From within Julian’s cell, one can understand society

 Photographer: Jimmy Chan. Edited by Opulens.

HUMAN RIGHTS. Citizens of the world, or should I say, individuals, the spotlight is once again on Sweden’s judicial system. A long-time has passed since prosecutors in Sweden started a preliminary investigation, that later was referred to as the Julian Assange case. To this day it continues to haunt Swedish authorities, even after discontinuing the case against the publisher.


Currently, Assange is being detained in a state-run prison in south-east London, but there are also privately owned prisons in England. One should keep in mind that a different way is possible: in Sweden, for example, no prison-industrial complex exists, no artificial market has been created there. Yet.

The judicial process was once regarded highly in the United Kingdom, but today the justice and prison services might very well be deteriorating if the neoliberal state can lock away a journalist, by pursuing a constructed narrative and makeup charges as they go along.

After all, the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote that the degree of civilisation in a society could be judged by entering its prisons. So, what does the inside of prisons look like in various countries? The common image of a confinement is a dirty and foul box, maybe not as horrible as the US creation and hellhole, Guantanamo Bay, but similarly dark.

For a different counterpart, one envisions Sweden and what a nomad’s minimalistic deluxe hotel room might look like. This is the product of a strong welfare state, thus it presents the standard of a decent motel, clean facilities with TV sets and libraries. When Saddam Hussein in 2004 requested to serve his prison sentence in this Nordic country, maybe it was not just a coincidence of safety measures.

Furthermore, in Norway, the mass murderer and terrorist Anders Behring Breivik is serving a life sentence. Breivik has since been able to sue the state for not complying with the European Declaration of Human Rights. If we embark on measuring like Dostoyevsky suggested, the Norwegian way is a sign of a great civilisation, one that lets an incarcerated human preserve the right to justice.

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In the UK contrarily, Julian Assange might be subjected to debilitating drug treatments, according to Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. These treatments have caused him not to be able to follow his court hearings, Craig Murray, a good friend of Assange, wrote after attending the proceedings.

A different way should always be envisioned. Some additional information that is relevant to the matter is that in Sweden a prison is not simply called that, but always referred to as “kriminalvården”. One could translate it as a “correctional facility” but more accurately, it is a rehabilitation centre for criminals. The name hints of a system built on the idea of humanism and its inmates preserve some form of human dignity and are not labelled merely as prisoners but will instead receive treatment and not be completely stripped of their rights while serving their time.

Societies that are deteriorating by the standard of Dostoevsky’s measure are many, and one cannot help but think of Turkey after the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he ordered thousands to be imprisoned. It cannot be forgotten. These humans Erdogan said, had committed treason and were thrown into overcrowded prison cells. Photos later emerged showing men lying in pits, naked on top of each other and Amnesty reported on starved and tortured captives.

The Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad after the American invasion of Iraq is another example that comes to mind. It was in this location on the world map, once called Mesopotamia, that human civilisation developed and advanced. Sadly, it was also here, in modern times, that man became animal.

Wikileaks has revealed in-depth, the machinery of American imperialism and how this form of deep state governance works. Moreover, it drops bombs, takes captives and creates dungeons, wherever it sees fit.

In Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in the United Kingdom, Julian Assange might at this moment be contemplating from within his isolation cell, what type of society would imprison someone who delivers the truth to people.



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