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Bradley Manning is 24 and a citizen of Wales. He has a Welsh mother and an American father. Bradley Manning is a “whistle-blower”, someone who has revealed truths about an organisation which they would prefer to keep hidden.
Whilst serving with the US army in Iraq, he found video evidence of a US helicopter gunship attack on unarmed Iraqis, including two children. Twelve men, including two Reuters correspondents, were killed, the children seriously wounded. Those involved, according to the US military, were “Iraqi insurgents”. Manning had opposed the Iraq invasion and was unhappy to be serving in Iraq. He decided to pass evidence of the American atrocities to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Later, he also handed over secret documents to Wikileaks which revealed details of many other American abuses, both in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was arrested, aged 22, and kept in extreme solitary confinement for over seven months. His imprisonment, which has so far lasted almost two years, is widely considered to be “extreme pre-trial punishment” and contrary to the US constitution. Amnesty International has described his treatment since his arrest as “inhumane and unacceptable”. For the UN it is “cruel and inhuman” illustrating, yet again, the huge divide between the ethical standards which the United States pretends to uphold and its actions – witness Guantanamo and so-called “extraordinary rendition”.
America is seeking vengeance, life imprisonment for a mentally fragile young man whose only crime has been to reveal the truth. However, for many, Bradley Manning is a hero who has shed light on some of the appalling atrocities committed in Iraq. For the second year running, he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. We believe that he is much more deserving of this than incarceration.
[Signed by 19 members of Knighton Action for Peace & Justice]