Chelsea Manning was never one to take the popular or easy route in life. The decision to release classified information that would rock the world of military secrecy and murder would lead to her vilification and brutalization. But Chelsea did it because she believed in the truth: ‘I want the people to see the truth…because without information you cannot make informed decisions.’
Afri became involved in the ‘Free Chelsea Manning’ campaign when peace activist Ciaron O’Reilly organised for Chelsea’s family, who have strong Irish connections in Kerry and Dublin, to make a visit to Ireland. We organised a programme of events including a public meeting in Trinity College attended by Chelsea’s mother, aunts and uncles and addressed by Chelsea’s aunt Sharon as well as by the former Guildford 4 member, Gerry Conlon.
That was an evening of deep emotion: Gerry Conlon, tragically no longer with us, spoke with his trademark passion, principle and anger at how legal and political systems in Britain had crushed his own life and extinguished the life of his father, Guiseppi Conlon. He praised the courage of Chelsea Manning and lamented the fact that there was no similarly brave whistle-blower in the British system when he and his father and Maguire relations were incarcerated on completely spurious charges.
As a result of that visit to Ireland, Donal O’Kelly was inspired to initiate the Manning Truthfest, consisting of artists, musicians and activists who crossed the Irish sea in the Spring of 2014 and 2015 and again in the Autumn of 2016 to sing songs and play music in solidarity with Chelsea and her Welsh-based family and to protest the inhumanity of the 35 year sentence imposed upon her. Afri was a central part of this extraordinary seaborne solidarity!
During one of those visits, Chelsea’s uncle Kevin, a life-long Manchester United supporter, said it would have been easier had Chelsea chosen any other name than that of a rival football club to mark her female identity! Chelsea never dodged difficult decisions…
The commutation of Chelsea’s sentence is perhaps the best thing that Barack Obama will have done in office. But Chelsea, together with tens of thousands of other US soldiers, should never have been in Iraq, where they have succeeded only in laying waste to the country and its people. And Chelsea should never have been in prison in the first place. (more…)
We are all overjoyed that Chelsea will soon be free.
Chelsea exposed wrongdoing and was punished for being a whistleblower. We regret that it has taken so long for President Obama to commute the sentence and are outraged that Chelsea has been forced to endure such abusive treatment in prison. We agree with the UN Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez that some of this abuse amounted to torture.
We sincerely hope that Chelsea will now be able to get on with the rest of her life and that she finds happiness and fulfilment in whatever she chooses to do. There will always be a welcome for her here in Wales.
As an organisation promoting justice and equality at home and abroad, Afri supports the ‘Home Sweet Home’ group who have taken over the empty Apollo house in central Dublin, in order to provide accommodation for homeless people. This is a sensible, generous and effective response to the homelessness crisis, and it has caught the imagination and garnered the support of tens of thousands of people throughout Ireland.
This action not only provides urgently needed accommodation for homeless people but it also shows up the scandal of policies pursued by successive governments, who have created this crisis by not providing sufficient social housing and by instead pandering to ‘developers’ and big business interests.
It also demonstrates the scandalous behaviour of NAMA, which has intensified the effects of the economic crash by selling properties to vulture funds instead of fulfilling the basic needs of people for housing and shelter.
People have grown weary of the hand-wringing about the issue of homelessness, often by those whose policies brought it about, and are invigorated by the sight of people taking practical action to address the crisis.
Short film of gathering outside Dáil Eireann on Thursday 15th December 2016, calling
for imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning to be pardoned.
Read more here.
With thanks to all those who sent in their photos and messages of solidarity and to RoJ for filming
TDs, Senators and human rights campaigners will gather outside the Dail today at 4pm for a photocall with a birthday cake and candles for imprisoned U.S army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, hosted by Senator David Norris. Manning marks her 29th birthday on Saturday December 17th. It is set to be her 7th birthday and Christmas in prison.
Irish supporters joining global calls for President Obama to pardon Manning include Afri, Amnesty International Ireland, TDs Mick Wallace, Joan Collins, Maureen O’Sullivan, Catherine Murphy, and Clare Daly, Senators David Norris and Alice Mary Higgins, member of the Council of State Ruairi McKiernan, and actor and playwright Donal O’Kelly. (more…)
Anti-War Activism in the Trump Era
Tuesday 15th November, 7.30pm
The Teachers’ Club, Dublin 1
Public Meeting in Solidarity with War Resisters. Now the U.S. has chosen its new Commander-in-Chief…….. we gather to remember its victims and support our resisters!
– Dave Donnellan & Colm Roddy awaiting trial for anti-war resistance at Shannon Airport.
– Harry Browne on “What can we Expect from the New U.S. President?”
– Ciaron O’Reilly on the late Dan Berrigan, imprisoned Chelsea Manning and pursued Julian Assange.
“The Chelsea Manning Support Band” Joe Black, Robbie Synnot & RoJ Whelan
Entry free – donation to cover costs of staging the event.
Afri is delighted that Donal O’Kelly’s radio adaptation of his award-winning show Fionnuala, produced by the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK in Norwegian, made the shortlist of five for the famous Prix Italia in Radio Drama, whittled down from an original 35 productions.
Next week, Fionnuala competes as NRK’s nominated entry in the Radio Fiction category at the Prix Europa in Berlin with results to be announced on Friday 21st October.
On that night, October 21st, the production will be played, with dialogue in English projected on a screen, in Glenamoy Parish Hall, Erris Co. Mayo starting at 8pm sharp, duration one hour. Doors 7.30pm.
Afri is proud to host this event in Glenamoy Hall, where the first reading of Fionnuala took place during the Afri Hedge School in August 2012. News from Berlin will be communicated as it happens and refreshments will be provided.
Donal O’Kelly’s live solo show about the Shell/Statoil gas project in Mayo won a Scotsman Fringe First award in Edinburgh, and has been performed all over Ireland, as well as Edinburgh, Geneva, Oslo and Rapid City, South Dakota.
Film by RoJ
On Monday July 25th Afri and friends gathered in Dublin to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the acquittal of the Pitstop Ploughshares on charges of $US 2.5 million criminal damage of a U.S. Navy War Plane at Shannon Airport en route to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. (more…)
Afri staff, volunteers and supporters donned Panama hats on Bloomsday, June 16th, and picketed 30, Botanic Avenue to highlight the fact, revealed in Panama Papers, that a company at this address facilitates commission payments on behalf of major Italian Arms Company Finmeccanica. See below film about the action.
Film by RoJ
On the 25th May 2016 peace activists and Afri friends, Dave Donnellan and Colm Roddy, entered Shannon airport to inspect illegal U.S. military war planes stationed there. The three security authorities of the Gardaí, Army and airport police all refused to search the planes for weapons in gross dereliction of their duty to protect innocent civilians. Dave and Colm were arrested and charged with criminal damage without lawful excuse. See article about the action here.
Statement from Joe Murray, Coordinator of Afri: “In light of the courageous faith actions of Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan in exposing Shannon’s bloody role in war, Afri calls on the government to end the use of Shannon as a warport. The consequences of the wars facilitated by Shannon are seen in the chaos in the Middle East region and the tsunami of refugees driven from their homes to which, in turn, Europe and Ireland has ruthlessly closed their borders.”
Film about the action by RoJ
On the eve of the Afri Famine Walk, Palestinian poet and activist, Rafeef Ziadah, planted an olive tree and an ash tree, sacred trees of Palestine and Ireland, with Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh in attendance. The olive and the ash, together called the SolidariTree, symbolises the bond of support between the people of Ireland and of Palestine. The event was organised by Palfest Ireland.
Film by RoJ
Afri was invited to take part in the Reclaim the Vision of 1916 event in Dublin on the 24th April 2016, behind the banner, “The Right of the People of Ireland to the Ownership of Ireland” which focused on the ideals behind the 1916 Rising, as distinct from the military dimension which is so heavily emphasised in so many of the state commemorations. Afri staff carried a banner with the message “Afri rising to the challenge of tackling climate change, abolishing war and restoring Irish neutrality”
Afri cited as one of the most disturbing revelations in the report the fact that a Drumcondra-based company – Intertrade – has acted for one of the world’s largest arms companies, Finmeccanica, whose products include jet fighters, torpedoes and electronic warfare equipment, which are shipped around the world to cause death and destruction.
The company is also implicated in financial scandals, accused of using bribes worth millions of dollars in relation to arms deals in India and Panama. The leaks show how Intertrade uses offshore companies to process sales ‘commissions’ – a classic device to hide corrupt payments. (more…)
The 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising was commemorated in a number of state events around Easter time and beyond. While it is very important to commemorate the first steps towards Irish independence it is regrettable that such emphasis was placed on the military hardware of the NATO-linked Irish Army today, as distinct from the ideals of the Proclamation, for example. One of the most bizarre events was the presence of a fleet of NATO Warships in Dublin Port over the Easter weekend. As we commemorated the sacking of Dublin City Centre by British warships 100 years earlier, the irony of a British warship among the other NATO vessels seemed to be lost on the Government as well as those queuing to go aboard. It was a striking illustration, nonetheless, of the degree to which Ireland has now abandoned neutrality and locked arms with the former colonial powers and their military escapades and ambitions. Hearing about this at the last minute, Afri organised a small picket and we were joined by anti-war activist Ciaron O’ Reilly who addressed the assembled audience! Here’s a short film of him speaking at this event below (film by Redjade Magyarországon).
“One of the problems about the debate on climate change is that people keep speaking in the future tense…about what will happen to our children and our grandchildren. Unfortunately, however, climate change is not a future tense issue, it’s a real and present danger. Another myth is that climate change only affects countries of the Global South. While it is true that countries in the southern hemisphere are among the most seriously affected, it is also having a profound effect on all countries, including Ireland.
Anyone who doubts this would only need to have travelled through Ireland over the weekend to see the floods that have laid waste to much of the country. Severe flooding is now occurring with a regularity and intensity not seen before, while response of our governments has been less that inspiring, to say the least. Enda Kenny’s response is to twiddle his thumbs and speak out of both sides of his mouth. Enda’s performance at the Climate Conference in Paris was particularly cynical – delivering one message to the conference and the opposite one for the benefit of the Irish Farmers Association, which itself is mired in controversy over inflated salaries and corruption at the highest level. Meanwhile the North of Ireland remains the only part of Ireland or Britain with no legislation to tackle climate change.
The message is clear: we cannot wait for our governments to act on such a crucial issue. We, the people, must lead and they will be forced to follow.”
~ Joe Murray, Afri Co-ordinator
Japanese Government Must Not Sign the Japan-India Nuclear Agreement: We Demand Peace Diplomacy Befitting the A-Bombed Country
Yasui Kazumasa, Secretary General, Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo)
December 15, 2015
On December 12, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo issued a Joint Statement with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and announced that they had agreed in principle to conclude a bilateral agreement for cooperation in nuclear energy.
However, India is a nuclear country which in 1998 openly went nuclear by developing and testing nuclear weapons, and continues to refuse to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The government of the A-bombed Japan must not offer nuclear technology to such a country and give a helping hand to its development of nuclear weapons. The Japan-India nuclear agreement should not be signed. (more…)
Afri funded and coordinated a group of anti-fracking activists from Spain and the UK to come to Ireland on a four day visit over the weekend of November 27th 2015. Their visit began with them giving a talk in Dublin, hosted by the Worker’s Solidarity Movement in Jigsaw. The following day they made their way to Co Leitrim and on to Fermanagh to meet members of the anti fracking group LAMP (Letterbreen and Mullaghdun Partnership). A visit to the site of the planned exploratory well in Belcoo followed before the main event Making the Connections, Fracking No!
Making the Connections, Fracking No! took place in The Glens Centre in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim on November 28th, bringing together anti fracking activists from northern Spain, England and Ireland in an evening of theatre, singing, discussion, music and dancing.
Donal O’ Kelly performed his awarding winning one man show ‘Fionnuala’, in which the human rights abuses perpetrated at the hands of Shell during the Corrib Gas Project in Erris, Co Mayo are starkly conjured up. Spanish surtitles accompanied the performance to critical acclaim and oddly timed laughter!
Next up came the Kidz from the Glen who sang an anti-fracking song called Stand Up for Ireland written by Michael Mc Loughlin. (more…)
As the world drifts deeper and deeper into war, wreaking havoc on families, communities and our planet the actions of people like Mick Wallace and Clare Daly in attempting to put on the brakes should be applauded and commended – not penalised. Wars facilitated by Shannon have helped to destabilise areas in the Middle East and beyond, created the anger contributing to the rise of IS/Daesh and unleashed the most serious refugee crisis since the Second World War
It is extraordinary that perpetrators of war and destruction can parade through Shannon unhindered while those who are opposed to war are arrested, demonised and imprisoned. The actions of Mick Wallace and Clare Daly should be a wake-up call to the Irish Government to reverse the shredding of the last remnants of our neutrality and end the use of Shannon for war and destruction.
12th December 2015
Letter from Owens Wiwa, brother of Ken Saro-Wiwa – one of the Ogoni 9. The 10th November 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the execution of the Ogoni 9 by the military dictatorship in Nigeria, with the collusion of Shell.
I do remember, with pride, the famine walk in 2006. It was emotional and fulfilling. I remember the inspiring speeches, the sacrifices of Christy and Vincent. Thank you for giving me the opportunity during the walk to share experiences with the people of Rossport and the wider community in Erris County Mayo.
Nov 10 2015 marks 20 years of the killing of my brother and 8 Ogoni activists.
A study by the United Nations Environment Programme has shown that, despite the fact that no oil production has taken place in Ogoniland since 1993, oil spills continue to occur with fierce regularity. The production facilities that Shell used to crowd out farmers and fishermen have fallen to rust and ruin, and neglected, antiquated pipelines continue to leak oil as they snake from other parts of Nigeria through Ogoniland. Fishermen and farmers can no longer make their living or feed their families from the water or the field.
This is the bounty that Shell has brought to the people of Ogoniland. It promised prosperity and a bright tomorrow. When it wants to distract people from the price that will eventually be paid, Shell talks of jobs, crows about its lavish philanthropy and promises that no harm will be done, no chaos left in its wake. I heard these promises in Rossport and I fear that Shell’s bounty in Ogoni may yet be repeated elsewhere.
I am hugely relieved for the people of the Arctic, many of whose families .have lived there for thousands of years, that Shell recently announced it was retreating from Arctic drilling for the foreseeable future.
But this is a company that pantomimes concern and compassion for human beings when its only true concern is for where new money can be found. No doubt Shell’s sights are already set on its next oil field conquest, irrespective of who lives there or their history with that land.
When my brother Ken was executed, his last words were “Lord, take my soul…but the struggle continues.” I hope Ken is watching and seeing that, yes, it does. From Ogoniland to the Arctic, to Erris County Mayo and beyond, people are rising up to say “Shell No!” They are standing strong against a corporation and an entire industry that will mortgage our future for quick profits. I can’t think of a better way to honor my brother.
On Tuesday November 10th 2015 at 6pm, human rights campaigners and environmentalists gathered at Shell’s Irish headquarters to mark the twentieth anniversary of the execution of poet and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others known as the Ogoni 9. The vigil is being organised by Afri and is supported folk singer Christy Moore and Sr. Majella McCarron, an Irish missionary nun from County Fermanagh who was formerly based in Nigeria where she was a friend of Saro-Wiwa.
The Ogoni 9, campaigners against Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta, were executed by hanging in 1995 by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. In 1996 the U.S based Center for Constitutional Rights sued Shell for its complicity in human right abuses against the Ogoni people, including collusion in bringing about the deaths of the Ogoni 9. In June 2009, on the eve of the trial, a settlement of $15.5 million was made to establish a trust on behalf of the Ogoni people. Shell continues to face fierce criticism for the environmental and health legacy they have left in Ogoniland. (Ref: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/yes-minister-it-human-rights-issue/shell-oil-nigeria-ken-saro-wiwa-niger-delta )
Ken Saro-Wiwa’s brother Owens, speaking about his brother’s death has said that he fears lessons have not been learned.
“Shell talks of jobs and progress, crows about its lavish philanthropy and promises that no harm will be done, no chaos left in its wake. I heard these promises in Rossport and I fear that Shell’s bounty in Ogoni may yet be repeated elsewhere. This is a company that pantomimes concern and compassion for human beings when its only true concern is for where new money can be found. No doubt Shell’s sights are already set on its next oil field conquest, irrespective of who lives there or their history with that land.”
“When my brother Ken was executed, his last words were “Lord, take my soul…but the struggle continues.” I hope Ken is watching and seeing that, yes, it does. From Ogoniland to the Arctic, to Erris County Mayo and beyond, people are rising up to say “Shell No!” They are standing strong against a corporation and an entire industry that will mortgage our future for quick profits.”
Joe Murray, organiser of the vigil and Director of human rights and peace organisation Afri, agrees that there is a clear parallel between Ogoniland and Mayo.
“Just as Shell colluded with the military dictatorship in Nigeria, the Irish State has colluded with Shell in bribing, bullying and intimidating the community in Kilcommon into accepting a monument to fossil fuels at a time when climate change threatens the very survival of our planet. The Corrib gas project, in which Statoil is also a partner, has been a disaster for human rights, civil liberties and the environment. The natural gas giveaway has already resulted in a very bad deal the Irish taxpayer.”
Willie Corduff, one of the Rossport 5 who spent 94 days in prison at the behest of Shell, says the community in Erris remember the Ogoni 9 on a daily basis.
“Today, as Shell preaches progress, many miles from their homeland in Nigeria the crosses of the 9 Ogoni heroes stand defiantly in front of the main refinery gate at Ballinaboy as a reminder to Shell that their sins will follow them forever.”
A separate vigil by the Shell to Sea group was held from 12 noon at Shell’s headquarters on 52 Lower Leeson St., Dublin 2.