- Benjamin Kentish - PresidentThe Cambridge Union Society
- Susy Langsdale - Women's Sabbatical OfficerCUSU Women's Campaign's
For Cambridge University & CUSU Women's Campaign to let Julian Assange speak and not revoke his invitation!
I started this petition, the first ever started by me, in response to this objectionable petition: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-cambridge-union-society-revoke-the-invitation-to-assange-3
They intend to get 2,000 signatures.
I intend to have 4,000 signatures here, and to ensure that Julian Assange is able to speak and be questioned at Cambridge University on Tuesday 27th of November 2012 as originally planned.
Julian Assange still has not been charged with anything.
Only unproven and unsubstantial allegations have been thrown at him throughout the media with no space given to hear his side of the story unadulterated. This is seen by many as typical smear campaigns against a man who has made enemies of the most powerful banks, corporations and states in the world; many of whom have been exposed by Wikileaks of illegal and immoral activities.
He is an innocent man.
He has never been a "fugitive".
He sought and got permission to leave Sweden, and the British police have known his whereabouts since his arrival in this country.
Sweden interviewed recently a suspected serial killer outside of Sweden, but won't interview Assange in London!
Sweden will not promise to not extradite him to USA.
He has done more for women's rights by helping whistleblowers be able to safely publish anonymously evidence of illegal sex-trafficking internationally by governments and corporations.
For example: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/02/foreign-contractors-hired-dancing-boys
Julian Assange's supporters include many distinguished feminists, such as Naomi Klein, who wrote: "Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that women's freedom was used to invade Afghanistan. Wake up!
Here is a statement from "Women Against Rape":
For decades we have campaigned to get rapists caught, charged and convicted. But the pursuit of Assange is political
'Julian Assange has made it clear that he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype.' Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images
When Julian Assange was first arrested, we were struck by the unusual zeal with which he was being pursued for rape allegations.
It seems even clearer now, that the allegations against him are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction.
Justice for an accused rapist does not deny justice for his accusers. But in this case justice is being denied both to accusers and accused.
The judicial process has been corrupted. On the one hand, the names of the women have been circulated on the internet; they have been trashed, accused of setting a "honey trap", and seen their allegations dismissed as "not real rape". On the other hand, Assange is dealt with by much of the media as if he were guilty, though he has not even been charged. It is not for us to decide whether or not the allegations are true and whether what happened amounts to rape or sexual violence – we don't have all the facts and what has been said so far has not been tested. But we do know that rape victims' right to anonymity and defendants' right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty are both crucial to a just judicial process.
Swedish and British courts are responsible for how the women's allegations have been handled. As with every rape case, the women are not in charge of the case, the state is.
Whether or not Assange is guilty of sexual violence, we do not believe that is why he is being pursued. Once again women's fury and frustration at the prevalence of rape and other violence, is being used by politicians to advance their own purposes. The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will, usually to increase their powers, this time to facilitate Assange's extradition or even rendition to the US. That the US has not presented a demand for his extradition at this stage is no guarantee that they won't do so once he is in Sweden, and that he will not be tortured as Bradley Manning and many others, women and men, have. Women Against Rape cannot ignore this threat.
In over 30 years working with thousands of rape victims who are seeking asylum from rape and other forms of torture, we have met nothing but obstruction from British governments. Time after time, they have accused women of lying and deported them with no concern for their safety. We are currently working with three women who were raped again after having been deported – one of them is now destitute, struggling to survive with the child she conceived from the rape; the other managed to return to Britain and won the right to stay, and one of them won compensation.
Assange has made it clear for months that he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step to their investigation? What are they afraid of?
In 1998 Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London following an extradition request from Spain. His responsibility for the murder and disappearance of at least 3,000 people, and the torture of 30,000 people, including the rape and sexual abuse of more than 3,000 women often with the use of dogs, was never in doubt. Despite a lengthy legal action and a daily picket outside parliament called by Chilean refugees, including women who had been tortured under Pinochet, the British government reneged on its obligation to Spain's criminal justice system and Pinochet was allowed to return to Chile. Assange has not even been charged; yet the determination to have him extradited is much greater than ever it was with Pinochet. (Baltasar Garzón, whose request for extradition of Pinochet was denied, is representing Assange.) And there is a history of Sweden (and Britain) rendering asylum seekers at risk of torture at the behest of the US.
Like women in Sweden and everywhere, we want rapists caught, charged and convicted. We have campaigned for that for more than 35 years, with limited success. We are even having to campaign to prevent rape victims being accused of making false allegations and imprisoned for it. Two women who reported visibly violent attacks by strangers were given two and three year prison sentences.
But does anyone really believe that extraditing Julian Assange will strengthen women against rape? And do those supporting his extradition to Sweden care if he is then extradited to the US and tortured for telling the public what we need to know about those who govern us?
Women who are fighting for justice for themselves or their children are astounded at the zeal with which Julian Assange has been pursued. Questions need to be asked about the authorities’ motivation when men who pose an obvious immediate danger to women and girls are treated more leniently.
In our 34 years of dealing with rape – including cases of extreme violence where women have suffered years of domestic violence and repeated rape sometimes at knife point – we have seen defendants let out on bail, and police and prosecutors biased against rape survivors. One of the women in our group has been fighting for justice for her daughter who was raped when she was under age; it took the police several months to arrest the man though they had his address. In those months he raped another young woman.
We have always stood against rape being used by anyone to promote political agendas which have nothing to do with justice and protection for women who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Attempts to use women’s deep feelings about rape to introduce repressive measures which undermine the rights of defendants are not uncommon. Rape survivors have not benefitted from such agendas: they have not improved the way rape is dealt with or the likelihood that rapists will be arrested and convicted.
Only 6.5% of all reported rapes in the UK lead to a conviction. In Sweden 90% of reported cases never come to court. Women seeking asylum from rape who have fled wars in the Congo, Uganda and other countries routinely face disbelief and threats of deportation back to the horrors they have fled.
While we cannot comment on the allegations against Mr Assange since we do not know the facts of the case, we do not condone attacks against the women who reported him. Whatever the merits of their allegations, it is not them but the criminal justice authorities in both Sweden and England who are responsible for the way in which these allegations are being dealt with. The authorities’ poor record in dealing with rape has given the go-ahead to claims that most women who report rape are liars. In fact, police and prosecutors are often the first to disbelieve women – we are fighting several cases of rape victims being imprisoned for making a false allegation after they reported rape but were disbelieved by the authorities.
In defence of women and girls, and of anyone who has suffered rape or sexual assault, we cannot allow political agendas to pervert our struggle for justice.
16 December 2010
- The Cambridge Union Society
Benjamin Kentish - President
- CUSU Women's Campaign's
Susy Langsdale - Women's Sabbatical Officer
Do not revoke the invitation to Assange and, in doing so, you will be championing free speech and also not giving into the smear campaign that wishes to see Julian Assange completely isolated.
Julian Assange is a hero by many feminists and women's rights activists around the globe.
Julian Assange is not able to physically visit Cambridge. He will only be present via videolink communication. This is due to him being under siege at the Ecuadorian Embassy which seeks for the Swedish prosecution to question him there and for Sweden and Britain to promise not to extradite him to the USA. Sweden has recently interviewed a suspected serial killer abroad and not requested extradition of that person. In the history of rape crimes, no one has ever been extradited due to rape charges. One would suspect that a serial killer is much more dangerous to that of an alleged rapist.
Julian Assange and his supporters do not trivialise rape and you will not be seen as an "institution that colludes with societal trivialisation of rape." Indeed, Julian Assange with Wikileaks has helped expose the industrial rape, or sex-trafficking carried out by corporations in collusion with governments, such as the example of DynCorp which was exposed of such crimes in Bosnia and Afghanistan, whilst being hired as UN Peace Workers and Security Forces
and : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturevideo/booksvideo/8303161/Kathyrn-Bolkovac-interview-with-the-original-Whistleblower.html)
The supporters of Julian Assange include many feminists such as Naomi Klein, who wrote: "Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that women's freedom was used to invade Afghanistan. Wake up!" and also 'Women Against Rape'.
The students of Cambridge University deserve to have the honour of hosting him. A man who has won many awards such as:
The 2009 Amnesty International UK Media Award (New Media), for exposing extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya by distributing and publicizing the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)'s investigation Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances.
In 2010, Assange was awarded the Sam Adams Award, Readers' Choice in TIME magazine's Person of the Year poll, and runner-up for Person of the Year.
In April 2011 he was listed on the Time 100 list of most influential people.
An informal poll of editors at Postmedia Network named him the top newsmaker for the year after six out of 10 felt Assange had "affected profoundly how information is seen and delivered".
Le Monde, one of the five publications to cooperate with WikiLeaks' publication of the recent document leaks, named him person of the year with fifty six percent of the votes in their online poll.
In February 2011, it was announced that Assange had been awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation gold medal by the Sydney Peace Foundation of the University of Sydney for his "exceptional courage and initiative in pursuit of human rights." There have been four recipients of the award in the foundation's 14-year history: Nelson Mandela; the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso; Daisaku Ikeda; and Assange.
In June 2011, Assange was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. The prize is awarded on an annual basis to journalists "whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth that exposes establishment propaganda, or 'official drivel'". The judges said, "WikiLeaks has been portrayed as a phenomenon of the hi-tech age, which it is. But it's much more. Its goal of justice through transparency is in the oldest and finest tradition of journalism."
In November 2011, he was awarded the 2011 Walkley Award in the category Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism. The annual Walkley Awards honour excellence in journalism, and the Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, awarded since 1994, recognises commitment and achievement in the Australian media.
On 17 September 2012, Assange was awarded an Australian Aboriginal Passport in a ceremony in Sydney at Darlington, issued by the Indigenous Social Justice Association and handed over by its President, Ray Jackson, and collected on Assange's behalf by his biological father, John Shipton. The legality of the passport has been questioned as it is intended for internal Australian use between Aboriginal lands, but it will be sent to Assange.
I do infact believe that CUSU would find that Julian Assange represents more rather than less, of what they are fighting for in terms of rights and dignity for women worldwide.
Let Julian Assange be invited unhindered to speak and be questioned at Cambridge University on Tuesday 27th of November 2012 as planned. Let CUSU interview him on Sweden's prosecutions behalf.
Thank you for your time in reading this petition and letter
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