Bradley Manning is the 24 year old US soldier accused of leaking over 260,000 classified United States diplomatic cables as well as videos and documents which have become known as the Afghan War Diary and the Iraq War Logs. Published on the whistleblower site Wikileaks, they further exposed US war crimes around the world, including mass killings, torture, corruption and the government’s web of lies and attempted cover-ups of United States atrocities.
For telling the truth and acting upon his conscience, Bradley faces 22 charges, including “aiding the enemy by indirect means”, which could result in the death penalty or life in prison. He was also held in solitary confinement for the first 10 months of his incarceration. During this time he was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction, sunlight, and has occasionally been kept completely naked. These conditions were unique to Bradley and are illegal even under US military law as they amount to extreme pre-trial punishment.
Public outcry for this “soldier of humanity” has been widespread all around the world. In one week in April 2011, over half a million people signed a petition calling on President Obama to end the isolation and torture of Bradley Manning, as those conditions serve as “a chilling deterrent to other potential whistleblowers committed to public integrity”.
Bradley’s treatment has also sparked a probe by the United Nations chief torture investigator Juan Mendez, who says he has been “frustrated by the prevarication of the US government with regard to my attempts to visit Mr. Manning”. Protests continue across the world and Bradley has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In Canada antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation – MAWO, has taken up the campaign to Free Bradley Manning. The Vancouver campaign launched with a public forum titled, “Bradley Manning, Soldier of Humanity”, which brought together over 60 participants as well as visiting US Veterans for Peace member and organizer Cliff Wells. The forum was also joined by Jeff Paterson, who spoke via video conference from Oakland, California. Jeff is the project director of Courage to Resist, an organization which provides for war resisters and whistleblowers. Jeff is also on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network. Janine Solanki, co-chair of Mobilization Against War and Occupation was the MC for the event. The forum included inspired discussion and featured the launch of a petition campaign as well as informational booklets and buttons for mass distribution.
Only four days after the launch of the campaign and the successful public forum, MAWO organizers and supporters took to the streets of Downtown Vancouver for their monthly antiwar demonstration with a special focus on the case of Bradley Manning and getting signatures for the petition campaign. By the end of the rally the number of petition signatures collected was already close to 200.
Five days later, the campaign was once again on the streets of downtown Vancouver, this time in front of the US Embassy, where over two dozens of organizers and supporters picketed, gathered petition signatures and demanded freedom for Bradley Manning.
The case of Bradley Manning was also brought to this year's Vancouver May Day Rally with the unfurling of a new banner and continued distribution of informational materials.
In less than two weeks, the launching of the Vancouver Campaign to Free Bradley Manning saw three successful public events organized, hundreds of signatures collected, thousands of leaflets and informational brochures on the case of Bradley Manning distributed, and the establishment of a large web presence through social media. The next event is a public forum on May 15th and the campaign continues to gain momentum!
To join the campaign and to sign a petition demanding Bradley Manning’s freedom, visit: mawovancouver.org and www.bradleymanning.org for more information on getting involved!
Text modified from Bradley Manning Support Network Website:
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