Tag Archives: global women’s strike

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.

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#March20 reports – London, Wrexham

Around 100 protesters, including some who had traveled from Scotland and Wales, met outside the US embassy in London on Sunday to pledge their support to Bradley Manning and stand up against what is happening to him at the Quantico marine brig. They were joined by speakers Peter Tatchell, Bruce Kent, Loz Kaye, Ben Griffin, Giorgio Riva and Didi Rossi, Ciaron O’Reilly, Naomi Colvin and teenagers from Pembrokeshire in Wales.

The London event was well-reported in major media, including the Daily Mail and BBC Wales (here and here). Indymedia produced an excellent report and further photos from the event are available here and here.

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London #march20

A report from our Welsh group, who were well-represented at the action:

12 people came from the Welsh county where Bradley Manning went to school and his family still live to the London demo. Three girls who were contemporaries at school with Bradley said they felt they had made a real difference.

They sang a Nina Simone song, What It Means To Be Free, which they learnt over the weekend. They made personal, moving speeches. In one, Tilly Costen said “We represent the young people of Pembrokeshire, we were brought up to tell the truth and I think it is very unfair if someone is punished for telling the world the truth.” Tessa Hope said, “Bradley Manning has shown incredible courage and is doing in what he has to endure, he is an inspiration to me.” Rosey Seymour added “If the laws mean that exposing war crimes is a crime then perhaps we should look at those laws and change them.”

The group had never spoken publicly before: Tilly said the last time she tried was at school and she went to pieces and was laughed off the stage.

Kett Seymour sang Imagine as he felt Bradley Manning had an imagination of a future in which, through the internet, ‘All the world would be as one.’ He said: “I was born 20 miles from where Bradley Manning lived and I went to school in the same town. They just cant do this to one of us.”

Chris May came with his teenage daughter. He replied to an internet attack on the campaign and found he was in dialogue with a senior military officer in USA who said ‘We are the Alphas of the Alphas.’ The long dialogue ended with the officer thanking Chris and saying he had made him rethink his position, but could not continue because he was being deployed within hours in Afghanistan. Chris urged campaigners to communicate with people they do not usually speak to, and to put themselves in their shoes.

Vicky Moller, coordinating the Welsh campaign, asked: “Can a small country like Wales can take on the might of the US military and win? This is really a bigger issue than the treatment of one man, it is humanity and honesty and Hywel Da justice pitted against vengeful justice, cruelty and secrecy.”

The rally was attended by 100 people including media. The group commented that those attending were very serious and motivated, this was not a rent-a-mob situation. There were many speeches and a Bradley actor in manacles. The rally was organised by an impromptu group including the Welsh group who arranged things with the police. “A very well organised event” commented one of the officers at the end.

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London #march20

London was not only #March20 event taking place in the UK: there was also a vigil in Wrexham, Wales. Organiser Genny reported that:

This event was worth doing just for the interaction with local
ex-soldiers who, like so many, were obviously struggling to cope with
life after the army, but who stopped and listened, were indignant and
concerned for Bradley Manning and who wrote heartfelt letters to him
there and then and took information away with them to share. We didn’t
have to do much explaining to them about Bradley’s situation – they knew
the score straight away.

A full report, including photos, is available on Indymedia. Further images are available here.

Letter-writing in Wrexham

Letter-writing in Wrexham

#March20 proved to be an inspirational Sunday afternoon, but we are not planning to stop there. This Thursday, 24 March, there will be a public meeting in Wales. Further events will be reported on this website in due course.