After three weeks without food, Czech anti-Missile Defence campaigners Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar have agreed to a new phase in the protest. The hunger strike, in opposition to US plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic, will now take the form of a ‘chain hunger strike’. Prominent figures in the Czech Republic will join the fast for 24 hours at a time.
British opponents of the destabilising missile defence system – which risks sparking a new Cold War – are set to join the hunger strike as part of an international day of action on 22nd June.
The growing protest comes at a crucial moment in Czech politics with parliamentary votes on the radar expected in the near future. The wafer-thin majority of the Government looks even shakier with the announcement that one of the six MPs from the junior coalition partner, the Czech Green Party, is to take part in the hunger strike. The Czech Green leadership has so far backed the radar but is coming under increasing pressure to withdraw support, and with it, any chance of Parliamentary approval for the US project. Around 70% of the Czech public oppose the plans. Polls also show that the majority of the UK public thinks that hosting such bases puts Europe at greater risk .
The international day of action on 22nd June will see supporters from across Europe and the world joining the protest. In the UK, so far Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, Vice President of CND Bruce Kent and Chair of CND, Kate Hudson, will be taking part. Support from further MPs, MEPs and celebrities is expected, with a public vigil planned.
The hunger strike has gained widespread support, including from US Senator and former Democratic Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich and from Luisa Morgantini MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament. Last Thursday CND organised a vigil outside the Czech embassy in London with placards reading ‘No to US Missile Defence’ and ‘Support the Czech Hunger Strikers’, also raising the UK’s role in the American ‘Star Wars’ system.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “It is good news that parliamentarians and celebrities in both the Czech Republic and the UK are joining this protest. US plans for Missile Defence are already destabilising Europe, sparking a Russian response that risks moving us toward a new Cold War. The Czech Government must listen to the vast majority of its people and reject the US radar.”
Jeremy Corbyn MP, who will also take part in the chain hunger strike, said:
“I fully support the campaign in the Czech Republic to prevent the development of the US Missile Defence system which is a danger to peace in Europe and which encourages a new arms race between the US and Russia. The Czech people are standing up for a world of peace. I call on all peace campaigners to join the day of action on the 22nd June in solidarity with the Czech hunger strikers.”
Notes to Editors:For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.
54% of the public agree (compared with 24% who disagree) that “the siting of US missiles and early warning bases in the UK, Poland and the Czech Republic as part of the US National Missile Defence programme, increases the security threat faced by the UK and Europe.” 22% did not know either way. Figures from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,049 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th – 30th July 2007.