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Public meeting at the House of Commons – Tuesday 24 May

The first anniversary of Bradley Manning’s arrest in Iraq falls next week, coinciding with Barack Obama’s State visit to the United Kingdom. On the eve of the US President’s address to both Houses of Parliament, there will be a public meeting at the House of Commons to discuss Bradley’s case – not least the likelihood of him receiving a fair trial.

The case of Bradley Manning:
Hero, enemy of the state, information champion, victim?

Ann Clwyd MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights
David Leigh, The Guardian
Emily Butselaar, Index on Censorship

pTuesday 24th May 2011, 6pm – 7.30pm
Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons

On the week that President Obama visits the UK and on the one year anniversary of Bradley Manning’s arrest and detention, a panel discusses the issues raised by the case of Bradley Manning and what happens now.

Bradley Manning is the US soldier accused of leaking information to the WikiLeaks website. Until 20th April, he was held in prison conditions which attracted the condemnation of human rights organisations around the world and which promoted an investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Manning has yet to face trial, but when he does it will be in a US Court Martial. Can Manning receive a fair trial in the military courts system? What should our attitude be towards the charges levelled against Manning? What has been the effect of the WikiLeaks disclosures and what role did they play in the Arab Spring revolutions? What does the treatment of Manning say about the United States’ attitude to whistle-blowers?

This meeting is open to the public to attend.
Entry is via Portcullis House
This event is free. There is no need to register.

We look forward to seeing some of you there.

Update I

The Guardian have published this report from the meeting, focusing on Ann Clwyd’s concerns about Bradley receiving a fair trial (“it should be in public and not a closed military trial”) and Emily Butselaar’s comments on the Obama administration’s broader policy on whistleblowers.

Update II

Press resulting from our meeting has brought the issue of unlawful command influence very much back into the spotlight. As the impact of Obama’s statement depends very much on how many people get to hear about it, we are delighted to see Time Magazine include it in their reporting. In the same piece, Kevin Zeese of the Bradley Manning Support Network argues that Obama’s words have already spread so wide as to make dismissal of Bradley’s case the only sensible option:

“The only way the military can claim there is no undue influence in this case would be a charade–[it would be] officers claiming they are not [listening to] their Commander-in-chief. The military courts have held over and over that if undue influence can be proven the case should be dropped.”

Zeese added that he performed a google search with “Obama, Manning and guilty” and found 1.5 million hits on April 24, the day after Obama’s remarks hit the internet, suggesting that Obama’s comments went viral and were thus unavoidable.

We are also delighted that renowned human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has added his voice to the campaign:

“The President, who is a former lawyer, should know better. This would be contempt of court in the UK. Such a high-level assertion that Manning is guilty must seriously prejudice the likelihood that Manning will receive a fair trial,” said Mr Tatchell.

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Upcoming Public Events – London / Pembrokeshire

We’re getting organised. Two events are planned in the coming couple of weeks – a demonstration outside the US Embassy in London on Sunday 20th March and a public meeting in Wales on Thursday 24th March. Full details follow – we would love to see you there.

LONDON DEMONSTRATES IN SUPPORT OF BRADLEY MANNING on 20th March

On the 8th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq, demonstrators are gathering internationally to protest the plight of 23 year old Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower at the heart of the Wikileaks revelation of war-crimes that shocked the world. This young man has been held in solitary confinement in the US for almost eight months under conditions described as torture, without being convicted of a single crime.

Speakers tbc.

Meeting 2pm, 20th March at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London

Bradley is alone in a windowless room for 23 hours a day, and his only outing is to walk alone and in chains in another. He is permitted no other exercise. He is not allowed to sleep between 5am and 8pm, and must give verbal responses to his guards every 5 minutes. He has no sheets or pillow and must sleep with his face visible to the guards or they will enter the cell to wake him. Quantico authorities claim this is to prevent self- harm, but even their own prison psychologists deny this is necessary.

Amnesty International has denounced the inhumanity of his treatment. So have lawyers, politicians, psychologists, and civil rights groups throughout the world, and the UN is investigating it as suspected torture. Still nothing is done. Since March 2nd Bradley has also been stripped of his clothing at night and is forced to stand to attention naked for morning roll call.

Bradley Manning is an American soldier, but he is also a British citizen by descent from his Welsh mother. We in this country have a special duty to give him our support, yet even though he is now facing a charge that carries the death penalty he has not even received British consular support. Despite Amnesty’s pleas for their intervention, the UK government has not spoken a word in his defence.

So today we’re doing it for them. From all over the UK, concerned British citizens are joining under the banner of ‘UK Friends of Bradley Manning’ to show solidarity with the international protests, to stand up for humanity and the presumption of innocence – and to demand that the US authorities

STOP THE TORTURE OF BRADLEY MANNING

For additional information please write to 20march@ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org The facebook event page is here and you can find details of the the other events planned for 20th March here.

If there’s nothing happening in your area, there is still time to set something up: it doesn’t have to be large or elaborate. If you’d like further advice on this, there is an email list for prospective organisers. We can probably give you the advice you need.

Here’s Wales:

PUBLIC MEETING IN WALES 24 March

Wales has a special duty towards Manning as his family live here and he went to school in Pembrokeshire.

Truth Juice Pembrokeshire are hosting a public meeting with a speaker on Bradley Manning’s treatment and future at 7pm on 24th March in Newport Pembrokeshire.

The organiser said: “There has been a great response to this idea among our members.

“Our organisation exists to let the public know the truth that is being suppressed. We meet weekly, sometimes twice weekly and often need the main hall for our large audiences.

“The presentation on Bradley will not only cover his unique punitive treatment classified as torture, but also the widening debate on the ethics of wikileaks and the explosive growth worldwide of the movement in defense of Bradley Manning.”

For further info, please contact Vicky@ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org

Update

Feelings are running high in Wales, as evidenced by today’s report in the Western Telegraph. There will be more of this to come.