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This Saturday, February 23rd, will mark the 1,000th day in prison without trial for PFC Bradley Manning, accused of releasing classified military documents to Wikileaks. Among the documents was the Collateral Murder video, which shows the 2007 murder of over a dozen people in Baghdad by a U.S. Apache helicopter. The murdered included civilians and two Reuter’s employees, photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver Saeed Chmagh.
Manning was also alleged to have released the Iraq War Logs, comprised of nearly 400,000 military logs recorded from 2004 to 2009. The files revealed thousands of reports of prisoner torture and abuse filed against coalition forces in Iraq, including reports of people being hung from the ceiling on hooks, whipped with cables, sexually assaulted, urinated on, and having holes bored into their legs with electric drills. The logs also added an additional 15,000 civilian deaths to the known body count, totalling over 150,000 deaths, of which roughly 80% were civilian.
Furthermore, the leaks detailed allegations of child abuse and child trafficking by the U.S. defense contracting company in Afghanistan, DynCorp, a company which is estimated to make about $2 billion per year in revenue from the U.S.
For shedding light on these atrocities carried out in the name of the United States of America, Bradley Manning has been rewarded by spending three birthdays in prison without trial. Since May 29, 2010, Manning has been held in pretrial detention, the first ten months of which he was kept locked in solitary confinement, denied exercise, sunlight, social interaction, and a number of times was forced to stay completely naked, all in violation of U.S. military law.
So today, while the murderers and criminals that Manning’s alleged leaks have exposed go free, Manning’s imprisonment continues. The issue is not just that his right to a speedy trial has been violated—although that is no small infringement—but the very fact that a man who stood up to power, who did not balk in the face of danger, who saw something that was unquestionably immoral and decided to expose it, who made the choice to stand on the right side of justice and morality, is imprisoned at all. THAT is the true issue. Bradley Manning stood on the right side of morality, and for his good deeds, the U.S. Government has repaid him with the systematic stripping of his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, and his right to a fair and speedy trial. They have met him with abuse instead of laudation. They have repaid his heroism not with the praise and commendations he deserves, but with the desecration of his name and a miscarriage of justice.
Blowing the whistle is not a crime. Exposing criminals is not crime. Truth-telling is not a crime. They have tried to silence Bradley Manning’s voice by hiding him away in a cell and hoping that we will forget. On Saturday, February 23rd, we need to make it very clear to those in power that would have us stay silent that we do not forget and we will not be silent. Those in power think that if they hide Manning from view we will dutifully hang our heads and not dissent. Join protestors around the country and around the world to let the government know that we support Bradley Manning and that his detention is immoral and illegal! From Cambridge, MA to Montrose, CA to Philadelphia, PA; from Berlin to London to Sydney – find an event near you and make your voice heard in support of this international hero. And, if you haven’t already, please sign Daniel Ellsberg’s petition to free Bradley Manning.
Alyssa Rohricht maintains Crash Culture and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.