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2 Jun, 2008 00:53

Czechs quit hunger strike as politicians join missile protest

The Czech Social Democratic Party is supporting two hunger strikers in their campaign against a U.S. radar base in the country. The pair starved themselves for three weeks, despite warnings from doctors. But with their protest now set to receive political

At their party conference, the Social Democrats suggested a chain hunger strike against the U.S. plans. The Green party also supports the actions of Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar. 

“We have decided that we will suspend the hunger strike. But it will be replaced with a chain hunger strike where people will go on hunger strike for 24 hours each. And this will continue for an unlimited period of time,” said hunger striker Jan Tamas.

Jan’s wife Lucy Tamasova, who’s also been with the hunger strikers for weeks, says this decision is not the end, but the beginning. She says the protest will gather momentum because high-profile figures have agreed to step on board.

“Famous people will be coming and I think it will be interesting that it’s not just two guys on hunger strike but people from the arts sphere, politicians, university professors, different kinds of people doing the hunger strike,” Lucy Tamasova explained.
Suspension of the strike will give respite to Jan Bednar. By not eating he began to suffer liver failure, with his skin turning yellow.

But he’s still active, spreading the anti-radar base message to anyone who phones up or drops by.

With 65 per cent of Czechs opposed to U.S. missile-shield plans, many admire the hunger strikers’ efforts.

The ‘No to Base’ campaigners have been documenting their plight on the web. And they’ve seen that across the world it’s Czech-mate, with people holding sympathy hunger strikes. They say it’s this global support that’s kept them going over the past three weeks.

Meanwhile, the Czech Defence Ministry has described the protest of the two hunger strikers as an act of blackmail. Prague says it will continue with plans to deploy anti-missile radar on its soil.

The decision has also drawn criticism from outside the country. Russia says if stationed the anti-missile shield will threaten its security.

The U.S. says the system’s only purpose is to counter potential threats from what it calls rogue states, namely Iran and North Korea.