Campaigners will this Sunday stage a public hunger strike as part of an international day of action against US plans to site parts of its Missile Defence system in Europe. Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, Vice President of CND Pat Arrowsmith and Chair of CND, Kate Hudson, will be amongst those taking part, with the support of many other MPs and well known figures. Green MEP Caroline Lucas will also take part in Brussels. Bruce Kent, Tony Benn, Stop the War Coalition Chair Andrew Murray and Jean Lambert MEP will join hunger strikers in delivering a letter to 10 Downing Street.
The hunger strike will run from midnight on Saturday night for 24 hours, as part of an ongoing ‘chain’ hunger strike by politicians and celebrities in the Czech Republic where the US intends to build a radar station. The action started with two Czech campaigners refusing all food for three weeks, with the protest now being taken up globally. A vigil will also take place near to the US-intelligence base at Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire for 24 hours from noon on Saturday.
The London vigil will comprise of:
Hunger strikers and supporters vigil: Opposite Downing Street, 8am to midnight on Sunday
Main focus on protest: 12 noon – 2pm
Hand-in of letter to 10 Downing Street: 12:15 PM
The growing protest comes at a crucial time for the US project to base part of the highly destabilising scheme in Europe. This week it emerged that the US have begun discussions with Lithuania to find a site for interceptor missiles, were the stalled negotiations with Poland to fail. Comments by Czech Green MPs, whose support would be essential for a parliamentary majority in support of the US radar noted they now wish to wait until a new President is in office – a similar issue blighting US/Polish negotiations.
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 [see note 3].
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “I’m joining the hunger strike as US plans for Missile Defence are already destabilising Europe, sparking a Russian response that risks moving us toward a new Cold War. This system will protect no-one, but will put Britain, and others involved, on the frontline in future US wars. It gives the US the ability to strike without fear of retaliation, thus resulting in others enhancing their own systems in response. This is exactly why new arms control measures are desperately needed, rather than plans which will once again increase the number of missiles sited across Europe – and see them targeted again on Western Europe.”
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.”
Kelvin Hopkins MP, Member of the European Scrutiny Committee, said:
“I give my total support to those brave Czech Parliamentarians taking part in the hunger strike in Prague against a US missile defence radar base being built in their country. With 70% opposition amongst the people of the Czech Republic, we must hope that the Czech government will be persuaded to resist the US and refuse to allow the missile defence installation to go ahead. We should all be working towards a peaceful world and not increasing military tensions in the heart of Europe and elsewhere.”
Jon Trickett MP, said:
“There has been no proper democratic consultation about US missile defence bases being stationed in the UK – something which I firmly oppose. I support those who are taking action to make this point because this is an important debate that has not been had. An issue with this scope should be placed before Parliament – anything less is unacceptable”
Mike Hancock MP, Member of the Defence Committee, said:
“I congratulate all those in the Czech Republic who have made their opposition to this totally unnecessary project absolutely clear. They are absolutely right to protest at this latest escalation of US militarism in a European sovereign state. The Czech Government would do well to listen to the voice of its own people on this issue – and to tell the Americans they are interested in being part of a coalition for peace – not aggression and war”.
Colin Challen MP, said:
“Missile defence is a throwback to redundant military thinking which both raises the stakes in the level of escalation its potential victims will feel bound to rise to, but also distracts us from the real problems our world faces, and which our military needs to address, such as the consequences of climate change.”
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.