After years of inhumane treatment, and having been held in conditions that the UN considers to be torture, Chelsea Manning, the Guardian columnist and whistle-blower who has been in prison for years serving a 35-year sentence for exposing some of the US government’s worst abuses, attempted to take her own life July 5, 2016.
After a 5-day hunger strike last month, the US Army finally agreed to provide her with gender reassignment surgery and the health care that she needs.
Chelsea’s hunger strike is a historic victory for human rights. However, on September 3, a prison disciplinary board decided to punish Chelsea with 14 days of solitary confinement (with 7 days suspended) for charges related to her suicide attempt, and possession of an unmarked book in her cell.
A few days ago, all contact with Chelsea went silent, included previously scheduled calls with support network folks, as well as members of her legal team. We are left to assume that her solitary sentence began without warning.“If I get in trouble in the next six months, those seven days will come back,” Chelsea noted, a couple of weeks ago.
It was the government’s refusal to grant Chelsea access to needed health care that led to her suicide attempt in the first place. And she forgot to write her name and inmate number in a copy of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, by Gabriella Coleman.
These bizarre administrative offenses will also be used against her as she attempts to be reclassified as a “minimum security” prisoner, or qualify for parole, in the years to come.
Reacting to today’s decision, Chelsea shared, “I am feeling hurt. I am feeling lonely. I am embarrassed by the decision. I don’t know how to explain it. I am touched by your warm messages of love and support. This comforts me in my time of need.”
Chelsea has been systematically mistreated by the US government since she was first taken into custody in 2010, including long stretches of extreme solitary confinement even before she had ever been convicted.
This is not the first time the government has harassed Chelsea with outrageous charges while in prison. Last year, they threatened her with solitary confinement for minor “infractions” including possession of LGBTQ reading materials and an expired tube of toothpaste. Only after we delivered 100,000 petitions did they back off.
For the most current news, please visit chelseamanning.org