If Only You'd Be Quiet We'd Be Nice to You
Political prisoners Donziger and Assange and what their prosecutions mean for all of us.
A political prisoner is someone whose personal beliefs or activism - not necessarily any actual criminal activity, except what is drummed up by those who seek to persecute them - lands them in prison. The right to free speech, the right to peacefully protest, and other Constitutional safeguards were meant by our founders to make the taking of political prisoners an impossibility in the United States.
Yet we all know such safeguards have not always held, and we’re living at a moment when two egregious examples of political prisoner assault the conscience, and the citizenship, of every American.
One is Steven Donziger and the other is Julian Assange, both of whom are being cruelly persecuted for the sin of doing what you’re simply not supposed to do these days: one, hold a fossil fuel company (in this case Chevron) accountable for its crimes of poisoning the water of tens of thousands of indigenous farmers in Ecuador; and two, reveal military secrets involving atrocities such as torture and civilian murders by a war machine that’s much happier operating in secret and with no accountability at all to the American people, much less to its victims overseas.
Below are two interviews I’ve done in the last week, one with Steven Donziger when he was released from Danbury Prison in Ct. to serve the rest of his six-month prison sentence in home confinement; and one with Julian Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, after the UK High Court agreed to America’s request to extradite Julian to the United States.
In Donziger’s case, all human rights and environmental activists are imperiled by Chevron’s ability to use a US courtroom to deal harshly with those who seek to hold it accountable ; and with Assange, it’s not hyperbole to say that all freedom of the press in the United States is on the line in his case. In both instances, the true criminals are those who committed the crimes, not those who exposed them for it.
All of us have a part to play in creating a politics of conscience, in becoming conscious citizens, in crying “Foul!” when we see our country violating the very principles on which we purport to stand. Thanks to all of you who are refusing to be lulled to sleep about these things, and refusing to be quiet about them. We’re all very much in this together.
In addition to the interviews below, here’s a livestream we did to support Donziger last week, and information about one we’re doing to support Assange this Thursday night from 7:30-10:30pm ET. We need to make a lot of noise.
Please listen to the interviews below and spread the word. #FreeDonziger #FreeAssange
No matter what, let’s always remember: our ancestors faced challenges to our democracy even worse than these, and they prevailed. I believe with all my heart that we will too….