John Shipton Interview: Daring to Hope for His Son Julian Assange
John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father, spoke to me in an interview this week just days before Christmas. I was bracing for a difficult, anguished encounter, given the appalling injustice meted out to Julian.
The date was December 21, the shortest (darkest) day in the Northern Hemisphere. John was in Melbourne, the longest, brightest day in the Southern Hemisphere. The polar opposites of Winter and Summer Solstice seem befitting now.
And I was surprised that John had a hope-inspiring message… there is a rising tide of worldwide public support for Julian demanding his release from prison. This mass support may be reaching a critical point to make the Biden Administration relent from its persecution of Assange.
Tirelessly, John Shipton has traveled the world appealing to parliaments, politicians, civic bodies, and ordinary public members for the release of his son. John tells how a rallying call for Julian’s release is growing. Every parliament in Europe, for example, now has members explicitly calling for freedom. So too has the Australian government finally wakened up to demand the end of the barbaric mistreatment. In Latin America, North America, and other parts of the world, the clamor for justice is growing.
Only two weeks ago, major newspapers in the United States and Europe published joint editorial statements urging the Biden Administration to end the imprisonment of Assange, stating that “publishing is not a crime”. That renewed appeal for freedom is a reflection of the swelling sea-change in public support around the world for Julian Assange.
John Shipton says he is not “into hope” in the superficial meaning of the word. By that, he means a sort of cheap hope, blithe optimism, or cheery, glib ignorance. A sort of “consumerist hope” that is fickle and vanishes at the slightest obstacle.
However, what he displays in his tenacious, resilient, courageous support for his son is a much deeper hope. One of faith and commitment in the face of immense adversity. That strength inspires profound hope. An audacious hope. One that defiantly smiles in the face of cold barbarity. The kind of hope that can break chains.
It is way past time that Julian Assange should be freed so that he can “come home to his kids”.
People around the world need to add their voices to the call for Julian’s release from the dungeon in Britain where he has been held for nearly four years facing extradition to the United States on bogus charges of “spying”. Assange’s publishing work at Wikileaks some 12 years ago exposed the crimes of US-led imperialist wars. The truth that he facilitated through Wikileaks has empowered the world with the knowledge of iniquitous imperial crimes. In many ways, it was through Julian’s publishing work that the righteous demands for “ending endless wars” and for peace have arisen. The people of the world owe a debt of gratitude. We can make that gratitude manifest by supporting demands for his freedom. Freedom Now!
At the end of our interview, Julian’s father greeted me with a serene and heartfelt “Merry Christmas”. That unflinching courage, deep hope, and faith are the spirit of Christmas.
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