IYSSE members discuss Manning imprisonment following rally
Following a rally Wednesday afternoon on the Diag calling for the release of government whistleblower Chelsea Manning, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality — the youth and student wing of the Socialist Equality Party at the University of Michigan — held a follow-up meeting Thursday night at the Michigan League. During the meeting, students and prospective members of the organization discussed Manning’s recent imprisonment as well as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s prolonged detainment in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
During the meeting, speakers reiterated the organization’s opposition to the Manning imprisonment and held an open dialogue regarding freedom of the press and what they see as the increasingly anti-democratic nature of American political discourse.
Leading off the meeting Thursday was Alex, a U-M graduate student and one of several speakers at the IYSSE rally Wednesday afternoon. According to Alex, who asked that her last name be withheld due to issues of personal safety, Manning’s leaking of classified reports of government malfeasance during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010 represented a service to the democratic rights of the American people.
“The IYSSE unequivocally condemns the jailing of Chelsea Manning and demands her immediate release,” Alex said. “Manning has taken a very courageous and inspiring stand stretching back a decade and revealing to the world the crimes of American imperialism and continuing to fight for our right to know and speak the truth.”
Manning, who was first imprisoned in 2010, had her 35-year sentence commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017, though she is now imprisoned because of her alleged refusal to comply with a subpoena from a federal grand jury. During the IYSSE’s Thursday meeting, contributors to the discussion spoke about the importance of Manning’s and Assange’s roles in exposing the government’s behavior.
During her remarks, Alex also spoke about WikiLeaks’ involvement in the 2016 election, specifically with regard to the Democratic nomination of Hillary Clinton.
“What Assange and WikiLeaks helped reveal to the American population was that the supposedly neutral Democratic National Committee worked systematically to undermine the Bernie Sanders campaign and effectively rigged the 2016 Democratic primary for Hillary Clinton,” Alex said. “There were also the Podesta emails, which, among other things, contained the text of Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street firms and banks.”
Following Alex’s opening remarks, the meeting opened up to group discussion, during which attendants were welcomed to raise questions and discussion topics related to the youth Socialist movement.
Barry Grey, the U.S. national editor of the World Socialist Web Site, brought up the necessity of other political movements to combat clandestine government activity.
“The question is, why is it that the only party, or the only organization that is aggressively fighting and opposing this, defending democratic rights, is the Socialist movement, our movement?” Grey said. “All those who claim to be for democracy and defend capitalism are silent, and basically support the persecution of Assange and Chelsea Manning and many other people. They’re silent about the destruction of immigrants and the horrific conditions that are being imposed on them.”
Toward the end of the meeting, IYSSE adviser Matt Morley went into the organization’s future involvement in other campus events and protests, specifically the climate strike occurring on campus Friday.
Information junior Sam Wood, president of IYSSE at the University, explained that these anti-democratic influences and their exposure to the American public are exacerbated by the algorithms of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
“The question of resolving this issue is a question of who controls the information and the way information is organized,” Wood said. “We think it has to be controlled democratically, and so we think that these companies have to be placed under democratic control and converted into public enterprises. Facebook, Twitter, Google, they should not have opaque control over these algorithms that are very much dominating the way we receive and exchange information.”