Chelsea featured in new Amnesty International book
August 2, 2016 by the Chelsea Manning Support Network
An interview with Chelsea Manning is featured in Amnesty International’s upcoming book Here I Stand, a collection of short stories and poems for young adults. Although the book is set to come out in a few days (August 4, 2016), Chelsea’s chapter was originally written in 2015. Since then, Chelsea made an attempt on her life. She is currently under investigation by Army officials for charges relating to this attempt, and if charged she could face indefinite solitary confinement.
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Here I Stand Chelsea Manning excerpt
You are one person, and the military and the government are so powerful. Through all this, have you ever felt afraid?
CM: I am always afraid. I am still afraid of the power of government. A government can arrest you. It can imprison you. It can put out information about you that won’t get questioned by the public – everyone will just assume that what they are saying is true. Sometimes, a government can even kill you – with or without the benefit of a trial. Governments have so much power, and a single person often does not. It is very terrifying to face the government alone.Governments can easily become centered on themselves and their interests, at the expense of their people
Can you describe a moment when you have particularly felt this way?
CM: It’s a very difficult feeling to describe. Not long after I was first detained by the military, I was taken to a prison camp in Kuwait, where I essentially lived in a cage inside of a tent. I didn’t have any access to the outside world. I couldn’t make phone calls. I didn’t get any mail. I had very limited access to my lawyers. There was no television or radio or newspapers. I lost the sense of where in the world I was. The military had total control over every aspect of my life. They controlled what information I had access to. They controlled when I ate and slept. They even controlled when I went to the bathroom. After several weeks, I didn’t know how long I had been there or how much longer I was going to be staying. It’s an overwhelmingly terrifying feeling. I became very, very sad. At one point, I even gave up on trying to live any more.
Do you hope good will still come from your actions? What might this look like?
CM: This is a very difficult question to answer. I don’t know. I don’t even want to try and work it out. I am hopeful that people can gain more of an understanding of how the world operates. Across the world, governments can easily become centered on themselves and their interests, at the expense of their people.
I am also hopeful that, perhaps, the next time a democratic government thinks about committing military forces to the occupation of a country which is likely to lead to an insurgency, we can try and look back, and learn from the last time. War is a terrible thing, and this type of warfare is one of the worst. I hope that we can avoid getting excited about this kind of thing in the future.
You had some bad times in detention, particularly before your case went to trial. What is it like for you in prison now?
CM: I try to stay as active and productive as possible. I don’t have access to the internet, but I read books and newspapers a lot. I work hard at the job that I have in prison – work with wood. I am also always trying to learn more, working on my education. I also exercise a lot. I run all the time! I do cardio exercises to stay in shape. I write a lot, too.
What helps you to stay positive in prison?
CM: I love reading the mail that I get from all over the world. I love talking on the phone with people I care about. I always feel so much better when people send me their warm love and strong words of support. I love staying active and engaged with the world. It is an amazing feeling!