chelsea manning on hunger strike

Chelsea Manning has gone on hunger strike as protest against the dehumanising treatment she has received from the US government.

Those who have kept up with journey from whistleblower to indefinitely detained prisoner to actual prisoner are not surprised by this. Since being detained, she has faced inhuman conditions on numerous occasions, including excessive solitary confinement, where she was often left naked as well.

Our government recently pushed her to attempting suicide, which may result in solitary confinement and extending her sentence.

Why is she facing such terrible treatment?

For the crime of transitioning. She was born Bradley Manning and lived as a male until she was tried and found guilty of being a whistleblower by the US government. Since then she has attempted to transition, which was first blocked and refused by the US.

I won’t recap everything here. If you’ve been coming to this blog, you’ve probably seen me talking about her. I’ve been following her since 2011, when I discovered who she was and what was being done to her by the US government.

She awakened me politically. She made me take an active and critical look at my country and what we do around the world.

It should maybe be noted that I’ve donated hundreds of dollars to her defense fund. It’s not enough, but it’s all I can do.

She’s a hero. Her actions saved countless lives, while endangering no one, despite how she’s been smeared. She is a hero and she is facing extremely punitive treatment for showing that the US government was engaging in war crimes in the middle east.

I am not alone in my support of her. Countless organisations have pressured and criticised the US in their treatment of her and handling of her case.

She released this statement, which outlines why she is going on hunger strike, and what she hopes to achieve.

Quote from the statement:

I need help. I needed help earlier this year. I was driven to suicide by the lack of care for my gender dysphoria that I have been desperate for. I didn’t get any. I still haven’t gotten any.

She continues:

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 have asked for nothing but the dignity and respect—that I once actually believed would be provided for—afforded to any living human being.

I do not believe that this should be dependent on any arbitrary factors—whether you are cisgender or transgender; service member or civilian, citizen or non-citizen. In response to virtually every request, I have been granted limited, if any, dignity and respect—just more pain and anguish.

I am no longer asking. Now, I am demanding. As of 12:01 am Central Daylight Time on September 9, 2016, and until I am given minimum standards of dignity, respect, and humanity, I shall—refuse to voluntarily cut or shorten my hair in any way; consume any food or drink voluntarily, except for water and currently prescribed medications; and comply with all rules, regulations, laws, and orders that are not related to the two things I have mentioned.

This is a peaceful act. I intend to keep it as peaceful and non-violent, on my end, as possible. Any physical harm that should come to me at the hands of military or civilian staff will be unnecessary and vindictive. I will not physically resist or in any way harm another person. I have also submitted a “do not resuscitate” letter that is effective immediately. This shall include any attempts to forcibly cut or shorten my hair or to forcibly feed me by any medical or pseudo-medical means.

And this from the ACLU:

I learned late last night that Chelsea has begun a hunger strike today in protest of the ongoing denial of her medically necessary health care and the relentless scrutiny and abuses she has experienced in the years since her arrest. I am deeply saddened and very concerned for Chelsea’s well-being. The government has long been aware of her medical needs and continues to ignore them. When we filed our initial case against the Department of Defense in September of 2014 over Chelsea’s treatment related to her gender dysphoria, we made very clear that the lack of treatment put her at very serious risk of harm. They have known this for years. We are still in litigation over her treatment and are optimistic that justice will ultimately prevail but the government need not wait to be ordered to do the right thing and we hope they act promptly to treat Chelsea consistent with their constitutional obligations.
Whether you think she deserves to be in prison or not is not the issue. It happens to be much simpler.
If you believe Chelsea Manning should be allowed to peacefully transition and express her true self, please consider donating to the Chelsea Manning Defense Fund.
She needs our help. Not just monetarily, but emotionally. So if money seems out of the question, consider writing her.

internet rage machine

There’s a great deal of things going on right now that induce rage. Or should. NSA spying without consequence, the two year civil war in Syria, the blossoming civil war in Egypt, the imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, the essential imprisonment of Julian Assange who’s being denied entry to Ecuador, the country he has legal  political asylum in by England due to american pressure, and then there’s the abuses against Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and his partner, and so many other things.

But where does the internet rage blow up against? Celebrities.

I believe there’s actually a somewhat logical, or at least understandable, reason behind all this. Most people are terrified of making waves or saying controversial things. Along with that, most people are tremendously uninformed or misinformed. Then there are those who just think it’s not their place to state opinions because they don’t believe they know enough about the situations. This is all very reasonable and pretty typical, and while we can discuss why they should know more, that’s not really an argument worth having, because it does nothing but spread rage.

So Syria: people are finally talking about Syria now that our Nobel Peace Prize winning president is planning on bombing them. Okay, so, despite having no popular support, he also has no international support, and will likely blow past the UN the way George Bush did. But let’s get to the root of this. What does bombing a nation solve? Will this end Assad’s regime? Maybe, but at what cost? If we’re set to oust Assad, then who are we standing behind? The rebels. And who are the rebels? Well, that’s a pretty wide and varied mix of people, but the students who were a part of the initial protests and so on are likely no longer there, due to dying or fleeing. What you have is a very splintered coalition of organisations who are not friends or even friendly with one another, but who have a common enemy. Many of these people are the very same Islamic extremists we’re fighting our alleged War on Terror against. They’ve committed various war crimes and atrocities against the pro-Assad faction, which is the majority of the Syrian fighters. So when we get Assad out of there, what do we expect to happen?

Now, I’m not trying to defend Assad. That would be a nonsensical thing to do. But this is a true civil war. There is a pretty substantial faction of Syrians who stand alongside him. It’s not a war of Assad against the people. It’s a war where the people are fighting various groups of other people, none of whom agree on a direction for the country beyond the Death and ouster of Assad. And Assad has no moral ground to stand on in this war either. Though the rebels have committed crimes against humanity, so have the pro-Assad army.

But we need to ask ourselves, Why are we going there? Or, to put it better, since we’ve been aiding the rebels for some time: Why are we finally declaring outright war?

There’s a reason why all sides of the tragedy going on in Egypt blame the US for what has happened to their country and what is happening to their country. They see us as the enemy. We fight on both sides, handing guns and money to whichever side will renew unrest and distress. We supported the coup. And while it was a popularly backed coup, it was a coup nonetheless, which means, according to our constitution, we should have immediately stopped sending aid to Egypt. But, alas, this is the world we live in, and the country I live in.

The entire middle east, barring Israel, views the US as the most dangerous and threatening enemy to their existence and stability. There are very good reasons for this that go far beyond and deeper than simple propaganda. We put in dictators and then take them out, we fund terrorists sects, commit terrorists strikes against civilians, barrage them with drones and bombs and dirty weapons. We are the greatest terrorist organisation to maybe ever exist and we’re destroying an entire region of the world, keeping them in a constant state of unrest or despotism. Look at where Gaddafi and Saddam and bin Laden came from and you’ll find an easy and bold line to US foreign policy.

Our interest in the middle east is in keeping it unstable and firmly under our control, whether that be by proxy through a despot we install, or through a sort of military demolition team, like we used in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will use in Syria and Iran, possibly Egypt.

We are not their friends, and it’s not because the Arab world wants to destroy us. It’s because we’re trying to destroy them, and we’re doing a pretty good job. Have been for almost a hundred years.

What a better distraction to the government abuses than another war? And what a better way to legitimise these abuses of power. Barack Obama’s already codified crimes against humanity, so why not codify and legalise government spying? It’s all in the name of our safety! Though this has been proven remarkably false by Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning, very few americans seem willing to stand behind them or even defend them in polite company.

We wrap the noose around their necks when we remain silent. And if we remain silent as we march into Syria and destroy and already ruined nation, it will be our hands bloodied by this ongoing genocide against the Arab world.

Enter Miley Cyrus.

I don’t feel a need or reason to defend her or her actions, but I find the level of vitriol levelled at her the height of absurdity. The only thing I will say is that if you think Miley Cyrus decides what she does in her career, you’re probably deluding yourself just so you can continue to rage.

But I find this level of anger at a popstar pretty curious. And I think it has to do with all this collected anger we have, as a nation. We have nowhere we know how to direct it, without ostracising friends, family, coworkers. We’re afraid of seeming radical or controversial. What if the company you work for looks at your facebook/twitter account and sees that you think Israel’s military occupation of Palestine is even remotely negative? They may even gasp in alarm! It could be you let go in downsizing next month!

But maybe that’s unfair to paint people that way. No, it is. I apologise for that. I don’t think you’re all so petty and unthinking. But I do think that this collected anger is much easier to direct at a target that everyone agrees upon. Most people don’t pay attention to international news, let alone national news, so we don’t know whose side we should be on. What should we do about Syria or Egypt? What should we do about the international illegal spying network we and other countries have? What should we do about whistleblowers or the drone war? What should we do about national debt and joblessness? What should we do about the global and national economy?

These are tough questions, and while I have answers for all of them, I understand that I stand in a very small group of very radical thinkers. I don’t expect even 30% of people to agree with the details I lay forth for these kind of issues, and so I don’t blame anyone for truly just not knowing what to do.

This is normal when powers far superior to you are gambling with dice you don’t understand.

And I think it’s all this rage that we don’t know how to direct. We see an easy target: former Disney teen idol making a fool of herself on stage.

Boom. Lock on and destroy. Level all that rage and hatred at the dummy on stage. Make her regret becoming famous. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s how fun and satisfying it is to destroy the gods we create.

bradley manning sentenced to 35 years

Which is tragic. I don’t even really know what to say about it except that it’s actually less than I expected. He’s been accused of espionage, which assumes that there’s someone he’s selling these to, when, in reality, he disclosed them to everyone. Because of this ruling, journalism is a crime. Whistelblowing is treason. Exposing warcrimes is a worse offense than committing warcrimes.

If you’ve been following my facebook, twitter, or even blog posts here, you know that I stand with Bradley Manning. You may have even seen my name in the New York Times alongside Noam Chomsky and others. This is a dark day for america.

The fight begins again today. It extends endlessly.

Livestreaming post-sentencing press conference with David Coombs, Manning’s attorney.

Perhaps he’ll win the Nobel Peace Prize, which he deserves.

I don’t know. This is all quite depressing.

I’m thinking of you, Bradley Manning. Almost always. Hopefully we can get this mess straightened out.

But what’s to be expected when war criminals try the innocent?

Bradley Manning Support Network.

Links to coverage:

Democracy Now! They’ve been covering Bradley Manning for years and it’s probably the best place for information.

Reports here and here.

Outcry here and here and here.

Twitter.

And everything Glenn Greenwald.

And a petition here.

There’s so much more to say. And so many other reports to be read about this. Just google Bradley Manning and you’ll get millions upon millions of hits. Just start reading, if you don’t know already.

–Update 15:08–

David Coombs read Bradley Manning’s statement after being sentenced to 35 years. Here’s the transcript:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Copied from Democracy Now!

Great article about all the things Bradley Manning has done for us.