Bradley Manning is a Goddamn Hero!
March Held to Support WikiLeaks and Alleged Leaker
In what may have been the first protest in support of a website in Montreal’s history, over 40 demonstrators met outside of the Guy-Concordia Metro station on Dec. 18 to march in support of WikiLeaks.
With the whistleblower website under intense scrutiny from the world’s governments due to its slow release of 251,287 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables—only 1 per cent of which has been published so far—the march was meant to boost popular support for the website.
“That turnout was sufficient to prove the point that more than a few people care about the freedom of information,” said co-organizer Nadim Kobeissi, a Concordia student who is also an employee at The Link.
The WikiLeaks march made its way to the U.S. Consulate on St. Alexandre Street where demonstrators pasted “The U.S. is wrong (and desperate)” signs on the building’s doors with snow.
“It seems kind of silly to have people on the streets about something that is taking place completely online, but it is important that people care, because this is about censorship and freedom of the press,” said Claire Evans, one of the 40 demonstrators.
Walking on Ste. Catherine Street during the busy Christmas shopping season, the protestors chanted “Free Bradley Manning.”
Private First Class Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst, is accused of having leaked the diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Manning was arrested while on duty in Iraq on May 26, 2010 and is currently being heldin a military jail in Quantico, Virginia.
Manning is in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, not allowed to exercise in his cell, has been denied a pillow and sheets and is under constant surveillance.
“This march is not just solidarity with WikiLeaks, but also with Bradley Manning, who I think is more a hero than a traitor to the U.S.,” said protestor Alexandre Leduc. “He has been in prison for a long time and the U.S. didn’t used to jail its leakers, like during the Pentagon Papers, but I see this as a sign that we are becoming more authoritarian.”
Leduc compared the jailing of Manning with that of Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident who received the Nobel Peace Prize last year.
“They both took the heroic path, they both took risks and they are both in jail,” said Leduc.
Leaving many confused and amused faces on Ste. Catherine Street, the march seemed to have succeeded in bringing more public exposure to Manning’s situation. While the demonstrators held the alleged leaker in high esteem, some understood that his release would be difficult.
“Freeing Bradley Manning would be nice, but I do recognize that he did leak important documents,” said Evans. “What is upsetting is that there is so much that the governments of the world have to hide. I think that it is amazing that so much is coming out.”
This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 17, published January 4, 2011.