Diplomatic Dramas: Assange ‘Siege’ Joins the List of Crises Involving Embassies

The Ecuadorean Embassy in London is getting back to normal after seven years with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as their “guest”. Assange was arrested by police on 11 April after the Ecuadoreans withdrew their offer of sanctuary. Sputnik looks at other cases where embassies made the news.
Assange was manhandled out of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Thursday and is now in custody awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of failing to surrender to Westminster magistrates court in 2012 when he was facing rape allegations in Sweden, which have since been dropped.

He now faces extradition to the US over federal conspiracy charges relating to the leak of diplomatic cables by former US Marine Chelsea Manning.

Assange is not the first person to seek refuge in an embassy, which is a diplomatic enclave which represents a foreign country in the host nation.

Embassies and consulates have been the subject of significant drama over the years.

Iranian Embassy Siege, London 1980
In February 1979 the Shah of Iran had been overthrown and the Islamic Republic was born.

But Ayatollah Khomeini’s Farsi-speaking government had a stubborn Arab-speaking minority in the south west province of Khuzestan, or Arabistan, which wanted independence from Persian-dominated Iran.

On the morning of 30 April 1980 six gunmen burst into the Iranian Embassy in Kensington, west London, overpowering PC Trevor Lock, the solitary police officer who was on guard duty.

He was disarmed and taken hostage, along with 25 diplomats and other embassy staff.

A siege lasted for six days with the government in Tehran refusing to listen to the gunmen’s demands, which included “an independent Arabistan” and the release from jail in Iran of 91 Arabs.

On 5 May British Special Air Service (SAS) commandos assaulted the building, killing five gunmen and capturing the sixth. One of the hostages was killed in the crossfire but the others were freed.

The BBC cut away from live coverage of the World Snooker Championships to broadcast the dramatic events live.

Four months later Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, seeking to take advantage of local Arabs’ hostility towards Tehran in Khuzestan, invaded Iran and captured the city of Khorramshahr. The Iran-Iraq War was to last eight years and end in stalemate.

Attack on the Japanese Embassy, Lima 1996
In the 1980s and 1990s Peru battled a left-wing insurgency by two left-wing guerrilla groups, the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, and the larger Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path).

In 1992 the Shining Path’s leader, Abimael Guzman — known as Chairman Gonzalo — was captured and the group rapidly collapsed.

But the Tupac Amaru remained a threat and on 17 December 1996 they attacked the Japanese Embassy in the capital, Lima.

Source: News Agencies