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Raising Julian Assange


Anwar IbrahimYou don't have to be Jewish to detect the scent of persecution, but it helps. I am Jewish and the stench of persecution and the howls of the lynch mob in relation to Julian Assange have been sickeningly evident. Calls for his death bear comparison to the fatwa placed upon Salman Rushdie for his words deemed to offend in The Satanic Verses.

Sarah Palin has called for the CIA to hunt the Wikileaks founder down like Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Julia Gillard has given the nudge nudge wink wink about his 'guilt' saying that Wikileaks is 'based on an illegal act' (of those who did the leaking) in the US, while Attorney-General Robert McCLelland has promised to support any law enforcement measures taken against Assange. Ironically the many papers who are republishing the leaks can do so with impunity.

The Australian government does not have an admirable record when it comes to supporting its citizens charged overseas. Consider the cases of drug smuggler Van Ngyen and accused terrorist David Hicks. It threw its citizens to the wolves in the case of the Bali Nine, putting them at risk of the death penalty.

Who is this Assange? Is he a messianic hero, larrikin, renegade, terrorist, or just a very naughty boy? The on again off again sexual assault charges against him seem to have been used to discredit his intent and label him as a spervert. It puts me in mind of the trumped up sodomy charges brought (twice) against the leader of the opposition in Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim (pictured).

You don't need to be brilliant to smell a rat here. Assange has annoyed many powerful politicians and in a very short time has reduced the power of their secrecy, making public fools of politicians and leaders, who are not amused.

So what makes Julian tick? As a psychologist my interest lies in history, as this is frequently re-enacted in our lives. Julian's parents were in travelling theatre and he attended 37 schools. After his parents separated his mother's new partner was involved in the infamous cult of Anne Hamilton-Byrne, from which the family eventually fled and went into hiding for some years.

I encountered Hamilton-Byrne and her brood of stolen children (later revealed to be drugged, starved and abused) at the Melbourne Siddah Yoga Ashram in the 1980s. Her illegally adopted children were eerily obedient and surreal, swathed in white with silvered blond hair that was not unlike the silver hair of the now notorious Assange.

These children were imprisoned in thinly veiled secrecy, lies and corruption. The cult was allowed to thrive for many years until it was finally exposed in 1987 and Hamilton-Byrne and her partner charged with conspiracy to defraud. A police raid released the children still being held there.

From this thumbnail sketch Julian's life emerges as involving dislocation, disrupted attachments, fragmented relationships and possible abuse linked to the cult and his stepfather. He seems to have been in hiding and on the move for much of his life. With his mother, he experienced, then fled from, a cult of abuse, lies and secrecy.

When asked recently about his core values he responded he stated that he was inspired by his father. 'Capable generous men do not create victims they nurture victims. I'm combative, not so big on the nurture but you can nurture in other ways. By policing perpetrators of crime.'

Wikileaks has exposed some shocking secrets and lies about Iraq and Afghanistan, exposed extra judicial killings in Kenya, toxic waste dumps on the African coast and procedures in Guantanamo Bay. Revelations that make it difficult to maintain a fiction of success and nobility in these 'engagements'. Assange says some secrets are valid, including those of medical records, but some are better exposed and do harm if they are not disclosed.

I can't help feeling that he speaks from the heart and from his own experience.

Ironically the press and governments, by their loud proclamations, have done his work for him, ensuring massive dissemination of the leaked files. 

In Greek mythology a hero is one who, despite danger and in a position of relative weakness, displays courage and the will for self sacrifice for some greater good. In this respect Assange could be seen as a hero even if his efforts were shown to be flawed or misguided.

Edmund Burke famously said: 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.'

By exposing the truth and stimulating debate WikiLeaks is at least ensuring that there will be less horse excrement around and a little more truth. That has got to be a good thing. 


Lyn BenderLyn Bender is a psychologist and social commentator. She was the manger of Lifeline Melbourne and advocated for asylum seekers after working at Woomera Detention Centre.

Topic tags: Lyn Bender, Julian Assage, WikiLeaks, Anwar Ibrahim



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Existing comments

it is a witch hunt that has been repeated and repeated through history, as soon as anyone questions 'authority' in any shape or form then you will see this type of behaviour from those very people in 'authority'.

rhonda | 09 December 2010  

Thank you for this. Very helpful and balanced. Will Euraka Street be an avenue for by-passing Visa/Mastercard in enabling funding for Wikileaks?

PHILIP | 09 December 2010  

Respectfully, the Hamilton Byrne connection is nonsense, Julian was never raised by the group; apparently Julian was raised by his mother without religious beliefs, and his stepfather fathered him and gave him his last name from the age of 1 per a recent news account. You can't believe all the sensationalism you read. You may well have met the HB kids around siddha yoga; if so you know they did not all have "silver" hair. There were certainly some dyed peroxide blonds, also a couple of brunettes and red heads. The kids were "swathed" all in white when you saw them? Like many they did dress up for Baba. Also at different times they have been "swathed" in blue, pink (depending on gender) denim, or swimsuits. One wonders what color you were "swathed" in that day? Being raised in a high demand group brings many challenges adjusting to the outside world, not the least is the many articles who love to descibe the kids (now adults making lives for themselves) as "eery" or use even less flattering names. too obedient; I'll go with that . But please remember you are talking about real people who would prefer you were accurate, and don't need more sensationalism.

anony | 09 December 2010  

Julian Assange is just a man doing what we all should have been doing which is to fight back. It's late now, at least in the U.S.A., since our Democracy is pretty much gone simply because we didn't fight.

Joaquin Menendez | 09 December 2010  

If you want a quick memory refresher, put Muktananda Sarah Hamilton Byrne in google images.The first picture that comes up is Baba with two of the hamilton Byrne girls. Do you really think the description "eerie with silver hair" is accurate?

anon | 10 December 2010  

The references to Anwar Ibrahim sure, but the rest - Jewish persecution, Hamilton Byrne - sounds like a very loose hodgepodge of ideas. Great we have different perspectives on Eureka (and this one wasn't without some merit), but it's better when they don't rely on hunches.

Ben | 10 December 2010  

Excellent view Lyn Bender. I totally agree. This obviously bright, yet very traumatised, young man has done the right thing. I'm with him..And the western world needs many more like him. It takes guts.

Lynne | 11 December 2010  

As an anagram of Julian Assanges name one can make out the words, A Jesus GI Annal
Very interesting!!

ros | 14 December 2010  

I used to think, and still do to a large extent, that all the attention on Julian Assange, the man,is a side issue. The important stuff in all this is the leaked information and the culture of secrecy and deceit that goes far beyond the need for "operational security" However, as the coordinated effort of governments, business and the judiciary to threaten, slander, freeze funds and imprison Julian Assange without charge, let alone any conviction, has gathered momentum, I have come to see that this may be the most important story. As editor in chief of wikileaks, Mr Assange is a journalist/publisher. Where are the cries against the other publishers of this material? The tactic of obfiscation by tabloid gossip appears to be blowing up in the faces of those that would hide their misdoings. They shall be known by their actions

Ed | 26 December 2010  

Hi I gave evidence at a private hearing of the Royal Com re institutional child abuse. Myself and others who were abused by the Anne Hamilton- Byrne cult have never heard of him.

wayne callister | 06 March 2016  

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