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Extra:Radar v ČR

The Prague Post píše o hladovce Jana Bednáře a Jana Tamáše

 

16.5.2008

Nejnovější vydání The Prague Post píše o hladovce Jana Bednáře a Jana Tamáše na titulní straně. Článek je snad první větším objektivním článkem o hladovce v českých médiích. Bohužel však v anglicky psaném médiu, které čtou převážně cizinci.

 

On-line článek:

Radar strike

Prague activists stage hunger protest against planned U.S. base

By Kimberly Hiss
Staff Writer, The Prague Post
May 14th, 2008 issue

KURT VINION/THE PRAGUE POST
Demonstrators Jan Bednář and Jan Tamáš started their strike May 13, with solidarity events being held Europe-wide.
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KURT VINION/THE PRAGUE POST
Tamáš hopes that with the help of fellow activists the strike will last through June, when U.S. officials are expected to sign the treaty.
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About the protest



Where: Bělehradská 12, Prague 2
When: The public can visit strike headquarters seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For information and daily updates, check www.nonviolence.cz

Humanist movement members Jan Tamáš and Jan Bednář are taking their protest of the planned U.S. radar base on Czech soil to a new level this week. After two years of anti-base activism that included numerous marches and an online petition, they are now staging a hunger strike to urge the government to stop radar base negotiations with the United States and to hold a public referendum on the issue.

 

The strike, which started May 13, is being held at a Prague 2 headquarters, complete with anti-armament exhibits, free information pamphlets and a small living space.

Tamáš, a Prague IT consultant, and Bednář, a graphic designer, are both members of the No Bases Initiative, and are staging the protest with the help of Humanist movement volunteers. During the strike they’ll be living onsite, posting daily Web updates and welcoming the public to stop by and discuss the issue. At the same time, solidarity strikes and other protest activities are being held by peace organizations in Turin, Milan, Rome, Berlin, Budapest and Copenhagen.

Tamáš hopes the strike will last into June, when Czech and U.S. officials are expected to sign a treaty to build the radar base as an extension of the European missile-defense shield 90 miles southwest of Prague.

On the eve of the hunger strike, The Prague Post stopped by headquarters to talk with Tamáš about his motivations for the protest, and what he hopes his personal sacrifice will achieve.

The Prague Post: Why a hunger strike?

Jan Tamáš: We felt it was necessary to do something other than what we’ve already tried. We’ve held peaceful protests, marches, started a petition, organized international conferences, and I’ve been traveling to the United States, Italy and France to talk about our struggles. We never thought the time was so crucial that we’d get involved in a hunger strike. But when a date was set to finalize the radar agreement, we realized that if things continue the way they’re going, this treaty would be signed.

We take a lot of inspiration from past nonviolent leaders, like Mahatma Ghandi, so in our struggle it was almost natural that we consider a hunger strike as one of our tools.

TPP: What do you hope the strike will accomplish?

JT: That either the talks about the radar base are stopped, or that we receive a strong signal that there will be a referendum on the issue.

We feel this situation is not only about the radar base anymore; it’s about democracy. If the majority of the people — roughly two-thirds of Czechs — oppose this project, and yet the government continues negotiations regardless of public opinion, there is a problem with democracy in our country.

TPP: How have you been getting ready for the strike? What we’ve heard from people who have done hunger strikes before is that it’s crucial to be in good mental condition. That means you should get rid of negative feelings toward other people and situations, and reconcile yourself with others and your past. So I’ve been trying to resolve some things in terms of personal issues.

JT:

Also, in the past day or two, Jan and I have been getting ready physically by eating mostly fruits and vegetables to prepare the body for a reduced amount of food. Tuesday morning will be our last meal — just a light breakfast.

TPP: And while you’re actually on the hunger strike, you’ll be taking …

JT: Well, we’re discussing that. We think we will follow Ghandi’s example of a maximum of one glass of milk per day. But, apart from that, it will mostly be water, tea and orange juice, and Jan drinks coffee.

TPP: Are you concerned for your safety?

JT: Well, it’s a serious decision, and yes, I am concerned, sure. I am risking my life.

TPP: And you feel this issue is worth that?

JT: Yes. I actually feel it would be more incoherent to not do anything against this plan. Because in a lot of ways it reminds me of similar situations from the past where people have been silent to worsening circumstances. For example, when Hitler came to power, the situation in Germany worsened, and civil liberties were slowly removed, and the world community kept silent when Hitler decided to occupy us. That silence eventually turned into World War II, because people weren’t forward-looking enough to realize this path is not a good path, and that somebody should speak up.

 

 

A few words with Jan Bednář 

Fellow hunger striker Jan Bednář also spoke to The Prague Post, with Tamáš acting as a translator.

TPP:

Jan Bednář: Because the radar issue is a very dangerous situation. I’ve been involved in protests for two years and, in all this time, I haven’t seen a single sign from the government that they would create a true dialogue that should be part of a democracy. Instead of that, 70 percent of people who oppose the base aren’t heard.

For me personally, it’s a difficult choice to start a hunger strike. Surely it is something very serious that could influence my health. But again, the situation is so serious I decided to start the hunger strike to bring attention to the danger. What concerns you about the strike?

TPP:

JB: I have no experience with hunger strikes, so I don’t know how my body will respond. I think that’s my biggest personal concern — that uncertainty, and the possibility that maybe my body will respond in a bad way.

TPP: You must be glad you’re staging the strike together with Jan.

JB: For sure, I feel bigger support because I’m not doing this alone. But, if I had to do it alone, I still would.

Why did you want to stage a hunger strike?
 
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