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International Peace Bureau awards the Sean MacBride Peace Prize to US whistleblower Bradley Manning
an article by International Peace Bureau

The International Peace Bureau is delighted to announce that this year’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize is to be awarded to Bradley Manning, the US whistleblower whose case has attracted worldwide attention, for his courageous actions in revealing information about US war crimes. His trial is likely to be concluded in the coming days.


Bradley Manning

click on photo to enlarge

Manning was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly leaking more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, 400,000 U.S. Army reports about Iraq and another 90,000 about Afghanistan, as well as the material used in the “Collateral Murder” video produced by WikiLeaks: videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Garani airstrike in Afghanistan. At the time, it constituted the largest set of restricted documents ever leaked to the public. Much of it was published by WikiLeaks or its media partners between April and November 2010.

Manning has so far been detained for three years — first in Kuwait, then in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Va., and finally at a medium-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. —before being charged with 22 offenses, including communicating national defense information to an unauthorized source and aiding the enemy. He pleaded guilty in February 2013 to 10 of the 22 charges, which could carry a sentence of up to 20 years. A full life sentence is now also possible.

IPB's Co-President Tomas Magnusson comments: “IPB believes that among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is within the broad meaning of the Nuremberg Principles enunciated at the end of the Second World War. When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the US military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty”. It is for this reason too that Manning has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In more general terms it is well known that war operations, and especially illegal ones, are frequently conducted under the cover of secrecy. To penetrate this wall of secrecy by revealing information that should be accessible to all is an important contribution to the struggle against war, and acts as a challenge to the military system which dominates both the economy and society in today’s world. IPB believes that whistleblowers are vital in upholding democracies - especially in the area of defense and security. A heavy sentence for Manning would not only be unjust but would also have very negative effects on the right to freedom of expression which the US claims to uphold.

The prize has been awarded each year since 1992 by the International Peace Bureau (IPB), founded in 1892. Previous winners include: Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisian blogger) and Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egyptian author) - 2012, Jackie Cabasso (USA, 2008), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka, 2007) and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2006). It is named after Sean MacBride, a distinguished Irish statesman who shared the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, and is given to individuals or organisations for their outstanding work for peace, disarmament and human rights.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Do whistleblowers have full human rights?,

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

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LATEST READER COMMENT:

Here is the statement of Human Rights Watch in response to the sentencing of Bradley Manning.

UPDATE: On August 21, 2013, a US court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland, imposed a 35-year-sentence on Pfc. Bradley Manning.

“The aggressive prosecution and harsh sentencing of Manning not only contrasts sharply with the total impunity of former senior US officials for torture and related abuses, but also far exceeds the sentences most democratic countries impose for public leaks of sensitive information,” said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch.

On July 30, 2013, Pfc. Bradley Manning was convicted of 19 of 22 counts by a US court martial in Fort Meade, Maryland, for leaking thousands of government documents to the online publisher Wikileaks for public dissemination. The military judge, Col. Denise Lind, acquitted Manning of the most serious charge, “aiding the enemy.” The cumulative charges could amount to 136 years of prison time for Manning. The sentencing phase of his trial will begin on July 31.

The US government decided to proceed with prosecuting Manning after he pled guilty to 10 charges, carrying a total maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The government accused Manning under the Espionage Act of disclosing sensitive national defense-related information to an unauthorized party, Wikileaks – essentially what Manning had already confessed.

Under the Espionage Act, the government did not have to prove that the information actually harmed national security, nor could Manning defend himself by showing the information was of strong public importance. . ...more.


This report was posted on July 19, 2013.