USA: Chelsea Manning finally free after cruel ordeal
Amnesty International calls for investigation into ‘war crime’ leaks and stronger whistleblower protection
“It seems to me that transparency in government is a fundamental prerequisite to ensuring and protecting the freedom and dignity of all people.” – Chelsea Manning
Chelsea Manning’s long overdue scheduled release from a US military prison today finally ends her punishment for exposing classified information, including of possible war crimes committed by the US military, Amnesty International said.
“Today is a day that thousands of Amnesty International activists across the country and around the world have been campaigning for throughout Chelsea Manning’s cruel ordeal,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
“Chelsea’s treatment is especially galling given that nobody has been held accountable for the alleged crimes that she brought to light. While we celebrate her freedom, we will continue to call for an independent investigation into the potential human rights violations she exposed, and for protections to be put in place to ensure whistleblowers like Chelsea are never again subjected to such appalling treatment.”
Amnesty International has campaigned for Chelsea Manning’s release since 2013, when she was sentenced to 35 years behind bars. Her jail term was much longer than for military personnel convicted of murder, rape and war crimes.
In addition, the US Army whistleblower was held for 11 months in pre-trial detention conditions that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture deemed to be cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. She was placed in solitary confinement as punishment for a suicide attempt, and was denied appropriate treatment related to her gender identity during her incarceration.
Her case was part of Amnesty International’s flagship annual campaign, Write for Rights, in 2014. Worldwide, nearly a quarter of a million actions were taken calling for her release.
In a letter to Amnesty International at the time, Chelsea Manning said: “I support the work you do in protecting people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. It seems to me that transparency in government is a fundamental prerequisite to ensuring and protecting the freedom and dignity of all people.”
Following years of campaigning by Amnesty International and others, former President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence before leaving office in January 2017.
This week Amnesty International launched a new global campaign, We Defend, aimed at highlighting the courageous activists and whistleblowers around the world who often put themselves in grave danger to challenge human rights violations.
“The US authorities’ vindictive treatment of Chelsea Manning after she exposed potential military wrongdoing is a sad reflection of the extremes those in power often go to in order to deter others from speaking out,” said Margaret Huang.
“Chelsea’s release shows, once more, that people power can triumph over injustice – an inspiring message to the many courageous activists defending human rights worldwide who are at the heart of our new global campaign.”
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