The weekend after the sentence (which already seems an eternity ago, so much has happened!) people were out for Chelsea again.
QUEER+FRIENDS OF BRADLEY MANNING
… seen here on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London at the end of June, with their excellent banner enjoying its second outing,
learnt very shortly indeed before their Manchester Pride excursion that Chelsea wished to shed the name Bradley now that she was through with the Court Martial, and effected an amazingly speedy revamp all round, with a new domain name and address, and most impressively an updated banner!
…IS NOW QUEER+FRIENDS OF CHELSEA MANNING
AND OFF TO SPEND SATURDAY AT MANCHESTER PRIDE Finishing the repaint only just in time they left London very early indeed so as to meet up at the setting off point on Liverpool Road by 11am. Loz Kaye, Manchester based Pirate Party UK leader, was here spotted wearing his pride themed pink Pvt Manning sticker and admiring the banner….
On the march itself it was notable that the increased media coverage surrounding the end of the trial had resulted in even greater recognition than was evident at London Pride, and Queer+ Friends report being very well received at what was a very well organised event with a great atmosphere and lots of support being expressed for Chelsea.
thanks to bouchsnaps for photo – more manchester pride at http://www.bouchsnaps.co.uk/
MEANWHILE, IN CATHEDRAL SQUARE, PETERBOROUGH, ON SUNDAY…
…the Peterborough contingent were out again (they were last out on Weds! See this post) with their newly adapted banner and posters – They report being encouraged by the positive response, and note that their no. has grown. From Gill:
The sun shone down on Cathedral Square as we gathered to hand out leaflets and stand in solidarity with Chelsea Manning on Bank Holiday Sunday. The banners/posters etc had been reworked to acknowledge her new identity and this was an opportunity to ride on the back of the recent media coverage to some advantage.
We stand where several pedestrian routes converge and funnel into one shopping street; here we tie our banners on three sides of two large blocks so people arriving from all directions can see them. Every time we stand I encounter at least one person who is completely blown away and can hardly believe this is happening in Peterborough. On Sunday I encountered two such people.
Some good debates were had, and hopefully we dispelled a few misconceptions about Chelsea’s case and the wider subject matter.
Once again those standing out found the majority response to be extremely positive and in support of Chelsea, Whistle Blowers, Transparency, Freedom of Speech and Against the Wars. Our being there seems to give strength to what many if not most people are thinking anyway.
All of us said we felt encouraged, received much praise for our efforts and left feeling strengthened and positive about Peterborough and its people. We were given business cards to keep in touch and people took leaflets to place in their place of business.
Many people already knew a lot about Chelsea and had already taken action by signing petitions and writing etc. Of those who did not know (which would appear to be on the decline) many looked shocked by the sentence and the details of the case and said they would read the leaflet and find out more.
There are now at least 20 that I know of who will come out at various times to hand out leaflets, the network in Peterborough gathering strength. If anyone around Peterborough is interested in future actions, please do get in touch via Wise Up.
A big thank you to Amanda, Joanne, John one of our local Councillors and Jay of Blow Your Whistle for coming out in support for Chelsea. Peterborough is getting stronger little by little.
SINCE THE SENTENCE…KEEPING UP THE PRESSURE
Immediately after the sentence – which was less than a week ago on Wednesday 22nd August, though it seems much longer ago – Chelsea’s lawyer, David Coombs, was moving on to explain what happens next in the FREE PRIVATE MANNING! campaign.
At a press conference the same day, only the second time he has given a public address, he set out the process for us of the appeals to the convening authority, Maj Gen Buchanan, for clemency, and to Obama for a presidential pardon or commuting of the sentence.
These precede the formal appeals process. He read out the remarkable letter that would accompany Chelsea’s request to the President, which is, as much as anything, surely a challenge, a throwing down of the gauntlet. As well as listening to this in the video below, you can read the full text in this post.
The Support Network with Amnesty International launched the campaign in support of the presidential appeal at this press conference, and supporting these immediate appeals is the priority for the public campaign at the moment.
That press conference, (previously via a poorish quality video embedded in this post), is now available in this vimeo video which is much easier to hear and includes the Q & A session afterwards. If you want to understand the case do watch this as well as the Today video (see next para) and the interview with Alexa O’Brien (also featured in this post). Taken together they really are recommended viewing for anyone who wants to be involved in supporting Chelsea.
THE NEXT DAY DAVID COOMBS WAS AGAIN SPEAKING TO THE PRESS!
Clearly making up for lost time (!), having given no interviews and with only the one public appearance throughout the entire Court Martial, David Coombs then appeared on a popular US TV programme the very next day to discuss Chelsea’s announcement that she now wishes to be known for the woman she has always been – see her open letter (second text – scroll down) – and again stress the sequence of events in the immediate legal process. See here and then here on the NBC ‘Today’ programme.
Beginning at first with what happens next in the legal process, both David Coombs and the interviewer, Savannah Guthrie, start by talking about Bradley and using his, him etc, but then move on to reading out Chelsea’s announcement and make the switch in terminology at this point. See the video here:
AND ON MONDAY 26TH FURTHER CLARIFICATION
….she also expects that the name Bradley Manning and the male pronoun will continue to be used in certain instances. These instances include any reference to the trial, in legal documents, in communication with the government, in the current petition to the White House calling for clemency, and on the envelope of letters written to her by supporters. She also expects that many old photos and graphics will remain in use for the time being.
AND ANOTHER INTERVIEW
And then some more background information from another interview that Coombs gave, this time to Associated Press, in which he explained the sequence of events that lead up to Chelsea making the announcement at that point.
Coombs told them how it had not been the plan to make the announcement at that time (though the announcement was always going to happen at some point) until an important article from Adam Klasfield (one of the few regular reporters at the Court Martial), who writes for Courthouse News, was published. In this article Adam Klasfield addressed the lack of options for trans people, through discrimination, in prison, and traced some recent legal rulings. He reported Fort Leavenworth spokesperson Kimberley Lewis as saying:
“The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder.”
It had previously been the intention of the defence to pursue hormone therapy with Fort Leavenworth and Coombs stated that he had hoped to find them amenable to this in view of the clearly expressed medical opinion at the end of the trial, when the psychiatrist gave a specific diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
And it was Adam’s piece, published on 20th August, the day before the sentence was handed down, and in particular the statement from Fort Leavenworth it contained, that decided them on the immediate announcement.
In the Today interview David Coombs makes it clear that they will be fighting for Chelsea’s rights in the matter of getting the treatment she needs. And so Chelsea, even as she is in prison after being handed a 35 year sentence, is on the front line for justice once again, and the very effective Coombs/Manning partnership moves to take on the next challenge.
A PERSONAL TRIBUTE FROM TUNISIA
Also published yesterday was a timely appreciation from a Tunisian activist: ‘Chelsea Manning and the Arab Spring; a Tribute to Chelsea Manning from Tunisia’.
Read the story of ‘Tunileaks’ and about how some of the the immediate beneficiaries of Cablegate felt, and ponder on how the action of a 22 year old (not then in any supportive partnership) who had the courage to reject the mold, has changed the world. The tribute ends:
Twenty days passed between the release of the Tunileaks cables on November 28th 2010, and the start of the Arab Spring, on December 17th, 2010. That was the day a poor street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. (This very day was also Chelsea Manning’s 23rd birthday – see this post).
In a chat with a British journalist this year, Ben Ali’s propaganda minister Oussama Romdhani confessed that “Tunileaks was The coup de grâce, the thing that broke the Ben Ali system.”
It wasn’t the information about corruption and cronyism – Tunisians didn’t need Tunileaks to tell them their country was corrupt. Tunisians had been gossiping and joking about the corruption for years.
What was different was the psychological effect of an establishment confronted so publicly with its ugly own image. It was that the government knew that all people knew, inside and outside the country, how corrupt and authoritarian it was.
And that the one telling the story wasn’t a dissident or a political conspirator. It was the U.S. State department, a supposed ally. Read the whole tribute here.
CHELSEA MANNING – A STORY THAT IS HISTORY, HERSTORY, OURSTORY
The amazing story of Chelsea Manning is one we are privileged to know and benefit from because of the costly action she took and, ironically, because she was apprehended in it and has suffered and is suffering for it. One of those rare people who has stepped into the firing line on all our behalf, she has, despite dreading the exposure, ridden the tsunami of that exposure with incredible dignity. And she has remained undaunted in the face of real oppression, walking the walk of integrity without deviating.
This is a real inspiration in our cheapskate days and we need to cherish her against the darkness now as much as ever.
To support what she and the defence are taking forward at the moment please go to the urgent action page and complete all that you can. Then promote the actions to others. These are the next step, urgent actions for the next short while.
The White House petition seems to be accepting signatures from outside the US, and this has a deadline of 20th September to get 100,000 signatures, and the appeal to Buchanan will only have a short term. The formal legal Buchanan approach is likely to be within the next week.
Call or email or write to Maj. Gen. Buchanan in support of the clemency appeal; call or email or write to the White House in support of the appeals to President Obama; go to the new pardon.bradleymanning site and add a photo; try to sign the White House petition. Ask others to do these things too.
And keep demonstrating, and bringing these things to the attention of more people – the immediate demands for protests are for the pardon and clemency …as well as the ongoing FREE CHELSEA MANNING! of course.