[Pnews] Chelsea Manning Spent Most of the Last Decade in Prison. The U.N. Says Her Latest Stint Is Tantamount to Torture

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat Jan 4 09:40:15 EST 2020


https://theintercept.com/2020/01/02/chelsea-manning-torture-prison-united-nations/?fbclid=IwAR18aT5NCYisAsRfPH9lXt6RgsslAjTIIYZqGJUhBGh-2jHwG6097RTXeS0
Chelsea
Manning Spent Most of the Last Decade in Prison. The U.N. Says Her Latest
Stint Is Tantamount to Torture.
Natasha Lennard - January 2, 2020
------------------------------

[image: ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - MAY 16: Former U.S. Army intelligence
analyst Chelsea Manning addresses reporters before entering the Albert
Bryan U.S federal courthouse May 16, 2019 in Alexandria, Virginia. Manning,
who previously served four years in prison for providing classified
information to Wikileaks, could face additional jail time for refusing to
cooperate in an additional grand jury investigation. (Photo by Win
McNamee/Getty Images)]

Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning addresses reporters
before entering the Albert Bryan U.S. federal courthouse in Alexandria,
Va., on May 16, 2019.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

*On New Year’s* Eve, as personal reflections on the last decade flooded in,
Chelsea Manning’s account tweeted
<https://twitter.com/xychelsea/status/1212133957258620928> that she had
spent 77.76 percent of her time since 2009 in jail. That same day, the
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer publicly released
<https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=24925>
a letter from late last year accusing the United States of submitting
Manning to treatment that is tantamount to torture.

“Such deprivation of liberty does not constitute a circumscribed sanction
for a specific offense, but an open-ended progressively severe measure of
coercion.”

It does not take a U.N. expert to recognize the current conditions of
Manning’s incarceration as a form of torture. It is the very definition of
torture to submit a person to physical and mental suffering in an effort to
force an action from them. Since May, Manning has been held in a Virginia
jail for refusing to testify
<https://theintercept.com/2019/03/02/chelsea-manning-subpoena-grand-jury/>
before a federal grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. Manning has not been
charged with or convicted of a crime. And her imprisonment on the grounds
of “civil contempt” is explicitly coercive: If she agrees to testify, she
can walk free. If she continues to remain silent, she can be held for the
18-month duration of the grand jury or, as the U.N. official noted,
“indefinitely with the subsequent establishment of successive grand juries.”

Each day she is caged, Manning is also fined $1,000. If she is released at
the end of the current grand jury, she will owe the state nearly $500,000 —
an unprecedented punishment for grand jury resistance. And Manning has made
clear
<https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pajk7y/i-would-rather-starve-to-death-chelsea-manning-heads-back-to-jail-after-refusing-to-testify>,
she would “rather starve to death” than comply with the repressive grand
jury system, a judicial black box historically deployed against social
justice movements.

“Such deprivation of liberty does not constitute a circumscribed sanction
for a specific offense, but an open-ended progressively severe measure of
coercion,” Melzer, the U.N. special rapporteur, wrote of Manning’s
treatment. Melzer’s November letter, which was made public this week,
stated that Manning’s coercive imprisonment fulfills “all the constitutive
elements of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment” and “should be discontinued or abolished without delay.” The
letter asks that the U.S. government provide factual and legal grounds for
Manning’s ongoing imprisonment and fines, “especially after her categorical
and persistent refusal to give testimony demonstrates the lack of their
coercive effect.”

Manning’s supporters and legal team have long stressed that no such legal
grounds exist. Manning has proven again and again that her grand jury
resistance is unshakeable; the coercive grounds for imprisonment are thus
undermined and her jailing is revealed to be purely punitive. Federal Judge
Anthony Trenga, who ordered Manning’s torturous incarceration, should be
compelled to release her as a point of law, regardless of U.N. censure.
This is not to say, however, that coercive incarceration is defensible in
cases where it works to compel testimony — it is not. Manning’s resistance
has highlighted the brutality of the practice tout court.
<https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6595208-United-Nations-Special-Rapporteur-on-Torture.html#document/p1>

*Manning’s attorney, civil* rights lawyer Moira Meltzer-Cohen, said that
she hopes the U.N. official’s letter calls greater attention to the use of
coercive detention generally, as well as the specific cruel treatment of
her client. “While the United States has failed to live up to its human
rights obligations, I remain hopeful that the government will reconsider
its policies in light of the U.N.’s admonition,” Meltzer-Cohen said in a
public statement. She also told me that the U.N. special rapporteur’s
recognition of Manning’s refusal to be coerced can serve as further
evidence to the judge.

In a statement from jail, Manning said, “I am thrilled to see the practice
of coercive confinement called out for what it is: incompatible with
international human rights standards.” The grand jury resister is, however,
under no illusions about the U.S. government’s willingness to flout its
purported human rights obligations in the face of admonitions from the
international community. As she put it, “even knowing I am very likely to
stay in jail for an even longer time, I’m never backing down.”

“I am thrilled to see the practice of coercive confinement called out for
what it is: incompatible with international human rights standards.”

Indeed, as the U.N. special rapporteur noted, his predecessor wrote a
number of appeals
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/mar/12/bradley-manning-cruel-inhuman-treatment-un>
to the U.S. government from 2010 onwards regarding the cruel and torturous
treatment to which Manning was subjected prior to and during her
confinement in military prison. Yet her 35-year sentence was not commuted
until 2017 by President Barack Obama. Manning noted in her New Year’s Eve
tweet that she spent 11.05 percent of the last decade in solitary
confinement and over half of her years behind bars “fighting for gender
affirming care.” She attempted
<https://theintercept.com/2016/11/08/the-true-scandal-of-2016-was-the-torture-of-chelsea-manning/>
to take her own life twice during her time at the military prison in Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas.

Suffice it to say, U.N. appeals have never secured Manning’s liberty or
safety. And as, Meltzer-Cohen noted in her statement on the U.N. official’s
letter, “In the two months since the letter was conveyed to the United
States, Ms. Manning has remained confined, and the daily fines imposed upon
her have continued to accrue.”

If the letter fails to sway the government, it should, at the very least,
serve as a public reminder to support a political prisoner. Though the last
decade of Manning’s life has been marked by torture, she has responded with
fierce resistance and struggle for liberatory social justice at every turn.
In the tweet tabulating her last 10 years, Manning ended by noting that she
devoted “0.00%” of her time “backing down.” The U.N. special rapporteur’s
recognition of her refusal to be coerced is welcome. Our solidarity
<https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/chelsea-manning-needs-legal-funds-to-resist-a-grand-jury-subpoena>
is more than deserved.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20200104/506b1721/attachment.html>


More information about the PPnews mailing list