Today, on the first day of Bradley Manning’s pre-trial ‘Article 32’ hearing to be held at Fort Meade, Maryland, USA, supporters in Wales put up two banners at the busy Plas Coch roundabout in Wrexham during the morning rush hour: ‘FREE BRADLEY MANNING’ and ‘END THE WARS!’ Bradley Manning’s mother is Welsh and lives in Pembrokeshire, along with other of his relatives. Bradley lived and went to school in Wales for three years as a teenager.
This action marks the start of a weekend of solidarity for Bradley Manning, with events taking place around the world . In Wales, there will be solidarity actions taking place in Cardiff over the weekend,
including a free food and information stall on Saturday 17th (Bradley Manning’s 24th birthday) outside Central Market from 1pm. Come along and write your own solidarity message to Bradley Manning [2a] [2b]. In London, there will be a rally outside the US Embassy.
Today’s hearing, which is expected to continue for most of next week, will be held against the backdrop of President Barack Obama having already declared Manning guilty in the absence of any judicial process.
Obama has been called by the defence as a witness at the pre-trial hearing, although it is not yet clear whether he will attend as the request was initially refused .
While being held in detention without trial, Bradley Manning has been subjected to extra-judicial punishment which amounted to torture .
Genny Bove, of Wrexham Peace & Justice Forum, who will be taking part in the weekend’s actions, said:
Here in Wales, we should understand the problems whistle-blowers face when exposing wrongdoing and corruption from the high profile whistle-blowing cases we have seen over the last few decades. We need to
show solidarity with Bradley Manning, a young man with Welsh connections who is being persecuted as an accused whistle-blower for telling us the truth about the wars Britain is involved in.
In the mid-80s, social worker Alison Taylor tried to alert the authorities to the appalling child abuse that was taking place in Wales’ children’s homes. Her whistle-blowing eventually led to the Waterhouse
Inquiry, but every attempt was made to silence Alison by the authorities which should instead have been taking action to investigate and stop the abuse . Subsequent whistle-blowers have not fared any better. Mandy Bostwick, for example, who recently blew the whistle on fraud at Plas Madoc Communities First project near Wrexham, now has complaints outstanding against Wrexham Council, North Wales Police and the Health Board as a result of what she has described as a ‘tactical process of discreditation’ against her . Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, Ben Griffin, who lived in Wales as a child and who signed up to the army at Swansea recruiting office, had a lifetime High Court injunction imposed in 2008 against him revealing any more about his war experiences. The injunction was sought after he exposed British complicity in Extraordinary Rendition and mistreatment of detainees.
If Bradley Manning did release the Collateral Murder Video, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary and the US Embassy cables, then he has done the world a service in providing hard evidence of crimes committed
in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere by US forces and their partners which would otherwise have remained covered up. Whistle-blowers should be applauded and supported for showing us the truth, not persecuted,
prosecuted and tortured.
We therefore call for the immediate release of Bradley Manning and for all charges against him to be dropped. I will be in Cardiff on Saturday taking part in the international day of action in solidarity with Bradley Manning, adding my voice to worldwide calls for his freedom.
Text of flyer to be handed out over the weekend
FREE BRADLEY MANNING! END THE WARS!
Bradley Manning was born in the US on 17 December 1987 to a Welsh mother and American father. He lived in Wales for three years as a teenager. His Mum and other relatives still live in Wales.
Having joined the US army in 2007 as an intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning was arrested in Iraq on suspicion of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and had been detained for over 18 months by the
start of his pre-trial hearing in December 2011. Bradley Manning was tortured in detention until moved to a less punitive regime in April 2011. The torture was extra-judicial punishment and very likely aimed
(unsuccessfully) at persuading him to implicate Julian Assange of WikiLeaks in return for more favourable treatment.
Bradley Manning is accused of leaking the Collateral Murder video, footage which shows unarmed civilians being killed by US soldiers and which the US military had covered up. He is accused of leaking the Afghan War Diary, described by the New York Times as “an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war”, and the award-winning Iraq War Logs that reveal human rights abuses by coalition and Iraqi forces. Bradley
Manning is also accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of revealing and highly embarrassing diplomatic cables from US Embassies around the world. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
Bradley Manning was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 and topped a Guardian Readers’ poll for the prize with almost 40% of all votes cast.
We call for Bradley Manning to be freed immediately and for all charges against him to be dropped. We call for an end to the persecution of whistle-blowers everywhere and for an end to silence and complicity at all levels as this is what makes large scale whistle-blowing necessary. Speak out against injustice!
International support: http://www.bradleymanning.org (takes donations)
Local action: This Blog.