On the same day Julian Assange was handed over by Ecuador and arrested by UK Police at the embassy, April 11th, the Police in Ecuador arrested Ola Bini, a Swedish free software developer and privacy advocate who had been living there for the last years. His arrest and detention since have in many ways been unlawful. There are no solid grounds for Ola’s ongoing detention other than what looks like Orwellian Thoughtcrime (they found books !), ignorance and misunderstanding around Ola Bini’s field of research, or guilt by association (Ola Bini visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London).
Activists, intellectuals, software developers, wrote a letter to Swedish PM expressing their concerns and asking Sweden to step up.
From his detention, Ola Bini wrote a letter, The Most Important Thing, where, quoting Aaron Swartz, he shares his thoughts on the most important thing he could devote his life to – and invites us to ask ourselves again : What is the most important thing you could do? Are you doing that? If not, why not?
Russian revolutionary Victor Serge on JOY in his book MEN in PRISON
“The only healthy reaction of the organism against the incessant, multiple, insidious, and harassing pressure of madness is joy. We all have great powers of vitality. We are filled with such deep love of life that sometimes it takes only the slightest outside impulse to make the flame of joy suddenly rise up in us. And we are elevated above ourselves, the present, despair, prison.”
“A shower fell in the night and now dark clouds drift across the sky, occasionally sprinkling a fine film of rain. I stand under an apple-tree in blossom and I breathe. Not only the apple-tree but the grass round it glistens with moisture; words cannot describe the sweet fragrance that pervades the air. Inhaling as deeply as I can, the aroma invades my whole being; I breathe with my eyes open, I breathe with my eyes closed – I cannot say which gives me the greater pleasure.
This I believe, is the single most precious freedom that prison takes away from us: the freedom to breathe freely, as I now can. No food on earth, no wine, not even a woman’s kiss is sweeter to me than this air steeped in the fragrance of flowers, of moisture and freshness.
No matter that this is only a tiny garden, hemmed in by five storey houses like cages in a zoo. I cease to hear the motorcycles backfiring, the radios whining, the burble of loudspeakers. as long as there is fresh air to breathe under an apple-tree after a shower, we may survive a little longer.”
A new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists argues that the American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror.
Nurture your hopes and make the most of the return of Spring with the writings of George Orwell on the “living creature with the most beautiful eyes” : Some thoughts on the common toad. Think and act for those who can’t be outside to enjoy it, because they are “ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison”.
“Certainly we ought to be discontented, we ought not simply to find out ways of making the best of a bad job, and yet if we kill all pleasure in the actual process of life, what sort of future are we preparing for ourselves? If a man cannot enjoy the return of spring, why should he be happy in a labour-saving Utopia? What will he do with the leisure that the machine will give him? I have always suspected that if our economic and political problems are ever really solved, life will become simpler instead of more complex, and that the sort of pleasure one gets from finding the first primrose will loom larger than the sort of pleasure one gets from eating an ice to the tune of a Wurlitzer. I think that by retaining one’s childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies and — to return to my first instance — toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable, and that by preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.
At any rate, spring is here, even in London N. 1, and they can’t stop you enjoying it. This is a satisfying reflection. How many a time have I stood watching the toads mating, or a pair of hares having a boxing match in the young corn, and thought of all the important persons who would stop me enjoying this if they could. But luckily they can’t. So long as you are not actually ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison or a holiday camp, spring is still spring. The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.”
Wiseup Action :Join us for a Solidarity Vigil Monday 16th of March 2015 at 5 pm outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in Support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, marking his 1000 days under the protection of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London’s Knightsbridge. We shall meet at 5pm on the pavement opposite the Ecuadorian Embassy at No 3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, London.
“Matt DeHart is a 30-year-old former US Air National Guard drone team member and alleged WikiLeaks courier, who worked with the hacktivist group Anonymous. After becoming the subject of a national security investigation — and allegations relating to a teenage pornography case which he vehemently denies — he fled from the United States to Canada with his family to seek political asylum and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In what represents a moral victory for the DeHart family, the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board judge found that the teenage pornography case against Matt lacked credibility. However, because the IRB considered that the United States still had a functioning democracy, they denied his claim, and on 1 March, 2015 Matt DeHart was handed over into US federal custody.”
Jesse Krimes prison artwork “Purgatory” is visible until May in Paris, in Le Bord Des Mondes, an unusual collective exhibition, particularly exciting to hackers-makers mind (see also Takis).
On his work and prison : “Incarceration marked a moment of personal crisis for me, providing an encounter with difference and generating desire and fear, enlightenment and profound disquiet. Being confined to a cell and mediated existence, all measure within prison seems to collapse, leaving only time to reflect. This reflection was the catalyst for significant shifts in my thinking that ultimately facilitated my body of work. The work I created in prison references the tradition of topographical reliquary, which links an object’s meaning to the sacred importance of its originating place. Interpreted through Robert Smithson’s concept of the non-site, the sheets, soaps, and playing cards correspond to Hegel’s non-being and therefore effectively represent anti-reliquaries or reliquaries from Hell. My temporary effacement from the world resulted in a limbo state between being and non-being, where my only interaction with the outside world was mediated and therefore virtual. Ironically, left with only myself, my life-long questions of self-worth and identity were finally answered. I am an artist. This sense of self fortified my identity and through my art I “escaped” prison.
My large-scale project, Apokaluptein:16389067 was conceived and executed within federal prison. The title references the Greek origin of the word apocalypse meaning to ‘uncover, reveal;’ an event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale; the numbers reference my Federal Bureau of Prisons identification number. My process involved smuggling contraband works through the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the United States Postal Service, piece by piece, over a period of six years, resulting in a forced Exquisite Corpse with myself. Apokaluptein:16389067 is a series of 39 disembodied prison sheets sutured together, making up a collective installation of dimensions as vast as the history and timeline represented over my seventy-month absence. I used hair gel as a transfer medium and a plastic spoon hand-press to transfer images I collected from The New York Times. The fragmented images, removed from narrative sources are inverted and effaced from their supports. I then blended the images together through hand-drawn extensions in color pencil. The interior of the prison revealed, its skin defaced and simultaneously veiled with the transferred images of the daily reality it denies.
Purgatory is a series of 300 carved prison-issued soaps confined within used prison playing cards. Using a hand-printing technique, I transferred the New York Times portrait heads onto wet soap fragments, leaving inverse traces of the appropriated image. I began interpreting these “offender” portraits or decapitated heads as “ink-scaffolds,” the printed counterpart of the Foucauldian scaffold. I concealed the resulting soaps within used decks of playing cards. I sharpened the interior connector of a AAA battery on the cement floor of my prison cell as a tool to cut window-like structures into each card which were then adhered together using toothpaste and soap shavings to form containers to conceal the printed soaps. The playing card containers with altered suits and face cards expand the boundaries of chance to form new poetic constellations outside the systematic rules of the game.
“Chelsea Manning, the US soldier convicted of leaking classified information to Wikileaks, is to receive hormone therapy to help complete the transition to life as a woman.
USA Today said that in what represented an unprecedented move by the US armed forces, the Pentagon had approved Manning for treatment after a review.
“After carefully considering the recommendation that (hormone treatment) is medically appropriate and necessary, and weighing all associated safety and security risks presented, I approve adding [hormone treatment] to Inmate Manning’s treatment plan,” Col Erica Nelson, the commandant of Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, wrote in a memo on 5 February.”
At a recent press conference in Geneva, lawyer Melinda Taylor – sitting together with Baltasar Garzon, head of Assange’s defense team, journalists Sarah Harrison and Kristinn Hrafnsson of Wikileaks – explained how Julian Assange is, in view of the law, effectively detained inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and not a free man willingly imposing himself a detention to avoid questioning on alleged sex offences in Sweden. The threats, very real, are with the US… Sweden and the UK play significant roles in immobilizing Assange… What choice has a man surrounded by a moat with crocodiles, but to stay longer in the castle where he was granted asylum until this right is no longer obstructed and he can fully enjoy it ?
Julian Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador two and a half years ago, not to escape Swedish justice but as protection against political persecution and threats to his life emanating from the US. The US are building an “espionage case” against him and the organization, and public figures there have openly called for Assange’s assassination. Unjust, cruel treatments would be most likely, as we can imagine from Manning’s case and from US practices.
The investigation into him and Wikileaks was confirmed again recently with the revelations that Google has had to hand over to the FBI personal emails and metadata of 3 staffers (see Wikileaks editorial).
Julian Assange, Wikileaks staff and Wikileaks supporters, “the Wikileaks human network”, have indeed long been the targets of an arsenal of strategies essentially devised by the US and its allies to prevent them, and the likes of them now and to come, from publishing troves of truths shedding light on obscure wrongdoings worldwide. Snowden documents have proved this for a fact.
In the same time of the probe into Wikileaks, the alleged sex offences case brought against Assange in Sweden has had him deprived of liberties for over four years, despite still being at a preliminary investigation stage, with Assange not charged with any crime, certainly not rape which he is not even accused of (except by calumniators), nothing, and not trying to escape Swedish justice, contrary to what bad medias have been spinning.
Obviously, Assange’s past 967 dark days stuck inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, and still counting, are the second wave consequence of the multi parties legal struggle evolved into a deadlock, where Sweden plays the lead stalling role and the UK the watchdogs, and where Assange’s right to asylum granted by Ecuador is obstructed.
Indeed, Sweden is still not giving guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to the US should he travel to Sweden for the investigation, and the prosecution is still unwilling to opt for alternative modes of questioning, like coming to the Embassy themselves. Severely criticized by human rights organizations and the UN, Sweden has recently, by word of a representative, stated that it sees no issues in indefinite detention without charges, confirming that it has, in the words of Assange, “imported Guantanamo’s most shameful legal practice “(see Wikileaks editorial).
Meanwhile the UK, who in the past, has threatened Ecuador to raid their embassy to grab Assange, still refuses him safe-passage to his host country. The Met Police has spent over 10 million tax payers pounds, admittedly sucking their resources, to have their “crocodiles” in place at all times guarding the building in London, ready to arrest and extradite Assange should he set foot outside. The siege has been described by John Pilger as a farce, no less.
An affront to human rights, their seekers and their defenders, and a disgrace to British legendary sense of humour – to say the least – the BBC produced and now airs, a TV “comedy” show called Asylum, in which “a whistleblower and an internet pirate find themselves trapped together under the threat of extradition in the London embassy of a fictional Latin American country.” Seriously ? It should be noted that a writer of this show has called for Assange assassination by the Met Police on Twitter. PUKE, to say the least.
As Assange spends more time deprived from liberties and sunshine, cut from his family, we worry about his health.
Right now despite the tremendous pressures, Assange is well alive and so is Wikileaks, operational, as proven by their continuing publications and brave actions, notably orchestrating NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s rescue from Hong Kong, in which journalist Sarah Harrison certainly didn’t lack Courage.
We should not be discouraged either and show support by our means as Wikileaks, Assange and his team stand among those at the avant-posts of the freedom of the press, which they firmly and innovatively defend. Their fate, the outcome of their struggles, is determinant for the fate of investigative journalism, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, knowledge of the world we live in, the fate of people.
“Good news! The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex. For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system. I want to thank the Department of Justice for having put so much time and energy into advocating on my behalf; rather than holding a grudge against me for the two years of work I put into in bringing attention to a DOJ-linked campaign to harass and discredit journalists like Glenn Greenwald, the agency instead labored tirelessly to ensure that I received this very prestigious assignment. Wish me luck!”
and here was his allocution / sentencing statement :
“Good afternoon, Your Honor.
The allocution I give today is going to be a bit different from the sort that usually concludes a sentencing hearing, because this is an unusual case touching upon unusual issues. It is also a very public case, not only in the sense that it has been followed closely by the public, but also in the sense that it has implications for the public, and even in the sense that the public has played a major role, because, of course, the great majority of the funds for my legal defense was donated by the public. And so now I have three duties that I must carry out. I must express my regret, but I must also express my gratitude. And I also have to take this opportunity to ensure that the public understands what has been at stake in this case, and why it has proceeded in the way that it has. Because, of course, the public didn’t simply pay for my defense through its donations, they also paid for my prosecution through its tax dollars. And the public has a right to know what it is paying for. And Your Honor has a need to know what he is ruling on.
“A week before Christmas, a half-dozen guards at the Seagoville Federal Detention Center pulled me from my cell, handcuffed me, and took me to the hole, where I was processed and put in another cell, before being ushered out and placed in the prison’s receiving/departures section to await transport to a different jail, all for reasons that the administration did not quite manage to articulate. The act of suddenly transferring inconvenient inmates is referred to as “diesel therapy.” I noted a few months back that CIA torture-leaker John Kiriakou, who’s also been putting out a column from behind bars, reported being threatened with identical treatment after writing about prison administration misconduct. I, on the other hand, have been the very picture of discretion; it’s not as if I had publicly revealed, for instance, that Thompson, the pudgy white officer at Seagoville known for yelling incoherent threats at black inmates during evening prisoner count, and sometimes even locking them in the showers, is openly affiliated with a Fort Worth gang. So, frankly, I am a little hurt.”
“The most obvious form of prison exploitation in the federal system is UNICOR: Federal Prison Industries, more commonly known as the military sweatshop in nearly every institution. It’s a quasi-public corporation that produces everything from armor plating and camouflage uniforms to office supplies. Because they are not bound by pesky things like minimum wage laws, they are frequently criticized for cutting prices and outbidding other free-world competitors for government contracts. The UNICOR here at FCI Manchester employs hundreds of prisoners sewing all-purpose combat uniforms used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. UNICOR is the highest-paying job on the compound, taking home $50-$200 a month.
In addition, because the BOP does not want to pay for additional officers, prisoners maintain nearly every aspect of the institution ourselves: cooking, food, washing dishes, cutting grass, mopping floors, fixing plumbing and electricity, and so forth. This means that , fortunately, there are other jobs available if you do not want to participate in the imperialist genocidal “war on terrorism.”
>>>> Basic first aid and safety for protesters, advice about medication in jail, protection against pepper spray and tear gas, tips for emotional / injury/ chemical weapons aftercare… A zine, theActivist’s Guide to Basic First Aid, to read / print /share…
“Black Cross Health Collective is an affinity group of health care workers who live in Portland, Oregon. We formed after the WTO protests because we saw a need for medical care that is specific to the radical community. We think our needs as radicals are different, and that groups like the Red Cross don’t give us the skills we need to keep ourselves and each other safe in the streets. So we called upon our own medical experience (as nurse practioners, nurses, EMT’s, clinical herbalists, and more), as well as our experience in demos and direct actions, and formed Black Cross. Since then, we’ve done first aid trainings in Portland and around the country, provided medical support at local and national demos, and are conducting trials looking for a way to neutralize pepper spray.
We believe that health care is political. The kind of care we do or don’t receive, where and how we receive that care, who provides that care, who has access to training to provide care, and what kinds of trainings are smiled or frowned upon, all involve inherently political issues. We believe the system needs to be changed… the health care system right along with all the others.
We’ve put this zine together mostly to go along with a first aid training. While doing the trainings we realized there was way more to say about first aid than we would have time to say it in. So we thought a little reading would maybe be helpful to y’all.
Remember the most important words you can ever learn to say are “I don’t know.”