Whistleblower Chelsea Manning, currently serving a 35-year prison term for passing classified files to WikiLeaks, said on Friday that she would refuse to eat until given help for her gender dysphoria and "treated with dignity, respect and humanity" by the government.
The 28-year-old Army private, who was born male but revealed after being convicted of espionage that she identifies as a woman, tried to commit suicide in July over what her representatives said was the government's denial of appropriate treatment for those gender issues.
The Army announced later that month that it would investigate Manning for misconduct in connection with the attempt to take her own life, a probe that could lead to indefinite solitary confinement, reclassification into maximum security or additional prison time.
Some prison experts believe that Manning's recent suicide attempt could result in a long stretch in solitary confinement, a punishment viewed as torture in international human rights conventions. Manning has already spent nine months in solitary as a form of dishonorable, illegal, shameful retaliation by the US military. She spent two months in a cage in a tent in Kuwait, and seven months at Quantico, where she was forced to sit still, on her bed, staring directly ahead of her, for hours on end .She is currently serving a grossly unfair 35 year prison sentence for simply exposing lies and injustices,a brave courageous individual who now needs our support more than ever.In January 2010, Manning sent hundreds of thousands of documents to Wikileaks about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, revealing a dramatically higher number of civilian casualties than the Pentagon publicly acknowledged. The documents also included a video of an Apache helicopter attack that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.
After years of requesting the care she needs Chelsea has released a statement about the start of her hunger strike,saying she would not willingly consume any food or drink, except water and prescribed medications.Manning also refused to “voluntarily cut or shorten her hair in any way.” Army officials repeatedly force Manning to cut her hair to “military standards” – an appearance that she says does not reflect her gender identity.
Human rights advocates have repeatedly raised concerns about Manning’s treatment in prison. After her arrest in 2010, she was subjected to solitary confinement for extended periods and repeatedly stripped naked in her cell. Her treatment was so bad that a State Department spokesperson spoke out against the Pentagon and described it as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”Since her conviction, Manning has been repeatedly threatened with indefinite solitary confinement, for charges as frivolous as keeping an expired tube of toothpaste in her cell.
She is demanding written assurances from the Army that she will receive all of the medically prescribed recommendations for her gender dysphoria and that the “high tech bullying” will stop. “High tech bullying,” is what Chelsea describes as “the constant, deliberate and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials.”
Manning's condition is dangerous and cruel, and presents a significant suicide risk for Manning.
Here is Chelsea Manning's impassioned statement which she released on Friday :
“I need help. I am not getting any. I have asked for help time and time again for six years and through five separate confinement locations. My request has only been ignored, delayed, mocked, given trinkets and lip service by the prison, the military, and this administration.”
“I need help. I needed help earlier this year. I was driven to suicide by the lack of care for my gender dysphoria that I have been desperate for. I didn’t get any. I still haven’t gotten any.”
“I needed help. Yet, instead I am now being punished for surviving my attempt. When I was a child, my father would beat me repeatedly for simply not being masculine enough. I was told to stop crying—to “suck it up.” But, I couldn’t stop crying. The pain just got worse and worse. Until finally, I just couldn’t take the pain anymore.”
“I needed help, but no one came then. No one is coming now.”
“Today, I have decided that I am no longer going to be bullied by this prison—or by anyone within the U.S. government. I have asked for nothing but the dignity and respect—that I once actually believed would be provided for—afforded to any living human being.”
“I do not believe that this should be dependent on any arbitrary factors—whether you are cisgender or transgender; service member or civilian, citizen or non-citizen. In response to virtually every request, I have been granted limited, if any, dignity and respect—just more pain and anguish.”
“I am no longer asking. Now, I am demanding. As of 12:01 am Central Daylight Time on September 9, 2016, and until I am given minimum standards of dignity, respect, and humanity, I shall—refuse to voluntarily cut or shorten my hair in any way; consume any food or drink voluntarily, except for water and currently prescribed medications; and comply with all rules, regulations, laws, and orders that are not related to the two things I have mentioned.”
“This is a peaceful act. I intend to keep it as peaceful and non-violent, on my end, as possible. Any physical harm that should come to me at the hands of military or civilian staff will be unnecessary and vindictive. I will not physically resist or in any way harm another person. I have also submitted a “do not resuscitate” letter that is effective immediately. This shall include any attempts to forcibly cut or shorten my hair or to forcibly feed me by any medical or pseudo-medical means.”
“Until I am shown dignity and respect as a human again, I shall endure this pain before me. I am prepared for this mentally and emotionally. I expect that this ordeal will last for a long time. Quite possibly until my permanent incapacitation or death. I am ready for this.”
“I need help. Please, give me help.”
Fight for the Future has launched a petition supporting Chelsea in her hunger strike.Which you can sign here, please stand with her :-
An earlier post of mine about Chelsea can be found here:-