International Victory Day!
17 May 2017
DEFEND ALL WHISTLEBLOWERS
Chelsea Manning is going to be free! Celebrate with us!
On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Chelsea will finally come out of prison after seven years! Her initial 35-year sentence for disclosing classified information on war crimes and corruption was commuted by former President Obama (who’d prejudiced the original case in 2011, declaring her guilty before the trial started).
It’s a fantastic victory for Chelsea and for all of us in many countries who have supported her and benefited from her courageous whistleblowing: the international women and lgbtq+ movements, the anti-war and anti-racist movements, the movements of whistleblowers, war veterans, refuseniks and everyone who stands for justice.
These are just some of the events and actions that we know of happening today – many thousands of people will celebrate her release all round the world.
On 17 May, we celebrate Chelsea’s freedom in at least 22 towns and cities in nine countries:
· WE INVITE YOU TO ORGANISE AN EVENT, no matter how small: a protest, a vigil, a party. Please send us news of your event and we’ll help publicise it.
In February, Chelsea wrote an extraordinary article thanking her mates in prison (below).
· So tweet her (@xychelsea), send her a card or a photo to give her strength in these last days of her imprisonment. We must remain vigilant against any further persecution.
· Send money to the Go home fund to help Chelsea reconstruct her life when she goes home.
Defend all whistleblowers
This is also an occasion to defend the thousands of whistleblowers who are persecuted for disclosing abuse and corruption in every institution. Wikileaks, who made public Chelsea’s disclosures, is now in greater danger after the US attorney general just declared the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was a “priority”, at a time when Trump has made torture “legal*.
*According to Jean Ziegler from the Consultative Committee of the UN Human Rights Council, ‘Trump has ratified the 2002 Bush’s executive order legalising torture’ against ‘terror suspects’. See video (at 1h 5m).
Letter from Chelsea - 13 February 2017
To those who have kept me alive for the past six years: minutes after President Obama announced the commutation of my sentence, the prison quickly moved me out of general population and into the restrictive housing unit where I am now held. I know that we are now physically separated, but we will never be apart and we are not alone. Recently, one of you asked me “Will you remember me?” I will remember you. How could I possibly forget? You taught me lessons I would have never learned otherwise.
When I was afraid, you taught me how to keep going. When I was lost, you showed me the way. When I was numb, you taught me how to feel. When I was angry, you taught me how to chill out. When I was hateful, you taught me how to be compassionate. When I was distant, you taught me how to be close. When I was selfish, you taught me how to share.
Sometimes, it took me a while to learn many things. Other times, I would forget, and you would remind me.
We were friends in a way few will ever understand. There was no room to be superficial. Instead, we bared it all. We could hide from our families and from the world outside, but we could never hide from each other.
We argued, we bickered and we fought with each other. Sometimes, over absolutely nothing. But, we were always a family. We were always united.
When the prison tried to break one of us, we all stood up. We looked out for each other. When they tried to divide us, and systematically discriminated against us, we embraced our diversity and pushed back. But, I also learned from all of you when to pick my battles. I grew up and grew connected because of the community you provided
Those outside of prison may not believe that we act like human beings under these conditions. But of course we do. And we build our own networks of survival.
I never would have made it without you. Not only did you teach me these important lessons, but you made sure I felt cared for. You were the people who helped me to deal with the trauma of my regular haircuts. You were the people who checked on me after I tried to end my life. You were the people that played fun games with me. Who wished me a Happy Birthday. We shared the holidays together. You were and will always be family.
For many of you, you are already free and living outside of the prison walls. Many of you will come home soon. Some of you still have many years to go.
The most important thing that you taught me was how to write and how to speak in my own voice. I used to only know how to write memos. Now, I write like a human being, with dreams, desires and connections. I could not have done it without you.
From where I am now, I still think of all of you. When I leave this place in May, I will still think of all of you. And to anyone who finds themselves feeling alone behind bars, know that there is a network of us who are thinking of you. You will never be forgotten.
SOURCE The Guardian
For Immediate Release: May 9, 2017
Chelsea Manning’s Legal Team on
Manning’s Upcoming Release from Military Prison
Next week, Chelsea Manning will be released from U.S. military prison after serving a seven-year sentence for disclosing classified information that raised public awareness regarding the impact of war on innocent civilians.
Manning, a transgender woman, was serving an unprecedented 35-year sentence for whistleblowing and was forced to serve her sentence in an all-male prison. She received a commutation from President Obama in one of his final acts in office in January after an outpouring of support for Manning from the public over her mistreatment in prison.
The commutation followed a from
Chelsea Manning’s appellate legal team, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward of
Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward, PA, to the U.S. Army, the
Office of the Pardon Attorney, and the President’s Counsel, requesting the
commutation of Ms. Manning’s 35 year court-martial sentence to time served
and “a first chance to live a real, meaningful life.”
The ACLU filed in support of the appeal of Manning’s conviction and represents Manning in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense that was first filed in 2014 over the department’s refusal to treat Manning’s well-documented gender dysphoria.
In December of 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union and over a dozen
LGBT groups sent a to
President Barack Obama urging the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. people
signed a petition on the White House’s “We the People” platform, asking
President Obama to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence to time served.
Chelsea Manning released the following statement:
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea. I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine. Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts. I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters.
“I watched the world change from inside prison walls and through the letters that I have received from veterans, trans young people, parents, politicians and artists. My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own. I hope to take the lessons that I have learned, the love that I have been given, and the hope that I have to work toward making life better for others.”
Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, Manning’s clemency and appellate lawyers, said in a joint statement:
“Chelsea has already served the longest sentence of any whistleblower in the history of this country. It has been far too long, too severe, too draconian. President Obama’s act of commutation was the first time the military took care of this soldier who risked so much to disclose information that served the public interest. We are delighted that Chelsea can finally begin to enjoy the freedom she deserves. And we thank the many, many people and organizations who have supported her and continue to support her as we fight in her appeal to clear her name.”
Said Chase Strangio, the American Civil Liberties Union:
“Like far too many people in prison, particularly transgender women, Chelsea Manning has had to survive unthinkable violence throughout the seven years of her incarceration. Finally, she will be leaving prison and building a life beyond the physical walls of the many sites of her detention. It is a remarkable gift to the world that Chelsea will be able to grow and fight alongside us for justice.
“The transition out of these horrific institutions will not be easy, and part of what we hope is that Chelsea will find the space, love, and support to heal and build a life of her choosing. Her fight to be herself, to access the medical care that she needed, and to gain her freedom have transformed law and society for the better. The urgency of those fights for so many in our communities will continue, and Chelsea’s past and future work will no doubt be a critical force in moving towards a more just society for everyone.”
Chelsea Manning will not be taking interviews at this time. Members of Chelsea Manning’s legal team will be available for interviews between May 9 and May 15. The legal team will provide updates following her release, but will not be responding to inquiries directly during the week of the 15th. Follow , and for updates
To contact Chelsea: Tweet @xychelsea By post: details here.
CELEBRATING HER AND OUR VICTORY
By Hanna Demel, Queer Strike and Benoit Martin, Payday men’s network
Once again, Queer Strike and Payday are inviting the public to take action for transgender woman whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
This time, however, it’s to celebrate her release from prison on Wednesday 17 May. Her initial 35-year sentence for disclosing classified information on war crimes and corruption was commuted by former President Obama (who had prejudiced the original case in 2011) after she had already served seven years.
On International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we will gather at 5.30pm at St.Martin-in-the-Fields in London (next to Trafalgar Square) to mark this ultimate victory of a seven-year campaign. At 7pm, Peace News will have a party at Housmans Bookshop.
Other actions will take place in at least 20 town and cities – from Auckland, New Zealand to Berlin, Dublin and San Francisco.
Some commentators have said the commutation was a “gift” from President Obama. It was not.
It was the culmination of relentless campaigns by Chelsea, her legal team and an international network of supporters.
International campaigns got Chelsea out of Quantico, where she was detained in 2010 under torturous conditions, including humiliating daily strip search.
Similar campaigns forced the military to drop the charge of “aiding the enemy” with its potential capital punishment and later won her rights as a transgender woman in jail, including hormone therapy.
For seven years, there were petitions, meetings and protests by multiple groups and individuals. People packed the courts, while others demonstrated in front of US embassies. International days of action brought together hundreds in tens of countries and thousands in the US.
The Chelsea Manning Support Network collected $1.5 million from 25,000 individuals in the years leading up to and during Chelsea’s trial in 2013.
Why was the support for Chelsea so vital that it became unshakeable?
Firstly, the information Chelsea made available was invaluable. The gratuitous murders and rapes of civilians by the US military and allies in Iraq and Afghanistan were laid bare – some soldiers became refuseniks as a result. Tunisians learned about dictator Ben Ali’s corruption sparking the Arab Spring. The people of Haiti got proof of US government’s interference against increasing the obscenely low minimum wage in their country. Palestinians learned that Israel consulted with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority before the 2008 devastation of Gaza. And so on.
Secondly, Chelsea’s determination was an encouragement for many, in particular the lgbtq+ and whistleblower movements. As a high profile transgender woman, her going on hunger strike and surviving solitary punishment, has strengthened the visibility and power of transgender communities. And she really put the movement of whistleblowers on the map. Edward Snowden has acknowledged she encouraged him to do what he did.
Through campaigning for Chelsea, we met Eileen Chubb, founder of Compassion in Care and a care home whistleblower. She has supported several thousands of whistleblowers in the UK. These have disclosed abuse and corruption in hospitals, detention centres, social services, care homes, banks, etc. and have been persecuted for their courageous action, losing jobs, income, relationships.
In supporting Compassion in Care’s demand for “Edna’s Law”, legislation that would protect whistleblowers and make it a criminal offence not to investigate their genuine concerns, we are continuing the work Chelsea started seven years ago and whistleblowers before her.
It is also urgent to defend Wikileaks who made public Chelsea’s disclosures. The US attorney general has declared the arrest of its founder Julian Assange is now a “priority”, at a time when Trump is making torture “legal”.So there is much still to do. But let us meanwhile celebrate the sweet victory of Chelsea’s freedom.