Julian Assange affirms his Torres Strait Islander heritage

Great-Great Gandparents


George ah Sang

The name Assange is an anglicisation of “Ah Sang” – Cantonese for “Mr Sang”; Assange’s ancestor “George Ah Sang (Asange)” was the progenitor of the name – “Ah Sang (aka Sun Tai Lee, Sun Tye Lee; later Asange)


Bessie Dunraven Poingdestre

Gerry Georgatos Indymedia 2nd June 2012

Global justice campaigner and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange has contributed his life to standing up for the oppressed and in challenging the world's most powerful governments and clandestine institutions.

Mr Assange was born in Townsville, Queensland however he readily acknowledges a diverse heritage which he proudly said includes a Torres Strait Islander great-great-grandparent. In his blood and genes is that of a Thursday Islander, his great-great-grandmother.

He has kept his father's surname even though his mother, Christine (nee Hawkins) Assange, raised him from the age of one. Many have assumed Assange was of French heritage however they are very wrong. Assange is the Anglicisation of the surname Au Sang – a Taiwanese/Chinese émigré, born in Canton, China and who settled on Thursday Island in the late 1800s and who married a Thursday Islander. In time many of their descendants relocated to the northern Queensland mainland. Mr Assange, and his father, Brett Assange, have both said that their Taiwanese ancestor had been a pirate.

In 2009, in the Lonely Planet and the New Yorker publications Mr Assange referred to his Asian and Torres Strait Island heritage. "My father's surname is Assange. According to my father, on his side I am part-Chinese and part-Thursday Islander. My grandfather's name was George Assange and his father before him was also George, (however his) surname (was) Au Sang."

"According to my father, my grandfather was a night club singer who changed his name to Assange because it sounded French and he would be readily accepted among his peers. I believe my (great) great grandfather travelled to Australia for the 1800s gold rushes," he is quoted.

Ancestry.com and the Australian Electoral Records confirm the name Au Sang and on occasion spelt Ah Sang and the name change to Assang and subsequently to Assange.

Chinese settlers did come to Thursday Island after a 'colony' was established there in the 1870s with the 'annexation' of Torres Strait Islands by the British Crown (Queensland/Australia). The traditional name of Thursday Island is Waiben.

His Taiwanese/Chinese ancestor 'George' Ah Sang became a 'naturalised' Australian in 1893 and hence the nine children of he and his Thursday Island wife were recognised as Australians.

By 1902 the former pirate had become quite well known on Thursday Island and ran a gambling ring.

Mr Assange's grandfather George Franklin Assange was born on Thursday Island in 1927 and died in NSW in 1997.

Mr Assange began university study several years before leaving his studies to found WikiLeaks, and while at the University of Melbourne gave an interview to the student publication Meanjin (Volume 65, University of Melbourne, 2006) and referred to a stage name of his nightclub performer/actor great-grandfather. "Vic Sabrino is yet another elusive figure. 'Sabrino' , in the first place, was merely a stage name for George Assang, a Torres Strait Islander… because it was felt a mixed-blood Asian blackfella had less chance of making it than some would-be Italian stallion a la Dean Martin."

The photo at the top of the article is the only photo I can scrub up of Julian Assange's Taiwanese great-great grandfather – George Ah Sang (born Canton, China) and who married a Thursday Islander woman – and they had nine children, one of them George Assang, Julian's great-grandfather, who had George Assange, his grandfather, and then Brett Assange, his biological father. It would be interesting to find a photo of his Thursday Island great-great-grandmother and her name - gerry_georgatos@yahoo.com.au and 0430 657 309

I am sure I haven't got everything in this article one hundred per cent accurate however that is not the point of the article, however I am happy to correct where shown and required.

"I am a citizen of the world," said Diogenes