The Australian Government is considering denying US activist Chelsea Manning a visa to enter Australia for a speaking tour.
Chelsea Manning served seven years in prison, including 11 months in cruel and inhumane conditions, after releasing information pointing to potential human rights violations and crimes by US forces.
An outspoken LGBTQI rights advocate, Chelsea Manning is scheduled to give a series of talks around the country. She plans to discuss the violations she exposed as a whistle-blower and her human rights activism since being released from prison.
Intention to refuse visa
Think Inc, the Australian organiser of Chelsea Manning’s tour received a Notice of Intention to Consider Refusal under s501 of the Migration Act from the Australian Government. Section 501 of the Migration Act allows the government to deny anyone a visa if they do not pass “the character test”.
In response to the news, 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 in this country. It is not too late for the government to change its mind.”
“There is great interest in what Chelsea Manning has to say, evidenced by the fact her upcoming public appearances in Australia are selling quickly.”
– Claire Mallinson, National Director of Amnesty International Australia
Freedom of expression
Denying Chelsea Manning entry to Australia based on a past criminal conviction is a restriction on her right to freedom of expression and hampers 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,” said Claire Mallinson.
“There is great interest in what Chelsea 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 Chelsea Manning to be granted a visa to enter Australia and be free to tell her story to Australians who wish to hear it.
By refusing her entry, the Australian government would send a chilling message that freedom of speech is not valued by our government.
– Claire Mallinson
In 2010, Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in the US in a trial marred by due process issues, including not being able to present evidence that she had been acting in the public interest. In the final days of his term, President Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence and she walked free in May 2017.