With over 2,900 votes, the people have chosen PFC Bradley Manning as the 2012 People’s Choice Award winner. Global Exchange is proud to honor Bradley Manning, and we hope you’ll take a moment to read more about this year’s winner.
It takes great courage to stand for what you know is right. Bradley Manning, a 24-year-old Army intelligence analyst, joined the army at age 19. Before deploying to Iraq, when a friend asked that he “stay safe,” Bradley replied, “I’m more concerned about making sure that everyone: soldiers, marines, contractors, even the local nationals, get home to their families.”
Bradley is accused of leaking a video showing the killing of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also charged with sharing the documents known as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and embarrassing U.S. diplomatic cables, with the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. The video and documents have exposed the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, human rights abuses by U.S. funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the influence that corporate interests have on U.S. foreign policy. Journalists have credited the release of these documents with helping to motivate the democratic revolution in Tunisia as well as the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
In chat logs attributed to Bradley by the FBI, he explains what motivated him to act:
“I can’t separate myself from others…I feel connected to everybody…like they were distant family…I…care? I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy. I think I’ve been traumatized too much by reality, to care about consequences of shattering the fantasy…God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussions, debates, and reforms…I want people to see the truth…regardless of who they are…because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
Although Bradley has not yet been tried, he was held in solitary confinement for the first 10 months of his incarceration. During this time he was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction, sunlight, and was occasionally kept completely naked. In one week in April 2011, over a half million people signed a petition to end his illegal treatment, as those conditions serve as “a chilling deterrent to other potential whistleblowers committed to public integrity.” His supporters include famous whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, over 300 top legal scholars, veterans, and civilians around the world.
If the military continues refusing to acknowledge Bradley as a whistleblower, he may become the first person in U.S. history to be convicted of “Aiding the enemy through indirect means,” a crime punishable by life in prison or the death penalty, for telling the public the truth.
To learn more about how to support Bradley Manning, please visit the website of the Bradley Manning Support Committee: bradleymanning.org
Join us on Thursday, May 10, 2012 as we honor Human Rights Award Honorees Bradley Manning and Annie Leonard at the Tenth Annual Human Rights Awards in San Francisco. (Note that Bradley’s award will be accepted by a representative)
For more information about the Human Rights Awards, and to purchase tickets, please visit humanrightsaward.org.