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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/19/12

Ecuador and Julian Assange's Asylum

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Message Prakash Kona

Like many others I was glad when I saw the Ecuadorean Foreign Minister on television make the asylum declaration in favor of Julian Assange while providing genuine reasons for doing so. Mr. Assange's life and liberty are indeed under serious threat and even if you're brain dead, you have enough sense to know that all those allegations of rape and sexual abuse are fabricated just in order to hand him over to the US government.

Personally I think WikiLeaks was an unethical thing to do. I don't justify what Assange has done and I think he shouldn't have done it. People could have lots of private opinions on a lot of issues both private and public but it doesn't mean that everything has to be out in the open and they have to be blatantly embarrassed. This argument applies to men and women in positions of power as well. They are not gods. They are ordinary human beings and to expect them to transcend the moral ills we are familiar with in day to day life is an unfair proposition. It doesn't serve the larger goals of social transformation and assuming that it did, I don't think the means justifies the ends. In summary, I believe that Assange is more of a liberal than a liberator.

Whatever he might have done I certainly don't want to see Assange in the hands of the United States government. The evidence of what would be Assange's situation is presented to us in what is currently happening to the American soldier Bradley Manning who passed the classified material to WikiLeaks (which also was a very unethical thing to do) except that Assange's plight would be worse. I'm happy that the government of Ecuador took the right decision. A brutal capacity for violence and the politics of compassion never go together. That's what is wrong with racist countries like the US, UK and Sweden who still believe elite white supremacy is the order of the world and which pretend to be defenders of human rights. The British Foreign Secretary William Hague answers in response to Assange being given asylum in the following manner: " Diplomatic immunity exists to allow embassies and diplomats to exercise proper diplomatic functions and the harbouring of alleged criminals, or frustrating the due legal process in a country, is not a permitted function." To not-so-subtly refer to Assange as "criminal" in my view cannot be called lying because it is about barefaced lying.

Years ago I studied Latin American history and their politics when I was teaching the fascinating novel Christopher Unborn (1987) by Carlos Fuentes to graduate students. In the past few weeks I was sincerely hoping that Ecuador would say "yes" to Assange's asylum request. The response by Ecuador has inspired in me the need to study Latin America all over once again and take a deeper interest in Ecuador, mainly its people, its writers, its activists and its artists. A nation honors itself through acts such as this one that Ecuador did in granting the asylum. I've little doubt that very few developing nations including the one I come from, whose apparently normal Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seriously believes that George Bush Jr. is a lovable person, would dare to stand up to the UK-US combine or even bother to do so for that matter. At some point in Fuentes' novel, the unborn Christopher speaks about being a voice to the voiceless and defending the dialects and languages of oppressed minorities.

The argument Christopher makes applies to people who are cornered especially those who are considered by their governments to be politically dangerous or unpleasant. Assange at this point in his life falls in the latter category of being a potential source of embarrassment to the US. If the US is not terribly concerned with the WikiLeaks fallout they are undoubtedly worried of what these things could lead to. Powerful states like powerful men preserve themselves against all odds. They have a ridiculous and paranoid sense of what constitutes a threat, which is why something however unimportant has to be crushed in the most decisive manner as is possible.

The importance of Ecuador standing up to the UK government's intimidatory stance can hardly be ignored. It is not the same thing when a powerful nation dictates terms to those it views as inferiors and when the "inferiors" turn back to answer their so-called bosses. The latter is of utmost significance to third world nations. They don't have to bow down to pressure tactics used by powerful nations. If Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino does not hesitate to say, "We are not a British colony," we sure could get to hear the voices of more third world governments saying the same thing to the US: "We are not an American colony." European nations whose political, cultural and economic standards have radically declined in recent months are not leading the world when it comes to ethics either. The institutionalized racist arrogance of western governments seriously needs to be undermined as directly as possible and not in the covert manner of WikiLeaks. That's the only way the third world will see the light of the future. I sincerely hope that this asylum granted to Julian Assange will pave the way to a larger defiance of the US and its hypocritical allies. 

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Prakash Kona is a writer, teacher and researcher who lives in Hyderabad, India. He is currently Professor at the Department of English Literature, The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad.

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