Monthly Archives: July 2011

Next London Meeting this Thursday 28th July

We’ll be meeting again in London this Thursday evening – full details follow below.  If you can’t make it to the Plough, please consider joining us online here (irc.chatspike.net:6697 #ukfriendsbm).   We meet daily at 9pm UK time (8pm GMT).

***UK Friends of Bradley Manning***

***RSVP:*** Please reply to ukfriendsofbradleymanning@gmail.com
Or subscribe at: http://www.ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org/

***When***
THIS Thursday 28th July From 7:00pm (til 10:00pm)

***Where***
Upstairs at The Plough
27 Museum Street, London, WC1A 1LH

***Tube:*** Holborn

***Map***
http://bit.ly/lUALYZ

UK Friends of Bradley Manning meet for an informal plenary this Thursday,
28st July from 19:00.

If you have thought about getting involved in the campaign or just want
to find out more about Bradley Manning then please join us!

See you there!

***RSVP:*** Please reply to ukfriendsofbradleymanning@gmail.com
Or subscribe at: http://www.ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org/

London meetup flyer

Join us at the Plough, Holborn this Thursday

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Peter Tatchell on Bradley Manning – “A True, True Patriot”

The following is taken from an address Peter Tatchell gave at a public meeting at Giuseppe Conlon Hall on 9th July 2011.

I’d just like to end on Bradley Manning and his courageous stand. For all these months. It is really a great tribute to Bradley Manning that he has been able to stand firm and not capitulate to pressure from the authorities despite really gross ill-treatment, that probably amounts to torture under the terms of the United Nations Convention. The fact that he’s stood his ground during all those months in isolation, in solitary confinement with all the deprivations he’s suffered… that shows he is not in fact the weak man that The Guardian and others have portrayed, but that he is in fact a very strong person of great moral and physical endurance.

It is fantastic that he has remained unbowed and unbroken for all this time and fantastic that he is determined to carry on the fight.

I remember reading one of the reports about what allegedly motivated him to allegedly leak information. It was soon after he’d been sent to Iraq. He’d witnessed Iraqi police detaining people who had been protesting against the US and British backed governments over allegations of corruption and various abuses. They’d produced leaflets which criticised the government of Nouri al-Maliki over these abuse and corruption allegations. For that they were arrested and Bradley was shocked to discover that the US was colluding with the Iraqi police in the suppression of the right of freedom of protest and expression in Iraq. In this supposed new democracy, in many ways echoing the kind of oppression that existed under Saddam Hussein. When he raised this issue, he was told to go away, that more people should be arrested and detained. That is supposedly one of the things that got him thinking about and questioning the remit of the US in Iraq and perhaps led him to start questioning other things the US military was doing in Iraq and indeed in Afghanistan.

Many people call Bradley Manning a traitor. To me he is a true patriot. He is standing by the true principles and ideals of the founding people of the United States – government of the people by the people for the people. He is standing for an accountable democratic government, for the people’s right to know what the government is doing in its name. These were all the ideals on which the United States was founded, flawed though that founding document was and flawed though the practice of that document was with slavery and the abuse of Native Americans. Nevertheless those principles were there and, to me, Bradley Manning is seeking to honour them.

He is a true true patriot – you could almost say a modern Paul Revere, warning us of the abuses that are happening in our name.

I think all of us, if we were in that situation, I don’t know what we’d do. I’m sure that most of you here would certainly seriously think about blowing the whistle – but I’m sure we’d all be very nervous of the consequences, and quite rightly so. To be separated from family and loved ones, to have our future freedom diminished, to have perhaps a chosen career denied… these are all big big sacrifices. But we know that all through history, every human progress has been based on people taking risks and making sacrifices. Think of the Chartists, the Suffragettes, the Black Civil Rights movement, the struggle for people in the former colonies to win their freedom and their independence. All of these struggles were conducted at great personal risk by very very heroic individuals. And to me Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning are those kind of people and I’m really proud to support them.

The full footage of this address may be seen under the cut. Many thanks to Val Brown, who filmed the meeting.

Update

Peter Tatchell’s full address is now on youtube in two parts:

Former SAS soldier and conscientious objector Ben Griffin also spoke at the meeting, on the subject of how armed conflict is reported in the media and the official management of what information is allowed to become public. Ben Griffin’s testimony puts WikiLeaks’ release of this video, as well as the Afghanistan and Iraq War logs in their proper context.

When I left the army, I started speaking out against the [Iraq] war because I wasn’t happy with my own experience of the war compared with what was being reported back home. I wanted to get a message across of what was actually happening out there and what we were involved in.

The Government wasn’t too happy about this and they took me to the High Court. There was a secret trial and they gagged me. At the same time an internal investigation was started by the Ministry of Defence to investigate the claims that I’d made.

I was dragged into MOD and they were basically fishing to see how much information I knew. I was asking about this investigation and they were saying it was classified information I wasn’t allowed to know.

It turned out that the investigation wasn’t actually an investigation into what we were doing, it was an investigation into how much people knew and how much information they would have to give out so that the story could be put to bed. So it wasn’t a real investigation, it was just a covering arses exercise.

So I remember being asked in this interview, “So Mr Griffin, you’ve made these allegations – what evidence have you got?” And I was sat there on my own in this room thinking, well, what evidence do you want me to have? I wasn’t taking photos or keeping a diary or using a dictaphone whilst I was in Iraq. And I could see smiles on these guys’ faces because they could tell I didn’t have anything. They could continue their investigation, put out their misinformation and it would all be forgotten about.

That WikiLeaks has provided another source of evidence for conscientious objectors to cite in support of their position is, in Griffin’s view, a “victory” for those who find themselves in his position.

It is only proper to conclude this piece by mentioning that British Navy Medic Michael Lyons is currently serving a seven month prison sentence for refusing to deploy to Afganistan. Supporters will be holding a vigil at Colchester Military Corrective Training Centre on Saturday 6 August at 3pm.

Next London Meeting this Thursday

***UK Friends of Bradley Manning***

***RSVP:*** Please reply to ukfriendsofbradleymanning@gmail.com
Or subscribe at: http://www.ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org/

***When***
THIS Thursday 21st July From 7:00pm (til 10:00pm)

***Where***
Upstairs at The Plough
27 Museum Street, London, WC1A 1LH

***Tube:*** Holborn

***Map***
http://bit.ly/lUALYZ

UK Friends of Bradley Manning meet for an informal plenary this Thursday,
21st July from 19:00.

If you have thought about getting involved in the campaign or just want
to find out more about Bradley Manning then please join us!

See you there!

***RSVP:*** Please reply to ukfriendsofbradleymanning@gmail.com
Or subscribe at: http://www.ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org/

London meetup flyer

Join us at the Plough, Holborn this Thursday

Quantico: We Still Need the Full Facts

Bradley Manning was moved from the Quantico marine brig at the end of April after many months spent in a particularly severe form of solitary confinement. That his conditions have now improved does not in any way reduce the need for the breaches of his rights that occurred at Quantico to be investigated and for appropriate redress to be made.

Last month the US Navy provided its formal response to the charge that Bradley was put under suicide watch for inappropriate reasons back in January. Despite the fact that the then Commander of the Quantico brig, James Averhart was removed from his post as soon as information about what had happened came to light, Juan M. Garcia, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, decided that Averhart had not “exceeded his authority” in the way he dealt with the case. As both the fact of Averhart’s departure and the confused, panicked way in which it was effected are highly suggestive of wrongdoing being discovered and hurriedly acted upon, this decision was a little surprising.

Today, Politico have revealed details of an internal Quantico review from February. It is worth noting that Politico have met with considerable obstruction on the part of the Marine corps in their attempts to access this report; indeed, their first two Freedom of Information Act requests were rejected, and the subject of two successful appeals to Navy officials to have those requests reinstated.

The information that Quantico have been keen to keep hidden is that, in his report dated 23 February, Chief Warrant Officer Abel Galaviz found that Averhart and his colleagues had broken Navy rules by not removing Bradley from suicide watch status “immediately” when a medical officer recommended this course of action:

“Once the medical officer’s evaluation was provided to brig staff, steps should have been taken to immediately remove him [Bradley Manning] from suicide risk, to a status below that”

Galaviz’s report mentions two separate periods in which Bradley was not removed from suicide watch quickly enough: in January 2011, it took three days for Quantico to implement a medical recommendation and in August 2010 Bradley spent a full five days under unnecessary suicide watch. This means that, in both cases, medical personnel advised almost immediately that putting Bradley Manning under suicide watch was not appropriate.

Colonel Daniel Choike rejected these findings in his response of 1 March 2011, only to advise that, as soon as it was announced that Bradley was leaving Quantico, on reflection the brig should in fact update its procedures so that such incidents do not happen in future:

“If a medical officer determines that a detainee is no longer considered a suicide risk, that finding is binding on the PCF staff and the detainee shall be removed from suicide risk.”

This week, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendéz issued a second rebuke to the US Government for not allowing him to have an unmonitored meeting with Bradley Manning, as customary rules would warrant:

“… I need to ascertain whether the conditions he [Bradley Manning] was subjected to for several months in Quantico amounted to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. For that, it is imperative that I talk to Mr. Manning under conditions where I can be assured that he is being absolutely candid.”

It is now abundantly clear that the US Navy is not capable of reviewing the actions of its own personnel and submitting to public oversight, even where those actions have generated wide concern at home, abroad and within the US administration itself.  In light of this domestic failure, Juan Mendéz must now be allowed the access he needs to carry out his investigation into Bradley’s treatment, which includes full and confidential access to Bradley himself, without delay.

Update

The Bradley Manning Support Network have issued a press release, which includes the following statements:

“The memos revealed today by Politico confirm that military officials repeatedly violated their own standards of detainee treatment while PFC Manning was held in abusive pre-trial confinement conditions at the Quantico brig.  Commander Averhart should never have been put in a position to reject the military’s investigation into his own unprofessional conduct,” said Kevin Zeese, an attorney with the Bradley Manning Support Network.  “Justice demands that the charges against PFC Manning be dropped, because the government has acknowledged that they have abused the rights of a soldier in their custody.”
“President Obama can no longer hide behind his subordinates in claiming that the treatment of PFC Manning has met ‘basic standards’ of conduct,” added Jeff Paterson, a co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network.  “Clearly, by the government’s own admission, the treatment of PFC Manning has fallen far short of the standards demanded by the Constitution.”

RevolutionTruth: an Open Letter to Bradley Manning

RevolutionTruth Bradley Manning campaign

We are thrilled that citizen-driven media project RevolutionTruth have decided to launch a campaign in solidarity with Bradley Manning. This is their second major campaign, following a hugely successful appeal for Wikileaks, which has now resulted in the production of a short film that includes contributions from around the world (as well as from a US film director of note). A further film on Bradley Manning will be forthcoming and has the full support of this campaign and the Bradley Manning Support Network: we encourage you to sign the open letter and submit your video message.

Bradley,

We hope that this letter finds you healthy and strong. You have already seen adversity that most people do not bear in a lifetime, and we are sadly aware of the hardships you face. We are sending this letter to you in the hopes that our feelings of support may help you to bear these days. We want you to know that we, people all over the world, are fighting for you. We can gladly say that we are many.

Your case has become a great symbol to all of us. It has bound us together in an awareness of our shared interests, shared responsibilities, and shared fate. There is much that we do not know, but irrespective of the truths of your particular case, your flag has become the standard of an indefatigable civil movement, straddling generations and borders, striving inexorably against the great injustices of our time, for which the injustices you suffer are the tragic emblem. Your tenure in that small prison cell has reached across the world, moving many people, ushering a generation to awareness and action. Your name is on all our lips, and your face, for us, is an icon of moral courage.

You stand accused of upholding justice when her bearers let her banner fall. You are accused of actions that no law should rightly prohibit while remaining law. When the law is turned against conscience and courage, it is turned against itself. Our society has lost its way.

Your prosecution under this ruse of justice is already written into history as a persecution, not of one man, but of us all. It is not a single injustice, but an injustice to end the pretense of justice. It is unique and urgent. It is wrong that you suffer, while those who committed the crimes that were exposed, who started a horrific and unjustifiable war based on lies, are excused. Whether you did what you are accused of or not, what you have gone through since your arrest would be unimaginable for most of us. You are a hero among us. We cannot, and will not, turn away from supporting you.

We are keenly aware of your sacrifice. Be strong for us, Bradley, because we know that you suffer as one of us, for us. We will be relentless in our efforts to see justice done by you. Accept our fellowship, and know this: you are forever ours now and we salute you, and forever thank you.

We hold you in our hearts. We stand with you.

We are all Bradley Manning.
Your brothers, sisters, friends,

The undersigned.

Noam Chomsky – US treatment of Bradley Manning “obviously improper”

In a recent interview on the current situation in Venezuela, and in particular the imprisonment of judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni for political reasons, Noam Chomsky suggests that the US Government’s treatment of Bradley Manning compromises that country’s ability to comment about what happens elsewhere.

It’s obviously improper for the executive to intervene and impose a jail sentence without a trial. And I should say that the United States is in no position to complain about this. Bradley Manning has been imprisoned without charge, under torture, which is what solitary confinement is. The president in fact intervened. Obama was asked about his conditions and said that he was assured by the Pentagon that they were fine. That’s executive intervention in a case of severe violation of civil liberties and it’s hardly the only one. That doesn’t change the judgment about Venezuela, it just says that what one hears in the United States one can dismiss.

It’s probably worth noting that The Guardian did not initially include these comments in their interview transcript, only doing so after the protests of bloggers and Chomsky himself. Considering how much The Guardian has done to bring Bradley Manning’s case to wide attention in the United Kingdom, their failure to highlight a relevant statement from one of the world’s leading radical theorists is a little disappointing.

Next London Meeting This Thursday

We’ll be meeting again in London this Thursday (please note change of venue this time around) – hope to see you there!

*UK Friends of Bradley Manning*
*RSVP:* Please reply to ukfriendsofbradleymanning@gmail.com
Or subscribe at: http://www.ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org/

*When*
THIS Thursday 7th July From 7:00pm (til 10:00pm)

*Where*
The Plow
(Outside if the weather’s nice enough, upstairs if not)
27 Museum Street, London, WC1A 1LH

*Tube:* Holborn

*Map*
http://bit.ly/lUALYZ

UK Friends of Bradley Manning meet for an informal plenary this Thursday,
7th July from 19:00.

If you have thought about getting involved in the campaign or just want to find out more about Bradley Manning then please join us!

See you there!

*RSVP:* Please reply to ukfriendsofbradleymanning@gmail.com
Or subscribe at: http://www.ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org/

London meetup flyer

Join us at the Plow, Holborn this Thursday