
As director of WikiLeaks, we have shed light on the secrets of the powerful, and have built a different and powerful library; a library that contains information regarding how our world and its institutions really function; a library that contains information that for centuries was solely in the hands of the elites and that now – not without facing risk and persecution – we have democratised and put at the disposition of the people, regardless of political orientation or creed.
It is for everyone, so that society as a whole opens their eyes and, with irrefutable information at hand, confront the powerful and come to their own conclusions, without the filter of the media, regarding political events and decisions that affect their lives.
The objective of WikiLeaks, of seeking truth in the name of humanity, is today more important than ever, an objective we continue to seek despite the high price we pay for it.
The cost, in my case, has been high. I have been legally persecuted and detained for almost seven years, without any charges having been laid against me. This persecution has been extended to my family, my children, to those I have not been able to see during this period of time.
The United Nations, as well as numerous human rights organisations and personalities at the global level, have called on Sweden and the United Kingdom to respect their international obligations, to respect and recognize the sovereignty of the state of Ecuador and to, therefore, recognise my asylum and stop blocking the exercise of this human right.
It is inconceivable that, in the 21st century, the imperialist attitudes of the United Kingdom and Sweden could lead them to ignore, with complete impunity, a sovereign act by an independent country, Ecuador.
I remind those present that Ecuador has paid and continues to pay a high price for granting me asylum to protect me from political persecution for having exposed the secrets of the empire. The British police have attacked its Embassy in London, which even today continues to be subjected to unprecedented levels of surveillance.
Denying safe passage so that I can go to Latin America is an act of pure imperialism by countries that occupy high posts in the United Nations and that, nevertheless, refuse to recognise and enable the exercise of a universal right. They do so with total impunity while mocking the sovereignty of a country of the South and the entire region of Latin America, which unanimously supports my asylum.
This constitutes a great insult to the dignity of our peoples and the very system of the United Nations. To have done this over many years demonstrates the deterioration and grave backwards steps that have occurred in terms of the international system of protection of human rights for all.
Not to speak of my country, Australia, another servant of imperialist interests, that in seven years has not once pleaded my case and, moreover, has sought to criminalise me to ensure I cannot return home.
Both Sweden and the United Kingdom have completely ignored a firm resolution from the highest authorities on the issue of arbitrary detention, who after closely analysing my case determined that my detention was arbitrary and illegal and that I should be immediately allowed to leave and be compensated.
But despite all this, the empire has not been able to silence me. I am free simply because I am free to express myself. And I have this freedom thanks to the courage of Ecuador and other states, among them Venezuela, that have united to support me.
My struggle could become a success story for freedom of expression and human rights. As such, granting safe passage would be an act of justice and dignity for the region.
We remain faithful to our promise to publish the truth without fear or negotiating under the table. We will continue to strive to fulfil our commitment to truth and social justice.
The liberation of the peoples depends on the liberation of the minds of the peoples. For this, we need peaceful revolutionary efforts, like those of WikiLeaks, to flourish around the world. That is why we need to halt the persecution of WikiLeaks and its people.
Let us do this together, today. Tomorrow may be too late.