In response to the news that the Australian government is considering denying American activist Chelsea Manning a visa to enter Australia for a series of public talks, Claire Mallinson, National Director of Amnesty International Australia said:
“Amnesty International is very concerned that the Australian government is seeking to silence American activist Chelsea Manning by intending to deny her a visa into Australia.
“By refusing her entry, the Australian government would send a chilling message that freedom of speech is not valued by our government. It is not too late for the Government to change their mind.
“Chelsea Manning is travelling to Australia for a series of talks which will include discussion of the potential human rights violations she exposed as a whistle-blower and her human rights activism since she got out of prison, including as an outspoken LGBTQI rights advocate.
“Denying her entry based on a past criminal conviction would be a restriction on her right to freedom of expression and would hamper her legitimate human rights work. Chelsea Manning should not continue to face penalties after the time she served in jail and the commutation of her sentence by presidential order.
“There is great interest in what Ms Manning has to say, evidenced by the fact her upcoming public appearances in Australia are selling quickly. This decision must be reversed and Chelsea Manning must be allowed to continue with her speaking tour so Australians have an opportunity to engage in discussion of human rights issues.”
Amnesty International has written to the Department of Home Affairs strongly urging the Government to allow Ms Manning to be granted a visa to enter Australia and be free to tell her story to Australian citizens who wish to hear it.
Chelsea Manning was sentenced in the USA to 35 years in prison in a trial marred by due process shortcomings after releasing information that pointed to potential human rights violations and crimes under international law by US forces. Her sentence was commuted by President Obama in January 2017.
Chelsea Manning served 7 years in prison, three of those years were in pre-trial detention, 11 months in conditions which the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture described as cruel and inhumane.