The past week has seen an impressive series of coordinated demonstrations and rallies in support of Bradley Manning across the United States, with solidarity also being shown in other cities further afield.
In the US, events ran throughout the week in Charlotte, North Carolina, to coincide with the city hosting the Democratic National Convention (DNC), while a wider ‘Day of Action’ was called for Thursday, September 6th, the day on which Barack Obama accepted the Democratic presidential candidate nomination. Organisers sought to target regional offices of the Democratic party to highlight Obama’s prejudicial comments in relation to the Manning case and the Obama administration’s dire record on the persecution of whistle-blowers – at odds with public declarations made by Obama (@ 1:30) prior to his election.
Actions took place at 34 locations across the US, from Alaska to Texas via Hawaii, while solidarity was shown elsewhere across the world, including in Melbourne and a small presence in London.
Leading the mobilisation of the hundreds of supporters were US Veterans groups, whose letter demanding that President Obama formally pardon PFC Manning was delivered to many regional Democratic party offices.
There was a notable success at the national party HQ in Washington DC, where a determined occupation outside of the building entrance by members from several peace groups took place. Activists demanded assurances that the letter they were carrying be personally delivered to president Obama, and after peacefully resisting attempts to be cleared, were eventually able to speak with senior party official, Arnold Skretta.
After discussions, Skretta agreed to take the letter and returned to confirm that it had indeed been delivered to the president. The letter read as follows:
September 6, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Hand delivered to the Democratic National Committee
Dear Mr. President:
As members of peace and justice organizations opposed to your continuation of the Bush administration’s failed wars, we are writing to urge you to do the right thing on behalf of Private First Class Bradley Manning. As you know he has been imprisoned and, at times, tortured during his incarceration. It is alleged he leaked documents to Wikileaks and possibly other material, including a video of U.S. soldiers committing war crimes in Iraq . It is ironic that none of the soldiers who killed unarmed Iraqi civilians have been charged with a crime, but Pfc. Manning is charged and accused of releasing documents which were embarrassing to the U.S. government, as they showed diplomatic and military support for a number of dictatorships in the Middle East.
It is very important that you retract your statement made at a fundraiser in April 2011, regarding PFC Manning’s guilt. It was astonishing to hear you say, “He broke the law.” How can Pfc. Manning receive a fair trial when his commander-and-chief convicts him prior to a court martial?
As you know, for the first eleven months of his detention, Pfc. Manning was held in solitary isolation. He was not allowed regular exercise or sunlight, and was even forced to stand at attention naked. The U. N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, has declared these conditions “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Recently, Pfc. Manning’s defense revealed they have discovered emails which show orders to hold him in these inhuman conditions came from a three-star general who ignored the warnings of brig psychologists, and was likely acting with political motive.
Though he’s yet to be convicted of any crime, PFC Manning has already been severely punished. If for no other reason, you could pardon him of all charges. This would call attention to the need for respecting the international human rights of all prisoners.
There was no harm done by the release of the Wikileaks documents. In fact, the documents helped ignite the Arab Spring.
And it can be argued that the document release played a part in bringing an end to the Iraq War. During the 2008 campaign, a majority of citizens believed that U.S. forces should be withdrawn from Iraq . Many people voted for you because they believed that you would end the war.
Unfortunately, you sought to keep troops in Iraq past the originally planned 2011 deadline. Documents allegedly released by PFC Manning helped U.S. citizens understand why the war had not ended sooner. These reasons included a failure of the command to adequately discipline soldiers who would discredit the U.S. military in the eyes of the world by wrongfully killing civilians.
Bradley Manning has a conscience. Words attributed to him in May 2010 suggest he acted because he wanted people to see the truth because without information, you cannot make informed decisions. You made a similar statement in May 2011: In the 21st century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens. We now ask that you honor those words by freeing American truth-teller Bradley Manning.
The Bradley Manning Support Network’s report on the actions can be found here
A video showing the occupation of the US consulate building in Melbourne is here
Brad’s next motion hearing appearance is set for October 17 & 18 and it would be great to bring people together to show support at the time. To get in touch, leave a comment below, a message on the email lists or contact us via Twitter.