Supporters, including REM’s Michael Stipe and Daniel Ellsberg, launch new campaign at FreeChelsea.com demanding U.S. government drop charges stemming from suicide attempt
LEAVENWORTH, KS––Chelsea Manning has ended a hunger strike that she began five days ago, after the U.S. military has agreed to move forward with the recommended treatment for her gender dysphoria. However, the Army is continuing to threaten Chelsea with solitary confinement for charges directly related to her attempt to take her own life, even though it was the government’s own mistreatment of Chelsea that drove her to it.
Supporters have launched a new effort at FreeChelsea.com calling for the charges to be dropped. The site features a petition to the Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning as well as videos uploaded by supporters including Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.
Chelsea alerted attorneys and supporters that she was ending the hunger strike after government officials showed her a memo stating that she will receive gender-reassignment surgery, under the DOD’s new policy affecting transgender service members. If this occurs, Manning will be the first transgender prisoner in the U.S. to receive this medically recommended treatment, setting a precedent that could benefit thousands of transgender prisoner.
“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,” said Chelsea Manning in a statement to her attorneys. “But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long. Also, why were such drastic measures needed? The surgery was recommended back in April 2016. The recommendations for my hair length were back in 2014. In any case, I hope this sets a precedent for the thousands of trans people behind me hoping they will be given the treatment they need.”
“It is a relief to hear that the government has finally agreed to move forward with providing Chelsea with the health care that she is legally entitled to and is medically needed. We hope that they will act to provide this care without delay in order to ensure that her suffering does not continue,” said Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s attorney at the ACLU, “This medical care is absolutely vital for Chelsea. It was the government’s refusal to provide her with the necessary care that led her to attempt suicide earlier this year, and it was all the more troubling when she became subject to an investigation and possible punishment in connection with the suicide attempt. We hope that the government recognizes that charging Chelsea with the crime of being denied essential health care is outrageous and drops those charges.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people spoke out in support of Chelsea, and now the government is finally agreeing to provide her with the healthcare treatment that she needs,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, the digital rights group behind FreeChelsea.com that has supported Chelsea over the last year, “but now that the Army is acknowledging Chelsea deserves this treatment, it’s even more outrageous that they’re still threatening her with solitary confinement for charges related to her own suicide attempt. It was the government’s refusal to grant Chelsea access to needed health care that led to her suicide attempt in the first place.”
Chelsea’s supporters plan to release more videos to raise awareness about the new petition at FreeChelsea.com in the coming days.
Indie pop star Mirah, Ethiopian dance troupe Debo Band, best of Boston hip hop Foundation Movement and others to play free show on October 7th to raise awareness about the TPP corporate power grab
BOSTON, MA––On Friday, October 7th, as part of the nationwide Rock Against the TPP tour, prominent musicians will lead the charge in mobilizing to raise awareness about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the unpopular and anti-democratic deal that has been a contentious issue in the 2016 election. The tour, which is the largest mobilization against the TPP in U.S. history, comes to Spontaneous Celebrations in Jamaica Plain from 6pm - 10pm for a FREE concert featuring indie star Mirah, beloved Ethiopian dance-pop troupe Debo Band, renowned Boston hip hop duo Foundation Movement, and more.
The concert will be followed by a teach-in on “How to Fight the TPP” on Saturday, October 8th hosted by experts from a wide range of organizations opposing the TPP. Time and location TBA.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about ‘free trade,’ it’s about corruption,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future and lead organizer of the tour, who is based in Jamaica Plain, and organizes the popular Break the Chains LGBTQ dance party series in Boston, “we’re harnessing the power of music and culture to sound the alarm about this corporate power grab and stop it in its tracks.”
Organized by digital rights group Fight for the Future in partnership with legendary guitarist Tom Morello (Prophets of Rage, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave) and riot-folk singer Ryan Harvey’s record label Firebrand Records, previous stops on the tour have featured high-profile participants including actress Evangeline Lilly, hip hop icon Talib Kweli, comedian Hari Kondabolu, Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra, legendary punk band Anti-Flag, Danbert Nobacon of the UK sensation Chumbawamba, Adult Swim comedian Eric Andre, and ANTI records songwriter Jolie Holland. The roadshow has already drawn large crowds in Denver, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco.
The TPP has little to do with trade, but instead grants multinational corporations extraordinary new powers to threaten jobs, the environment, affordable medicine, free speech, and food safety. The Rock Against the TPP tour brings together a broad coalition of supporters including digital rights groups, labor unions, environmental groups, and small businesses, and is sponsored by Backbone Campaign, Citizens Trade Campaign, Communications Workers of America (CWA), CREDO, Demand Progress, Friends of the Earth, the International Labor Rights Forum, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, SumOfUs, the Teamsters, and United Steelworkers. Organizers plan to announce additional dates to the tour soon.
Additional performers at the October 7th event include afro-latin rock group Taina Asili y La Banda Rebelde and Firebrand Records artist Bell’s Roar.
Punk legend Jello Biafra, hip hop icons Dead Prez, Grammy winners La Santa Cecilia among participants in event protesting anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership deal
SAN FRANCISCO, CA––As the White House readies a final desperate push for the unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, large crowds turned out for the “Rock Against the TPP” tour stop in San Francisco over the weekend as part of a nationwide tour of large-scale concerts, teach-ins, and protests featuring high profile musicians and celebrities.
The packed San Francisco concert at Regency Ballroom featured performances by hip hop icons Dead Prez, former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra, Grammy winners La Santa Cecilia, and a wide range of other notable performers. The Rock Against the TPP tour has been drawing large crowds across the country all summer, with previous stops in Denver, San Diego, Seatte, and Portland amplified by well-known artists including Talib Kweli, actress Evangeline Lilly, punk band Anti-Flag, Danbert Nobacon of Chumbawamba, comedians Hari Kondabolu and Eric Andre, and ANTI-records songwriter Jolie Holland.
Organized by legendary guitarist Tom Morello (Prophets of Rage, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave) and Ryan Harvey’s new label, Firebrand Records and digital rights group Fight for the Future, the tour is sponsored by Backbone Campaign, Citizens Trade Campaign, Communications Workers of America (CWA), CREDO, Demand Progress, Friends of the Earth, the International Labor Rights Forum, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, SumOfUs, the Teamsters, United Steelworkers.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about ‘free trade,’ it’s about corruption,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future and lead organizer of the tour, “we’re harnessing the power of music and culture to sound the alarm about this corporate power grab and stop it in its tracks.”
The tour stops next at a Canadian solidarity event in Toronto on September 16th featuring Anti-Flag and Rebel Diaz, and in Boston on Friday, October 7th featuring beloved indie-pop star Mirah and Ethiopian dance-pop troupe Debo Band. Additional tour dates are to be announced.
UPDATE: Fight for the Future has launched a petition supporting Chelsea in her hunger strike. See the petition here.
Today, after years of requesting the care she needs for gender dysphoria, Chelsea Manning has released a statement about the start of her hunger strike.
Chelsea is demanding written assurances from the Army she will receive all of the medically prescribed recommendations for her gender dysphoria and that the “high tech bullying” will stop. “High tech bullying,” is what Chelsea describes as “the constant, deliberate and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials.”
Following her sentencing, Chelsea has respectfully requested that the US Government give her treatment for her gender dysphoria. Over a year later, Chelsea filed a lawsuit in September of 2014, where she sued the government to get a battery of treatments. As a result, she began hormone therapy in February of 2015.
However, the military has been making her cut her hair to the male length and grooming standards. As part of her treatment, her doctors recommended that she follow the military prison’s female hair grooming standards. In September of 2015 she amended her lawsuit, asking that the government allow her to grow her hair. The government’s response in December 2015 was “no.” The case is still active before a DC District court judge.
Statement from Chelsea Manning:
“I need help. I am not getting any. I have asked for help time and time again for six years and through five separate confinement locations. My request has only been ignored, delayed, mocked, given trinkets and lip service by the prison, the military, and this administration.”
“I need help. I needed help earlier this year. I was driven to suicide by the lack of care for my gender dysphoria that I have been desperate for. I didn’t get any. I still haven’t gotten any.”
“I needed help. Yet, instead I am now being punished for surviving my attempt. When I was a child, my father would beat me repeatedly for simply not being masculine enough. I was told to stop crying—to "suck it up.” But, I couldn’t stop crying. The pain just got worse and worse. Until finally, I just couldn’t take the pain anymore.“
"I needed help, but no one came then. No one is coming now.”
“Today, I have decided that I am no longer going to be bullied by this prison—or by anyone within the U.S. government. I have asked for nothing but the dignity and respect—that I once actually believed would be provided for—afforded to any living human being.”
“I do not believe that this should be dependent on any arbitrary factors—whether you are cisgender or transgender; service member or civilian, citizen or non-citizen. In response to virtually every request, I have been granted limited, if any, dignity and respect—just more pain and anguish.”
“I am no longer asking. Now, I am demanding. As of 12:01 am Central Daylight Time on September 9, 2016, and until I am given minimum standards of dignity, respect, and humanity, I shall—refuse to voluntarily cut or shorten my hair in any way; consume any food or drink voluntarily, except for water and currently prescribed medications; and comply with all rules, regulations, laws, and orders that are not related to the two things I have mentioned.”
“This is a peaceful act. I intend to keep it as peaceful and non-violent, on my end, as possible. Any physical harm that should come to me at the hands of military or civilian staff will be unnecessary and vindictive. I will not physically resist or in any way harm another person. I have also submitted a "do not resuscitate” letter that is effective immediately. This shall include any attempts to forcibly cut or shorten my hair or to forcibly feed me by any medical or pseudo-medical means.“
"Until I am shown dignity and respect as a human again, I shall endure this pain before me. I am prepared for this mentally and emotionally. I expect that this ordeal will last for a long time. Quite possibly until my permanent incapacitation or death. I am ready for this.”
Organizers of the nationwide Rock Against the TPP celebrity concert tour––which seeks to harness the power of music and culture to sound the alarm about the anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement––have released a new video featuring footage from recent stops in Seattle and Portland where the tour drew large crowds, and performances and interviews with well known artists including hip hop icon Talib Kweli, comedian Hari Kondabolu, Navajo punk band Sihasin, and Danbert Nobacon of UK sensation Chumbawamba.
The tour kicked off in Denver in July and has stopped in San Diego, Seattle, and Portland. Upcoming stops include San Francisco this Friday at an event featuring revolutionary hip hop legends Dead Prez, followed by stops in Toronto, Boston, and Washington, DC. High profile participants in the tour have included Rage Against the Machine / Prophets of Rage guitarist Tom Morello, popular punk band Anti-Flag, golden globe nominated actress Evangeline Lilly, and more.
“Artists have a very special place because we have a platform we can voice the struggle. We can voice the people that dedicate their lives to the struggle. We can voice the people that’s on the front lines,” says hip hop legend Talib Kweli during his performance.
“As indigenous people, we’re kind of like the canaries in the coal mine. When there is environmental destruction, when there are corporations that are coming after our natural resources, as indigenous people we’re usually the ones on the front lines,” Jeneda Benally of the Navajo punk band Sihasin explains in her interview. Her brother, Clayson Benally, added, “When you give corporations total authority and power to change laws, that’s going too far. When they first come to strip away our rights, who’s next?”
“The TPP is a corporate protection agreement that increases the rights of corporations and supersedes existing laws in nations that bind themselves to the contract,” says Hawaiian slack-guitar legend Makana in the video, “it basically gives corporations a free pass to do whatever they want.”
“People are more willing to listen to a musician or a comedian or a poet because they appreciate other elements. They appreciate laughter, they appreciate the music, they appreciate how something is written,” said comedian Hari Kondabolu, “So if you’re somebody who’s already on board, it’s inspiring, right? People say you’re preaching to the choir, but sometimes the choir needs that. And then for folks who aren’t in the movement, who don’t see a lot of this stuff, to be in that space and actually question themselves in a way that they’re not being yelled at is another way to get the message.”
“It’s basically just a money grab,” said Danbert Nobacon of Chumbawamba, “it’s transferring wealth from the taxpayers to corporations who are not even in the same country.”
The TPP has little to do with trade, but instead grants multinational corporations extraordinary new powers to threaten jobs, the environment, affordable medicine, free speech, and food safety. The Rock Against the TPP tour brings together a broad coalition of supporters including digital rights groups, labor unions, environmental groups, and small businesses, and is sponsored by Backbone Campaign, Citizens Trade Campaign, Communications Workers of America (CWA), CREDO, Demand Progress, Friends of the Earth, the International Labor Rights Forum, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, SumOfUs, the Teamsters, and United Steelworkers.
The tour is organized by digital rights group Fight for the Future and Firebrand Records, the social justice fueled record label from Tom Morello and Ryan Harvey. Learn more at https://www.rockagainstthetpp.org