April 17th, 2012
Free Bradley Manning Campaign Vancouver Canada
Bradley Manning: Soldier of Humanity
Organized by Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO)
Free Bradley Manning Campaign Launched by Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) in Vancouver, BC Canada!
On Tuesday April 17, 2012 the Free Bradley Manning Campaign was launched in Vancouver, BC, Canada, joining groups and individuals in the U.S. and around the world who are protesting and organizing for the freedom of Bradley Manning. Over 60 people came together for the forum and campaign launching, titled “Bradley Manning, Soldier of Humanity”
The launch of this campaign centers on the demands of “Free Bradley Manning” and asserts that blowing the whistle on war crimes is NOT a crime. Bradley Manning, a 24-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst, has been in prison in the U.S. for two years without trial, and has faced over 10 months of solitary confinement, in conditions that are illegal even under U.S. military law. Bradley Manning is accused of leaking the “collateral murder” video footage showing the killing of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, by a U.S. Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also charged with sharing documents known as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and U.S. diplomatic cables with WikiLeaks. For the so-called “crime” of blowing the whistle on war crimes, Bradley Manning faces 22 charges, including “Aiding the enemy by indirect means,” for which a conviction could result in the death penalty or life in prison.
The forum was opened by Janine Solanki, MC of the event and co-chair of Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO), who welcomed participants and especially welcomed visiting U.S. Veterans for Peace member and organizer Cliff Wells. The forum began with a series of news and video clips that illustrated the case of Bradley Manning and the fight for his freedom, including the “collateral murder” footage that Bradley Manning is accused of leaking.
The first featured speaker was another U.S. guest, Jeff Paterson, who spoke via video conference from Oakland, California. Jeff is the project director of Courage to Resist, an organization which provides support for war resisters and whistleblowers, Jeff is also on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network (www.bradleymanning.org). Jeff detailed Bradley Manning’s life and how he came to the decision that he must release the exposing documents, as well as explained how Bradley Manning is subjected to extremely harsh and terrible conditions in prison. Jeff also gave examples of the actions supporters and organizations around the world have taken to support him. Beyond the case of Bradley Manning, Jeff also spoke of the brutality of the war in Iraq that prompted Bradley Manning’s actions.
Following Jeff, Cliff Wells spoke on his experience as a veteran and compared the case of Bradley Manning with the case of many other whistleblowers throughout the last few decades. Cliff also spoke of the increasing attacks on democratic rights that Bradley Manning is a huge example of.
After the guest speakers, Janine Solanki spoke of the political and economical crisis of the world that we live in, and how important it is that in a world so dominated by the imperialist “fighting terrorism” campaign and after a decade of a new era of war and occupation, someone like Bradley Manning had the courage to challenge imperialist aggression and destruction. Janine also emphasized the importance of taking on the campaign to free Bradley Manning not only in the U.S., but also in Canada, as the attack on Bradley Manning is an attack on all peace loving people and the antiwar movement which must be defended.
Before opening the floor to discussion, MAWO’s newly created petition to Free Bradley Manning was passed around the room and collected its first signatures, with the resolve to collect many thousands more.
The discussion that followed was energized with the spirit of struggle to take this campaign forward. Many people not only asked questions, but put forward ideas for building the campaign to free Bradley Manning in Vancouver and BC. The forum came to a close with encouraging and determined words from the speakers, and the promise for more events and actions to come as the Free Bradley Manning Campaign grows here in Vancouver and in Canada.
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