· 4 min read

Exclusive: 'Pioneering' Virtual Rally in Support of Julian Assange to Launch in Metaverse - Not to Replace But 'Heavily' Promote Real-Life Protests, Organizers and Wistaverse Co-founder Said in Interview

Free Assange Virtual Rally. Source: Wistaverse, Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign

The campaign to stop the extradition of Julian Assange will launch the first-ever virtual political rally this Saturday in the Wistaverse metaverse. The organizers and the Wistaverse co-founder spoke to Cryptonews about the importance of holding a protest in this novel space, the difference between the metaverse and real-life protests, and the future of virtual rallies. 

According to the press release shared with Cryptonews, the rally, organized by the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign, will take place on August 26 at 5pm BST. 

It's part of the effort to prevent the WikiLeaks founder's extradition to the USA, where he could face a 175-year jail sentence for exposing war crimes, government corruption, and mass surveillance.

The virtual rally will include a pre-recorded speech by Assange, as well as speeches by his wife Stella Assange, WikiLeaks co-founder and editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, and British politician Jeremy Corbyn, among others.

The speakers will appear as characters or with pre-recorded videos. Each attendee will also be represented by an avatar. 

Jules Alcazar, Co-Founder of the Wistaverse, told Cryptonews that the attendees will be able to communicate with each other, voice their opinions, ask questions, organize their actions, make key contacts, and access resources and information. 

John Rees from the Don't Extradite Assange Campaign added that the participants will get to sign petitions, join newsletters, donate, and write to their MPs. 

The aim is to reach a wider audience and also involve those who will attend the Day X protest at the Royal Courts of Justice when the date is known, "in an online event which will feed into that real-time protest," Rees told Cryptonews, adding:

"We want to publicise the Assange case and to mobilise people for the protest at the court. To make sure that people know that this is the 11th hour in the Assange case and that if the government go ahead with extradition a very real blow will have been struck against the freedom of the press."

Per Alcazar, the metaverse is uniquely designed for each event, and this time, the auditorium "symbolically" took the look of the London Royal Courts of Justice, where Assange will face his final appeal.

After the event, the holders of the platform's native utility token WISTA will hold a governance vote to donate treasury funds to amplify donations. 

Metaverse vs IRL

There are bound to be differences between real-life and virtual protests. But they are not mutually exclusive. 

Rees argues that "the one reinforces the other." 

"They are not alternatives but mutually supporting activities." 

Alcazar, meanwhile, highlighted some of the challenges with real-life protests: 

  • they are often centralized in big cities, leaving the rest of the population out for geographical or practical reasons; 
  • they are forbidden in some countries, and/or people face increased surveillance.  

The press release also noted that, unlike in the metaverse, physical disabilities may be an obstacle in a real-life rally.

"The metaverse allows the whole world to be present at once, in an immersive way, that can also protect people’s identity," Alcazar said, adding that,

"In no way does it intend to replace real-life rallies, if anything, it promotes them heavily by allowing another layer of reality and an opportunity for activists to unite [...].

'Guaranteed Access to All'

Launched in May, the Wistaverse is a not-for-profit protocol in the Sandbox on the Polygon blockchain - it has the infrastructure to host big global events, which is partly why the team chose it as a place to start Wistaverse, Alcazar said.

Even "if the servers get overloaded, people might be landing in different instances that they’ll easily be able to travel to and from, but everyone will be guaranteed access," he said.

In 2-3 years, the team hopes to see Wistaverse entirely community-led and with locations in different metaverse platforms. 

"This will allow anyone to either organize or attend a protest without any central authority involved, and for the platform to thrive as what it was created for: a decentralized virtual world accessible to all, dedicated to social action."

Basic attendance will always be free, Alcazar added. The Wistaverse team is currently covering organization costs, but "in the near future," there will be "small costs" for organizers, and optional costs for participants who want to attend with special features.

Alcazar finds that the idea of protests in the metaverse will only grow in the next few years, saying:

"We believe no movement should ignore such an amazing opportunity to gather the world in one place in an immersive environment. What social media offers today is far from a Live Event, which is the nature and DNA of a Rally."

Rees added that this virtual rally is a pioneering event and that the Campaign will assess it afterward to see what went well and what needs more work. "Then we’ll see how it applies to future work. No different from any protest really."

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Learn more: 

- DAO Raises USD 4.6M for the 'Liberation of Julian Assange'
- The State vs Julian Assange with Gabriel Shipton & Stella Moris

- AssangeDAO Wins the Bid for Pak's Clock NFT for USD 53M
- Digital Artist Pak to Release the 'Censored' NFT Collection with WikiLeaks Founder