Assange supporters demand government action
Protestors assembled in Darling Harbour to demand more government support for Julian Assange and Wikileaks on Friday.
The small group gathered outside the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre at midday on Friday, April 20 to confront Attorney-General Nicola Roxon who was at the venue to attend a Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) conference.
The demonstrators occupied the ground floor lobby of Exhibition Hall 5 to attract attention before being ushered out by the venue’s staff.
A member of the Coalition, Jann Dark said: “There were a lot of lawyers around so we were sure wouldn’t be man-handled by staff but were not sure of our rights.”
The Protestors, organized by Support Wikileaks and Assange Coalition, held up banners and picket signs.
The demonstration occurred the day after Mr Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, was stopped by security staff at London’s Heathrow airport and alerted that she was on the Inhibited Persons List. She was flying home to attend the CLA conference.
A spokesperson for the Coalition, Anne Picot said in a statement: “Who on earth put Jennifer Robinson, a human rights lawyer of international reputation, on a No Fly list? This is more the action of a Stalinist police state or third world dictatorship than a common law country which prides itself on ‘innocent til proven guilty’.”
Australian Lawyers Alliance National President Greg Barns said: “The ALA is extremely concerned that simply because a lawyer is representing a client that government does not like, the lawyer is then subjected to security scrutiny,” in a statement.
“The UK and Australian governments must come clean as to why Ms Robinson was subjected to this treatment at Heathrow airport today and why she is on any sort of security list,” he said.
Ms Dark said Ms Robinson exited the building to say thank you for the support.
Another banner holder, Matt Watt said they received thumbs-ups from the conference’s domestic and international delegates.
Justice behind bars
Over 40 concerned citizens met in the CBD on Saturday morning to discuss prison reform. NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Greg Smith sat on a panel to debate issues of incarceration and to speak about the future of prisons.
Shadow Attorney General, Paul Lynch, Greens MP David Shoebridge and Community Justice Coalition president David Bitel also took part. Family, friends and representatives from community support groups discussed the pressing issues of education, rehabilitation and discrimination.
The forum at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Art building on Pitt St was hosted by the Community Justice Coalition.
Mr Smith stressed the importance of families to prevent criminal activity. “If you don’t keep families together, then you get more crime.”
Mr Lynch said he is opposed to mandatory sentencing and expanding prison populations.
The event also discussed the lack of access to computers by prisoners which prevents them from pursuing tertiary education online.
Mr Shoebridge said he supported the young offenders reform bill and emphasized the need to address the increased proportion of aboriginal citizens in prisons. “They are so grossly over-represented in jails.”
One member of the audience expressed concern about released prisoners experiencing discrimination in the workforce.
King’s Cross Overkill
Two Indigenous teenage boys were taken to hospital on Saturday morning after they were shot by police while driving through Kings Cross.
The boys were trying to flee police when they hit two people, causing police to open fire through the windscreen. The 14 year old driver was hit in the arm and the chest, and his 18 year old passenger took a bullet in the neck.
Video footage taken by a witness shows NSW police dragging the bleeding passenger across the pavement and punching him repeated in the head. The boys, including another 4 passengers, one as young as 13, were from Mt Druitt and are charged with being in a stolen vehicle.