Category Archives: supporters

US Ambassador confronted with calls to “Free Bradley Manning”

OccupyLSX to host solidarity rally on 17th December

A beefed up City of London police presence greeted Occupy London activists demanding the freedom of Bradley Manning on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in London yesterday (Thursday). US Ambassador Louis Susman was attending the annual Thanksgiving service at the cathedral along with a sizable number of US ex-pats.

US citizens living in this country were also among those demanding the freedom of Bradley Manning. Anthony Timmons, a member of the OccupyLSX tranquility team said: “The weight of public opinion is with us as we stand up for Bradley Manning.  Not only that, fifty of the US’ top congressional scholars – including Laurence Tribe, the top Harvard academic who trained Barack Obama-  agree that Bradley Manning must face a fair public trial, not a military tribunal.”

Bradley Manning, raised in Wales and a UK citizen by virtue of his mother’s nationality, has been imprisoned for the last 18 months in Baghdad, Kuwait, Quantico and Leavenworth. The treatment meted out to Bradley in Quantico prompted the official interest of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the British and German governments and sparked off demonstrations across the world. That international solidarity campaign contributed to Bradley’s move to improved prison conditions this April. [1]

Bradley has been charged with 23 offences in relation to the release of video footage of a US war crime in Baghdad and US embassy cables, including one of “aiding the enemy,” which potentially carries the death penalty. This week, the US Department of Defense announced that Bradley’s courts-martial process will begin with a preliminary hearing at at Fort Meade, Maryland on 16th December – the day before Bradley’s 24th birthday. [2]

A day of international solidarity has been called for 17th December and Occupy LSX at St Paul’s is proud to be hosting the London action. [3] Natalia James, a supporter of Occupy London said: “We do not know if Bradley is guilty of what he is accused of but, if he is, he is a true hero. Holding public institutions and governments responsible for their actions is a vital part of the fight for real democracy and few figures exemplify that more than Bradley Manning, who has managed to achieve that even while being in prison. That is why Bradley’s cause is so important to us here at Occupy London.”

Notes

[1] Bradley Manning’s family welcomes news of his move to prison in Kansas
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/20/bradley-manning-family-move-kansas

Unmonitored access to detainees is essential to any credible enquiry into torture or cruel inhuman and degrading treatment, says UN torture expert –
http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11231&LangID=E

[2] Law Office of David E. Coombs – Article 32 hearing
http://www.armycourtmartialdefense.info/2011/11/article-32-hearing.html

[3] Occupy LSX solidarity rally for Bradley Manning – http://events.bradleymanning.org/occupylsx/occupy_lsx_solidarity_rally_for_bradley_manning

Advertisements

Michael Moore on Bradley Manning

Thanks to Code Pink for this video from Michael Moore’s book launch in New York last night (Tuesday), where he was asked about Bradley Manning.

What can we do to make sure Bradley Manning receives a fair trial?

That’s a very good question. I hope all of you know about Bradley Manning – if you don’t you should get on it tonight and read about it.  This is very sad that he’s taken the fall for doing something that, allegedly, he felt was right and good for the country.

In another era, Daniel Ellsberg was lauded for it.  In this era, Bradley Manning doesn’t have the support of the media that supported Daniel Ellsberg.  I think you need to write letters, if you’re not on the internet, I think you need to organise people to inform them of this… We have a problem because we have a media that does not want to respond to this.

Council of Europe report: the world is “indebted” to Bradley Manning

As just reported by the BBC, Council of Europe special rapporteur Dick Marty – best known for his reports on European complicity in extraordinary rendition – has presented his draft report on the “abuse of state secrecy and national security” to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.  Marty’s report makes clear the importance whistleblowers play in keeping democracy alive and his expression of concern about Bradley Manning’s treatment is incredibly important.

The full report may be read here, but here’s the relevant passage:

Finally, the fundamental role played by whistleblowers must not be forgotten. Their importance of their contribution is in fact proportionate to the extent that secrecy is still imposed. It is not exaggerated that, still today – and in some cases even more so than in the past – we are confronted with a real cult of secrecy; secrecy as an instrument of power, as Hannah Arendt reminds us in the citation at the very beginning of this report. It is therefore justified to say that whistleblowers play a key role in a democratic society and that they contribute to making up the existing deficit of transparency. We said so before: the Assembly’s reports of 2006 and 2007 and, more recently, the revelations concerning “black sites” in Lithuania are due to a large extent to honest officials who, for ethical reasons and taking great risks, could not and would not take part any longer in illegal activities or cover them up by remaining silent. In this connection, we should also remember Bradley Manning, the young American soldier accused of providing Wikileaks with a large number of confidential documents. High-ranking American officials and numerous voices of international public opinion have expressed indignation at the inhuman and degrading treatment which Mr Manning is said to have undergone. It will be up to the courts to judge. But we cannot ignore that according to the very accusations made against him we are indebted to him for the publication both of a recording of a helicopter attack in Iraq, in which the crew seems to have intentionally targeted and killed civilians. The video  recording seemingly indicates a deliberate criminal act which deserves at least an investigation, which, without this indiscretion, would have never been requested. This is a classic example of an illegitimate secret. In addition, the publication of a large number of embassy reports has allowed us to learn significant details of important recent events and which are obviously of general interest. We must not forget either that these publications have brought numerous confirmations of findings included in the Assembly’s reports of 2006 and 2007 on the CIA flights and secret prisons. All those who at the time called for “proof, proof!” have in any case been well served.

The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly will debate the report in the first week of October.

Update

The story has now also  been reported at Business Insider and the Bradley Manning Support Network have issued this statement.

Alan Moore: “What is presently on trial here is Western culture itself”

“With any legitimate trial of whistle-blower Bradley Manning still being at an unspecified date in the future, it would seem that what is presently on trial here is Western culture itself. When the persecution of an individual who has exposed an evil is pursued so ruthlessly and yet the evil itself is studiedly ignored, all of us know that there is something very wrong with the way that our society is conducting itself. And if we do not protest in the strongest terms about what is being done in our name, then we become complicit. There is no third option. Bradley Manning and others like him everywhere are vital to our continued moral health and well-being as a people, and unless we offer them our full support in their often dire and isolated circumstances, it is we, as a people, who will end up the losers.”

Alan Moore

Northampton, August, 2011

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.

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.

British GLBT actions for Bradley Manning

Pride London 2011 takes place in a couple of weeks’ time and we are delighted that supporters of Bradley Manning will be well represented there. Queer Friends of Bradley Manning are organising a walking group on 2nd July. Do let them know if you want to be involved.

Queer Friends of Bradley Manning

Queer Friends of Bradley Manning

We also hope very much to have the campaign represented at Brighton Pride later this summer.

Payday Men’s Network together with the Global Women’s Strike are long-standing friends of this campaign and we’re very grateful to them for urging GLBT organisations worldwide to do similarly. The full text of their open letter may be read here, but here’s an excerpt:

That LGBTQ organizations and press have ignored his case is particularly outrageous in the US, where many such “representatives” of the LGBTQ community campaigned ardently for repeal of the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy against Gay men and Lesbian women serving openly in the US military, in effect championing our ‘equal right to kill’. Why are they not going all out to defend a gay brother’s right to refuse to kill? Why is Bradley not being championed publicly as our gay hero, splashed all over the LGBTQ press to mobilize urgent support to get him released!

We say “There’s no pride in the slaughter of others!”

We take pride in our LGBTQ sisters and brothers who refuse to be killers, such as gay Filipino/Native-American Stephen Funk, the first US soldier to be convicted and jailed for refusing to fight in Iraq; Mehmet Tarhan, gay Kurdish military refuser in Turkey, whose torture and imprisonment were ended by an international campaign in which grassroots
LGBTQ organizations were prominent; and now Bradley Manning.

The campaign against the punitive conditions of Bradley’s confinement at Quantico has likewise shone a light on the solitary confinement and other torture endured by many tens of thousands of prisoners, not only but especially in the US. The blueprint for Bradley’s treatment at Quantico, for Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Baghram, is the US gulag of
civilian prisons, where most prisoners are people of color, and where especially those perceived as LGBTQ may endure endless sexual violence.

If Bradley Manning has done as alleged, his brave act is a huge service to humanity and has saved many lives. His chance of a fair trial was undermined when Barack Obama stated publicly that “He broke the law.” We invite everyone, all who stand for justice, but first of all his LGBTQ sisters and brothers and their organizations, to join the growing
worldwide campaign for freedom for Bradley Manning.

Finally, no roll-call of GLBT support for Bradley Manning would be complete without mention of Peter Tatchell‘s enormous contribution. We were thrilled to have Peter speak at our #march20 action outside the US embassy and he has given a sequence of strong statements on Bradley’s case. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his continued support.

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell

Update

Queer Friends of Bradley Manning will be holding a banner-making event this Sunday (26.06) in preparation for Pride London. Please do contact them if you’d like to join in.

We’ve just added details of a Free Bradley Manning contingent at Chicago Pride to our events page. This means supporters of Bradley Manning have – or will be – represented at Pride events in West Hollywood, San Francisco, Chicago, Hawaii, London and (hopefully!) Brighton. This is truly impressive.