Category Archives: News releases

Chelsea Manning supporters gather in Oklahoma hometown to celebrate her 27th birthday and demand release from prison

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Manning Birthday in Crescent 008 (2) (640x480)


On Wednesday, December 17, for the second year, supporters of Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) will celebrate the Oklahoma-born whistleblower’s birthday in her hometown of Crescent, which is about 40 miles north of OKC. The event is hosted by last year’s sponsor, the Center for Conscience in Action (CCA), now joined by local chapters of Amnesty International throughout the state, with a grant from Amnesty USA to help with expenses.

The event will take place in the middle of the small rural town, at El Palmo Restaurant at 224 N. Grand (Map:,beginning at 6:30 pm. Representatives from CCA and the Equality Center of Tulsa will speak.

Manning, who will be 27, was an Army intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq who leaked thousands of documents to Wikileaks in 2010, exposing war crimes and unjust detainment, torture and prisoner abuse, diplomatic deception and embarrassingly candid communications relating to US policies in the war on terror. Court-martialed in 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years and is serving that sentence at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas. Immediately after the verdict, Manning announced her medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and desire to live as a woman, along with the change of name.

CCA has held numerous support events for Manning since her arrest in the summer of 2010, joining the international support network that funded the legal defense and continues to raise funds for an appeal and advocate for a pardon or clemency as well as proper medical treatment for the gender dysphoria. Amnesty has also been advocating on Manning’s behalf for several years and has named her one of the world’s top political prisoners and among their “individuals at risk” for whom global action is promoted.

The party will be combined with an advocacy letter-writing campaign, as well as cards and letters to be sent to Manning at Ft.Leavenworth. Donations will be collected for the support network’s drive for the legal appeal case.

Since her sentencing, Manning herself has become more and more vocal about her case and with thougthful criticism of US national security policies, having published op-eds in The New York Times, The Guardian, and other newspapers as well as through Amnesty and the Chelsea Manning Support Network websites.

Amnesty has several chapters in Oklahoma, including OKC, Norman High School, OSU and Tulsa.

For more information:
Chelsea Manning Support Network –
Amnesty International Petition –

OCCPR to recognize and celebrate Oklahoma conscientious objectors

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Conscientious Objectors of Oklahoma to be remembered and honored by peace group at 5/12 event in OKC

On May 12, the Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research will celebrate International Conscientious Objectors Day with its second annual Oklahoma Conscience Award Ceremony and Fundraiser. Conscientious Objectors Day is observed around the world each May 15. This year OCCPR will recognize conscientious objectors from Oklahoma or with an Oklahoma connection (stationed at one of the state’s military bases, did alternative service in Oklahoma, or did time in prison in Oklahoma for refusing to serve), including COs from the 1940s to the present.

The event will be held at Mayflower Congregational UCC Church, 3901 NW 63rd in Oklahoma City, starting at 7pm. The program will include a presentation of certificates to COs or their families, as well as a video featuring interviews with Oklahoma COs and current peace and justice activists who are inspired by them. Musically talented members of the local community, many of whom are members of OCCPR supporting organizations or other peace activists, will provide entertainment. Light refreshments will be served.

The public is invited to attend this free event. Donations will be gratefully accepted to assist the organization in its ongoing work.

Rena Guay, OCCPR Executive Director, says that meeting numerous Oklahoma COs this year has been an eye-opening experience. “I’ve been struck by how many COs from past conflicts are among us, throughout Oklahoma, seemingly average hardworking Oklahomans, who once made a very un-average decision about war.”

“They’ve never sought public acclaim for it, and they shy from this attention. Yet, when we speak to them, they say their refusal, sometimes decades ago, to wage war, and to instead “wage peace” through humanitarian service, was something that has continued to impact their thinking and behavior. It is a major milestone of their lives that almost no one knows about. Our small recognition seeks to give to them this missing public value for their act of conscience.”

“We will also have a moment to remember the many Oklahoma COs who remain unknown, or who have already passed away,” Guay said “Their families are invited to join us, or contact us if they would like for their loved one to be recognized in memorium.”

As the local affiliate of the War Resisters League, OCCPR informs the public, especially young people, about military recruitment, peace-oriented career alternatives, and how to document CO status that can be recognized by the Selective Service should the draft be reinstated. It helps prepare documentation for these proactive COS, and works with the Center on Conscience in Washington to archive and preserve them. The group also serves as the Oklahoma representative for the Bradley Manning Support Network, and works with the GI Rights Network, the Military Law Task Force, Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, the Peace Alliance, SOA Watch, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and other organizations to educate Oklahomans about war and militarism, and positive advocacy and action to end war and to support nonviolent conflict resolution on a global level.

OCCPR maintains a legal support program to assist those in military service who come to realize they cannot participate in war, to provide them with information about the process of obtaining a CO discharge as defined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and, when necessary, to retain legal counsel during appeals. The group has recently broadened its outreach to provide more public education on matters of conscience and war, through its own annual journal, and in op-eds and analysis published in periodicals and on the Web.

In every war, there have been those who, following their conscience, have refused to be trained to kill in what they believe to be an immoral activity. The U.S. military has come to allow for these resisters, through either programs of alternative, humanitarian, service, or, in today’s volunteer military, through a process by which those who have developed deeply held religious or moral convictions against war can be documented and, when accepted as sincere, provided an honorable discharge.

OCCPR was founded in 2004 by members of Joy Mennonite Church, Catholic Peace Fellowship, Veterans for Peace, Oklahoma City Friends Meeting (Quakers) and independent activists. It is funded by Oklahoma religious organizations, peace groups and individual citizens. For more information, see visit or call 405-773-4741.

News Release: Oklahoma supporters of Bradley Manning react to his relocation to Ft. Leavenworth KS

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OKLAHOMA CITY – News that Oklahoma native Bradley Manning is being moved to Ft. Leavenworth KS has galvanized supporters in Kansas and surrounding states. Reports of the unexpected transfer prompted hurried planning of protests and other support actions by activists in the region for the alleged Wikileaks leaker who has been imprisoned for almost a year at Quantico Marine Base in Virgina.

The Bradley Manning Support Network distributed a press release (see below) on Tuesday afternoon and listservs and Facebook pages lit up with concern and pledges that the move away from the greater DC area would not lessen public displays of concern for Manning’s wellbeing and demands for his freedom.

Members of The Oklahoma Center for Conscience, which has sponsored a number of Oklahoma City events in support of Manning since last August, were connecting with their members as well as activists throughout the country to build a network that would travel to Ft. Leavenworth for demonstrations.

At Joy Mennonite Church, a sponsoring organization of OCC, Minister of Social Justice James M. Branum took note of the large Mennonite population in Kansas, and the Mennonite standing as a peace church, for the prospects of strong support for Manning after the move.

“Bradley Manning allegedly leaked these documents to try to bring an end to the wars. We are reaching out to mobilize the thousands of Mennonites and other Anabaptists in Kansas and neighboring states to act on their peace beliefs in his defense,” Branum said.

OCC Executive Director Rena Guay also thought Manning’s transfer would not lessen the international backlash to his incarceration and condition. “Since last summer, we have been getting a steady stream of global media attention regarding Bradley’s Oklahoma roots and our support for him. Now that he will be quite close, we expect this to increase, and our level of attention to the case and support activity will also increase.” She said she expected many Oklahoma supporters to travel regularly to Ft. Leavenworth for demonstrations.

“Remedying the uncivilized conditions of his imprisonment is but the least of our demands — we want to see his unconditional release and prosecution of the war crimes which have been exposed though Wikileaks,” Guay stated.




Jeff Paterson, Kevin Zeese


April 19, 2011


Alleged WikiLeaks source to be moved away from attorney and DC-area backers; however, Kansas residents already preparing to spearhead support

“The military and Administration has been shocked by the support Bradley Manning has garnered globally–specifically at the gates of Quantico, Virginia. Last month, 500 supporters rallied near the Marine brig where PFC Manning has been held since August 2010. It wasn’t a secret that we were preparing to rally one to two thousand for an upcoming DC-area pre-trial hearing,” explains Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network.

“PFC Manning’s transfer from Virginia to Kansas limits his access to his civilian attorney David Coombs of Rhode Island. It also severely limits visitation opportunities by his East Coast family and friends,” explains attorney Kevin Zeese, an organizer with the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich declared today, “Any move of PFC Manning does not change the underlying fact, which has not been disputed by the Department of Defense, that he has been held under conditions which may in fact constitute ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ in violation of the 8th amendment.”

Ethan McCord, Kansas resident and a former Soldier who appears in the “Collateral Murder” video that PFC Manning is accused of leaking, declares, “Bradley Manning is accused of doing nothing more than heroically telling the truth. I and many others here in Kansas are already planning support actions at Leavenworth.”

“I’m concerned that the military is simply moving to further isolate PFC Manning. The idea that Quantico brig commander CWO2 Denise Barnes, without direction from above, imposed and maintained the current torturous conditions of PFC Manning’s detention is ridiculous. However, we will demand that Army officials at Leavenworth finally take responsibility for correcting this ongoing injustice. I know many hold out hope for them to do so,” adds Paterson.

US Army intelligence analyst Private First Class Bradley E Manning, 23-years-old, has been held in maximum and solitary-like confinement conditions since his arrest in Iraq in May 2010. He still awaits his first public court hearing, now expected to begin in June. Over 300 of America’s top legal scholars have decried PFC Manning’s confinement conditions as in clear violation of the US Constitution. Over 3,500 individuals have contributed over $280,000 towards PFC Manning’s legal fees and related public education efforts. Over 500,000 people recently signed a statement to President Obama calling for an end to PFC Manning’s torturous conditions of confinement. The Bradley Manning Support Network is dedicated to winning the freedom of PFC Manning.

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OCC fundraiser on April 2 will honor Father John Vrana with the first annual Mertens Peace Award, Peggy Johnson to perform

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On Saturday, April 2, The Oklahoma Center for Conscience will present the first annual Mertens Peace Award to Father John Vrana, at a ceremony at Mayflower UCC Church. A native of Oklahoma City who lived and worked here most of his life, Father Vrana was a local diocesan priest who took a public and sometimes controversial role in seeking racial justice, ending war and promoting nonviolence during the years of the civil rights struggle and Vietnam war.

The ceremony will be part of an OCC fundraiser to which the public is invited. Festivities begin at 7pm and the evening will close with a concert of peace songs from local singer/songwriter Peggy Johnson. The event is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted at the door. Beverages and light refreshments will be offered. Mayflower UCC is located at 3901 Northwest 63rd Street in Oklahoma City.

Father Vrana was nominated for the award by Marianne Mertens, as someone whom she felt should be recognized for his long commitment to peace and his courage to take moral but unpopular stands. Marianne and her husband Art, who passed away last year, were founding members of OCC.

Rena Guay, OCC’s Executive Director, said that “the Mertens embody the kind of selfless service to grassroots peace and justice causes that we seek to honor with our award, so it is fitting that it carry their name. Their actions over their lives and the people they have helped and inspired are their legacy, a legacy which we hope to echo each year when we present it to a deserving individual or group.”

“By recognizing the peace leaders of our past, we hope to inspire a new generation to follow in their footsteps, and so we build on their history and create a more just and peaceful future for all,” she said. “Father Vrana is such an individual and we are proud to be able to present him with the first annual Mertens Peace Award.”

Father Vrona is currently residing at St. Ann’s Nursing Home, where he is visited by those whose lives he touched through his many years of service. Because of his poor health, he will not be able to attend the ceremony; his award will be accepted by Marianne Mertens.

OCC was founded in 2004 by Catholic Peace Fellowship, Joy Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City Friends Meeting (Quakers) and Veterans for Peace as an organization dedicated to ending and preventing war and to support those who resist war as a matter of conscience. For more information, see or call 405-598-7362.

Those wishing to donate to OCC in honor of Art Mertens or Father John Vrana can send a check or money order to: Oklahoma Center for Conscience, 504 NE 16th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73104.

Press Release: Vrana award

March to Support Alleged Whistleblower Bradley Manning

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Bradley ManningManning, an Oklahoma native, faces 52 years in prison for exposing war crimes

What: Solidarity March in Support of Bradley Manning
When: Thursday, August 12, 8pm
Where: Corner of NE 16th and Lincoln to Oklahoma State Capitol

This Thursday, August 12, Oklahomans will show support for and solidarity with Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking documents about the Afghanistan War, with a march at dusk near the state capitol. The Army intelligence analyst, originally from Cresent, Oklahoma, is being held in the brig at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

The action is being organized locally by the Oklahoma Center for Conscience, with support from the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Private First Class Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq, stands accused of disclosing a classified video depicting American troops in Iraq shooting civilians from an Apache helicopter in 2007. Eleven people were killed, including two Reuters employees, and two children were critically injured. No charges have been filed against the soldiers who did the killing.

News sources have also speculated about Manning’s involvement in the leak of over 90,000 secret documents (collectively known as the Afghanistan “war logs”) made public by WikiLeaks, a website that publishes leaked material anonymously.

James M. Branum, an attorney that works with OCC on military law cases, calls the Pentagon’s treatment of Manning “extreme” and designed to set up the case “as an example of the punishment waiting for others who would consider exposing violations of military regs and international law.”

“We are saying that exposing war crimes is not a crime,” he said.

The whistleblower behind the Vietnam era’s Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, has called Mr. Manning a hero.  ”I admire the courage of Bradley Manning for sacrificing himself to make the public aware of the futility of the war in Afghanistan,” says Ellsberg.

“Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime,” says former Marine Corporal Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist, a group teaming up with the Bradley Manning Support Network to raise funds for Manning’s defense.

More info:

Bradley Manning march press release

The People’s Journey tour to stop in OKC for talk about Iraq War

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Josh Stieber, Iraq War vet, peace activistU.S. Iraq War vet and Iraqi journalist to share their experiences and mission for peace

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Center for Conscience is pleased to announce that our community will host a nationwide speaking tour on the Iraq War, named “The People’s Journey,” whose speakers come from diverse backgrounds, each having firsthand accounts of war and moving stories of how they came to actively work towards a more peaceful world.

The stop in OKC will feature two of the tour participants: Salam Talib, an Iraqi journalist and refugee, and Josh Steiber. Steiber is a former member of Bravo Company 2-16, the military unit involved in the 2007 helicopter shooting of Iraqi civilians that killed twelve people, including two Reuters employees, as seen on the military video released by WikiLeaks. Stieber has recently been speaking to international media about his former company’s role in the “collateral murder” tape and the letter of reconciliation that followed,

According to Steiber, the idea for this trek evolved from two other odysseys: a trip he completed last year called “The Contagious Love Experiment,” and the “Our Journey To Smile” – an effort by Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (AYPV) to connect with other peace seekers around the world.

“We’ve been blessed,” Steiber said, “to have inspiring people from all over the world come together for this journey that will help to spark examination as to what we support as a country and who we are as fellow humans, no matter where we come from.”

The public is invited to attend and learn more about the war’s impact on civilians in Iraq and their desire for peace and prosperity, as well as ways that Americans can assist them recover from their long suffering and struggle.

The talk will take place at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, June 8 and is sponsored by OCC and Mayflower UCC Church, where the event will be held in Milligan Hall. Mayflower is located at 3901 Northwest 63rd Street.  The event is free and refreshments will be served.


OCC: | 405-236-4938 ext 2

Mayflower UCC: | Map

The People’s Journey:

WikiLeaks video of the massacre in Baghdad:

Afghan Youth Peace volunteers:


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