#FreeAssange: “First They Came for Assange” World-Wide Event


Prominent artists of the past lined up their support for Julian Assange in a multi-city event that took place on June 19, 2016.

The event featured the likes of recorder/producer Brian Eno, Laibach, punk rock Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and others in a show dubbed “First they came for Assange,” referencing Martin Niemöller’s poem about Nazi Germany’s repressed groups.

The #freeAssange event took place to mark his anniversary of self-imposed detention in the Ecuadorian embassy that occurred after initial allegations in Sweden were made of rape and sexual assault – no charges have ever been formally laid – that would ultimately lead to Assange’s extradition to the US.

The June 19-25 event appeared across Europe in Berlin, Athens and Paris. Simultaneous live-streamed workshops were held in New York, Madrid and Romania’s Bucharest amongst other cities. A total of 14 cities participated.

Patti Smith with Bob Dylan

“Four years after Julian Assange passed through the gates of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, asking for asylum, people from all over the world join their voices in order to ask that this unbelievable persecution is brought to an end,” Free Assange Now said on their webpage.

“Inspired by the famous Martin Niemöller poem about cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group, what the event “First they came for Assange…” wants to stress that we live in a critical time in which everyone opposed to the political and financial powers might soon become a target.

“It has been 4 years since a courageous South American nation granted Julian Assange asylum due to his legitimate fears of rendition to the US. After exercising a sovereign right, the UK threatened to attack the London Embassy. Since then, two EU Governments, Sweden and the United Kingdom, consistently refuse to recognize their human rights obligations and grant safe passage to Julian Assange.

“More than a hundred days have passed and the situation remains the same, and will remain the same, unless there is an increase in political pressure. We cannot afford inaction. First they came after Julian Assange, then they came after Chelsea Manning, then they came after Edward Snowden… who is next?”


Other speakers on the day included outspoken Noam Chomsky, Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith, author Arundhati Roy and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Award winning journalists, politicians, academics, and contemporary philosophers also rallied their support behind Assange at the event.

You can read more for details of the global event here.

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