On Sat 1st June 250 of us descended on the US Embassy to celebrate the hope in dark times that Bradley has been and still is for us – brief report here – just ahead of his trial which finally (after three years) began this week. Also see VfPUK report here.
This is a selection of videos from that occasion, which saw people who have been campaigning specifically for Bradley over the past couple of years and people from other campaigns come together to speak out for him and to make a visible statement expressing
how we feel that a young man of such integrity, whose compassion for the suffering peoples of planet earth gave him courage, is faced with life in prison for his good deeds
COMPOSITE VIDEO FROM SAT 1ST JUNE
This is the whole event video featuring the main speakers and music, although it is, of course, only a selection as we were actually there together for just over three hours altogether (and all together…).
FULL LIST OF SPEAKERS
MICHAEL LYONS & BEN GRIFFIN
Michael Lyons and Ben Griffin from Veterans for Peace UK both spoke about Bradley’s relevance to resistance from within the military, Michael expressing his deep gratitude to Bradley for supplying him with exactly the information he needed to make a reasoned decision about whether he should deploy to Afghanistan, and Ben pointing out that they are pulling out all the stops in the persecution and prosecution of Bradley precisely because he has been so successful in what he set out to do – provoking just those worldwide discussions, debates and reforms that he hoped for.
VICKY & YOUNG PEOPLE FROM WEST WALES
Vicky Moller from Cymru Wise Up and Young People of West Wales for BM, who all travelled up together from Pembrokeshire where Bradley spent his teenage years, expressed their support for Bradley as ‘one of their community’, and reflected on how they had travelled up from Wales two years previously to protest Bradley’s torture and how quickly he had been moved after that
Guy Smallman, photo-journalist known for his work in Afghanistan, told us how the Nato massacre at Garani occurred and described his unique visit to the village just afterwards; he spoke of the stark discrepancy between the numbers of the dead as recorded by the survivors and the ‘official’ version of the casualties, and how he hoped that the leaked cockpit video would one day reveal the truth, all of which underlined further the need for whistleblowers in society
Peter Tatchell, veteran human rights campaigner, in the public eye primarily as a longstanding LGBQT rights activist, stressed how Bradley is a man of honour and humanitarian principle, and a ‘good soldier’ acting in the spirit of those who founded the United States, not just one who blindly obeys orders
Didi Rossi of Queer Strike in the Global Women’s Strike complained of the lack of active support for Bradley from many GBLQT rights organisations’ and referred to the recent San Francisco Pride Grand Marshall controversy
Vivienne Westwood, Dame, famous designer and (particularly) climate campaigner, talked of the great threat to liberty we are facing and told us all we need to get out on the streets and demonstrate as often as possible in opposition to the ‘power mafia’; she spoke of how all our causes were ultimately common. Dame Vivienne also described how Julian had explained to her the threat to press freedom inherent in the Court Martial with the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’
VAL BROWN OF LGC
Val Brown of London Guantanamo Campaign, spoke of the debt Guantanamo campaigners owe to Bradley for getting the word out, and how campaigns rely on just such information
Naomi Colvin speculated on the likelihood of a long legal case with appeals that would continue to need funding and how we should therefore be actively lobbying Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to recognise Bradley as a prisoner of conscience in order to reach a greater support base
WOMEN AGAINST RAPE
Women against Rape reminded us of Bradley Manning’s exposure of rape and sexual abuse by contractors attached to the military
GIORGIO RIVA OF PAYDAY
Giorgio Riva of Payday Men’s Network drew our attention to the new found freedom of conscientious objector Natan Blanc, repeatedly jailed for refusing to serve in the Israeli military, as a cause for hope; a reminder that victory is not always out of our reach.
Then, on the open mic we heard from Gwyn Gwyntopher who appealed for volunteers for the essential service At Ease performs; a man who I recognise but whose name escapes me (sorry!); Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike; Oliver Shykles of Queer Friends of Bradley Manning and Campaign against Criminalising Communities, who explained some of the pressures the Muslim community were currently facing, speaking of insistent attempts of M15 to recruit young Muslims as spies within their own community and also of the extremely worrying practice of removing citizenship from Muslims while they are abroad without due process (which has been recently reported on).
Craig Murray, who had had travel problems with both trains and his legs, was our grand finale. Craig, human rights campaigner and former British Ambassador, told us it was all about truth, that we need more whistleblowers not less, reminded us of the war against whistleblowers that is being waged by the Obama administration, and refreshed our memory about how much more vulnerable we now are in the UK because of the Justice and Security Act, which, allowing secret courts, will enable governments to hide their misdeeds even more effectively from public scrutiny.
We were inspired musically by David Rovics in a fifteen minute set which included his Song for Bradley Manning and other gems (I wanna know WHO…who are the TER ROR ISTS!!); John McClean, who had us joining in with Mind on Freedom, and gave us a beautiful rendering of his bluesy no. Just Can’t Keep from Crying Sometimes. Then Roland Gianfestani performed Dylan’s Master’s of War (in full!) which was brilliant!
Apart from this we had four tracks playing on a loop at intervals: Cor Cochion’s ‘Not in My Name’, which we also sang several times, Bradley’s Song by Symphony, Jack Omer’s Song for Bradley Manning and Graham Nash’s Almost Gone.
At different points in the afternoon, Ben from Payday brought us phone messages from Italian supporters in Rome, Bradley Manning protesters braving the streets in Istanbul despite the crackdown on demonstrators, and an American supporter travelling to Fort Meade by coach for the march to the base.
We also had incoming messages from MEDEA BENJAMIN of CODE PINK
How wonderful that you are rallying in London in defense of Bradley Manning. President Obama says he wants to be more transparent about his counterterrorism policy, but he is trying to put Bradley Manning in prison for life for the crime of educating the public about the US government’s policies.
In a truly just world, it would be Bradley Manning, not President Obama, receiving a Nobel Peace Prize. May we all work together for such a just and peaceful world.
With thanks, Medea Benjamin CODEPINK
And at this point we discovered we had a genuine t-shirted code pinker with us who was plainly delighted by this message!
TIM EDWARDS sent this message from himself and FARAH, both of the BHOPAL MEDICAL APPEAL. Farah is from Bhopal and was 10 years old when the disaster occurred.
Many years ago Bhopal campaigners described their own struggle as being, after Milan Kundera, as one of ‘memory against forgetting’.
Bradley Manning embodies that struggle, and the great personal risks he has undertaken to make crimes of power known resonate with all those who suffer extended injustice due to secrecy, denial and manipulation of the truth.
And DAVID COOMBS, BRADLEY’S EXCELLENT LAWYER, said
On behalf of PFC Manning, thank you for your efforts to bring attention to his case. I would ask that you tell those that gather on June 1st that I appreciate their support and wish that I could be there in person to thank them.
The support of you and those that gather are a reminder that this is not just an issue of concern for those that live in the United States.
How we treat PFC Manning and what happens to him is a concern for everyone that cares about making this world a better place. Thank you again.
Best regards, David
SHORT COMPOSITE VIDEO
This is another short compilation with some footage none of the others have.
The afternoon was bright and sunny, as were we, and it was wonderful to be together and feel our commonality. The mood was hopeful as we drew strength and inspiration from Bradley’s example and each other, made new friends, and reconnected with old. Hopefully this will prove an invigorating spark for the on-going campaign, which will encourage us to simultaneously expect miracles and not be daunted by what on the face of it looks to be a long haul
DEFENDING BRADLEY MANNING WHISTLEBLOWER
another video; a short sweet taster of the atmosphere…
Thanks to all of you who took pics and footage – lovely stuff, all!! And corrections/additions welcome on name, speeches etc; please email or comment and alterations will be posted.
MORE PHOTOS and OTHER REPORTS FROM WALES to follow….