Hunger strikers stand firm against U.S. missile shield (updated)

Dandelion Salad

Updated added another video


Two campaigners in Prague are taking anti-radar base protests to another level. They’ve been on hunger strike for 18 days as the Czech Republic nears agreement with the U.S. to host part of its missile defence shield.



by Cynthia McKinney

Dear Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar:

It is impossible for me to say strongly enough how important your efforts are in the Czech Republic to oppose deployment of U.S. so-called missile defense bases. Your leadership is being watched and is appreciated all over the world.

While in Congress I voted against every iteration of so-called missile defense–Star Wars–that was authorized or appropriated. I want you to know that I deeply understand the dangers that will come from a decision to accept the U.S. Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland. There is no doubt that a new cold war is underway here that could once again bring Europe back into the middle of another U.S.-Russia conflict.

Your hunger strike in Prague since May 13, and now joined by others including Bruce Gagnon in the U.S., is an important effort to bring this issue to the public consciousness. The American people have been deceived at every turn by this Bush Administration and have yet to learn of the dangers and enormous cost of this new arms race we are creating. Thank you to you and to Bruce for your courageous and determined stand.

Let me assure you that as a candidate for the U.S. Green party presidential nomination, and a former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I very well understand the importance of your citizen action to demand a national referendum in your country on this deployment issue. I also understand your desire to prevent the U.S. from establishing military bases in your country after your long history of occupation by Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union. I am touched by your desire for real democracy in your country and agree that occupation and democracy are not compatible.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once remarked that the United States was the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet. Sadly, that has not changed. Please know that as I campaign, I will share your stories with those I meet as I cross our nation.

Thank you all again for your demand for peace and democracy.

Cynthia McKinney
Candidate for President of the United States
Green Party



Day 6 of my solidarity hunger strike

It is day 17 for Jan Bednar and Jan Tamas in their hunger strike. The latest report from the Czech Republic is that Jan Bednar’s liver failure is critical. He was taken to the hospital today but will not end his hunger strike.

In a meeting today with Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg it became obvious, despite his cordiality with the two strikers, that the government will not accept any of the peace movement demands.

Jan Tamas urged him to suspend talks with the Bush administration, since their country is divided and the political atmosphere in the Czech Republic is poisoned. Jan told him that it is much more sensible to wait for the next U.S. administration and in the meantime begin a real and transparent debate on the issue, involving all social forces in the country.

Opposition Social Democratic Party Secretary Jiri Paroubek, the former Czech Prime Minister, visited the protesters today and made a heartfelt appeal that they stop the strike. He assured them that his party is committed in their opposition to the radar agreement with the U.S. and that they will do everything possible to stop it.

Crowds are swarming to the Prague hunger strike headquarters, people bringing flowers and fruit drinks.

At today’s news conference in Prague a journalist started crying when Jan Bednar, now almost completely yellow, told them “the Prime Minister declared on television today that he has 30 days to answer us. This is the domineering attitude of our government which will impose it’s will at any cost. I cannot stop, it is an issue of democracy.”

Protests have now spread from Prague to over 30 cities around the world.

Today in Brunswick, Maine we had 10 people at my daily vigil on the street during the lunch hour. The local newspaper sent a reporter and photographer to interview me and earlier in the day I did a radio interview with the progressive station WERU in northern Maine.

More than a 100,000 people have now signed the online petition.

Unlimited hunger strike today: Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar in Prague since May 13, Dino Mancarella in Trieste since May 14, Federica Fratini and Eduardo Calizza in Rome since May 19, José Alvarez in Spain since May 22. Bruce Gagnon and Sung-Hee Choi in the USA, Gareth Smith in Australia, Joaquin Valenzuela in Bologna since May 24. Ivan Marchetti and Andrea Casa in Turin since May 26 and Dr. Hassan Nayeb Hashem in Austria since May 29.

My heart is heavy tonight because at the same time we learned about Jan Bednar being taken to the hospital I also learned that our longtime dear friend Peg McIntire, who is 97 years old and lives in Florida, is nearing death. I’ve worked with Peg in the peace movement for well over 20 years and she has come to Maine to visit us each year since we moved here in 2003. Just weeks ago she was asking if she could come again this summer, even as her health was failing.

The loss of Peg is just too hard to imagine. In my heart though I know she would be proud that I am participating in this hunger strike and I know she would be cheering me on.



Hunger strikers stand firm against U.S. missile shield

Two campaigners in Prague are taking anti-radar base protests to another level. They’ve been on hunger strike for 18 days as the Czech Republic nears agreement with the U.S. to host part of its missile defence shield.