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Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike as US Army Concedes to Surgery Demands

Imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning has ended a hunger strike that she announced last Thursday, after the Army agreed to allow her to receive gender-transition surgery.

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The 28-year-old will be the first inmate to receive gender-affirming surgery while imprisoned, the American Civil Liberties Union announced in a statement. 

"I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted — for them to let me be me," Manning said in a statement.

The decision to allow her to receive treatment follows a July lift on transgender people being banned from serving in the military, a new standard which also allows soldiers to undergo transition while actively serving.

In July, Manning attempted to end her own life, and is now facing the possibility of harsh charges that could land her in solitary confinement or reclassified to maximum security for the duration of her 35-year sentence.

The charges include “resisting the force cell move team;” “prohibited property;” and “conduct which threatens,” according to the ACLU.

“It is unnecessarily cruel to threaten Chelsea with additional punishment while in this very vulnerable state,” a petition against the charges states. “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.” 

A supporter holds up a poster of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, Britain February 5, 2016. - Sputnik International
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While Manning will receive the surgery, she will still be forced to comply with male hair styling rules.

"This is a monumental day for Chelsea, who can now enjoy some peace knowing that critically needed medical care is forthcoming,” ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio told Reuters. "Thankfully the government has recognized its constitutional obligation to provide Chelsea with the medical care that she needs."

​The whistleblower leaked thousands of classified Army documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, including diplomatic cables and airstrike videos, which later became known as the Afghan War Diaries. She was later charged with 21 counts of espionage and sentenced to 35 years behind bars in Fort Leavenworth, the only maximum-security military prison on US soil. 

Speaking to Brian Becker on Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear, anti-war activist, Party for Socialism and Liberation leader, and former US Marine Michael Prysner discussed the importance of Manning’s actions.

“Today, we see that every politician has to say that they were against the Iraq War, or that they admit it was a mistake — I mean both presidential candidates, Trump and Clinton, either lie and say they were against it at the beginning or apologize for it and say it was a mistake,” Prysner stated.

“So now, something that is widely accepted as, at the very least, a complete disastrous mistake, but at worst an intentional grave crime against humanity, and even though this is accepted across the board, the person who played probably the biggest role in ending the war has received a life sentence,” Prysner stated, though it is important to note that she did not receive a life sentence, but rather 35 years.

Prysner declared that we cannot overstate the role that Manning played in ending the Iraq War when she revealed the widespread abuse being committed against civilians and the complete impunity of the actions taken by US soldiers.

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