Monday, December 19, 2011

My Protesters of the Year

Time recently announced that the Protester was their person of the year.  Hard to disagree with that. Protesters have had made a huge difference in everywhere from Tunisia to Egypt to Wall Street to Moscow.

Here are my protesters of the year.

Bradley Manning
Bradley Manning
Occupy Wall Street was inspired by Egypt. Egypt was inspired by Tunisia.  Tunisia was inspired by the desperate act of Mohamed Bouazizi (more on him in a moment) and cables released by Wikileaks.  Bradley Manning (allegedly) smuggled those cables from an army base on a CD labelled "Lady Gaga".

The Arab spring and Occupy Wall Street would not have been possible without Bradley.

Bradley has been under arrest since May 2010 in Kuwait and the States.  He has only just been formally charged.  Bradley has spent long periods in isolation.  He was often left naked in isolation on the pretence of a suicide watch.

Many people - including former isolated inmates - have come out and said that extended solitary isolation is a type of torture.

The trial of Bradley has just begun.  I don't know what the result of the trial will be, but it might end in life imprisonment or an execution.

I suspect Bradley is going to be in no mental shape to defend himself.  He doesn't seem have been an especially happy person prior to releasing the cables and eighteen months of isolation tends to turn the brain to mush.

Bradley Manning should be celebrated as a hero.  He should not be in prison.

Exposing war crimes is not a crime.

Julian Assange
Julian Assange
Julian Assange is the founder of Wikileaks, the organization responsible for releasing the cables that Bradley (allegedly) acquired.

The Wikileaks people went over the cables with a fine toothed comb to make sure that innocent people were not endangered by the release. The U.S. military (eventually) agreed that this was the case.

Julien is currently in England and fighting hard to avoid deportation to Sweden.  Being deported to Sweden would be bad because Sweden would immediately deport him to the States where he would face Bradley Manning type problems. Some elected American representatives have called for Julian to be assassinated.

The weird thing is that Julian hasn't been accused of any crime. The Swedish authorities just want to question around some sexual misconducted charges against him that were quickly dropped.

The only possible reason they would deport someone for questioning is a political one.  The States is putting pressure on Sweden and Sweden is putting pressure on England.

Wikileaks has struggled in recent times.  Companies like Paypal, Visa, and Western Union have refused to accept donations to Wikileaks.  Donations form the main source of income for Wikileaks.

The Wikileaks site was hosted on the Amazon servers.  Amazon and others took down Wikileaks from their servers due to political pressure.  Yet another good reason not to shop at Amazon.  Freedom of speech be damned.

Wikileaks has broke more major stories than the large media organizations combined. He rightfully won a major journalism prize in his native Australia.

Mohamed Bouazizi
Mohamed Bouazizi
Mohamed Bouazizi was a street vendor in Tunisia.

His business was constantly harassed  by Tunisian government thugs who humiliated him, demanded exorbitant bribes, and confiscated his wares.

In an act of desperation, Mohamed doused himself in petrol in front of a governor's office, screamed "How do you expect me to make a living?", and set himself alight. He died later in hospital.

Mohamed's act of desperation - together with the released Wikileak cables - sparked a revolution in Tunisia.  That spark spread to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Wall Street and many others.

Mohamed, Julian, and Bradley.  I salute you all.  Well done.

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