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Wrexham: First Gulf War and Bradley Manning

The first bombing raid of the Gulf War was launched on Iraq 20 years ago. On 15 January members of Wrexham Peace & Justice Forum and supporters organised a stall in the town centre with a display of information about the effects of war and sanctions on Iraqi children.

Children’s shoes were displayed alongside the information to remind us of all the lost children of Iraq. Well over a million Iraqi children have died either as a direct result of warfare or indirectly, following the destruction of infrastructure and vital services in targeted bombing raids, through punitive UN sanctions, and the deadly legacy of depleted uranium weaponry. Millions more have been injured, maimed or traumatised.

Bradley Manning

The stall included information about Bradley Manning, who has been held in solitary confinement in a US military prison for over eight months in conditions which amount to torture, even though he has yet to be tried or convicted of any offence. Bradley Manning is suspected of leaking the “Collateral Murder” video (released through WikiLeaks) which shows a US helicopter attack in Iraq in 2007 that killed at least 12 people, including two Reuters journalists. Two children were seriously injured when a van used to go to the victims’ aid was also attacked, the soldiers laughing as they fired. The truth about this incident was covered up by the US military.

Manning is being held in conditions banned under US law. Campaigners around the world are using this anniversary to call for his release and for his proper and humane treatment while in custody. Bradley Manning is 23, his mother is Welsh, and he went to school in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, where he was known for his intelligence and passion for righting wrongs.

Bradley Manning has reportedly been kept for eight months in a small cell, allowed neither pillow, sheets, books, stimulus or contact with fellow humans, and he has been subjected to sleep deprivation. Prison doctors have complained at this treatment.

West Wales Mothers

The network West Wales Mothers applaud Bradley Manning as a “world hero”, requesting people in Wales to lobby their assembly representatives.

“Bradley Manning could have done the bravest thing in our lifetimes,” said Vicky Moller of West Wales Mothers. “He outed the actions of the USA forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, letting the US population know what they were paying for, what was being done in their names. It is ‘our side’s’ military crimes he is helping to put right by exposing to truth. We need to encourage not punish the courage to let people know. The treatment of this very young man in isolation has given rise to an outcry which has reduced the extreme treatment a little, but he is still facing a life of undeserved imprisonment.”