The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge--who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group's newsletter.
"February 24, 2020
“Peace in our time? Not bloody likely. A quick scan through the news makes one reach for a glass of wine or two or three. I still get the Age, mainly for the crosswords, because most of what passes for ‘news’ is syndicated right-wing crap from overseas. The other papers are even worse, especially the ones from the Murdoch stable.
“I spoke at a rally for Julian Assange last Friday outside the State Library, and did my best to be heard among the noisy crowds, Hare Krishnas and Swanston Street trams. There should have been a lot more taking part, but that’s about where we’re at in this country, a mixture of apathy, ignorance and stupidity.
“And where’s the leadership? With all his flaws, Gough Whitlam was a leader with a program who did his best to legislate for it. The one fly in the ointment was his support for State Aid and we’ve seen where that’s got us. And while I’m talking about Gough it’s worth raising the ‘Loans Affair’, part of the conspiracy to oust Labor and still widely misunderstood. We were told that the government was about to sell us to the Arabs in return for massive bribes.
"The facts? OPEC countries had accumulated vast sums following the 1973 leap in oil prices and had invested thousands of millions of dollars in the United States and made loans to the governments of Britain, France, Denmark, Italy and Japan, without raising any fuss. An Executive Council meeting in Canberra on 13 December 1974 authorized Minister for Minerals and Energy Rex Connor to seek loans of up to $400 million ‘… to strengthen our external financial position, to provide immediate protection for Australia in regard to supplies of minerals and energy…’ In other words, to buy back our mineral resources from the multinationals. To buy back the farm. The authority was not given to Treasury, because it wasn’t trusted.
“ ‘Offers’ came from everywhere. One came from Tirath Khemlani, a dodgy Pakistani ‘financier’. Connor authorized Khemlani to scout for funds among OPEC countries, but it turned out that Khemlani was sent by a Hong Kong arms firm, Commerce International, part of a powerful Brussels-based outfit linked to the CIA. A short time later, Federal Treasurer Dr Cairns was approached by George Harris, a dodgy Melbourne ‘businessman’ with a similar offer of money, whose principals were from the New York office of the same crooked firm, Commerce International. Both Connor and Cairns were dudded. Naive? Stupid? Certainly. Corrupt? No.
“Despite screams from the media, not one cent was paid to anyone by the government, nor did any member of the government profit from the affair. The anti-Labor forces, however, profited greatly. As we know from that date in infamy, 11 November 1975 when Whitlam was sacked, a watershed in labour history, which is why I raised it.
“On 24 February, fellow-Australian Julian Assange will front London’s Woolwich Crown Court which will decide whether or not he will be extradited to the United States for publishing the Iraqi and Afghani War Logs and State department cables that exposed massive war crimes and corruption by the US military and intelligence establishment, the first journalist to be charged under the Espionage Act. Especially damning was the video of the American helicopter crew laughing and joking as they machine-gunned and fired rockets at a group of civilians, including children and a Reuters journalist.
“If his last court appearance is anything to go by, he won’t get a fair hearing. A shonky magistrate was virtually told what to do by five US government agents sitting behind the prosecution team. And it has now been disclosed on prime time German TV that while Julian was in the Ecuadoran Embassy, a Spanish private security mob made audio and video recordings of his meetings with lawyers, photographed passports of his visitors and took their phones, all of which were passed on to the CIA.
“The program also showed how allegations against Julian were a pack of lies to keep him in gaol. The one that led many to believe he was a rapist was also shown to be fraudulent in the same way that George W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard lied that Saddam had ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ to justify the dreadful Iraq War that killed more a million people and destroyed a nation. And WikiLeaks exposed Hillary Clinton’s corruption and mendacity, getting millions from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two major funders of the Islamic State, and being the main architect of the Libyan War.
“The publication of classified documents is not yet a crime in the US, but if Assange is convicted, it will be, even though he’s not an American citizen and WikiLeaks is not a US-based publication. It would mean the end of investigations into the inner workings of power and cement into place a terrifying, global, corporate tyranny under which borders, nationality and law mean nothing.
“Our federal cops have already raided the homes and offices of the ABC and a commercial paper, with a federal court judge ruling the raids were valid. Community outrage? Nothing.
“But many voices are now speaking out for Julian. Jeremy Corbyn urged Boris Johnson to back the Council of Europe demanding Julian’s release just after Julian was nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowdon. He's also won the 2020 Gary Webb Freedom of the Press award. Did you hear about that in our media?
“Throughout his protracted ordeal, to our shame, not one word of support from the Australian Government or the Labor Party hierarchy. But he was visited by two MPs, Independent Andrew Wilkie and Liberal George Christensen, to their credit.
“While Daniel Ellsberg was treated as a hero for revealing the truth about Vietnam, Assange faces 175 years in prison for disclosing vastly more serious crimes than those in the Pentagon Papers.
"This is a critical moment for press freedom and our right to know. If there is any sense of justice left, this travesty of a case must be thrown out and Julian Assange must be brought home as a free man. If he isn’t, then we’re heading into darker times when the US Empire will continue on its destructive path unchecked and freedom of speech will be a thing of the past. As Julian said: ‘People don’t like wars. They have to be lied into them’.