Amnesty renews call on US govt to free Manning
Join us in urging President Obama to Pardon Chelsea Manning!
July 30, 2014 by the Chelsea Manning Support Network
One year after Chelsea Manning’s conviction, Amnesty International is still calling on the US government to grant her clemency. Amnesty demands that Chelsea be freed immediately, and for the US government to, “implement a thorough and impartial investigation into the crimes she uncovered.” Read the full statement from Amnesty International below or click here to view it on amnesty.org:
Chelsea Manning has spent the last year as a convicted criminal after exposing information which included evidence of potential human rights violations and breaches of international law. By disseminating classified information via Wikileaks she revealed to the world abuses perpetrated by the US army, military contractors and Iraqi and Afghan troops operating alongside US forces.
“It is an absolute outrage that Chelsea Manning is currently languishing behind bars whilst those she helped to expose, who are potentially guilty of human rights violations, enjoy impunity,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director Amnesty International.
“The US government must grant Chelsea Manning clemency, order her immediate release, and implement a thorough and impartial investigation into the crimes she uncovered.”
Before her conviction, Chelsea Manning had already been held for three years in pre-trial detention, including 11 months in conditions which the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture described as cruel and inhumane.
Amnesty International has previously expressed concern that a sentence of 35 years in jail was excessive and should have been commuted to time served. The organization believes that Chelsea Manning was overcharged using antiquated legislation aimed at dealing with treason, and denied the opportunity to use a public interest defense at her trial.
There is no question now that Chelsea Manning’s trial, if one can called what took place down in Fort Meade a trial in the summer of 2013 rather than a travesty, a year after her conviction on twenty plus counts and having received an outrageous thirty-five year sentence essentially for telling us the truth about American atrocities and nefarious actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever else the American government can stick its nose that her case has dropped from view. Although she occasionally gets an Op/Ed opportunity, including in the New York Times, a newspaper which while recoiling at the severity of the sentence in the immediate reaction did not question the justice of the conviction, and has several legal moves going from action to get the necessary hormonal treatments reflecting her real sexual identity (which the Army has stonewalled on and which even the New York Times has called for implementing) to now preparing the first appeal of her conviction to another military tribunal the popular uproar against her imprisonment has become a hush. While the appeals process may produce some results, perhaps a reduction in sentence, the short way home for her is a presidential pardon right now. I urge everybody to Google Amnesty International and sign on to the online petition to put the pressure on President Barack Obama for clemency.
I attended some of the sessions of Chelsea Manning’s court-martial in the summer of 2013 and am often asked these days in speaking for her release about what she could expect from the various procedures going forward to try to “spring” her from the clutches of the American government, or as I say whenever I get the chance to “not leave our buddy behind” in the time-honored military parlance. I have usually answered depending on what stage her post-conviction case is in that her sentence was draconian by all standards for someone who did not, although they tried to pin this on her, “aid the enemy.” Certainly Judge Lind though she was being lenient with thirty-five years when the government wanted sixty (and originally much more before some of the counts were consolidated). The next step was to appeal, really now that I think about it, a pro forma appeal to the commanding general of the Washington, D.C. military district where the trial was held. There were plenty of grounds to reduce the sentence but General Buchanan backed up his trial judge in the winter of 2014. Leaving Chelsea supporters right now with only the prospect of a presidential pardon to fight for as the court appeals are put together which will take some time. This is how I put the matter at one meeting:
“No question since her trial, conviction, and draconian sentence of thirty-five years imposed by a vindictive American government heroic Wiki-leaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning’s has fallen off the radar. The incessant news cycle which has a short life cycle covered her case sporadically, covered the verdict, covered the sentencing and with some snickers cover her announcement directly after the sentencing that she wanted to live as her true self, a woman. (A fact that her supporters were aware of prior to the announcement but agreed that the issue of her sexual identity should not get mixed up with her heroic actions during the pre-trial and trial periods.) Since then despite occasional public rallies and actions her case had tended, as most political prisoner cases do, to get caught up in the appeals process and that keeps it out of the limelight.”
Over the past year or so Chelsea Manning has been honored and remembered by the Veterans For Peace, Smedley Butler Brigade in Boston in such events as the VFP-led Saint Patrick’s Day Peace Parade, the Memorial Day anti-war observance, the yearly Gay Pride Parade, the Rockport July 4th parade, the VFP-led Veterans Day Peace Parade, and on December 17th her birthday. We have marched with a banner calling for her freedom, distribute literature about her case and call on one and all to sign the pardon petitions. The banner has drawn applause and return shouts of “Free Chelsea.” The Smedley Butler Brigade continues to stand behind our sister. We will not leave her behind. We also urge everybody to sign the Amnesty International on-line petition calling on President Obama to use his constitutional authority to pardon Chelsea Manning