Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Applaud the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence.
In one of his final acts as President, President Obama commuted whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence. Now, rather than a 2048 release date, Manning is slated to be released in a little under five months. In 2010, Chelsea Manning leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents, diplomatic cables, and videos which revealed misconduct and potential crimes committed by the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 and initially kept in solitary confinement. Despite her gender identity, she was later transferred to a men’s prison.
The commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence comes after a great deal of political pressure from nonprofits, human rights organizations, prominent voices in the media, as well as petitions such as these ForceChange petitions. Her release represents an important victory for the rights of whistleblowers. Sign our petition and applaud President Obama’s decision to shorten her sentence.
Dear President Obama,
I am writing to applaud your decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence. While I recognize that she broke laws and protocol by leaking documents to Wikileaks and the press, I believe those leaks were a service to the American public, and people across the world. Those in power too often use official secrecy as a means to bury their wrongdoings. This is why whistleblowers must be protected and respected.
The plight of Chelsea Manning also highlights the mistreatment of trans and genderqueer people in the American prison system. Despite her well-documented identity, Manning was held in a men’s prison and consistently misgendered by both authorities and the press. This may have been a factor in her attempts to take her own life. Commuting her sentence may not fix that wrong, but it is a step towards justice.
Chelsea Manning is not the only trans person incarcerated in the US, and not the only trans person to be held in a facility corresponding to birth-assigned sex instead of gender identity. While I applaud your decision to commute her sentence, I ask you to consider those held in ICE detention centers, or other Federal and State facilities. They deserve to have their identities respected and to be held in facilities that correspond to their identities.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Alicia Nea