Militarization of Space: Czech Hunger Strike Encompasses more than Radar
June 05, 2008
The U.S. government, in collaboration with the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic, is very close to sealing a deal for a "defensive missile shield." According to the plan initiated by the U.S., ten GMD-variant interceptor missiles will be located in Poland, and an X-band radar will be located in the Czech Republic, 55 miles southwest of the capital of Prague. But there is a catch.
In April, an opinion poll showed that two-thirds of Czechs were against the U.S. missile shield plans. Two Czech protesters, Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar, have gone on a hunger strike that has now entered the fourth week. Bednar has been hospitalized once and diagnosed with liver failure. Still, both activists continue the nonviolent protest demanding that the voices of Czech citizens be heard. (June 2 they are expected to announce a chain hunger strike following negotiations with a supporting politician, Head of the Social Democrat senators Alena Gajduskova, who has volunteered to participate.)
Tamas and Bednar occupy a storefront operation in the center of Prague where e-mails and visitations continue on a daily basis. An online petition has garnered over 107,554 signatures from around the globe.1 They will stop the hunger strike when four simple requests have been met: 1) radar base negotiations with the U.S. should be interrupted for one year; 2) the E.U. should issue an official stance on the proposed missile shield; 3) a Czech parliament session should convene around this issue; and 4) a televized discussion of the radar base with four opponents and four supporters of the plan should be organized.
On May 21, the government approved the plans though the basic document has yet to be ratified by parliament and signed by President Vaclav Klaus; the Czech-U.S. treaties are to be signed by July. At this crucial junction, Tamas and Bednar hold out for democracy. They are not alone.