|A song or two for Bradley from Dave Rovics|
By Theo Russell
DAYS BEFORE the start of Bradley Manning’s formal court martial, 250 people gathered outside the United States embassy in London to demand his release as a conscientious whistle-blower after more than three years’ imprisonment.
Ben Griffin, a former SAS soldier who fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq, refused to return to Iraq for reasons of conscience and went on to form Veterans for Peace UK, told the protest: “Young people going to fight in Afghanistan can see that Nato’s war is leading more and more Afghanis to join the Taliban, and soldiers are refusing to go on patrol and organising unofficial local truces with the Taliban.
“Bradley Manning is the most significant resister within the military in the last 10 years. He saw that what was happening in Iraq and Afghanistan wasn’t just a few bad apples as our governments tell us, but a systematic policy.
“We need to start supporting these people who are opposing wars on the streets. We will encourage more resistance within the military and we will stop these wars.”
Former navy medic Michael Lyons of Veterans for Peace, described how he refused to obey orders to deploy to Afghanistan after reading information leaked by Bradley Manning. He then decided to educate himself about the war.
He served nine months in prison as a conscientious objector. Veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “Manning sought to make the US government accountable to the people so that they know the truth.
“He is one in a long line of good soldiers who refuse to follow orders when those orders are wrong”.
The meeting was also addressed by fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who warned of the threat to freedom of the press if Bradley Manning is convicted.
Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, and speakers from many other organisations addressed the rally.
Protest songs were provided by American singer and songwriter Dave Rovics, John McClean and Roland Gianstefani.