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10s of 1000s Demand US Army Drop Charges Over Manning Suicide Attempt

© AP Photo / U.S. ArmyChelsea Manning
Chelsea Manning - Sputnik International
Over 30,000 people have now signed a petition directed at the Secretary of the Army urging them to drop new charges against imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning for attempting to end her own life.

Manning is facing harsh new charges relating to her July 5 suicide attempt, which could leave her in indefinite solitary confinement, reclassification into maximum security, an additional nine years in medium custody, and/or negating her chances at parole. The charges include “resisting the force cell move team;” “prohibited property;” and “conduct which threatens,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

“This is a moment when everyone who cares about freedom of speech and human rights needs to be speaking out on behalf of Chelsea Manning,” Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer told Sputnik Radio’s Unanimous Dissent. “She is already incredibly vulnerable, she is dealing with the serious stresses of having been held in inhumane conditions for so long — and now the US government is threatening her with even more punishment and abuse — at a time when she needs to be receiving adequate healthcare and more humane treatment. It’s a very serious situation and one that everyone needs to be paying attention to.”

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Greer explained that the new charges could potentially leave Manning in solitary confinement for the duration of her sentence — another three decades — despite the fact that the United Nations considers any extended period of time in solitary confinement to be a form of torture.

“It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life,” ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio wrote in a press release. “The government has long been aware of Chelsea's distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary.”

“Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain,” Strangio continued. “It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover.”

The petition explains that the charge of “resisting the force cell move team” is especially preposterous, given the fact that Manning was unconscious when they arrived. It also notes the absurdity of the “conduct which threatens” charge, as she was alone, quietly, in her own cell during the attempt.

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Further, Greer explained to Sputnik that the “prohibited item” she is said to have had in her possession was not actually an illegal item for her to have prior to being used in the suicide attempt.

“It is unnecessarily cruel to threaten Chelsea with additional punishment while in this very vulnerable state. The government is trying to silence her important voice––for good. Chelsea has been systematically mistreated by the US government since she was first taken into custody in 2010, including long stretches of extreme solitary confinement even before she had ever been convicted,” the petition states.

Manning is a transgender woman in an all-male prison and has been denied medical treatment for her gender dysphoria — which her supporters believe to be a factor in her depression and suicidal actions.

“Chelsea is a transgender woman being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, which is in itself dehumanizing and exhausting emotionally. She is currently being denied medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, which experts have stated is the only course of treatment through which she would no longer be suicidal,” the petition continues.

Last year, Manning was threatened with solitary confinement over having LGBTQ reading materials and an expired tube of toothpaste. A previous petition, and outcry, to keep her out of solitary was effective and gained over 100,000 signatures.

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