Only now, two weeks after the event, I feel able to put into words the suffocation I felt on 23 March 2022, when I was at Julian Assange’s wedding at Belmarsh Prison in London. The events of this day were merciless and the feelings evoked surprising and terribly intimate.
I would prefer not to have to write publicly about what I witnessed at the wedding ceremony of Julian Assange, “the A9379AY prisoner of Belmarsh”.
I wished for the sacral silence and anonymity of a diary, so that those who persecute Julian Assange could never read it. The events of this day were merciless, and the feelings evoked are terribly intimate. It will be an incomplete account, for the vocabulary of unprecedented emotions I felt on that day is not broad enough, for the censorship, isolation and totalitarian controls imposed on Julian Assange and his life, which may culminate in his extradition to the United States, or his death, whichever comes first.
There were few present outside Belmarsh prison, considering the magnitude of Assange’s legacy and his enduring integrity and generosity in pursuit of the truth. That fact alone should be a scandal, as it speaks to the success of the campaign of destruction followed by the media’s campaign of silence.
The vast majority of people who have heard of Assange and Wikileaks still do not know that he has been jailed for three years in the UK, to be extradited and tried in the United States by the infamous “Espionage Court” where he could face up to 175 years in solitary confinement under the so-called special administrative measures (SAMs).
I leave this testimony or record, to oppose, as far as I can, the attempt to isolate, abandon, dehumanise, render invisible and extinguish at any cost Julian Assange’s physical existence, and extinguish our awareness, activism and memory of his legacy.
Also, to oppose the attempt to make the celebration of a wedding, an act of humiliation and demonstration of insignificance and the powerlessness of him and his bride, of two people celebrating love.
On this day I saw a bride leave the ceremony room in a state of shock. The look on her face will remain with me. I prefer not to report here her words at that instant. They are not the things that a bride should need to say.
They could be the parting words of a wife who buries her beloved husband. This is no exaggeration; it was the literal meaning of her speech.
Even though no one expected anything else but the bride without the groom, Stella Moris, named Sara Gonzalez Devant until the CIA began spying on her, wore a satin lilac dress gifted to her by Vivienne Westwood, the British designer who translated into fashion the language of punk rock, subversion and political activism.
An act of rebellion, not because her dress was not white, but because it was a wedding dress. Moris walked in this dress laden with flowers through one of the most austere and funereal places in the UK, where beauty, love and hope for the future are prohibited.
She stood with natural grace and exuberant courage, dressed as a bride, in Belmarsh maximum security prison, which infamously has been christened: “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay”.
The only manifestations of Assange’s presence at the ceremony were carried by the subtlety of the veil. It bore the words he chose to define his love for her; enduring, ardent, obstinate, boundless, fearless, playful, patient, inexorable, jubilant, faith, eternal, brave, resilient, wild, brave, noble, resolute, tender, yearning, tumultuous, free, incandescent, indefinable.
In her sincerity – which she did not want to hide – Moris was bringing to our full consciences her raw feelings, closer than ever to the surface; Julian Assange’s existence and fate are totally determined by the extraordinary institutional sadism and limitless arbitrariness of the elites of at least three nations, the USA, UK and Australia.
I would define it as a moment of experiencing the totalitarian in the existential realm. I could stop writing here, but I will continue.
Witnesses invited to the wedding such as Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, and Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, travelled to HMP Belmarsh respectively from Scotland and New Jersey.
They were banned from entering the ceremony, perceived as “security danger”, so instead stood outside the prison in protest.
I spoke to Chris Hedges, one of those people who mark the lives of many others. I shared the seriousness in a grave tone and with indignation which he seemed to understand well. Chris Hedges has built his career and character on the premise “report without fear or favour”.
He knows the sounds of the screams and thuds of war, the images and smell of carnage and unspeakable dreads of it. He was a prisoner in Iraq.
The consistency of his anti-imperialism precludes his going back to work in the corporate press, as he himself openly says. With Russia Today, officially censored by the West, Chris Hedges lost his steady job and yet another sound insulation is imposed between us and his enlightening voice.
He explained the real reason for this censorship, also reported in this article, “On Being Disappeared”.
Craig Murray, considered a class traitor by the British establishment, who never thought his diplomatic status was worth more than justice and humanism, knows well the silencing violence of the system; last year he spent four months in prison from a more than questionable sentence, and possibly for his political activism and fight for Scottish independence.
A glimmer of hope
For a brief moment, I reached out to greet John Shipton, Assange’s father, the constant gardener. He was passing by smiling very happily among the crowd. This was the one instant I felt there could be joy and hope. This is the consistent feeling he conveys.
He has told me many times that he does not like or find it appropriate to speak in terms of “hope”, but he has the calmness and perseverance of one who does not believe in despair. He is a great proof that hope is not idle. I don’t want however to imagine what a father feels when he has to retire into the melancholy of the night and shield himself from this world in the solitude of his thoughts.
The bride was forbidden any publication of wedding photos for “security reasons”. Since Julian Assange was illegally and cowardly removed by the British police from the Ecuadorian Embassy where he was in exile, any circulation or publication of his mere image has been criminalised.
If it had not been for the defiant and vigilant commitment to the truth by reporters from Ruptly, who were camped outside of the embassy, the footage immortalizing British forces invading the space of the embassy and dragging out Assange would never have been known.
Maybe other acts of violence against Assange could have happened, if it wasn’t for the disobedient presence of the real “Guardians” of the truth outside.
It is so that Assange’s personhood in life disappeared from our view as best as those in power would want.
So that his legacy does not serve as an example of courage, coherence, integrity for those who will come after.
So that the predatory sociopathy of those men who think they are the masters of the world and of our futures, continue to dispose of our human existence on this planet as their instruments. So that the excuses, silence and omissions of those who consider their comfortable lives above ethics, continue to make farce and violence possible.
But lest anyone in this time never forget and for posterity to always remember, the name of prisoner A9379AY, is Julian Paul Assange.
(Photos by: Kathleen Fournier and Sara Vivacqua. All photos have been supplied to The Prisma by Sara Vivacqua and authorised by her for free publication.)