Category Archives: Uncategorized

Statement on Manning gender transition story

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The Oklahoma Center for Conscience issues the following statement in regards to the announcement of the desire of Bradley Manning to transition to female and be known as Chelsea Manning. Quotes from this statement should be credited to Rena Guay, OCC Executive Director.

Anyone who has given the Bradley Manning case more than the most cursory attention would have known that the Army private attested to gender dysphoria issues as early at 2009, and in fact was diagnosed with the condition by military doctors, facts that were part of the defense mitigation efforts during the sentencing phase of the court-martial.

Now, after a cruel and deeply unjust sentence of 35 years has been given, for the media to instead sensationalize the desire of Bradley Manning to live as Chelsea Manning, while not untypical of American media in general, is nonetheless a further travesty. It is a distraction from the very serious consequences for our society and system of government to have whistleblowers treated like terrorists, and information equated with treason.

Another day, another black eye for the mainstream media as concerns this case, and the unconstitutional and immoral actions of our government in general.

Regardless of gender, Bradley/Chelsea Manning is a person of uncommon integrity and courage. The willingness to be open and honest about her medical condition, and desire to transition to better reflect her inner identity, is testament to that.

We will certainly honor Manning’s request to use Chelsea E. Manning in all references, and to use the feminine pronoun from this point forward. Like a name change for any individual, learning to use (or hear) a new name for someone one knows, whether personally or as a public figure, may take time and practice, but it soon becomes natural.

We will continue to support Chelsea Manning through the legal appeals process and advocacy campaigns for pardon or clemency. Further, we call on the US military to treat gender dysphoria as the medical condition it is and to allow doctors caring for Manning to treat her appropriately with standard hormone therapy.

Statement on the sentencing of Bradley Manning

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The Oklahoma Center for Conscience has issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement of a 35 year sentence for Bradley Manning, marking the conclusion of his court-martial and the beginning of appeals and petitions for clemency/pardon. This statement can be published in full or part. Credit quotes from it to Rena Guay, OCC Executive Director.

The Oklahoma Center for Conscience, due to its mission of opposing the injustices and evil of war, has stood against the prosecution and punishment of Bradley Manning since his arrest in 2010. We joined the Bradley Manning Support Network and have worked alongside activists around the world to educate the public about the war crimes and government misdeeds that the Wikileaks documents helped expose. We have organized numerous events in Oklahoma to express this support, expand awareness and demand that the real criminals — those who perpetrated war crimes in the name of the United States — themselves be brought to justice. We believe that blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime, and neither is publishing information that the American public has a right to know.

Today we are angered and heartbroken at the sentence of 35 years meted out to Bradley Manning, a sentence far greater than any ever given to servicemembers who killed innocent civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan and disproportionate to punishment of Americans involved in torture.  Or, for that matter, who lied the country into an unnecessary and illegal war. By the end of 2013, Manning will have been imprisoned longer than was William Calley, who led the slaughter of 500 innocents in My Lai (and that was mostly house arrest).

We have taken on this work because of our heartfelt belief in the courage and heroic motives of Bradley Manning, and we were further spurred into action by being in Oklahoma, where Manning was born and raised. Because of our location, we have been contacted by media from around the world, while most Oklahoma media outlets ignored, trivialized or distorted what is doubtless an historic case with serious domestic and global ramifications, while also failing to recognize local support for Manning.

Tonight we will gather for a vigil in Crescent, Oklahoma, Bradley Manning’s home town. We will mourn what is, so far, a lost opportunity to re-orient our priorities as a nation to one that truly values truth and democracy, rather than only giving them lip service. We deplore the actions and words of our President and Congress, who have failed to fulfill their oath of office, and who have allowed this nation to succumb to fear, suspicion and the endless greed of war profiteers. We reject that national zeitgeist as necessary for our security, and with today’s news, we vow to continue to resist immoral policies and actions, regardless of who is administrating and advocating them.

Op-Ed: Nations, Not Just Individuals, Must Be Held Accountable For War Crimes

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by Moses Mast

The incident of the soldier from the U.S. army leaving the military base in Afghanistan and murdering sixteen Afghanistan citizens, nine of them children, is shocking news to the American people. This is just not American.  We might say we could understand this from our enemies, Muslims or North Korea, but that this, we insist, does not represent America.  Indeed it may not represent mainstream America but if we look at history it does represent a nation at war, all nations, and America is no exception. Stories of wartime massacres abound. We even have atrocities in the Bible, acts that we would not expect from the Hebrew people. It would seem that any nation that becomes more powerful than their neighbors can easily fall into the trap of committing an atrocity.

There is a certain progression of events in these atrocities. First, there is the act of violence, then comes the cover up, and then comes a person who exposes the truth (sometimes called a prophet or a news reporter), and then finally comes the outcry accusing the truth teller of being a traitor.

This particular atrocity in Afghanistan could not be hidden, so the outcry seeks to put the blame on one person so that we as a nation could be absolved from all responsibility for this horrendous act. The United States has a history of war crimes that we should be able to learn from, especially in Vietnam where we committed numerous atrocities of war. The one the news media focused on was the My Lai massacre. where a whole village was murdered. There were several news reporters who tried to look beneath the surface to try and understand how such a crime could be committed. One wrote, “It takes a nation to make a massacre.” His analysis concluded that it was more than the soldiers who did the killing, or even their superiors who gave the orders. The nation that seeks the reason to go to war and wins support for the war, the army that trains its citizens to fight, the congress that funds the war, and the citizens who elected that congress… all these bear a responsibility for what happens in the stress of war itself. This reporter said, “There is no justice if the only people accused of murder are the people we send off to war.”

In the story of the My Lai massacre there is also the story of three helicopter pilots who tried to halt the massacre and protect the wounded. They were able to fly some out to safety. They did this at great risk to their own lives. Later they were recognized and decorated for this heroic deed, but being recognized brought them more trouble from angry citizens and several congressmen who denounced them as traitors.

Stories like this seem to repeat themselves. We see the pattern in the case of Bradley Manning who exposed the war crimes in Iraq. The public reaction should not surprise us; it is exactly as one would expect. We can be hopeful that, just as in Vietnam, the truth will be acknowledged some day. In the meantime what is expected of those who protest the war and support the truth teller? We must still acknowledge that if we live in the United States and experience the economic benefits that we as a nation fight for, then we must do more than protest. It is difficult to know how I as one person can effect any change worth mentioning but I will try and name a few ways we can act.

1) Be truthful and honest about what I contribute to an excuse for war.

2) Take the risk of supporting the truth tellers who expose war crimes.

3) Follow the global standard of living and eliminate the need to take from others to enrich myself.

4) Share the Earth’s resources.

5 ) Support just immigration laws

There must be more one could say. I hope this will stimulate others to say more.  We all need to be a part of the conversation.

OKC says NO to war with Iran

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OCCPR's Legal Director, James M. Branum, and its Executive Director, Rena Guay, join protest against war with Iran on 2/2/12

OCCPR's Legal Director, James M. Branum, and its Executive Director, Rena Guay, join protest against war with Iran on 2/2/12

On Thursday, February 2, Oklahoma City activists, including members of OCCPR, took part in a nationwide demonstration called No War in Iran.

Huge signs calling on motorists to “Honk for Peace” and “No War on Iran” prompted quite a racket at the busy intersection during the evening rush hour. Veterans of many a streetside demo said the reaction was much more widespread and animated than normal, which they believe shows a lack of support for the belligerent position re: Iran being promoted by the usual war cheerleaders in Washington and on Radio and cable TV.

The event was covered by the City Sentinel, which quoted both Branum and Guay. You can find the article, written by Darla Shelden, on the City Sentinel web site.

New monthly action meeting – 3rd Sunday of June and July

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We’re very excited about this change in our schedule: We are going to have monthly meetings for some hands-on activities that serve to help end war, promote and enhance GI Rights, counter military recruitment and engage other peace work. The meeting will be on the third Sunday of June and July at 3 pm at Joy Mennonite Church. We’ll see how that time works out and may change later to meet the schedules of participants.

Some of the things we’ll be doing, and ask you to help us with, are:

  • letter-writing
  • poster/banner making
  • literature prep (folding, stapling, and the like)
  • newsletter production
  • website posts and Facebook sharing
  • library management (books, videos)

We’ll play some of our great peace-themed DVDs, or some music. There will be refreshments, laughter, camaraderie, probably a moderate level of mayhem and undoubtedly some fun. If you have any questions or ideas for these meetings, please let us know. Please join us if you can and share this info with others.