UN rapporteur on torture ‘scared to find out more about our democracies’ after delving into Assange case


09-05-20 01:16:00,

Discovering that the cruelty visited on Julian Assange by Western democracies had been premeditated has heightened the fear of learning more about how those democracies operate, the UN’s rapporteur on torture has admitted.

For years Nils Melzer has been researching on behalf of the UN just how vile and degrading the mistreatment of prisoners can become. But learning that states that are supposed to be champions of human rights can be as brutal as any other with people who cross them was quite a shock. The case that made Melzer reassess his beliefs is that of Julian Assange, who, he says, had signs of “prolonged psychological torture” while in the UK.  

“First I was shocked that mature democracies could produce such an accident. Then I found out it was no accident. Now, I am scared to find out about our democracies…” the UN official tweeted on Sunday, marking a year since his visit to check on Assange at the UK’s Belmarsh top security prison.

Today one year ago we visited #Assange in prison. He showed clear signs of prolonged psychological #Torture.First I was shocked that mature democracies could produce such an accident.Then I found out it was no accident.Now, I am scared to find out about our democracies… pic.twitter.com/enElUmA1fK

— Nils Melzer (@NilsMelzer) May 9, 2020

Melzer became a vocal advocate of Assange’s rights after delving into his case last year. In April of 2019, the co-founder of the transparency website WikiLeaks was kicked out of Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he’d enjoyed asylum for years. He was then jailed by Britain over skipping bail. The case of alleged sexual abuse in Sweden, which led to a request for extradition of Assange and ultimately landed him in trouble with British law, has since been dropped.

Still, Assange remains locked at the prison usually reserved for most dangerous violent criminals in the UK, even as his health reportedly is further deteriorating with him behind bars. Now he is formally wanted by US justice over alleged computer crimes, though his defenders say this is nothing but Washington’s attempt at retaliation for his having exposed America’s dirty secrets.

WikiLeaks rose to greater prominence after publishing footage of the mass killings of civilians in Baghdad in US helicopter airstrikes.

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UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer exposes propaganda and censorship in Assange reporting


02-07-19 08:38:00,

Chris Marsden

1 July 2019

When Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, issued a May 31 statement demanding an immediate end to the “collective persecution” of Julian Assange it made headlines all over the world.

Assange, Melzer wrote, “has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.”

“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” he added.

In the run-up to last Wednesday’s International Day in Support of Torture Victims, Melzer wrote an op-ed titled, “Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange.” He offered the hard-hitting piece to leading publications, including the Guardian, the Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek.

Professor Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, speaks at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York. [Credit: United Nations]

All of them declined to publish, leaving Melzer, one of the world’s foremost legal experts on torture, to publish his article on the online blogging platform Medium.

Melzer told RT he had been offered various reasons by newspaper editors for rejecting his op-ed. “Some of them said it wasn’t high enough on their news agenda, some of them said it wasn’t within their core area of interest,” he said.

Expressing contempt for their excuses, Melzer noted that the same media executives had happily published stories about Assange “when it was about his cat and his skateboard and… allegations that he smeared excrement on the walls… But when you have a serious piece that actually tries to de-mask this public narrative and to actually show the facts below it,

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UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Warns Julian Assange Could Die in Prison – Global Research


07-06-19 07:04:00,

In a June 1 interview with ABC Radio Adelaide, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer warned that Julian Assange could die in prison if his persecution is not stopped immediately.

Last week, Melzer issued a scathing denunciation of Assange’s persecution, calling it “psychological torture.”

Reporter Philip Williams asked Melzer, “If your calls are ignored, do you fear that he could actually die in prison?” Melzer replied,

“Absolutely, yes. That’s a fear that I think is very real … the cumulative effects of that constant pressure, it will become unpredictable how this will end. What we see is that his health condition is currently deteriorating to the point that he cannot even appear at a court hearing. This is not prosecution; this is persecution and it has to stop here and it has to stop now.”

The full radio interview with Melzer can heard here. WikiLeaks publisher and journalist Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail on May 1 by a British court in a vindictive show trial on fabricated charges of “skipping bail.” Following his eviction from the Ecuadorian embassy on April 11, where Assange had sought asylum and was effectively detained for seven years, he was arrested by British authorities and is now held in Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in southeast London.

Melzer’s comment about Assange’s dire condition follows a statement he issued on May 31 demanding an immediate end to the “collective persecution” by the United States and its allies.

The UN torture expert visited Assange in Belmarsh on May 9 along with a medical doctor and psychologist in order to evaluate the condition of the heroic journalist. Melzer issued his statement just one week after the US Justice Department announced 17 counts on charges of violating the Espionage Act—which carry up to 170 years in prison if convicted—and renewed the demand that the WikiLeaks publisher be extradited to the US for prosecution.

Melzer warned that the nine-year “persistent and progressively severe abuse” of Assange by US, British and Ecuadorian authorities and the threat of his being extradited to the US would pose “a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression,

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UN Special Rapporteur On Torture Exposes Anti-Assange Smear Campaign


01-06-19 08:43:00,

Democracy Now has conducted a thorough interview with the UN Special Rapporteur who found that a collaboration between multiple governments in “a relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation” has placed such severe stress on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and done so much damage to his psychological well being that it can only be described as torture.

The 15-minute interview is by far the most in-depth breakdown of UN Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer’s findings that I have yet seen, and I highly recommend watching it in full for an articulate explanation of Assange’s persecution and the physical, psychological, and legal abuses that have been inflicted upon him.

But I am writing this article to highlight a specific part of this interview which I am quite sure I’ll be quoting again and again in my future reporting on Assange’s plight, because it perfectly illustrates with great authority an aspect of his persecution which has gone severely under-acknowledged despite the incalculable damage that it has done to Assange, to his case, and to society as a whole.

While discussing the unjustly stacked biases which Assange faces in the governments that are participating in his persecution, Melzer said something very, very interesting, which I will highlight in bold in the following text:

“I believe we have to take a step back and look at all these proceedings, how they have been conducted, and come to our own conclusions whether these are fair. We also have to take a step back and look at this whole narrative of suspected rapist; narcissist; selfish, ungrateful person; hacker, and scratch the surface a little bit and see what’s below there. When I was first approached by his defense team seeking protection from my mandate in December last year, I was reluctant to do so, because, me, too, I had been affected by this prejudice that I had absorbed through all these public, you know, narratives spread in the media over the years. And only when I scratched the surface a little bit, I saw how little foundation there was to back this up and how much fabrication and manipulation there is in this case. So I encourage everybody to really look below the surface in this case.”

Hearing a UN expert lay this out with such honesty,

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VN rapporteur: VS pleegt misdaden tegen de menselijkheid in #Venezuela – De Lange Mars Plus


27-02-19 09:39:00,

Foto 123rf

Dankzij Abby Martin en een onafhankelijk VN rapporteur krijgen we een heel ander beeld voorgeschoteld dan het verhaal van bijna ieder nieuwsmedium, dat Venezuela wordt geregeerd door een keiharde dictator en dat het een van hongerdood stervend land is. Een land dat smeekt om ingrijpen om de arme mensen te helpen die door Maduro’s wanbeleid getroffen worden door een crisis. Van Irak, van Libië tot aan Venezuela steeds gaat aan een staatsgreep een humanitaire crisis vooraf.

VN Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas schreef een rapport over de mensenrechten in Venezuela dat genegeerd wordt. De Zayas maakte dit in opdracht van het Hoge Commissariaat voor Mensenrechten van de Verenigde Naties.

Hij zegt dat hij tijdens zijn bezoek aan Venezuela niets heeft gemerkt van een humanitaire crisis in de video die Abby Martin met hem maakte. Volgens hem is het verstandig voor de BBC, Washington Post, New York Times en The Economist om contact met hem op te nemen. Helaas hebben zij dit niet gedaan. Onomwonden stelt De Zayas dat de VS via de sancties de economische crisis in Venezuela heeft veroorzaakt. Hij vindt het daarna ronduit cynisch om dat land vervolgens humanitaire hulp te bieden. De zelfbenoemde interim-president van het land Guiado rijdt op het paard van Troje het land binnen (in de vorm van humanitaire hulp)

Alfred de Zayas ziet een veel simpeler oplossing. De basis van de crisis zit in de dramatische val van de olieprijs. Normaal gesproken moet een welvarend land als Venezuela geld kunnen lenen om dit tijdelijk op te lossen met zijn natuurlijke hulpbronnen als onderpand. Onder bedreiging van de VS hebben de banken rekeningen van de Venezolaanse regering gesloten. Op deze manier zijn diverse enorme leveringen van medicatie en voeding van circa 1,65 miljard dollar tegengehouden. Daarnaast wordt in de VS 10 miljard dollar achtergehouden.

Hij vindt dat de VN een resolutie moet aannemen waarin zij de sancties van de VS veroordelen en verzoeken om de sancties op te heffen, want deze zijn letterlijk moordend. Graag zou hij zien dat de aanklager van het Internationale Strafhof onderzoekt in welke mate doden zijn gevallen door de sancties.

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