Assange has been at the Belmarsh prison since May 2019. His lawyers and family say his mental and physical health are deteriorating dramatically. A group of 60 doctors have stated in a letter to UK authorities that Julian Assange could potentially die in prison. They “have serious concerns about Mr Assange’s fitness to stand trial in February 2020.”
For more than 10 years protesters demand for Julian Assange to be freed. We can see them back in January 2020 in front of the Belmarsh Prison chanting. A group of protestors called the Gilets jaunes came all the way from Paris to support the movement.
As the global pandemic unfolds, journalists and Assange supporters alike are continuing their efforts to spread the message of Assange’s condition. The British government states that mass gatherings should not take place.
There aren’t strict regulations that prohibit citizens from protesting, however the UK government has issued an advice note for people participating in protests that you could read here :
“The current advice in the UK is that due to the coronavirus, mass gathering events should not take place.”
The right to protest is imbedded in many international treaties as a human right. Many consider that Jualian Assange’s case is also tied to our freedom of expression. Our foundational freedoms are currently being defied by a public health threat on a global scale. The question remaining is, how this threat will shape the future of democratic governance?
Featured Image credit: Spanish protesters wear masks of the ‘Anonymous’ group and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photograph: Jon Nazca/REUTERS
In 2019 the music industry was worth £5.2bn to the British economy and the live music sector was breaking the £1bn barrier.
The chief executive of UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre, Julian Bird communicated that in their “latest survey (…) 70% of theatres or production companies, both, would run out of cash and go out of business by the end of this year. That was consistent whether you looked at London, the rest of the UK – whether you looked at subsidised organisations or commercial organisations. It was consistently around 70% for everybody.”
In an open letter, more than 1400 artists are calling on the UK government to come up with solutions against the total collapse due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biggest names in rock and pop music such as Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Muse, Eric Clapton, Iron Maiden, Bring Me The Horizon, Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Annie Lennox, The Cure, Phil Collins have decided to unite their voices and spread this message in the music world. They are warning that a lack of support and continued uncertainty is having a devastating impact in one of the world’s biggest live music market.
In the joint letter, the artists say:
“UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. From world-famous festivals to ground-breaking concerts, the live music industry showcases, supports, and develops some of the best talent in the world – on and off-stage. As important as it is, our national and regional contribution isn’t purely cultural. ”
Artists urged their fans to post pictures and videos of the last shows they attended before lockdown using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay.
During the lockdown, artists have found alternative ways of sharing their craft such as livestreams and digital content. In regards to this matter, Bird also mentioned that the in the streaming model it’s not the musicians who are put first. Majority of them are surviving on hardship funds.
As the fourth largest music market in the world, the appeal notes that state support for live music is way behind many other European countries. France and Germany for example have used public money to kickstart their concert industries post-Covid19.
The UK music industry is asking for more information concerning the reopening of venues, big and small and without social distancing. Once these venues reopen, businesses demand a full VAT exemption on ticket sales. In the meantimes, a comprehensive business and employment support package and access to finance. The package should include a government backed insurance scheme with rent breaks for venues to allow them to reopen and financial support for lost box-office income.
Artists are wondering what the landscape is going to look like on the other side of this crisis. Many of them are afraid that if the government doesn’t step up “vital aspects of the british culture will be lost forever” says Emily Eavis, the organiser of the Glastonbury festival. A long term impact could be indeed, devastating.
At a time where mobile connectivity is needed the most, masts around the UK are targeted and destroyed. Unfounded conspiracy theories are spreading like wildfires over the internet linking the Covid-19 pandemic and 5G broadband technology.
EE, the network operator told The Guardian that they are investigating the attacks but it looks like the work of arsonists.
A quick search on Facebook will reveal plenty of 5G groups. Earliest reports of the dangers of 5G exposure, appeared in a Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws back in January 2020.
It took a week for the rumour to spread and fact checking sites were debunking claims about the validity of those rumours. Social media quickly found a connection between the rise of 5G and the pandemic outbreak.
The infrastructure attacked is vital to health workers and emergency services. As of yesterday 77 cell phone towers have been set on fire due to these theories.
During the month of March, the Disaster Helpline saw 338% increase in call volume compared to February 2020.
The Journal for American Medical Association (JAMA) released a report for the month of March expressing concern for the potential increase of suicide cases. Governments are urged to act now to prevent a bigger risk of suicide. The consequences are likely to appear later and last much longer than the actual pandemic.
Many surprising events happened this year that humanity never thought it would have to face. Our society and its progress have been stopped in its tracks, forced to step down and limited to essential tasks. It has brought a new perspective to life and what it means to be a human.
Everyone is walking with no apparent business. Nobody is rushing anywhere, except for delivery drivers. We might encounter the same people, two or three times on our path. We come home and the day eclipses in a matter of seconds.
After the panic, the fear, the stress and anxiety, we might be in the last stage of lockdown which is in a stage of acceptance and hope.
We can learn from those who survived during wars, famine and economic crises. We can’t control the state of the world but we can improve in what’s happening around us.
Helping a neighbour or calling a friend that you think might be struggling. We can develop resilience and become stronger mentally when we face our fears directly.
When we feel like the energy is being sucked out of ourselves, when we get tired of the news and the negative influx of information, it’s normal to decide to shut down from the world. The attention might be going inwards where we are faced with internal issues and questions that we might never have had the time to see before.
It’s our chance to practice mindfulness to ground ourselves in the moment and appreciate whatever is in front of us.
If you feel alone or trapped, lay down your fears in writing and create space by imagining something new. In a world of constant pressure, choose to disconnect from the world a day or two and connect with your feelings.
Finding things, big or small to be grateful for is always possible. Remember to count a few things or people to be grateful for each day to ease the anxiety.
Things are ugly and some days are really gloomy. What we have to remember is that we are going to get through this together. We are alone together.
With all the live events and music shows being shut down left and right, artists everywhere have had to make the tough decision to postpone their concerts until further notice.
Our favourite artists are trying to come up with creative ways to keep music alive and keep us entertained in these gloomy times. While in the previous years music lovers would start planning for the festival season by now, there are very little signs or hope for a normal summer season at all. If you’re tired spending your days on the couch, turn the music on, open the windows and dance all your worries (and calories) away for a minute or thirty.
Tame Impala released a new playlist playlist on Youtube called “The Slow Rush in an imaginary place”. In the background the listener can hear people cheering and having fun. If you miss live music dreamy atmosphere, grab a pair of headphones and immerse yourself into this Tame Impala psychedelic goodness. Travel into the past, or maybe the future. You decide.
Coldplay’s front-singer and a many other artists delighted their audience on Instagram with live at-home concerts. Chris Martin spent thirty minutes playing his best tracks on piano encouraging other artists to do the same. His live has been viewn over 4.7 million times and inspired people to share their own version of their #ToghetherAtHome over 58.000 times.
Sam Smith has also shared three performances singing by himself live, all the way from his living-room. Due to the recent events Smith decided to postpone the release to his third studio album and change its title.
The english indie rock band Nothing but Thieves have been meaning to realease new material for a quite a while. Their new song “Is everyone going crazy?” seems to have been written exactly for our times and relates to out current struggles. It’s a great catharsis song, recommend 10/10 for headbanging and aimelessly jumping around the living room.
“Is anyone else feeling lonely?”
Social media use has increased drastically and we’ve seen many musicians’ new ways to have fun and engaging with their fans. #Quarantinekaraoke, live-at-home-concerts, virtual festivals and gaming twitch streams… We can’t help but wonder, what’s next?
As we wait for the new wave of digital music interaction incited by the quarantined musicians worldwide, people have turned to music to feel less lonely in their homes.
What might seem like a catastrophy for the night economy could become a transformation of the music industry itself. New platforms for music broadcasting are emerging.
#DigitalFort is a two day event showcasing over 100 artists. This is meant to be an online festival to help raise money for those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One can have fun and be of service at the same time. Hopefully you have a good internet connection and you’re even luckier if you have some nice neighbours… the party can finally begin!
Campaigners and supporters of Wikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange have been the ones at the forefront of multiple significant militant actions. Over a month ago, a powerful light was shone on the Houses of Parliament and the Belmarsh prison with the message “Don’t extradite Assange!”.
The message was followed by an invitation to the march in support of Assange, on the 22nd of February leading to the Parliament Square in London.
Thousands of people have gathered in protest of his extradition. Former Greek Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, editor in chief of WikiLeaks Kristinn Hrafnsonn and Pink Floyd star Roger Waters were among the high-profile names at the protest.
To recap briefly, Julian Assange has been involved in some of the most controversial matters of our time. In 2010, Wikileaks published in concert with other news media organisations video footage of a US military attack on Iraqi civilians in Baghdad and diplomatic cables revealing crimes involving the US government.
The rally in London was only the beggining of a massive wave of protests. All over the world, people gathered to support Julian Assange and demand his imminent liberation.
“He has committed no crime, he published something, he’s a journalist, he did what journalists are supposed to do. There was no threat to national security,” Waters said.
At the beginning of the week of Assange’s extradition hearing, campaigners again have gathered from very early in the morning.
People came from as far as Paris, Brazil and Germany to protest at the Belmarsh Prison. Inspite of the awful weather, the “Gilets jaunes” came in prepared and motivated the rest of the protesters all day long.
With the multiple restrictions that are being imposed upon Londoners nowadays, the question arises of not only the freedom of the press, but people’s right of movement, expression and ultimately the right to protest as a human right.
Many questions arise as this unprecedented situation unfolds in front of our eyes. Now, that the first part of the London hearing to decide whether WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the US is over, the second half is delayed until May.
Are journalists allowed to cover news stories on the ground? Under what circumstances? What about the citizens that are supposed to stay at home but refuse to do so.. What if they choose to go out and protest?