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News in Brief: Bradley Manning’s Supporters Confront Obama, and More …

Bradley Manning's Supporters Confront Obama

Bradley Manning's Supporters Confront Obama

Activists in support of accused whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning confronted President Obama with a protest song at a fundraiser. Twenty-one members of the Bradley Manning Support Network had paid more than $100,000 to attend the president's speech in San Francisco to protest Manning's continuing isolation in military custody, reported The Wall Street Journal. “Alone in a 6×12 cell sits Bradley / 23 hours a day is night / The 5th and 8th Amendments say this kind of thing ain't right / We paid our dues, where's our change?,” they sang. Manning is facing a court-martial charge for allegedly releasing classified documents, including military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, to the WikiLeaks web site. Obama later spoke to some of the activists and defended Manning's detention, saying the documents released caused damage to diplomatic sources.

US and Iraq in Secret Talks to Keep 10,000 US Troops in Iraq

Senior US and Iraqi military officials have been in secret negotiations to keep about 10,000 US troops in the country after the scheduled withdrawal of troops at the end of 2011, reported The Wall Street Journal. Iraqi officials, however, fear this could ignite continued protests similar to those that deposed dictators in Egypt and Tunisia. US commanders have also cautioned against making withdrawals in Afghanistan, planned for June, too quickly. These troop commitments have contributed to the administration's decision to use Predator drones in Libya.
Iranian Immigrants Sew Lips Together, on Hunger Strike in UK
Four Iranian immigrants, including a 17-year-old boy, have sewn their lips together with fishing wire and gone on a hunger strike to protest plans by the British government to deport them to Tehran. Along with two other protesters who have not eaten for 16 days, the men say they were beaten, tortured and raped for taking part in mass protests in Iran in 2009. The men have sought refugee status in UK since last year, and say their lives would be in danger if they were returned to Iran, reported The Guardian UK. “We have sewn our mouths because there is no other way,” said Keyvan Bahari, a hunger striker, who has scars on his back and arms from being slashed with razor blades by Iranian authorities. “Nobody in the UK hears us or cares what we say so we have no other option but to do this.”

Pakistani Court Frees Five Alleged Attackers in Gang Rape

Five of six men accused of the gang rape of a Pakistani woman were freed by Pakistan's supreme court nine years after Mukhtaran Mai caught international attention when she called for the prosecution of 14 men she said had taken part in the rape. The rape was ordered in 2002 by village elders in a tribal court after Mai's brother was accused of having a relationship with a woman from another clan. Though the court judgement acknowled that Mai had been raped by upholding the sentence against one of the accused, Mai said she fears the release of five of the men will endanger her life.