Vigil for Pvt. Manning as Wrexham hosts Wales vs USA Rugby World Cup game
We are often called upon at sports matches to remember those who have suffered and fallen in war. On Sunday 3 November, we will be holding a peaceful and respectful vigil outside the RLWC2013 match between Wales and USA at the Racecourse in Wrexham to remember a young US soldier with strong Welsh connections, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.
US-born Manning, who spent formative teenage years living in Wales and whose maternal family still live here, remains imprisoned – we feel unjustly – at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, serving a 35 year sentence for acting on conscience. Manning is being punished for sharing information with us about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including evidence of war crimes, the injustice at Guantanamo Bay and US interventionism in countries around the globe.
It is not our intention to interfere with or obstruct the match.
In rugby as elsewhere in sport, there is a strong tradition of sporting personalities speaking out on matters of social justice and equality.
For example, Gareth Thomas, the first openly gay professional rugby player in Wales, Ireland, Scotland or England, has said: “By coming out and becoming a role model then I feel there’s a responsibility to help others. I hope people take away from my story that people respect honesty.”
In the 1960s Boxer Muhammad Ali famously declared himself a conscientious objector and risked a jail term rather than go to fight in the Vietnam war which he strongly opposed.
Manchester City’s Yaya Toure has recently called for Russia to tackle racism in football, with the possibility of a boycott of the 2018 World Cup by black players: “If we aren’t confident at the World Cup, coming to Russia, we don’t come.”
French philosopher and one-time goalkeeper Albert Camus once said: “Everything I know most surely about morality and the obligations of men, I owe to football.”
We are presently fundraising to help the Welsh family of Pvt. Manning with the cost of prison visits to the US. We hope that Welsh and American Rugby players and fans will support this effort to help Manning’s family.
That ball of solidarity
Don’t drop it
RUN WITH IT!