Afri was proud and delighted to host a series of events and meetings in solidarity with imprisoned Chelsea (Bradley) Manning’s mother Susan, Aunts Mary and Sharon, and Uncle Kevin. The family travelled from their home in Haverford West, South Wales, to Dublin, the birthplace of their father. In what is a continuing indictment of the Irish Government’s subservience to US power, Pvt. Manning had transited through Shannon on the way to the war on Iraq. He was subsequently tortured in Kuwait and Quantico and is now serving 35 years imprisonment in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, for courageously exposing the horrors of the endless U.S ‘war on terror’.
Afri invited independent T.D. Catherine Murphy to host a meeting of TDs and Senators in the Dáil for the family which was attended by Joe Higgins, Clare Daly, Ming Flanagan, Sean Crowe and Katherine Zappone among others. The family was also welcomed on arrival at the Dáil by Senator David Norris. Very moving interviews with Sharon and Kevin were carried later on RTÉ news and on Drivetime. The visit was also covered by a number of newspapers and radio stations. The family also met with Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders and the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA)
On Friday night, over 100 people gathered at Trinity College to hear a powerful presentation by Gerry Conlon who had served 15 years in prison in Britain, having been tortured & framed as part of the Guilford 4. His father, Giuseppe, who was also framed, died in prison. The film ‘In the Name of the Father’ recounts this tragic story. The day following the meeting was the 39th anniversary of Gerry’s kidnapping by police from his home in Belfast. Gerry reminded us, that it is not only the prisoner who suffers the consequences of imprisonment but also the families and this was confirmed by the Manning family who have borne the brunt of media invasion and harassment, particularly by the prison authorities, during visits. This ordinary – yet extraordinary – family have, however, maintained their dignity and their pride in Chelsea’s actions right throughout this long and painful ordeal.
Film By Dave Donnellan about the event
Gerry Conlon, drawing on his own painful experience, reminded the audience of how important people like Chelsea Manning are: people with the courage to expose lies, criminality and corruption carried out by States and concealed under the guise of ‘state secrets’. We need whistleblowers today, as never before, and we need to support them when they have the courage to speak out and tell the truth.
Carmen Trotta (from the New York Catholic Worker Movement) also spoke about where the “war on terror” has brought us and the significance of the courage and actions of Pvt. Manning. Other highlights of the evening were when Joe Black played his song “Giuseppe Conlon” for Gerry Conlon and Roj played “Free Bradley Manning” for the Manning family.
Lawyer Gareth Peirce joined us on video from London having recorded a speech that afternoon. You can watch this video here.
On Saturday night we had a party in the Brian Boru pub in Phibsborough with Joe Black, Robbie Synnot and a brief appearance by Elvis.