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Doctors demand “urgent” medical intervention to save Julian Assange’s life

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | other press author Monday November 25, 2019 22:54author by 1 of indy Report this post to the editors

The British state is slowly killing Julian Assange. They want him to die so as to send a message to anyone else who dares make public the crimes of governments like the US and the UK who have bombed countless countries, murdering hundreds of thousands of people in the process and which in fact has gone a long way to contributing to the waves of immigrants risking their lives to get into Europe. The World Socialist WebSite has produced a report on the situation so far.

More than 65 eminent medical doctors from the UK and around the world have issued an open letter calling for urgent action to protect the life of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.

The doctors warn there may be serious consequences if Assange is not moved from Belmarsh Prison to a university teaching hospital where he can be assessed and treated by an expert medical team.
Julian Assange - Slowly being murdered by the apparatus of the state courtsey
Julian Assange - Slowly being murdered by the apparatus of the state courtsey

More than 65 eminent medical doctors from the UK and around the world have issued an open letter calling for urgent action to protect the life of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.

The doctors warn there may be serious consequences if Assange is not moved from Belmarsh Prison to a university teaching hospital where he can be assessed and treated by an expert medical team.

“Were such urgent assessment and treatment not to take place,” they write, “we have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison. The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose.”

Their letter is addressed to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and has been copied to Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott.

The doctors’ extraordinary intervention in the midst of the British general election coincides with a groundswell of popular opposition to the relentless state persecution of Assange. The Australian-born journalist faces extradition to the United States and a 175-year prison term for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr Stephen Frost, a specialist in diagnostic radiology, began drafting the open letter with colleagues in late October. He was moved to act after reading the harrowing account of Assange’s October 21 court appearance at London’s Westminster Magistrates Court written by former British diplomat and whistleblower Craig Murray.

“I was shocked,” Frost recalled. “As a doctor, I suddenly realised that things were a lot worse than I had previously thought and that I needed to do something.”

Signatories have backed the findings on Assange by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer. Melzer visited Assange at Belmarsh Prison with two medical experts on May 9. His team found Assange was suffering the effects of prolonged “psychological torture” after nearly a decade of arbitrary detention and state persecution.

On November 1, Melzer warned, “Mr. Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life.”

Frost said Melzer’s intervention had been critical. “He did his job fearlessly and he was disregarded. But he was an expert in his field and we respected his opinion. You can tell when someone is speaking the truth.”

Senior medical doctors in the UK, and from Sweden, the US, Australia, Germany, Italy and Sri Lanka have signed the open letter. They include leading psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, neurologists, surgeons and general practitioners.

“Medical doctors have a professional duty to report suspected torture of which they become aware, wherever it may be occurring,” the signatories write. “That professional duty is absolute and must be carried out regardless of risk to reporting doctors.”

The letter presents a timeline of deteriorating health for Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy, with the UK government repeatedly denying him access to hospital treatment. In December 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that “Mr Assange’s health could have deteriorated to such a level that anything more than a superficial illness would put his health at a serious risk.”

The letter’s medical timeline ends with Assange’s current downward spiral inside Belmarsh. Signatories report their “serious concerns” about Assange’s fitness to stand trial in February 2020. Week-long US extradition hearings are due to start on February 24, with Assange still confined to Belmarsh Prison’s “health ward”—described by prisoners as the “hell ward.”

An addendum to the open letter cites a “climate of fear and intimidation surrounding the provision of medical care to Mr Assange.” It reports a psychological expert who complained of “difficulties in finding medical practitioners who were willing to examine Mr Assange” due to their fear of government reprisal. The signatories conclude, “That all this has been played out in the heart of London for many years is a source of great sadness and shame to many of us.”

With their open letter, doctors in the UK and internationally are refusing to be silenced. They have honoured their professional obligation and taken a courageous stand to protect the life of Julian Assange.

As Dr Frost told the World Socialist Web Site, “Sometimes in medicine, as in other spheres of life, extraordinary situations can only be solved by taking an educated leap into the unknown and seeking extraordinary solutions.”

The open letter is published here. Doctors from around the world can add their names to the current list of signatories by contacting: doctors4assange@gmail.com Full text at link

Related Link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/11/25/lead-n25.html
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