10 September 2012
During the day we became aware that Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and a significant contributor to the highlighting of Bradley Manning’s barbaric treatment in his pre-trial confinement, was due to speak that evening at an event at the Chatham House organisation in Central London.
I initially contacted Chatham House on the day to get a few tickets for the WISE Up group; but Chatham House proved to be surprisingly unhelpful on this point – especially as we were going there in support of Mr Mendez, and the event did not seem to be particularly well attended.
We went down anyway, with a few posters and a stack of postcards and did indeed find a somewhat exclusive but oddly low-profile occasion that was apparently choosy in terms of members and invitees. Encouragingly, though, some of those gathering outside were immediately interested in our posters and came over to express support. Some were clearly also there to enquire about Brad’s case and one helpful guy said he would raise the matter on our behalf. He was given a poster and he marched in purposefully.
We again enquired about being admitted, but were once more denied.
No matter, we remained outside to catch those going in and the passers-by. More from Anthony:
We met loads of wonderful people while vigiling outside; well worth attending. We met loads of folks who took flyers and posters to post in far flung climes – Oxford, outer boroughs, etc. and lots of people walking by stopped and asked questions in genuine interest. Nobody attending, going in or out, missed the posters.
We were also boosted by a cyclist bellowing “FREE BRADLEY!” at the top of his voice as he flew past and by car horns honking support, drivers offering thumbs-up from inside.
What Mendez had to say
After the event, more folks emptying out came over to join us. Julian Assange’s lawyer Gareth Peirce, who has also championed the cause of Bradley Manning and so many others who have suffered grave miscarriages of justice, chatted and passed on her observations of the evening and others also outlined what Mendez had said.
Some were disappointed that Mendez appeared cool with regard to pursuing the Manning case and hoped that his involvement had not come to a dead-end. This audio (Q @ 14:00 / A @ 18:40) of the Q&A session confirms Juan Mendez stating “I’ve done all I can.”
It would be a great pity if this was indeed the case. The audio also confirms Prof. Mendez’s and (later) Bradley’s rejection of supervised access visits, improperly offered by the Pentagon, and the rejection by Judge Lind of Prof. Mendez as a witness for the defence team.
Though we were prevented from participating inside – even polite requests for photos were denied – the evening was successful in raising awareness of Brad and encouraging solidarity from others. From uncertain beginnings we made a number of new contacts, some of whom offered support in one form or other.
All in all a great night, with good folks. A useful and effective outreach.
The military’s treatment of Bradley Manning is a central theme in his case and should not be allowed to be forgotten or considered as no longer relevant.
At the last pretrial hearing, new dates were set for the hearing that will deal with the mistreatment of Bradley Manning at Quantico. Originally scheduled for October, this will now take place 27 November – 2 December. More information in this post.