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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 uncle 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. Continue reading “Freedom beckons for Chelsea Manning”
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.
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. Continue reading “Irish Campaigners Join Calls For Obama to Pardon For Chelsea Manning”
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. Continue reading “The Resistance Continues”
Food Sovereignty, Global Warming and Resisting Militarism
Saturday, May 16th 2015
From Delphi Lodge to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo.
Registration from 12.45pm; Walk beginning at 1.30pm
Walk Leaders: Abjata Khalif (Kenya), Maitet Ledesma (Philippines) and Sharon Staples (Wales)
Music: RoJ Whelan
Please park cars in Louisburgh: no parking available at Delphi Lodge – a shuttle bus will be provided.
Many themes have been explored in the Famine Walk over the past 27 years. The Philippines was the focus of the first ever famine walk as Niall O’Brien, recently released from prison, outlined the experience of living under the Marcos military dictatorship. Significantly, the Philippines is again a focus of this year’s walk as Maitet Ledesma updates us on the current situation there, with particular reference to the devastating impacts of militarism and global warming.
The issue of food and famine has always been a central theme of the walk, as it is this year. As nations continue to turn to war as a first resort, in many cases, food security is further threatened, global warming is intensified and corporate control of food is extended, despite the fact that small-scale producers remain the mainstay of global food supplies. Food sovereignty is the common ground on which the realities and hopes of many of these small producers meet. Continue reading “Famine Walk 2015: Food Sovereignty, Global Warming and Resisting Militarism”
Report by Genny Bove
The Craic Will be 90
It wasn’t the greatest start to a weekend. First there was a text about RoJ getting a flat tyre on the way to the ferry and then, when we were on the road heading south from Wrexham, a crisis call. I pulled over into the old station at Welshpool to take it. Joe Murray was on the ferry from Rosslare as planned with Nuala Kelly and Andy Cummins, but all four musicians in the party had been left behind on the quay (thanks to some misinformation given out by Irish Ferries staff who had promised there was plenty of time before the gates closed when there wasn’t) and the next sailing wasn’t due in til after midnight, too late for the Shamrock Bar gig planned for that evening. There was nothing to be done except put out some calls for local musicians to step in and hope that Joe could at least persuade the stranded ones to rebook on the ferry and arrive in time for Saturday night. The atmosphere in the car was subdued as we continued on our way, wondering how things were going to work out and whether the musicians might have just given up and gone home. We needn’t have worried. After about an hour, a text came through from RoJ: they were on their way back to Dublin, would catch the afternoon ferry to Holyhead, drive down to Fishguard from there – a five hour journey – and would be with us by 11pm. Cryptically, he added: “The craic will be 90.”
“What’s that about?” asked Eimear.
“No idea. Bet it’s a song lyric.”
Eimear looked it up and we began to worry that they might be tempted to catch the Isle of Man Steam Packet instead and all end up in Douglas. Continue reading “Manning Truthfest in Wales”
Afri is proud to support imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea (Bradley) Manning who was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking files and footage of what supporters say is proof of U.S war crimes in Iraq. This has led to calls by groups such as Amnesty International for her release. A so called ‘collateral murder’ video leaked to Wikileaks by Manning shows U.S helicopters killing a group of civilians that included two Reuters employees.
In a recent interview on Amnesty.org Manning said “Every now and then you do come across a significant choice. Do you really want to find yourself asking whether you could have done more, 10-20 years later? These are the kinds of questions I didn’t want to haunt me.”
The International Peace Bureau (of which Afri is a member) awarded the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Prize to Manning for her courageous actions in informing the public about US war crimes. The IPB’s Co-President Tomas Magnusson commented: “When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the US military she did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty [to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity]”.
Since 2013 Afri has hosted and organized a series of events and meetings in solidarity with Chelsea Manning, including hosting the Manning family in a visit to Dublin, a public meeting addressed by Gerry Conlon (from the Guilford Four), the Manning ‘Truthfest’ in Wales, ‘Resisting Injustice‘, and the second Manning ‘Truthfest’ in Wales!
Film by Dave Donnellan of Chelsea Manning birthday celebration in Dublin:-
For Chelsea Manning, on her 27th Birthday
You and whose army?
By Sarah Clancy in Galway, Ireland ( @sarahmaintains)
At 22 I wasn’t much more than a playground for ideas
other people fed me.
I was three years away from even being brave enough
to explore my own identity.
It was years more before I stopped that navel gazing
and took a quick look outwards
and I’m still failing to come to terms with that at forty,
but you, at that age could gather the courage
and the words to say that as a solitary soldier
washed up in an army of macho war porn and murder
you wouldn’t stand for it,
as a loner in a theatre of torn up conventions,
of water-boarding, of torture,
you wouldn’t stay silent.
At twenty two, a kid, and right in the thick of things
you made it clear you hadn’t been fooled
by the all pervasive culture that says
there are times when it’s AOK to re-name humans
as nuts and bolt collateral.
Chelsea when they charged you in the military court
you made no Nuremberg excuses
of how someone made you do it,
and you didn’t spout on about flags or orders or duty
at twenty five you could condemn
an army for its war crimes for
its murders of civilians and children
and you could act on it despite the consequences
you could reclaim the meanings for us
of words like courage and justice,
now that’s what I call service;
someday I hope your country (and ours!) will grow up and deserve it
happy 27th birthday Chelsea
lets hope that for your next one you’ll be free.
And P.S Edward Snowden, keep on running!
Info on donating to the Manning family fund at http://manningfamilyfund.org/donate-to-the-family-fund/
Info on sending post and gifts to Chelsea Manning: http://www.chelseamanning.org/learn-more/write-to-chelsea-manning
More info on Chelsea Manning at www.chelseamanning.org
Interview with Amnesty International: ‘Why speaking out is worth the risk’
Chelsea Manning’s relatives claim she was ‘tortured’ by US military: British relatives of US whistleblower Chelsea Manning have made claims that she was “tortured” by US authorities
Report by Genny Bove
The Irish greeting Céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes) is no exaggeration. Over in Dublin from Wales again for a few days, this time with Chelsea Manning’s Mum Susan, we are once again experiencing the extraordinary hospitality, warmth and staunch solidarity of our friends here, and it’s wonderful.
Thursday night we gathered at the Teachers’ Club in central Dublin for an evening gathering Resisting Injustice organised by Afri to remember the late, great Gerry Conlon who met and offered his support to Chelsea’s family and who spoke so eloquently against injustice and for Chelsea Manning last November, just a few months before his untimely death from cancer this June.
Donal O’Kelly, the creative force behind January’s Manning Truthfest, was MC for the night. Donal has helped keep the cause in the public eye in myriad ways, most recently dedicating the World’s Best Radio Show award for his play Francisco to Chelsea Manning.
The first speaker was Nuala Kelly, whose talk drew on her extensive experience of supporting Irish prisoners in overseas jails. She recounted how she had at first been more aware of Giuseppe Conlon’s arrest back in 1975 than that of his son Gerry but how later, in her work with the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, she became involved in supporting Gerry and his family in their quest for justice. Nuala emphasised the impact on families when a person is imprisoned and the importance of offering support and working alongside families. She described how the campaign to free the Guildford Four, Maguire Seven and Birmingham Six started to gain momentum, with local groups little by little getting involved and taking their own solidarity initiatives, such as a women’s group organising street stalls in central Dublin. If we are going to build an effective campaign to free Chelsea, we need to find ways to engage as many people as possible as well as being mindful of the perspectives of both the prisoner and her family. Continue reading “Remembering Gerry Conlon, Supporting Chelsea Manning”