Bradley Manning has been held awaiting trial for over three years. During the first 9 months of detention he was tortured in Kuwait and the USMC prison at Quantico. On Monday (3rd June 2013) his show trial begins. It is possible that Bradley Manning will be found guilty of aiding the enemy and sentenced to life in prison.
We know from chat logs and his statement that Bradley Manning acted on his conscience. In the statement read out during a pre-motion hearing, Bradley Manning admitted that he had leaked a huge amount of information to Wikileaks. This information came to be known as The Afghan War Diaries, The Iraq War Logs, Cablegate and the Collateral Murder Video.
The Collateral Murder Video encapsulates the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The blood lust of the helicopter crew. The casual approach to killing. The blaming of the victims. The disproportionate use of force. The wounding of children. The Racism. All of these things are shown during the video but they are not confined to the video. These attitudes and actions have been commonplace throughout the so called War on Terror. The Afghan War Diaries and Iraq War logs prove that this deadly attack is one of thousands.
Bradley Manning is more that the guy who leaked secret information to Wikileaks. He is a Military Resister. When our young people join the military and are sent to war some of them realise that what they are doing is irrational, immoral or illegal. Some of those soldiers will then resist what is going on.
There is a long tradition of this resistance. It can take many forms from Refusing to carry out patrols to Refusing to deploy.The Bradley Manning leaks form the most significant act of resistance to the War on Terror. Thousands of people within the US Military had access to these files. They saw them and did nothing. Manning took action.
Today (1st June 2013) well over two hundred people gathered at the US Embassy in London in solidarity with Bradley Manning.
First to speak was former Navy Medic Michael Lyons of Veterans for Peace. Mike explained how after receiving orders to deploy to Afghanistan he decided to educate himself about the war. He read through the Afghan War Diaries, Iraq War Logs and watched the Collateral Murder Video. He came to the conclusion that as a matter of conscience he could not take part in the war no matter how benign his own role might be. As a result of Mike’s resistance he was sentenced to seven months in prison. He finished by thanking Bradley Manning for the information he leaked.
Bradley Manning was born in the USA but has a Welsh mother and spent some of his childhood in Haverford West. Today we were joined by young people from West Wales who spoke passionately in support of Bradley Manning.
What was great to see was the wide range of people present and also the variety of different groups represented. Vivienne Westwood spoke in support of Julian Assange, Wikileaks Editor and the subject of a Grand Jury investigation. She pointed out that if Bradley Manning is convicted of aiding the enemy then it will further damage the freedom of the press as they could be charged with aiding the enemy too
Peter Tachell, Didi Rossi of Queer Strike, Giorgio Riva of Payday, Ben Griffin of VFP, Ciaron O’Reilly of London Catholic Worker, Lindi Carter of Wise Up, Val Brown of London Guantanamo Campaign, Gwyn Gwyntopher of At Ease, Photo Journalist Guy Smallman, Naomi Colvin of UK Friends of Bradley Manning and Craig Murray all spoke not only in support of Bradley Manning but also about how the information leaked has changed the world.
Dave Rovics, John McClean and Roland Gianstefani provided some great songs.
Also in attendance was Tim Price author of The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning which will show at Edinburgh this year. I saw the play at Bradley’s former school in Haverford West last year, its excellent.