The whistleblower turns 29 as she awaits Obama’s response to clemency request
Imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning turns 29 today, her seventh birthday in prison, just days after a White House petition calling on President Obama to grant her time served has reached 100,000 signers, forcing the White House to respond.
Chelsea’s year has been marked by prison punishment, outrage at her treatment and widespread support for her freedom and proper medical care for her gender dysphoria. Chelsea attempted to commit suicide earlier this year, feeling her fight for adequate treatment was futile. In response, rather than providing Chelsea with what she desperately needs, Fort Leavenworth punished Chelsea with solitary confinement for the attempt. When that punishment was enforced without warning, Chelsea made a second attempt on her life.
Since then, Chelsea has been resilient and inspiring, reinvigorating her dual fights, for rights for trans prisoners and for her freedom. She has written eloquently throughout 2016 for a Medium column on her progress and feelings. On her medical care battle, she wrote,
The bottom-line is this: I need help and I am still not getting it. I am living through a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss, and depression. I cannot focus. I cannot sleep. I attempted to take my own life. When the USDB placed me in solitary confinement as punishment for the attempted suicide, I tried it again because the feeling of hopelessness was so immense. This has served as a reminder to me that any lack of treatment can kill me, so I must keep fighting a battle that I wish every day would just end.
In May, Chelsea’s legal team has launched an appeal with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, protesting the “grossly unjust” 35-year prison sentence. In November, the team petitioned President Obama for clemency, asking for her to be released on six years of time served.
Asking for clemency, Chelsea wrote,
I have served a sufficiently long sentence. I am not asking for a pardon of my conviction. I understand that the various collateral consequences of the court-martial conviction will stay on my record forever. The sole relief I am asking for is to be released from military prison after serving six years of confinement as a person who did not intend to harm the interests of the United States or harm any service members.
I am merely asking for a first chance to live my life outside the USDB as the person I was born to be.
This month, the White House petition for Chelsea’s clemency topped 100,000 signatures, which means the Obama Administration must respond to the request. Her freedom is long overdue.
Celebrations of Chelsea’s birthday are taking place around the world: connect with fellow supporters near you.
Write Chelsea a birthday card: here’s more information on how to write.