Tuesday, 2 August 2016

End the punitive punishment of whistleblower Chelsea Manning

After years of inhumane treatment, and years of abuse having been held in conditions that the UN considers to be torture, Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, the Guardian columnist and whistleblower who is currently in prison serving a 35-year sentence ( narrowly escaping the death penalty)  for exposing some of the U.S. government's worst abuses, attempted to take her own life on July 5th, 2016 in her cell at Fort Leavenworth military prison.
The fact that she is not scheduled for release until 2045 isn’t enough of a punishment, the ACLU announced last week that Chelsea  had been charged with a series of bizarre sounding petty and bizarre charges to threaten her with indefinite solitary confinement while possibly denying her any chance of receiving parole that could make the terms of her imprisonment even more punitive..

These new charges include:-

1) Resisting a group of prison guards called "the force cell move team" (Chelsea was unconscious when this team arrived, which makes this charge particularly absurd.)
2) Prohibited property (for the items she used to attempt to take her own life.)
3) Conduct which threatens (for somehow putting the prison at risk while attempting to take her own life, quietly, in her own cell.)

These latest examples of abuse and neglect are quite frankly obscene,but just what Chelsea has come to expect, as she has been systematically mistreated by the U.S. government ever since she was first taken into custody in 2010 which have repeatedly generated outrage among human rights advocates across the globe.Following a 14-month investigation into Manning’s treatment by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, the U.N. accused the U.S. government of holding Manning in conditions that constituted “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment,” particularly with regard to the extended use of pretrial solitary confinement considers to be  and which the UN considers to be a form of torture.
The harsh measures the military has employed during Manning’s detention have led to suspicions that the government is attempting to make an example of her over her whistleblowing activities for her role in releasing to Wikileaks key State Department Cables about the Afghanistan and Iraq war and the Collateral Murder video exposing U.S. war crimes, killing of civilians and lies to the public.It included images and transcripts that appeared to reveal human rights abuses being committed by US forces and their allies in the Iraq war – information she felt was in the public interest. Without her, the information would never have come to light .Unlike countless others who saw similar evidence but looked the other way, Manning took action with much bravery but Chelsea wasn’t hailed as a hero – instead, this whistleblowing cost her dearly and those atop the U.S. military machinery still find her actions unforgivable.Washington and the powers that be are determined to make an example of her, to warn and intimidate other would-be whistleblowers. From the president on down, the chain of command is functioning to wreck the life of Chelsea Manning. We should not let that happen.
Fight for the Future, a non-profit that advocates for civil liberties and free speech, has created a petition at FreeChelsea.com to pressure the Secretary of the Army to dismiss these absurd charges, the Army should be told that there is no excuse to further punish Chelsea or to prevent her from excercising her right to free speech.
If convicted of these bizarre "administrative offenses," that are effectively charging her for attempting to end her life, she is facing indefinite solitary confinement for the rest of her prison term (another 30 years), "maximum security" classification (in the same facility), and nearly a decade before she can ever be classified as a "minimum security" prisoner.
It is unnecessarily cruel to threaten Chelsea with additional punishment while in this very vulnerable state. They are trying to silence her important voice for good. In a statement released by Manning after her 2013 guilty plea on espionage charges, she asked for a pardon and said that she had been motivated by moral outrage over details of U.S. military killings and torture of civilians in Iraq. “In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture,” she said. “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”
It should be noted that Chelsea is a transgender woman being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, which is in itself dehumanizing and exhausting emotionally. She is currently being denied medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, which experts have stated is the only course of treatment through which she would no longer be suicidal and Manning has faced a constant battle to receive the most basic gender-affirming care in the face of repeated denials from the military.
This is not the first time the government has harassed Chelsea with outrageous charges while in prison. Last year, they threatened her with solitary confinement for minor "infractions" including possession of LGBTQ reading materials and an expired tube of toothpaste.The punitive tactics that have been employed against her include stripping her naked in her cell on a nightly basis, extended solitary confinement, and denial of medical necessities like eyeglasses.
RootsAction and Fight for the Future and other groups gathered more than 100,000 petition signatures in response, and the outcry generated managed to keep her out of solitary confinement. Now we need to do it again. Please, sign the following petition and spread the word to stop this inhumane, outrageous act of punishment. Chelsea is depending on us. We can’t let the US government get away with this shameful abuse of power.

  Please sign the Petition to the Secretary Army to drop these charges against Chelsea: FreeChelsea.com

The following is a link to the Chelsea Manning Support Network, where you can find more details about her case:-


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