I had been concerned for Bradley Manning since his original military detention in Iraq and subsequent transfer to isolation at the Quantico Base in Virginia. I became more concerned when I attended a “Stop the War Coalition” (StWC) meeting in Conway Hall/ London promoted as celebrating the recent release of Biritsh military resister Joe Glenton. Coincidently, the evening meeting occured on the day the first Wikileaks occured. Every speaker celebrated the Wikileaks and no metion of the guy who was banged up for it!.
It further distressed me to learn that the FBI had arrived at a terraced house in Haverford-west/ Wales to harrass Bradley Manning Welsh Catholic mother Susan……..
……..”Susan Manning’s sister, Sharon Staples has described how “these guys in dark suits” – who she took to be FBI officers questioned her sister who has been in and out of hospital after a series of strokes” (Guardian Dec 1st. 2010)
Please write letters of support to Bradley:
c/o Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave. #41
Oakland, CA 94610
Yesterday (Dec 7th. 1010), I was part of a Catholic Worker/ Plowshares vigil at the U.S. embassy in London in solidarity with five of our people on their first day of trial in Tacoma, Washington USA for a plowshares action at the Trident Nuclear Submarine base.
During the freezing 11 am – 1 pm vigil, I received a text that Julian Assange had appeared at a police station. I discovered that Assange hoped to appear voluntarily and be awarded bail conditions.
I got some general directions, dumped my excess anti-Trident related placards on Dan and ran off to Bond St. tube, I finally found Hoseferry Rd. and sprinted up toward the court entrance. There were 80+ folks crammed in a circle around the entrance.
So I caught my breath, licked my lips and started street speaking – a skill well honed in the Brisbane Mall free speech campaign of the early ’80’s.
I spoke about how we (Pitstop Ploughshares/ Shannon 5) were the subject of secret U.S. embassy cables now exposed by wikileaks, that this arrest of Assange is politically motivated, the ongoing neverending war etc. After a while I realised that most of my audience were bearing microphones and cameras and this indeed was the world’s press. There seemed to be about 5 people holding A4 signs in the crowd.
One eccentric foreign gentleman tried to get me to shut up.
“Don’t know where you’re from mate! But like Julian, I’m from Queensland, Australia and we take our free speech very seriously – because we had to fight for it!”
That seemed to shut him up.
After a while the word came out that Julian had been denied bail. I was completely outraged. The guy had self surrendered, his face is wallpaper over national media and police stations, what kind of flight risk does he constitute? This is a totally political driven decision in relation to bail.
After a while, I recognised a familiar figure emerging from the court. It was filmmaker Ken Loach! Damien and I (Pitstops) had met Ken and screen writer Paul Laverty in the lead up to the world premiere of “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” in Cork years before. As Ken did with us then, he was trying to do with Julian today, use his public profile to make it safer by association for activists under threat from the warmaking state.
Ken is a small, getting elderly and quite a shy gentleman. The huge media pack pushed on to him. He looked startled if not fearful.
Next , the silvery mane of John Pilger appeared. He took the opportunity to address the media pack with clarity and dignity. On conclusion of a fine speech, he had trouble getting out too!
Next up was Julian’s lawyer who addressed the media very eloquently. Then there was a thunderous noise coming from out of sight around the corner. It took me a while to realise there was the prison van containing Julian Assange. Then I thought, I should go blockade that van! By the time I had safely negotiate descent from the ledge, the van was picking up speed. By the time I was running down the road after it, it was accelerating out of sight.
So Julian wakes up this morning on his first day in custody, Bradley Manning on his 196th.!These are presently the political prisoners of what is left of the anti-war movement. Men who have risked their lives and liberty getting the truth out and hoping maybe, just maybe, the truth would cause a debate in civil society and inspire resistance that would end this ten year/ “no end in sight” war?
Bradley and Julian have embraced the responsibility to speak truth to power and to whoever else will listen. We have to embrace the responsibility to listen and see what their courage has revealed in these wikileaks.
If this is not going to be early days of the rest of Bradley and Julian’s lives spent in custody, we will have to build an anti-war movement based on nonviolent resistance and solidarity. Which means, if you at any given point are not in jail or before the courts for resisting this war, your responsibility is to be in proactive solidarity with those who are. You don’t have to like me, or them, personally! You don’t have to have the same musical tastes, hairstyle, ethnicity or faith. We are building an inclusive movement based on nonviolence and direct democracy to challenge the power of the warmaking state – not a fashion statement, not a launching pad for aspiring politician’s careers not a recruiting ground or marketing opportunity for Trot, political or religious cults.
Hopefully in this article I, and others, have exhibited simple no budget solo ways to express solidarity with both military and civilian resisters. There are plenty more out there!
YOUTUBE (2mins22sec) Ciaron speaking outside court