In thousands of pages pulled in a wagon, a petition calling for Pfc. Bradley Manning to be awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize was delivered to the Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway Monday by peace activist and RootsAction co-founder Norman Solomon.
Though he acknowledged the whistleblower's receipt of the prize is a "very long longshot," Solomon made the case that the award is "in dire need of rehabilitation," adding, "in truth, the Nobel Peace Prize needs Bradley Manning much more than the other way around."
"There's a cloud hanging over the Nobel Peace Committee," Solomon said, pointing out that just four years ago the same body awarded the prize to President Barack Obama, despite his "dedication to perpetual war."
"There has now grown a question about the Nobel Committee's commitment to human rights and peace in an even handed, independent way," he added. The Nobel Committee also came under fire last year for awarding the Peace Prize to the European Union, which critics denounced as an "institution of war and racism."
In 5,000 pages with over 103,000 signatures, the call to honor the army whistleblower is being echoed by individuals across the globe.
"I can think of no one more deserving," wrote Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire when she nominated Pfc. Bradley Manning for the annual peace prize this spring.
"No individual has done more to push back against what Martin Luther King Jr. called 'the madness of militarism' than Bradley Manning," reads the petition.
The action comes as Manning—who through disclosures to WikiLeaks exposed the gross atrocities of war on behalf of the U.S. military—faces up to 90 years in jail after being found guilty of violating the espionage act and committing federal computer fraud.
"Opening heart and mind to moral responsibility—seeing an opportunity to provide the crucial fuel of information for democracy and compassion—Bradley Manning lifted a shroud and illuminated terrible actions of the USA's warfare state," wrote Solomon in an op-ed ahead of his delivery. "He chose courage on behalf of humanity. He refused to just follow orders."
Upon receiving the signatures, Asle Toje, Research Director of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said that though it was not "unprecedented" to receive a "large volume of supporting material for a candidate," it "will neither help nor hinder his candidacy."
The 2013 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on October 11. According to Reuters, 259 people and groups were nominated by the February deadline, including Manning, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Myanmar President Thein Sein.
* * *
At a Stop the War Coalition meeting in London on Friday, Solomon gave a talk on 'Why Bradley Manning Should be Free.'