Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Monday, June 02, 2008

HUNGER STRIKERS MESSAGE FROM PRAGUE

Day 10 of my solidarity hunger strike

We heard from the Czech Republic today that Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar will end their hunger strike tonight. Others in their country and around the world will then join the strike in their place. In their statement from Prague today they concluded, "We call on all the people who disagree with this plan [U.S. radar deployment] to show their disagreement, not to stay silent, and to start being active. Because 'democracy' is not just a word, putting a vote into a ballot box once every four years, democracy is about the active participation of every individual. "

In Brunswick, Maine today we had 14 folks on the street to once again hold signs and hand out leaflets to the public. I will continue on the hunger strike until June 7 and at that time Mary Beth Sullivan will take my place. Global Network member Sung-Hee Choi, who began the hunger strike on May 24 in New York City, will also continue until June 7. We are now hearing from other leaders in the Global Network who will also be joining the strike in their communities.

Recognizing that the U.S. is determined to twist the arm of the Czech government into submission to accept the deployment of the provocative "missile defense" radar, Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar are urging others around the world to help expand this effort.

They say, "Today at midnight we will suspend our hunger strike, however, a chain hunger strike will start in our country at the same time, when various people covering the whole social spectrum will be symbolically fasting for 24 hours. Tomorrow, a dissident, former Charter 77 and Independent Movement Activist, Peter Uhl will strike for us. In the following days the relay will be taken over by, among others, the sociologist Jan Keller, artist Anna Geislerova, Senator Alena Gajduskova, member of the Czech Academy of Science Petr Pokorny, Member of Parliament Olga Zubova, journalist Jakub Patocka, artist Lenka Vlasakova, radio editor Jeronym Janicek, and many others. "

"On an international level, for example Dennis Kucinich, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, continues fighting, as well as the U.S. Green Party presidential candidate, Cynthia McKinney. Here in the EU we have a meeting on this topic with the vice-president of the European Parliament, Luisa Morgantini next Thursday, who has promised to open a discussion on this topic in the European parliament. Today, Giorgio Schultze, the spokesperson for New Humanism in Europe, who is starting an open-ended hunger strike with the aim of getting a clear EU statement on this U.S. plan, takes the relay baton from us into Europe. Apart from this, hunger strikes to support our struggle are on going in Australia, the USA, Italy, Spain, Germany and Austria."

"All of you, who agree with our protest, can help us to spread it further and join the 22nd June one-day worldwide hunger strike against the Star Wars system, part of which is the planned base in the Czech Republic. This protest is the reaction to our hunger strike, and it is its strong follow-up on a world-wide level. It is already clear that people from all continents will participate."

So our Czech friends are challenging all of us to step up. It is obvious that instead of winding down, this effort against the radar is expanding and each of us can now play a role by joining the hunger strike for one day or more and by helping to spread the word to our organizations and personal networks.

Last Sunday here in Bath, Maine the Rev. Bill Bliss spoke about the hunger strike as the theme of his sermon at his United Church of Christ. Others have been urging people to sign the on-line petition at http://www.nonviolence.cz/ Still others are writing letters to the editor of their newspaper and planning to hold public vigils.

In the coming days the U.S. government will once again be debating their annual Pentagon spending appropriations. The military budget will be well over $600 billion in the coming year and the largest single project is for Star Wars "research and development." Now is the time for those who live in the U.S. to be calling on Congress to defund Star Wars.

This campaign is growing daily as people worldwide learn more about U.S. plans to move the arms race into space.

The aerospace industry often brags that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet. But in order to make it so they must first drag other countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Britain, Italy, Canada, Australia, and others into the program.

The resistance we are now seeing from the Czech Republic must be matched with similar efforts all over if we hope to have the resources to effectively deal with climate change and maintain social progress in our communities.

We must join the fight now to keep space for peace.

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