Chelsea Manning, sentenced to 35 years in prison for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, launched a hunger strike on Sept. 9 to demand that she receive full treatment for her gender transition from her U.S. Army jailers.
“I need help. I am not getting any. I have asked for help time and time again for six years and through five separate confinement locations. My request has only been ignored, delayed, mocked, given trinkets and lip service by the prison, the military and this administration,” she stated.
“Today, I have decided that I am no longer going to be bullied by this prison — or by anyone within the U.S. government.
“I do not believe this should be dependent on any arbitrary factors — whether you are cisgender or transgender, service member or civilian, citizen or noncitizen.
“I am no longer asking. Now, I am demanding.
“Until I am shown dignity and respect as a human again, I shall endure this pain before me. I am prepared for this mentally and emotionally. I expect that this ordeal will last for a long time. Quite possibly until my permanent incapacitation or death. I am ready for this.” (theverge.com, Sept. 9)
Global support for hero
Manning’s heroism has won her tremendous support around the globe, with many rallies and demonstrations showing that the public from many countries is behind her. The British Guardian newspaper, which has published several of Manning’s articles, has named her as one of its official correspondents. Other writers for the paper have written editorials demanding her release.
In August, statues of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, the three whistleblowers who have exposed many of U.S. imperialism’s crimes, were unveiled in Geneva, Switzerland. “They have lost their freedom for the truth, so they remind us how important it is to know the truth,” said Davide Dormino, the statues’ sculptor, during the unveiling in front of a large crowd. (yournewswire.com, Aug. 13)
Assange, founder of the website Wikileaks, who was forced to find shelter in Ecuador’s Embassy in London for the last four years, has offered to take Manning’s place in prison. Snowden has been forced into exile in the Russian Federation. A recently released movie, entitled “Snowden” directed by Oliver Stone, depicts how Snowden decided to expose the hacking and surveillance activities of the National Security Agency.
In the face of Manning’s courage and strong outside support, the U.S. government was forced to step back. As Manning’s hunger strike passed the fifth day, her American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Chase Strangio announced, “Chelsea has received word from the military that they are moving forward with the recommendation for surgery.” (nytimes.com, Sept. 14)
End solitary confinement!
Manning has decided to end her hunger strike, but she still endures solitary confinement. She is not even permitted to let her hair grow out, as she has demanded and her prison physicians have recommended.
There will be a disciplinary board hearing on Sept. 22 on the serious charges leveled against Manning because of her recent suicide attempt. Seventy pages of “evidence” have been compiled against her.
Manning will not be allowed to have legal counsel at the hearing, but must represent herself. This anti-war hero has been threatened with “indefinite solitary confinement,” which could extend to the 30 years left on her sentence.
Chelsea Manning has already been imprisoned far longer than any other whistleblower in history. U.S. imperialism is using its full weight of repression to attack those who challenge its “right” to keep U.S. imperialism’s crimes secret — whether the machine-gunning of civilians and journalists in Iraq; bugging of government officials around the world, even their allies as in Germany; monitoring massive numbers of phone calls and emails here and abroad; or undermining political leaders who threaten Wall Street’s interests, like Bernie Sanders.
Trumped-up charges against Snowden and Assange must be dropped, and the struggle to support and demand freedom for Manning must continue to grow. Exposing imperialism’s crimes are acts of heroism, not crimes.
Send letters of support to Chelsea Manning at the address below; write it exactly as stated.
Chelsea E. Manning 89289
1300 North Warehouse Road
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas