Long Walk 4 Assange Stops in Ghent, Belgium

1200 km for Julian Assange
Ghent citizens demand immediate liberation of Julian Assange

Nikolei "Kolja" Rewin, a German Assange sympathizer, set out from Hamburg in late June for a 1,200 km hike to London Belmarsh, the prison where Julian Assange has now been waiting for his extradition to the US for more than three years. “In preventive detention”, as they say, because he still isn’t charged with anything criminal. Nils Melzer, the United Nations' rapporteur, stated in no uncertain terms that Assange is being tortured in Belmarsh.

Then why does the US want to pursue the Wikileaks founder at all costs, and why does the UK support them in doing so? And why is there such a neglect or even “omerta” of our mainstream press to the most high profile political prisoner of our time? We will discuss these questions with Kolja, whose hike is crossing Belgium these days, and who will visit Ghent on Friday August 26.

Friday 26 August 7 pm
People's House De Creeser
Spijkstraat 149
9040 Ghent

Being able to publicize political scandals without being prosecuted should be a fundamental cornerstone of a democracy. In Belgium, Frank Vanhoutte and Thomas Goorden reminded us thereof when they exposed the PFOS pollution scandal in Antwerp last year. Otherwise we wouldn’t even have heard of the soil poisoning, let alone a parliamentary inquiry committee would have been set up.

Municipal authorities can also play their part in raising Assange's persecution. Inspired by Kolja's hike, Ghent citizens want to demand their city council to introduce a whistleblower street, and a whistleblower "statute" for the staff of the local municipality. Any democratic government, at whatever level, should speak out in favor of the immediate release of Julian Assange, and the dropping of any charges against him. Persecution should be reserved for those who commit war crimes, not for those who bring them to the fore.

Ghent residents will collect signatures for a citizens' initiative to submit the question to their board.