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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]
The letter states: “Manning had opposed the Iraq invasion and was unhappy to be serving in Iraq.” I think this statement merits some further explanation.
From what I’ve read, Bradley Manning identified in 2003, while a schoolboy in Wales, that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was all about oil and he didn’t think George W Bush had any business going in there. This information comes from his Welsh school friend Tom Dyer.
We have various versions of his reasons for joining the military, all of which may have played a part. We know that he was interested in a military career as a child. We know that his Dad suggested he enlist. We know that he’d done a series of dead end jobs before signing up. We know that he hoped to get an education via the military. We also have some indication that he thought he would be doing good by serving in the military. This is not an unusual belief although frequently shattered as seems to have been the case with Bradley.
We know from the chat-logs with Adrian Lamo that Bradley’s attitude to serving in the military changed once he was actually in Iraq and in particular in response to two incidents: (1) seeing the ‘Collateral Murder’ video footage and investigating the background to this attack; (2) an occasion when he identified that detainees suspected of insurgency were protesting corruption in al-Maliki’s government and had prepared a scholarly paper about this. His superiors were far from pleased and Bradley was just told to go and find MORE detainees.
Get Plaid Cymru to ask the Assembly for Wales to demand US repatriate Manning to Wales. Back that up by engaging a lawyer.
I don’t think there has ever been any indication that Bradley wants to be ‘repatriated’ to Wales, even if the Welsh Government had powers to demand this. Best ask him first!