Demanding Obama be Put on Trial for Torture & Assassination
by our man in Oz Ciaron O’Reilly (below, left)
of London Catholic Worker, presently in Brisbane.
Background on the persecution of Bradley Manning
On June 6, 7 & 8, the U.S. government once again brought Bradley Manning in front of the military tribunal star chamber at Ft. Meade, Maryland USA. A two year process since Bradley’s arrest in Baghdad that remains an affront to all standards of natural justice and human decency. Bradley’s humanity and the solidarity of family, friends and strangers is the hope for the human family living through the death throes of the deadliest and most extensive empire known in human history.
Bradley Manning is 5′ 2″, 105 lb and now 24 years of age.
Over the past two years since his arrest in Baghdad, Army Intelligence officer Bradley Manning has run the gauntlet of torture, isolation, media vilification, a campaign by military prison officer to insult and humiliate, FBI harassment of friends in the U.S. and his mother in Wales. The objective to break Bradley Manning to a point where he would concoct a fabricated story to deliver Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has failed. Bradley has refused to be broken.
Bradley has been accused of blowing the whistle on U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has been charged with 23 offences and faces the death penalty or life in jail for allegedly sharing a video of a U.S. helicopter attack that killed 11 civilians and wounded two children in Baghdad, Iraq, with the WikiLeaks website. Bradley has also been charged with blowing the whistle on the “Iraq War Logs”, the “Afghan Diaries”, the “Guantanamo Files” and embarrassing U.S. State Dept. cables.
As a former political prisoner of the United States government, I know the only antidote to a system that is designed to isolate, crush and break you is one’s own spirituality and whatever solidarity brothers and sisters can conjure on limited resources on the outside.
With few honourable exceptions, the housebroken silence of the media, church, academe, peace movement, beauracrats, legal and artist communities in relation to the persecution of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange is a self condemnation.
The lack of outrage and activism on the part of journalists in the wake of two Reuters journalists being massacred while unarmed and doing their job in Baghdad is outrageous. With a few honourable exceptions, one begins to think that the response by journalists to the death of another journalist be it in Balibo or Baghdad is “Good, less competition!”
6 June: Solidarity for Bradley Manning at the Supreme Court, Brisbane, Australia
On June 6th, as Bradley appeared once again before a Military Tribunal at Ft. Meade, we gathered outside the Supreme Court in Brisbane next to the statue of Themis the Greek Goddess of Justice.
We were 12 in number. We comprised of seven Catholic Workers, an Orthodox priest, a Josephite nun, an Australian Army veteran, an Irish Republican and a 12 year old Cathedral choir boy.
We transformed Themis into a shrine for the victims of the U.S. led (Australian and British supported) wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. We employed a pair of combat boots, a traditional Afghan hat along with images of the torturer Obama and the persecuted Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.
We conducted a respectful vigil from 4pm-6pm distributing leaflets during these peak hours of pedestrian traffic. We were encountered by many lawyers and judges departing from the Supreme Court. Two armed police officers passing gave us a cursory glance and passed by comfortable with our presence.
This scene went swimmingly for about 90 mins, when suddenly a young Supreme Court security guard came screaming around the corner of the building towards Themis yelling,
SECURITY GUARD: “Take it down in 5 seconds or I’ll seize it!”
I quickly moved between the security guard and the shrine.
ME: “No we won’t, no you won’t!”
(The dude was half my age, where’s da respect?)
“Who are you? I want see some I.D.?”
Security Guard points to his very unconvincing badge.
ME: “I want to see some real I.D. Where did you get that badge? Out of a corn flakes packet?”
SECURITY GUARD: “Take it down. You are denigrating the statue.”
ME: “Bullshit! We are enhancing the statue!
We like Themis. She’s Greek, we’re from West End for Christ’s sake!”
…..Look mate, I’m just off the plane from London. This is how they do it over there: Establish your authority with convincing proof, inform me of the law and give me a lawful direction. Otherwise it just sounds like a whim and that you support the war, the killing of children in Afghanistan etc. etc.”
SECURITY GUARD: “I’m going to get help!”
ME: “You need it. You better!”
After an interlude, a senior Supreme Court security guard appeared. He didn’t seem to know the law either or explain how we were possibly infringing it. He was calm, reasonable and respectful.
He said he didn’t even like the statue. We talk about the bad old Bjelke Petersen daze of the ’70’s. He asks me to do him a favour and move the shrine to avoid hassles from his superiors. We agree and move the shrine away from the statue to the steps of the Supreme Court, closer to the street and pedestrians.
Nine folks are sending in solidarity texts to the vigil from around Australia and London. Solidarity texting to a vigil is a great idea. Just because you can’t make a vigil, court case or whatever, doesn’t mean you can’t participate. It raises the morale of those on the street for Bradley and against the war surrounded by mass apathy and disengagement.
The young and old security guards really reminded me of the opening scene of that L.A. gang picture “Colours” Where the old cop (Robert Duvall) is telling a story to the young cop (Sean Penn) to restrain him from rushing in immediately to bust one small Bloods gang.
OLD COP…: “There are 2 bulls on a hill. A young bull and an old bull.
The young bull says to the old bull,
“Let’s run down the hill and screw us a cow!”
The old bull responds,
“No, let’s walk down the hill and screw them all!”
Our movement is full of the urgency of youth and the hard earned experience that has not ceded to cynicism and exhaustion. As they say in Maryland, “That’s a beautiful thang!”
MORE photos here. Thanks to Damian Le Goullon for these.
REPORTS from Chester, Exeter and London Solidarity Vigils here.
REPORT from Solidarity Vigil Ft. Meade Maryland USA here.
WISE Up REPORT on main issues from the pre-trial motions hearing at Ft. Meade here.
Report from WikiLeaks Central here.
URGENT BREAKING UPDATE
Themis gets rendered days after coming out in support of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, and denouncing Obama as a torturer.