SOURCE: Center of Cultures

June 23, 2008 13:10 ET

Center of Cultures Reports One-Day Hunger Strike Opposing US "Star Wars" in Czech Republic Spreads to Five Continents

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - June 23, 2008) - Protests were held on June 22nd in more than 30 countries across five continents as thousands went on a one-day hunger strike against the installation of a US military base in the Czech Republic, according to The Center of Cultures, a non-profit organization advancing values of New Humanism. The base would be part of the National Missile Defense project, also known as "Star Wars." More than 70% of Czechs oppose the base but despite two years of protests, the government is moving ahead. Condoleeza Rice is expected in Prague on July 8 to sign the agreement.

As recently as April, the plan was seen as a fait accomplit, hailed as a "breakthrough agreement" by Rice, following the NATO Summit Meeting in Bucharest. But the emergence of sustained nonviolent resistance has raised doubts in the Czech Republic about the future of the project.

This resistance was dramatically strengthened by the three-week hunger strike of two Czech humanists, Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar. On June 2, they suspended their hunger strike, but since then it has spread at home -- including actors, dissidents, athletes, Members of Parliament, intellectuals, and singers. It soon thereafter spread throughout Europe in a series of hunger strikes, some for one day, some for longer. The action on the 22nd is an indication that opposition to the plan is gaining momentum with growing international support.

The Worldwide Hunger Strike was carried out both publicly and privately, from villages in Tamil Nadu, India to city squares and parks from Reykjavik to Quito. In New York, an "Empty Plate Picnic" was held next to Bryant Park, with twenty hunger strikers. Dozens of passersby wrote messages to Condoleeza Rice on paper plates condemning the Star Wars project. According to Chris Wells, spokesperson for New Humanism, "Today, more and more people, no matter where they live, are rejecting the growing violence and militarization and demanding that our resources be used to meet the urgent needs of people." (www.humanism.org)

Apart from showing support for the Czech people through fasting for a day, Roberto Verdecchia of the Humanist Movement in Toronto wanted to educate people about the fact that "21 days of military spending in the US could solve the world's hunger problems for a year."

An online petition opposing the radar shield can be found at www.nonviolence.cz along with ongoing updates.

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