Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing starts on 16 December. The following day, Saturday 17 December, it’s his 24th birthday.
There has been a call-out for an international day of action for Bradley Manning on 17 December and there will be a rally at the US Embassy in London at 2pm.
But if you can’t get there and you live in Wales (where Bradley Manning spent teenage years and where his Mum and maternal family still live), what are you going to do?
Bradley Manning is being persecuted as an accused whistle-blower. He has been held without trial for 18 months, for an extended period of this (months) under conditions of torture. He is accused, amongst over 20 charges, of ‘aiding the enemy’ which could carry a life sentence or the death penalty. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the crimes he is accused of exposing have not been brought to justice. Although this is probably the largest whistle-blowing act in history, the persecution of whistle-blowers is nothing new. Wales has plenty of whistle-blowing stories of its own and a trail of casualties – those who have blown the whistle on wrongdoing and have suffered for doing so. As well as calling for Bradley Manning to be freed, we should be calling for an end to the persecution of whistle-blowers everywhere.
If we had a culture of openness and transparency and a willingness to put things right when they go wrong, there would never be a need for a release of information on a WikiLeaks scale. These things are only necessary because, all the way up our institutional hierarchies, from the very bottom to the very top, people are complicit in wrongdoing, turn a blind eye, behave in ways to discourage openness and honesty, cover things up when they are exposed and shoot the messengers. It’s got to stop and we all have a responsibility to change things.
Right now though, I’d like to suggest some things we can all do for Bradley Manning. If you can manage just one small act, then please do it (and let us know about it).
SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTIONS ON DECEMBER 17 (or another day if you can’t manage that)
I would like to get together some kind of action in Cardiff on Sat 17 Dec, and am currently waiting for hopefully positive responses from activists there. I’m used to doing things by myself or with minimum support, so I know we could manage a banner hang or an interactive event in the city centre or something. But more is better, so if you have ideas and want to get involved in this, please let me know as soon as you can.
Occupy LSX in London is already planning to do something and I would hope that all Occupy sites across Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England will mark the occasion in some visible way. So, you could get to your most local Occupy site and do something there.
Hold a vigil at your local military base or installation, factory etc. that has connections with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or is otherwise connected with the war machine. Bradley Manning is accused of releasing the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary, as well as the Guantanamo Files, the Collateral Murder video and hundreds of thousands of US Embassy cables. In other words, he’s accused of telling the truth about the empire’s wars and its nefarious dealings around the world!
Hold a vigil in your own town or village for Bradley Manning. This is a low-cost, low-energy option. All you need is a home-made placard (ideas: Free Bradley Manning! End the Wars! End the Persecution of Whistle-blowers Everywhere! Something with a birthday theme… some resources here or on the international Bradley Manning website). Find a couple of supportive people and stand somewhere prominent for an hour or two to remember Bradley Manning, his suffering and his courage. See what conversations come out of doing this.
Write a message of solidarity and/or birthday greetings to Bradley Manning in marker pen on a large piece of paper or card and get someone to take a digital photo of you holding it. Email it to us with your details if you want these forwarded with your message. We’ll collate all messages, print and send them on to Bradley.
Try to get a photo and/or write a short report of any action taken.
WHATEVER YOU DO, LET US KNOW. WE WILL POST YOUR ACTIONS HERE AND COLLECT THEM TOGETHER TO BUILD A PICTURE OF SOLIDARITY IN WALES.
Look forward to hearing from you.
WISE Up for Bradley Manning