25 April 25
and today I heard that the Churches in Wales international forum, which includes all the main denominations in Wales has sent a letter through its chairman to the U.S. embassador
Tonight the UN raporteur on torture condemned U.S. for not allowing him an official visit, he has been trying since December and as I write signatures are pouring in to the Avaaz petition from around the world. It is sobering to see. The petition started on 8th with an ambition of 250,000 signatures but 3 days later, today the 11th there are over 400,000. Have a look and sign.
VISITORS DENIED, RULES BROKEN BY PRISON
report from http://www.armycourtmartialdefense.info/
Official visitors denied are Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Mr. Juan Mendez (the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture), and a representative from Amnesty International. Despite multiple inquires from the defense and the interested parties, the Quantico Brig and the Government have denied the requests for an “official visit.”
Comment by Daniel Elsberg (end of speech:
Just to clarify his opinion, Ellsberg said, “It may seem like I’m critical of Obama here, and God knows I am, but I voted for him. If he needed my vote in 2012, he would have it again in a minute based on the candidates on the other side.” He then described his views on the other potential candidates. “Mike Huckabee wants to execute Bradley Manning,” he said, “and Sarah Palin advocates for hunting down Assange like Obama Bin Laden, to which Assange says, ‘Good, that’ll give me ten more years.'” Rather than following Palin’s advice, Ellsberg concluded his talk by advising the audience to hunt the truth instead.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/kalw/detail?entry_id=86542#ixzz1IsXrtHpi
Two meetings happened monday 4 April, one in Pembrokeshire, one in Parliament. In Pembrokeshire Bradley supporters met with his aunty, uncle and mother and heard how they had been ‘left in the dark’ about him, how a meeting was arranged where Bradley’s mother could touch him but when she arrived after thousands of miles travel she was turned away. When she finally got to meet him last month through glass, she just wanted to hug him and touch him and saw how he was affected by his imprisonment by his constant nervous twisting and turning. ‘He was like a different person.’ Her sister and brother in law who were told they could visit him before they left Wales, were refused at the door. The group heard other troubling news.
At the same time an adjournement debate took place in parliament, let by Welsh MP Ann Clwyd. She said:
Leading a short debate on 4 April 2011, Ms Clwyd, a former special envoy on human rights to Iraq, told MPs that Private Manning was being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia.
He had complained of being stripped at night, with guards asking him whether he is “okay” every five minutes, she told MPs.
She read from a statement issued through his lawyer: “‘At night, if the guards cannot see me clearly, because I have a blanket over my head or I am curled up towards the wall, they will wake me in order to ensure that I am okay.'”
These conditions served “no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade Bradley Manning”, Ms Clwyd concluded.
She warned that the soldier’s treatment – and the UK’s response to it – could undermine the “moral authority” needed to influence “countries where human rights are not so well observed”.
Responding to the debate, Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham said British diplomats will express MPs’ concerns with officials in Washington.
Mr Bellingham said that staff at the British embassy in Washington had already discussed Bradley Manning’s detention with the US State Department once.
But he emphasised that President Barack Obama had “sought and received assurances from the Department of Defence that Private Manning’s treatment is ‘appropriate’ and meets US ‘basic standards’.”
(Bradley) has now been charged with aiding the enemy, a crime which can bring the death penalty or life imprisonment.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and many other human rights organizations have denounced the conditions in which Manning is being held as tantamount to torture. Amnesty International and other groups have implored the British government to intervene in the case.
A few voices from within the political establishment have expressed concern over the potential for popular backlash against the torture of Bradley Manning. Expressing this concern, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley last month characterized the government’s treatment of the soldier as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” He was forced to resign almost immediately after the remark, made during a question-and-answer session to an audience of 20 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
During her statement Monday night, MP Clwyd said “It is my view that some of the greatest damage was caused to British and American efforts in Iraq when the stories of prisoner abuse emerged,” she said. “It undermined our moral authority when we needed to explain that we were fighting for a better future for Iraq. The United States—and the UK, in the way we respond to actions of the US—needs to preserve that moral authority if we are to have a positive impact on the world and lead by example.”
“That matters in places where human rights are not nearly so well observed,” Clwyd commented. “People will pay attention in China and in Russia—and in Libya, where we want to be on the side of those fighting for freedom from state repression. And most of all in Afghanistan: it matters to those UK and US service personnel fighting in Afghanistan what kind of image Britain and the US have in the world.”
Foreign Office Minister Bellingham stated that the British embassy in Washington, D.C., had discussed Manning’s treatment with US officials on March 29, but that he would “instruct our officials at our embassy in Washington again to report our concerns to officials in the State Department.” “All people who are detained in custody deserve to be treated in detention according to the highest international standards, and we certainly expect nothing else, nothing less, from the United States,”
LONDON DEMO MARCH 20
“We the young people of Pembrokeshire have always been encouraged to tell the truth and fight for what we believe in.
I find it deeply disturbing to believe that Bradley Manning is being held in prison on suspicion of telling the truth. It is unfair that he is being punished for enlightening the public about the inhumane murder disguised as war that is going on in the public’s name.” Tilly, 18
“Bradley has been incredibly brave… he is an inspiration to all of us…This man who stood up, spoke up for what is right is being force fed anti-depressants which is slowly killing that voice that has inspired me and many others. We are now taking a stand and speaking on behalf of Bradley: Why are you doing this, why is he being tortured, when there is no evidence that he has done anything wrong.” Tessa, 19
“Bradley may or may not have committed a crime under his legal contract however it is wrong to keep him in these appalling conditions without a fair trial… If it is illegal to stop the slaughter of innocent people then maybe we ought to question the laws we live under.” Rosey, 20