It would be both impossible and disingenuous to write about yesterday’s rally for Julian Assange from anything but a deeply personal perspective. Pink Floyd’s music was not only the soundtrack of my childhood but remains a vital part of my life today. In particular, when asked to name my favourite song, Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ is always the clear choice.
The message behind Roger Waters’s powerful lyric is one that is both personal and universal. The concepts of loss, of absence, of isolation and of regret are those which all people feel throughout various stages of their lives. The lyrics offer not only a reflective mediation on these concepts but likewise offer a pointed question that we must all ask ourselves: “did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?”
Yesterday, Roger Waters came to sing his song in support of Julian Assange in central London outside of the UK’s Home Office. Assange is a man who not only rejected a lead role in a cage but played more than a walk on part in exposing the barbarous nature of the wars fought in the name of western countries but without western citizens knowing the full horror of these wars. Assange changed of all that whilst his publications consistently exposed those who would rule our lives as men and women who are not only fallible in their behaviour, but also downright corrupt, sinister and in some cases murderous.
Julian Assange helped to tear down the wall between the powerful elites and the rest of humanity. His one clarion call was the truth and to this day he has not once been accused of publishing anything but the truth. But for the truth he told, Assange is now festering in a literal cage in the heart of one of Britain’s most notorious prisons. Prior to this, he was in another cage – stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy as a refugee taking shelter in what had once been a country willing to respect his asylum on human rights grounds.
When I saw the heroic truth teller Julian Assange being dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy like an animal on its way to an abattoir, my life changed. It was at that moment that I realised the concept that “this could happen to any of us” was not just an ominous theory but was objective fact. The only difference between Assange’s publications and the leaked information published by the likes of the Washington Post, New York Times, Daily Telegraph and Guardian is that Assange’s publications had even more global magnitude.
The old rules were that publishers acting in the public interest had the right to published leaked material. The new rules are that if the material embarrasses the powers that be, the following statement from Idi Amin will now apply to those living in supposedly free countries: “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech”.
Julian Assange was but four years old when the album Wish You Were Here was released but today, the entire album and the eponymous song in particular is about Julian Assange and all others who have been caged for their walk on part in the war.