EXPOSING WAR CRIMES IS NOT A CRIME!
Two prominent resisters to war that deserve our solidarity are Julian Assange and Sergeant Bradley Manning. Showing solidarity for people going through the courts or facing prison is an important part of of our movement to resist the war. If we are to build a movement and culture of resistance to the state of perpetual war we are currently living in, then it is vital to support people when they face repression from the State.
WikiLeaks: 519 days of banking blockade – no process
Assange: 516 days detainment – no charge
Grand Jury: 599 days US secret Grand Jury into WikiLeaks – no transparency
Julian Assange is perhaps the most high-profile peace activist in the world today. The 39 year-old Australian computer programmer is the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks is an online conduit for whistle-blowing documents:
“an ingenious and heroic website that has shifted the power balance between citizen and the state by exposing what governments really get up to in our name”.
It has raised the ire of the US Government by publishing the so-called Afghan War Logs and Iraq War Logs, including the infamous ‘Collateral Murder’ footage, plus thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables – the same material that US soldier Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. This collection of documents has shown to the world the brutal truth of these wars.
The backlash against Julian Assange has been severe. Presently under house arrest and close surveillance in England, although not charged with any offence, he faces extradition to Sweden, a hub of the USA’s extraordinary rendition program. If extradited to Sweden, Assange faces a secret trial and further extradition to the US where a WikiLeaks Grand Jury has already begun summoning witnesses.
WikiLeaks itself has come under extraordinary attack. Its bank accounts have been frozen, while PayPal and credit card companies Mastercard and Visa refuse to accept donations for either WikiLeaks or Assange’s legal defence. The online ‘drop box’ where secrets can be sent has been sabotaged. Internet service providers (ISPs) have also been pressured not to host WikiLeaks itself. All this before Assange or anyone to do with WikiLeaks has been charged with anything.
Manning: 713 days in jail – no trial
“If you had free reign over classified networks… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?”
“God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms… I want people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
-Quotes from an online chat attributed to Bradley Manning
Bradley Manning, a 23-year-old US army intelligence analyst, is accused of leaking a video showing the 2007 killing of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also charged with sharing with the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks documents known as the Afghan War Diary and the Iraq War Logs, plus thousands of embarrassing US diplomatic cables.
Arrested in Iraq in May 2010, Manning is currently in a US military prison in Kansas. The conditions of his previous imprisonment of nearly 9 months in a brig in Virginia, including solitary confinement, may have amounted to torture. He has now been in detention for almost two years. He is currently going through a drawn out pre-trial process. While the prosecution has declared it does not intend to seek the death penalty, they do seek to lock PFC Bradley Manning away for life, with the most ridiculous charge of ‘aiding the enemy’.
Of particular relevance to Swan Island Peace Convergence is the Afghan War Diary, described by the New York Times as “a six-year archive of classified military documents [that] offers an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war”. The Guardian has called the material “one of the biggest leaks in US military history“:
“… a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and NATO commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency”.
|Pfc Bradley Manning, now 24 years old|