Ireland: Twentieth anniversary of Hunger Strike
A message from the Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee* In 1981, ten young men, members of the Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army, and the prisoners of war (POWs), died on hunger strike while incarcerated in the North of Ireland. Ten young men who had dared to rise up against the occupying forces in their country, young men whose only hope in life was that, unlike them, their children could grow up free from oppression of their basic human rights, free from discrimination in housing, education, health care and religion, free to live their lives without fear, and free citizens of a United Ireland. Arrested without evidence, convicted without trials, and stripped of their political status as POWs, these men asked for five basic rights rights which the British occupied forces could have easily granted but instead they were left to die, while the world looked on in horror. This year, 2001, is the 20th anniversary of the deaths of these brave young men. They will not be forgotten, not now while we still struggle for freedom; and not ever, even when justice and freedom are finally won by the people of Ireland. Beginning with May 5, the anniversary of the first death, we ask you, in the name of human compassion, to remember these men by participating in a world-wide minute of silence and again on the anniversary of each subsequent death. We ask all of you who detest the injustices the British Government imposes on the people of the North of Ireland, and all of you who wish for peace and social justice for all peoples of the world, to join together in solidarity and share a minute of silence in their honour. Let us never forget: Volunteer Bobby Sands, IRA died 5 May 1981 Volunteer Francis Hughes, IRA died 12 May 1981 Volunteer Raymond McCreesh, IRA died 21 May 1981 Volunteer Patsy O'Hara, INLA died 21 May 1981 Volunteer Joe McDonnell, IRA died 8 July 1981 Volunteer Martin Hurson, IRA died 13 July 1981 Volunteer Kevin Lynch, INLA died 1 August 1981 Volunteer Kieran Doherty, IRA died 2 August 1981 Volunteer Thomas McElwee, IRA died 8 August 1981 Volunteer Michael Devine, INLA died 20 August 1981. The five demands they died for were: 1. The right not to wear a prison uniform; 2. The right not to do prison work; 3. The right of free association with other prisoners; 4. The right to organise their own educational and recreational facilities; 5. The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel a week. If you have access to the Internet, to acknowledge your guaranteed participation in the minute of silence for each hunger striker please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. On behalf of all of those who have died in the struggle for Irish Freedom, the Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee thanks you.
* * ** The brother of hunger strike Patsy O'Hara formed the Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee in 2000 and its membership includes Irish Republican activists in Ireland, Britain and North America.