Campaigners will today deliver a letter to the Czech Embassy in London in support of two activists currently on hunger strike in Prague as part of protests over plans to base a US missile defence system radar in the country.
Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar have now gone without food for a week. They are demanding that their government listens to the overwhelming majority of the Czech population who oppose the system, which will put the Czech Republic on the front line in future US wars.
Their action was supported at two successful and lively demonstrations in the UK this last weekend, at the US bases of Menwith Hill (North Yorkshire) and Lakenheath (Suffolk). Lakenheath is home to 110 US nuclear weapons and thought to be the reserve location for interceptor missiles if negotiations fail with Poland. The demonstration there was double the size of recent protest actions, showing the increased public concern.
Polls show strong opposition to the basing of missile defence in Europe. Opposition in the Czech Republic is around 70% and UK polling shows that the majority of the public think the system will make us less safe. The situation in the Czech parliament is very finely balanced, with the governing coalition holding exactly half the seats. All opposition parties oppose the radar and the overwhelming majority of the public want a referendum on the plan.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “US plans for Missile Defence are already destabilising Europe, sparking a Russian response that risks moving us toward a new Cold War. We support the bravery of the Czech hunger strikers who see this as a key question of national sovereignty. They do not want foreign troops on their soil. They do not want to be embroiled in a new Cold War not of their choosing. We hope that the Czech Government will listen to the vast majority of its people and choose not to host the US radar.”
She continued, “The situation is on a knife edge in the Czech Republic. Treaties to introduce the radar will be put to the Czech parliament in a matter of weeks and with the parliament more or less evenly divided over the issue we hope European public opinion will come across loud and clear. A majority opposes the system in every European country polled, and we’ll be urging our supporters to write to the Ambassador making clear their opposition to a system that ultimately, will facilitate war.”
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.