Mexico honours Julian Assange

Sep 30, 2022
John and Gabriel Shipton, father and brother of Julian Assange, participate in
Image: Alamy /Luis Barron/Eyepix Group

Julian Assange’s family, his father John Shipton and his brother Gabriel Shipton, have returned from Mexico where they were invited to attend the celebrations of Mexico’s Independence Day by the Mexican President, Andreas Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is affectionately known as AMLO from his initials.

At a public ceremony to honour Julian Assange, the Mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, named Assange a Distinguished Guest and delivered the Keys to the City to John and Gabriel on behalf of Julian. Among the distinguished guests at the ceremony were Che Guevara’s daughter, Aleida Guevara March, the grandson of Martin Luther King, and the family of Nelson Mandela, a reflection of the extraordinary regard that Julian Assange is held in in Mexico and the global south.

The former Minister of National Defence of Ecuador, Ricardo Patino, also attended and delivered to Gabriel and John the national journalism award given to the WikiLeaks founder by the Journalists Club of Mexico in 2018.

Mayor Sheinbaum declared:

“Julian Assange represents the truth. He represents freedom of expression and never, anywhere in the world, can that be persecuted. Today, in this national month, we endorse Independence and because we always endorse freedom of expression, Julian Assange will be welcomed, through his family, to Mexico City.”

“We hand over the Keys to the City to the family of Julian Assange. For us, Julian represents the truth, freedom of expression.”

The following day, September 16, Mexico’s national holiday, Independence Day, the Shiptons were honoured guests and met the Mexican President and his wife.

“The affection for Julian in Mexico and South America is tremendous,” John Shipton told me.

“We sat next to Che Guevara’s daughter who is much loved in South America and Evo Morales, the ex-president of Bolivia. It was a wonderful event.

“The speech of President Obrador was extraordinary. He spoke at length and welcomed Gabriel and me to the celebration and spoke in support of Julian and also in support of peace and a diplomatic and peaceful settlement in the Ukraine-Russia war. A very brave man. They gave us a commemorative medal of silver to take back and give to Julian and thanked us publicly for our attendance. Marvellous. A marvellous ten days of constant interviews and interest from the Mexican public and their TV and radio.”

The contrast between the support for Assange shown by the Mexican government and media and the Australian government and media struck me as striking and I commented ironically on this, but John Shipton was more optimistic and remarked that the Australians seem to have come good, noting that an online poll showed 88% of Australians support Julian’s return to Australia.

“The Labor party were elected to government on a platform of support for Julian as were the Teal independents and the Greens were pretty good here too. The ABC broadcast the film Ithaka and 550,000 people viewed it.

“Julian is aware and delighted by the Mexican support. His spirit has lifted considerably with the reception and support of the Mexican President. It was really important,” said John Shipton.

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