A day of action in solidarity with Welsh-American whistleblower Chelsea Manning was held on Tuesday 12 August as the Long March on Newport stopped off in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire where Manning attended the local Tasker Milward school as a teenager and has many family connections. On Wednesday 13 August the march passed Brawdy military base where Manning's father, then a US Navy intelligence analyst, was stationed in the 1970s.
The march is one of many protests against the NATO Summit which will be held in Newport on 4 & 5 September. A week of action, workshops and a counter-summit are planned in Newport and Cardiff from 30 August. See Stop NATO Cymru, No NATO Newport and this feature for more details. Many of the documents released by Manning, for which courageous act she is now serving 35 years in a military jail, expose NATO's wars and corruption.
Postcards with messages for NATO leaders (Castle Square)
Sympathetic Italian cyclists at Newgale Beach
Manning and the NATO connection
Locals and holidaymakers passing through Castle Square, Haverfordwest on Tuesday were invited to write messages to NATO leaders on large postcards. These will be delivered during the summit in Newport on September 4 & 5. Many of the heartfelt messages urged NATO leaders to end their wars, with numerous references to the civilian victims of warfare.
Leaflets distributed during the day explained how some of the documents released by Chelsea Manning relate to and expose NATO, for example:
Afghan War Diary exposed NATO's war in Afghanistan
The Afghan War Diary, a collection of daily reports and logs, reveals the unvarnished truth about the NATO-led Afghan war, exposing lies and cover up. It shows how coalition forces killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, such as a US machine gun attack on a bus in which 15 civilian passengers were killed or wounded and an attack by Polish troops that killed a whole wedding party including a pregnant woman in an apparent revenge attack. British troops are also implicated in questionable shootings, one involving the death of the son of an Afghan general , while other documents reveal the existence of a secret unit of special forces, hunting down and killing Taliban leaders without trial, and extra-judicial killings carried out using armed drones. In spite of this and the huge sums spent on the war, the War Diary reveals that the Taliban, far from being damaged, increased in strength since 2001.
Manning herself has said: "In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists... I believed if the general public had access to the information this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general..."
We do have that access now. Visit and search the Afghan & Iraq War Diaries.
Cablegate reveals more NATO corruption
A leaked cable from the US delegation to NATO states that "Norway's ambassador emphasised the need to avoid a public debate about the reporting of the number of [Afghani] civilians killed," going on to note that "UN employees themselves in Kabul doubt the method [of tracking casualties] that is used."
Secret cables from 2009 reveal NATO's plan to try and extend its territory right up to the Russian border in Ukraine, in full knowledge of the likely disastrous outcome of this for Ukraine. Foreign policy experts had condemned such a plan as "recklessly provocative".
Another 2009 cable exposes corruption in the appointment of the current Danish Secretary General of NATO, Anders Rasmussen, at the time PM of Denmark. The US put pressure on Denmark to help close down a Kurdish TV channel to appease Turkey who in return had agreed not to block Rasmussen's appointment.
Visit and search Cablegate.
Chelsea Manning sacrificed her freedom to bring us this information. She said:
"I want people to see the truth... regardless of who they are... because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public."
After spending the day in Castle Square, we put up banners for Chelsea Manning over the main A40 road to Fishguard during the evening rush hour, visible to drivers travelling in both directions along the dual carriageway.On Wednesday 13 August, the march continued on its way, passing through Newgale and past Brawdy military base where Chelsea Manning's father, then a US Navy intelligence analyst, was stationed in the 1970s. The US Navy unit based on the site was the processing centre for a network of underwater microphones designed to pick up the propellor sounds of Soviet submarines. The US and RAF left the base years ago. Now known as Cawdor Barracks, it is currently home to 14 Signal Regiment, the British army’s electronic warfare unit.
Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, was sentenced last August to 35 years imprisonment in a US military jail following over three years of pre-trial detention during which she endured illegal pre-trial punishment and a court martial process that produced the longest trial record in military history. Amnesty International has recently called for Manning's immediate release. Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director Amnesty International said "It is an absolute outrage that Chelsea Manning is currently languishing behind bars whilst those she helped to expose, who are potentially guilty of human rights violations, enjoy impunity."
Manning is also seeking to receive hormone therapy for gender dysphoria while in prison. Attorney David Coombs and the American Civil Liberties Union have this week notified the Department of Defense and Fort Leavenworth where Manning is being held that a lawsuit will be filed if military officials do not confirm by September 4 that the treatment will be provided for Manning.
For interviews about the Long March on Newport, contact: Marie on 07510 911460.