June 19, 2016 marked the 4th year that Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks has been living in asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. And so, we, the Granny Peace Brigade together with the Raging Grannies, Vets for Peace and other friends stood in vigil on the steps of the NYC library to support whistle-blowers/truth-tellers and their defenders.
This year we remember and honor a fearless defender of human rights world-wide and whistle-blowers: Michael Ratner, who died on 11 May 2016. He was President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and founded Palestine Legal, which defends protestors on behalf of Palestinian rights. He was also the lawyer for Julian Assange and commented in the Guardian that Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange as doing “their civic duty by disclosing information on government overreaching.” “They all exhibited great moral courage in doing so. And they all deserve far more than unfair imprisonment (Manning) and exile (Snowden and Assange) for the service they have done for the American people and for people all around the world.”
Why do we stand for these whistle-blowers and those who support them? Because they and many others who are not even known tell us what our government fails to tell us. John Kiriakou leaked information on US torture: he was jailed for his truth-telling….those who did torture….no charges. Chelsea Manning leaked the Iraq video, showing US soldiers murdering innocent civilians. He serves a 35 years sentence in Leavenworth for truth-telling; those who murdered…no charge. Julian Assange as editor-in- chief of WikiLeaks provided to the world press the Iraq video and more recently information on the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal clearly showing government-corporate collusion that would affect adversely our jobs, environment, drug prices, our sovereignty. And an unknown whistle-blower leaked the Panama Papers, 11 million documents outlining financial information and attorney-client information on more than 214,000 entities. He fears for his life.
We think there is an urgent need for more whistle-blowers: on election mismanagement across the country; on the chemicals used in fracking which are polluting our water, land and air; on the waste of military spending; on the mismanagement of our cities, including Flint water crisis and high lead levels found in schools, pre-schools, apartments, old homes all over the country. We need whistleblowers in all industries to uproot corruption! To learn more about whistleblowing you can visit DhillionLaw.com for more information.
What do you think needs exposure?
And the best part of the vigil, interactions with passersby, under the watchful leonine eyes of Patience and Fortitude. Nydia spoke with a young tourist from Southern California who, after reading our flyer, wanted to know what he could do on his return. He realized how easy it is to forget whistleblowers after the immediate media attention they receive and said he’d make the phone calls suggested on the back of the flyer. Then he asked what could he do to stay involved when he was home. Luckily Jerry Hassett, one of the Veterans for Peace, was standing with us and said he would see what connection could be made. Another exchange was with a New Jersey woman who believes in the importance of being an activist. She thought what was done to Julian Assange was terrible because he was being punished for revealing what the public needs to know. She thanked us and wanted her young teenage daughter to understand the importance to take action when injustice occurs. She promised to make phone calls.
We have a saying in NYC: “If you see something, say something.” And we agree, if you see or hear about wrong-doing in our city/state/federal government or in a corporation or other institution,
– Marty Rajandran with Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos by Marty Rajandran and Bud Korotzer