For the past 11 years, the nonprofit organization, Global Exchange, has held an awards program honoring people across the globe for their work in human rights. This year’s award winner, nominated and chosen by people around the globe, was WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. The awards creator, Global Exchange, also selects an individual or group each year to […]
For the past 11 years, the nonprofit organization, Global Exchange, has held an awards program honoring people across the globe for their work in human rights. This year’s award winner, nominated and chosen by people around the globe, was WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.
The awards creator, Global Exchange, also selects an individual or group each year to be the honoree — the 2013 honoree is Noam Chomsky — but the group also has a “People’s Choice Award” where regular citizens can nominate and vote for someone they believe deserves an award for their work as well, which is what Assange won.
Nominations began on March 6 and ended March 26; more than 60 individuals and groups were nominated, including Leonard Peltier, Jesse Ventura and political prisoner and whistleblower Bradley Manning, who was last year’s winner.
Nominated by Eugene Craig, Assange received 1,956 votes — many more than others, such as Ventura, who received 11 votes.
Craig says he nominated Assange because the WikiLeaks founder “has done more to inform the world about U.S., British and NATO war crimes and propaganda in Iraq, the Middle East, Afghanistan and worldwide along with colluding governments in those war crimes than almost anyone else in nearly half a century.
“He helps expose Wall Street/corporate malfeasance and criminal acts; deceitful, corrupt politicians; and the lying, corporate-controlled mass media. He joins the ranks of other heroes like Mumia Abul-Jamal, Robert Fisk, Phil Agee and the wsws.org website,” Craig wrote.
“In spite of personal risk and against the avalanche of government persecutions and character assassination, Julian Assange refuses to compromise his principles, sell-out or give in to establishment lies and deceits. In the face of major disinformation campaigns against him and WikiLeaks, Julian has put uncomfortable truths above comfortable conformity and self-interest. For these reasons and many more, he is a true Human Rights hero.”
According to the event’s website, the Human Rights Awards honors the achievements of groups and individuals whose work embodies the principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: peace, justice and equality.
Assange in asylum
As winner of the 2013 People’s Choice Award, Assange will receive $1,000 in honor of his work and will be recognized at the awards gala celebration on May 9 in San Francisco. Honorees are invited to attend, but the Australian native likely won’t be in attendance.
Assange has spent the last seven months living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after being granted asylum. If he were to decide to leave the premise, members of London’s Scotland Yard police force are positioned outside of the embassy, waiting with handcuffs, assault rifles and orders to arrest and deport Assange to Sweden, where he is accused of rape.
The U.S. government also has a few questions for Assange, who worked with active members of the U.S. military, like Bradley Manning, to spotlight human rights violations by the United States.
Some of the biggest exposures involving the U.S. include:
“The Afghan War Diary, in which U.S. military servicemen provide the naked truth about NATO’s killing of Afghan civilians, lies, secrecy and support for a corrupt undemocratic Afghan regime; a similar package from Iraq, called the Iraq War Logs, and finally, Cablegate, a collection of cables sent between Washington and U.S. embassies in 274 countries, dating from 1966 to 2010.”
In a recent interview with a Norwegian journalist, Assange talked about the support he has received.
“We have support from all over the world. But the level of support is found in countries that have toppled bad governments in the past, and where the internal archives of the fallen regimes have been central elements in the public debate afterward,” Assange explained.
Even in Sweden where Assange is wanted for rape allegations, he says he has the support of about 55 percent of the people. “That is right in the middle compared to other countries, and better than in the US and Great Britain,” he said.