Popular Resistance & Chelsea Manning / The Guardian & Ed Pilkington / The Guardian – 2017-05-15 22:53:26
Chelsea Manning Set To Be Released On May 17, 2017
(May 16, 2017) — On May 17, 2017, Chelsea Manning will be freed from prison after serving seven years. Below is an article she wrote thanking those in prison who helped her get through the ordeal. Chelsea’s exit from prison, after her 30-year sentence was commuted is a cause for celebration by the many thousands who worked for her release.
Chelsea’s release is an opportunity to recognize her courageous whistleblowing and vow to support all whistleblowers; it is for the LGBTQ movement in which her struggle for her own rights have been a beacon for many who seek fair treatment, for the anti-war movement that seeks to end the war crimes she exposed; indeed, her release is a victory for everyone who stands for justice.
Chelsea’s release should encourage all of us to continue to work for justice, defend all whistle blowers, oppose bigotry and work to end war. Let us all build on her release to create the kind of transformation movement we need.
Chelsea still needs support:
Tweet her (@xychelsea), send her a card or a photo to give her strength in these last days of her imprisonment.
A Note from Chelsea Manning:
To those who kept me alive all these years, thank you
When I was afraid, you taught me how to keep going.
When I was lost, you showed me the way
By Chelsea Manning / The Guardian
(April 30, 2017) — To those who have kept me alive for the past six years: minutes after President Obama announced the commutation of my sentence, the prison quickly moved me out of general population and into the restrictive housing unit where I am now held. I know that we are now physically separated, but we will never be apart and we are not alone.
Recently, one of you asked me “Will you remember me?” I will remember you. How could I possibly forget? You taught me lessons I would have never learned otherwise.
When I was afraid, you taught me how to keep going. When I was lost, you showed me the way. When I was numb, you taught me how to feel. When I was angry, you taught me how to chill out. When I was hateful, you taught me how to be compassionate. When I was distant, you taught me how to be close. When I was selfish, you taught me how to share.
Sometimes, it took me a while to learn many things. Other times, I would forget, and you would remind me.
We were friends in a way few will ever understand. There was no room to be superficial. Instead, we bared it all. We could hide from our families and from the world outside, but we could never hide from each other.
We argued, we bickered and we fought with each other. Sometimes, over absolutely nothing. But, we were always a family. We were always united.
When the prison tried to break one of us, we all stood up. We looked out for each other. When they tried to divide us, and systematically discriminated against us, we embraced our diversity and pushed back. But, I also learned from all of you when to pick my battles. I grew up and grew connected because of the community you provided.
Those outside of prison may not believe that we act like human beings under these conditions. But of course we do. And we build our own networks of survival.
I never would have made it without you. Not only did you teach me these important lessons, but you made sure I felt cared for. You were the people who helped me to deal with the trauma of my regular haircuts.
You were the people who checked on me after I tried to end my life. You were the people that played fun games with me. Who wished me a Happy Birthday. We shared the holidays together. You were and will always be family.
For many of you, you are already free and living outside of the prison walls. Many of you will come home soon. Some of you still have many years to go.
The most important thing that you taught me was how to write and how to speak in my own voice. I used to only know how to write memos. Now, I write like a human being, with dreams, desires and connections. I could not have done it without you.
From where I am now, I still think of all of you. When I leave this place in May, I will still think of all of you. And to anyone who finds themselves feeling alone behind bars, know that there is a network of us who are thinking of you. You will never be forgotten.
(January 18, 2017) — During his final news conference, President Barack Obama answered a reporter’s question on why he commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, a former US Army private who provided leaked materials to Wikileaks.
Experts Decry Solitary Confinement for
Chelsea Manning after Suicide Attempt
Studies show solitary confinement can increase the risk of suicide,
leaving mental health professionals shocked at the US military’s decision
Ed Pilkington / The Guardian
NEW YORK (September 24, 2016) â€“ The US military’s decision to punish Chelsea Manning with solitary confinement as a reprimand for a recent suicide attempt has provoked shock and outrage among clinical experts and mental health practitioners who warn that it risks further aggravating the soldier’s vulnerable state of mind.
A disciplinary panel at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking US state secrets, ordered that the army private serve 14 days in an isolation cell after she tried to take her own life in July.
She was disciplined on Thursday under a charge known as “conduct which threatens”, which alleged that by making an attempt on her own life Manning had interfered with the “orderly running, safety, good order and discipline, or security” of the facility.
But psychologists and other clinical professionals specializing in mental health and suicide prevention were astounded by the punishment, which they said flew in the face of current thinking. Numerous studies over many years have shown that even short spells in a solitary confinement cell can dramatically increase the risk of suicide in both civilian and military prisoners.
A 2004 study in Californian prisons found that 73% of suicides in incarceration happened in isolation cells, where less than 10% of the prison population of the state was being held. Separate research in New York City concluded that prisoners in solitary were seven times more likely to harm themselves than those in the general prison population.
“It is pretty well established that solitary confinement has a very detrimental effect on a person’s mental health and for people with pre-existing mental vulnerabilities it can be close to torturous,” said Ron Hornberg of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health advocacy group.
“It’s a sure-fire way to worsen symptoms.”
Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the US army in Iraq who leaked hundreds of thousands of warlogs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, revealing the impact of modern warfare, intends to appeal against her solitary sentence and has the next 15 days to do so. Until that is resolved she is likely to remain in the general population of the Fort Leavenworth prison. While at Fort Leavenworth, she has written for the Guardian.
David Rudd, a clinical psychologist who is president of the University of Memphis, said there was a glaring disconnect between the extensive work the US military was doing to try to drive down suicide rates among serving personnel and veterans and the treatment of Manning.
Rudd participated in a Pentagon-funded scientific study into the military’s approach to mental health services, which produced new guidelines on helping veterans manage mental illness more effectively that have led to a dramatic improvement in post-treatment suicide attempt rates.
He was sharply critical of the decision to apply isolation in Manning’s case. “Solitary confinement doesn’t enhance the management of mental illness,” he said.
Rudd said he was puzzled by the Manning ruling: “The military have invested significantly in understanding how to deal with suicidal behavior, but certainly this response shows a disconnect between the goal of moving towards what we know works and what, by contrast, elevates risk.”
Not only is suicide a major problem for the US armed forces themselves but it is also running at epidemic levels within the transgender community. That means that Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman held in a male military prison wing, straddles two highly vulnerable communities.
Studies have suggested that up to 40% of transgender people attempt suicide.
Danielle Castro, a project director with the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health in San Francisco, which provides clinical services for trans people, said placing Manning in solitary would “further perpetuate her mental health issues and isolate her more. Even 24 hours of isolation can put somebody in danger”.
Earlier this month, the US government agreed to allow Manning to have gender realignment surgery as part of her transition. But her lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, Chase Strangio, told the Guardian the solitary confinement rap sent a message that she will be “punished for trying to end her life and punished for living.
“It is hard to be hopeful that humane treatment is forthcoming,” Strangio said, “given how aggressively they have been punishing her.”
* In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255; Trans Lifeline runs a phone hotline staffed by trans people for trans people on 1 877 565 8860. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email email@example.com. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.
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