by Kristin Hulaas Sunde, editor of Wire magazine for @AmnestyOnline
Amnesty activists took action for Chelsea Manning an incredible 241,289 times – including by sending her over 17,000 letters and cards – during our global Write for Rights campaign last December.
In return, the former army intelligence analyst sent us this message of thanks from her prison cell in Kansas, USA, where she is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified US government documents to the website WikiLeaks.
Chelsea’s letter to Amnesty’s activists worldwide:
I wanted to thank all of you so very much for your actions of support and solidarity. I understand that over 200,000 actions were taken – that’s absolutely incredible!
I am also so grateful for all the heartfelt support from the tens of thousands of people out there who took the time to write to me and the President [Barack Obama, asking him to pardon and release her].
These cards and letters literally flooded the mail room and my cell during my birthday, the holidays and Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign in December. I read each one! And I greatly appreciated all of your strong words of support, and your warm words of comfort.
I wish I had the time and ability to thank each one of you for giving me a little bit of joy with each letter and card. But, as much as I can try, it is difficult to do from here.
Preparing for the court-martial appeal
My days here are busy and very routine. I work at a vocational wood shop during the week – about the same number of hours as a full-time job. I am taking college correspondence courses for a bachelor’s degree. I also work out a lot to stay fit, and read newspapers, magazines and books to keep up-to-date on current events around the world and learn new things.
I am now preparing for my court-martial appeal before the first appeals court. The appeal team, with my attorneys Nancy Hollander and Vince Ward, are hoping to file our brief before the court in the next six months. We have already had success in getting the court to respect my gender identity by using feminine pronouns in the court filings (she, her, etc).
Gender transition progressing
I finally began my prescribed regime of hormones to continue my overdue gender transition in February. It’s been such an amazing relief for my body and brain to finally come into alignment with each other. My stress and anxiety levels have tapered off quite considerably.
Overall, things are beginning to move along nicely. I’m so thankful for having all of your support to keep me optimistic. I’m staying strong because of you!
With warm regards
One of Chelsea’s first tweets after she joined Twitter on 3 April 2015.