Hunger strike
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

 as an act of political protest
A protest is an expression of objection, by words or by actions, to particular events, policies or situations. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations...

, or to provoke feelings of guilt
Guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense. It is also a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that...

 in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not solid food. A hunger strike cannot be effective if the fact that it is being undertaken is not publicized so as to be known by the people who are to be impressed, concerned or embarrassed by it.

In cases where an entity (usually the state) has or is able to obtain custody of the hunger striker (such as a prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

er), the hunger strike is often terminated by the custodial entity through the use of force-feeding
Force-feeding is the practice of feeding a person or an animal against their will. "Gavage" is supplying a nutritional substance by means of a small plastic tube passed through the nose or mouth into the stomach, not explicitly 'forcibly'....


Early history

Fasting was used as a method of protesting injustice in pre-Christian Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, where it was known as Troscadh or Cealachan. It was detailed in the contemporary civic codes, and had specific rules by which it could be used. The fast was often carried out on the doorstep of the home of the offender. Scholars speculate this was due to the high importance the culture placed on hospitality. Allowing a person to die at one's doorstep, for a wrong of which one was accused, was considered a great dishonor. Others say that the practice was to fast for one whole night, as there is no evidence of people fasting to death in pre-Christian Ireland. The fasts were primarily undertaken to recover debts or get justice for a perceived wrong. There are legends of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, using the hunger strike as well.

In India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, the practice of a hunger protest, where the protestor fasts at the door of an offending party (typically a debtor) in a public call for justice, was abolished by the government in 1861; this indicates the prevalence of the practice prior to that date, or at least a public awareness of it. This Indian practice is ancient, going back to around 400 to 750 BC. This can be known since it appears in the Valmiki Ramayana, which was composed around that time. The actual mention appears in the Ayodhya Kanda, (the second book of the Ramayana), in Sarga (section) 103. Bharata
Bharata (Ramayana)
In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Bharata was the second brother of the main protagonist Rama, and the son of Dasaratha and Kaikeyi. Dasaratha was the Emperor of Ayodhya and belonged to the Suryavansha or Solar Dynasty...

 has gone to ask the exiled Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 to come back and rule the kingdom. Bharata tries many arguments, none of which work, at which point he decides to do a hunger strike. He announces his intention to fast, calls for his charioteer Sumantra to bring him some sacred Kusha grass, (but Sumantra won't do it since he's too busy looking at Rama's face, so Bharata has to get the grass himself), lies down upon it in front of Rama. Rama, however, is quickly able to persuade him to abandon the attempt. Rama mentions it as a practice of the brahmanas.

Medical view

In the first 3 days, the body is still using energy from glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

. After that, the liver starts processing body fat, in a process called ketosis
Ketosis is a state of elevated levels of ketone bodies in the body. It is almost always generalized throughout the body, with hyperketonemia, that is, an elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood. Ketone bodies are formed by ketogenesis when the liver glycogen stores are depleted...

. After 3 weeks the body enters a "starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

 mode". At this point the body "mines" the muscles and vital organs for energy, and loss of bone marrow
Bone marrow
Bone marrow is the flexible tissue found in the interior of bones. In humans, bone marrow in large bones produces new blood cells. On average, bone marrow constitutes 4% of the total body mass of humans; in adults weighing 65 kg , bone marrow accounts for approximately 2.6 kg...

 becomes life-threatening. There are examples of hunger strikers dying after 52 to 74 days of strike.

Anna Hazare

Anna Hazare
Kisan Baburao Hazare , popularly known as Anna Hazare is an Indian social activist and a prominent leader in the 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement, using nonviolent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi...

 did a 12-day hunger strike protest in Ramlila Maidan, Delhi to protest political corruption and pressure the Indian government to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill.

His campaign for the strengthening the anti-corruption legislation proposed by the government received widespread support. All over the country people supported his movement, with tens of thousands of people attending protests across the country. Finally, Indian MPs expressed support for proposed changes to anti-corruption legislation on August 27, 2011. Following this Anna Hazare ended his hunger strike.

Swami Nigamanand

Indian seer Swami Nigamanand
Swami Nigamanand Saraswati was a Hindu seer who began his fast to death on February 19, 2011 to save the river Ganges from pollution caused by illegal mining. He died on on June 13 .-Early life:...

 went on a fast unto death to protest against illegal mining on the bank of the Ganga in Haridwar. Nigamanand, who was on fast beginning February 19, 2011 was declared dead the following June 13, after being on a hunger strike for 115 days. He was shifted to the district government hospital after his health deteriorated on April 27, and thereafter to the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust hospital in Dehra Dun in a state of coma on May 2. Nigamanand was on fast to force the state government to issue an order to stop quarrying in the Ganga. He also wanted the works of Himalaya Stone Crusher to be shifted from the Kumbh Mela area.

Thileepan – Fast to Death

On 15 September 1987 at 9.30 a.m at the Nallur Murugan Temple, Thileepan began his fast. His main objective was to bring awareness and action to a list of public demands made by himself and the Tamil Tigers, considered to be a terrorist group.

Although several groups requested Thileepan as well as the local IPKF administration to intervene and stop the fast, Thileepan died on the 26th of September 1987. There was widespread grief in Tamil areas. Thousands of people from the North and East flooded Jaffna
Jaffna is the capital city of the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna district located on a peninsula of the same name. Jaffna is approximately six miles away from Kandarodai which served as a famous emporium in the Jaffna peninsula from classical...

 as news of his death spread. His death created an anti-Indian mood in Jaffna, which had been pro-India until then.

Gandhi & Bhagat Singh

Mohandas Gandhi was imprisoned in 1922, 1930, 1933 and 1942. Because of Gandhi's stature around the world, British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 authorities were loath to allow him to die in their custody. It is likely Britain's reputation would have suffered as a result of such an event. Gandhi engaged in several famous hunger strikes to protest British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 rule of India. Fasting was a non-violent way of communicating the message and sometimes dramatically achieve the reason for the protest. This was keeping with the rules of Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...


In addition to Gandhi, various others have used the hunger strike option during the Indian independence movement. Such figures include Jatin Das and Bhagat Singh 116th day of their fast, on October 5, 1929 that Bhagat Singh and Dutt gave up their strike (surpassing the 97 day world record for hunger strikes which was set by an Irish revolutionary). During this hunger strike that lasted 116 days and ended with the British succumbing to his wishes, he gained much popularity among the common Indians. Before the strike his popularity was limited mainly to the Punjab region.

After Indian Independence, freedom fighter Potti Sreeramulu
Potti Sreeramulu
Potti Sreeramulu , was an Indian revolutionary. He became famous for undertaking a fast-unto-death for achieving the Andhra State and losing his life in the process. His sacrifice became instrumental in the linguistic re-organisation of states. He is revered as Amarajeevi in Andhra for his...

 used hunger strikes to get a separate state for Telugu-speaking people. Morarji Desai went on fast twice during NAVNIRMAN in the seventies and prior to that Indulal Yagnik alias Indu Chacha went on a long fast during MahaGujarat and thereafter in the seventies.

Amarajeevi Potti Sriramulu

Potti Sriramulu was an Indian revolutionary. He became famous for undertaking a fast-unto-death to make Madras city as the capital of the newly announced Andhra State
Andhra State
Andhra State was a state in India created on October 1, 1953 from the Telugu-speaking northern districts of Madras Presidency. On November 1, 1956 it was merged with the Telangana region of Hyderabad State to form the united Telugu-speaking state of Andhra Pradesh.- Madras Manade movement :In 1953,...

 and losing his life in the process. He is revered as Amarajeevi (Immortal being) in Coastal Andhra for his sacrifice. As a devout follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he worked life long to uphold principles such as truth and non-violence, patriotism and objectives such as Harijan upliftment. He fasted for 58 days before passing away.In Indian history only one another indian revolutionary who fasted till death, Jatin Das.

British and American suffragettes

In the early 20th century suffragettes
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 frequently endured hunger strikes in British prisons. Marion Dunlop
Marion Wallace Dunlop
Marion Wallace Dunlop was the first British suffragette to go on hunger strike, on 5 July 1909, after being arrested in July 1909 for militancy....

 was the first in 1909. She was released, as the authorities did not want her to become a martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

. Other suffragettes in prison also undertook hunger strikes. The prison authorities subjected them to force-feeding
Force-feeding is the practice of feeding a person or an animal against their will. "Gavage" is supplying a nutritional substance by means of a small plastic tube passed through the nose or mouth into the stomach, not explicitly 'forcibly'....

, which the suffragettes categorized as a form of torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

. Mary Clarke, Jean Hewart, Katherine Fry and several others died as a result of force-feeding.

In 1913 the Prisoner's Temporary Discharge of Ill Health Act (nicknamed the "Cat and Mouse Act") changed policy. Hunger strikes were tolerated but prisoners were released when they became sick. When they had recovered, the suffragettes were taken back to prison to finish their sentences.

Like their British counterparts, American suffragettes also used this method of political protest. A few years prior to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920....

, a group of American suffragettes led by Alice Paul
Alice Paul
Alice Stokes Paul was an American suffragist and activist. Along with Lucy Burns and others, she led a successful campaign for women's suffrage that resulted in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.-Activism: Alice Paul received her undergraduate education from...

 engaged in a hunger strike and endured forced feedings while incarcerated at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia.

Irish republicans

Hunger strikes have deep roots in Irish society and in the Irish psyche. Fasting in order to bring attention to an injustice which one felt under his lord, and thus embarrass him into a solution, was a common feature of society in Early Irish
Brehon Laws
Early Irish law refers to the statutes that governed everyday life and politics in Early Medieval Ireland. They were partially eclipsed by the Norman invasion of 1169, but underwent a resurgence in the 13th century, and survived into Early Modern Ireland in parallel with English law over the...

 society and this tactic was fully incorporated into the Brehon
Brehon is the term in Gaelic-Irish culture for a judge. The Brehons were part of the system of "Brehon Law". The Brehons wore yellow robes when delivering verdicts. Several dozen families were recognised as hereditary brehon clans.-See also:* Mac an Bhaird...

 legal system. The tradition is ultimately most likely part of the still older Indo-European tradition of which the Irish were part.

The tactic was used by Irish republicans from 1917 and, subsequently, during the Anglo-Irish War, in the 1920s. Early use of hunger strikes by republicans had been countered by the British with force-feeding
Force-feeding is the practice of feeding a person or an animal against their will. "Gavage" is supplying a nutritional substance by means of a small plastic tube passed through the nose or mouth into the stomach, not explicitly 'forcibly'....

, which culminated in 1917 in the death of Thomas Ashe
Thomas Ashe
Thomas Patrick Ashe born in Lispole, County Kerry, Ireland, was a member of the Gaelic League, the Irish Republican Brotherhood and a founding member of the Irish Volunteers...

 in Mountjoy Prison
Mountjoy Prison
Mountjoy Prison , founded as Mountjoy Gaol, nicknamed The Joy, is a medium security prison located in Phibsboro in the centre of Dublin, Ireland. It has the largest prison population in Ireland.The current prison governor is Mr...


In October 1920, the Lord Mayor
Lord Mayor
The Lord Mayor is the title of the Mayor of a major city, with special recognition.-Commonwealth of Nations:* In Australia it is a political position. Australian cities with Lord Mayors: Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Newcastle, Parramatta, Perth, Sydney, and Wollongong...

 of Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, Terence MacSwiney
Terence MacSwiney
Terence Joseph MacSwiney was an Irish playwright, author and politician. He was elected as Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork during the Irish War of Independence in 1920. He was arrested by the British on charges of sedition and imprisoned in Brixton prison in England...

, died on hunger strike in Brixton
Brixton is a district in the London Borough of Lambeth in south London, England. It is south south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London....

 prison. Two other Cork IRA men, Joe Murphy
Joe Murphy (Irish Republican)
Joseph Murphy...

 and Michael Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald (Irish Republican)
Michael Fitzgerald was a member of the Irish Republican Army who died on Hunger strike at Cork Jail in October 1920.A native of Ballyoran, Fermoy, County Cork, Fitzgerald was educated at the Christian Brothers School in the town and subsequently found work as a mill worker in the locality...

, also died on hunger strike in this protest along with Monaghan native, Conor McElvaney who lasted 79 days before death. The Guinness Book of Records lists the world record in hunger strike (without forced feeding) as 94 days, which was set from August 11 to November 12, 1920 by John and Peter Crowley, Thomas Donovan, Michael Burke, Michael O'Reilly, Christopher Upton, John Power, Joseph Kenny and Seán Hennessy at the prison of Cork. Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

 called off the strikes after the deaths of MacSwiney, Murphy and Fitzgerald.

After the end of the Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

 in October 1923, up to 8000 IRA prisoners went on hunger strike to protest their continued detention by the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 (a total of over 12,000 republicans had been interned by May 1923). Two men, Denny Barry
Denny Barry
Denis "Denny" Barry was an Irish Republican who died during a hunger strike, shortly after the Irish Civil War.- Early life :...

 and Andrew O'Sullivan
Andrew O'Sullivan
Andrew O'Sullivan is a Paralympic athletics competitor from Australia. He won a bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Games in the Men's 400 m A4A9 event and a gold medal in the Men's 4x400 m Relay A2A4-7 event.-References:...

, died on the strike. The strike, however, was called off before any more deaths occurred. The Free State subsequently released the women republican prisoners. Most of the male Republicans were not released until the following year.

Under the de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 government three hunger strikers died in the Republic of Ireland in the 1940s. They were Sean McCaughey
Seán McCaughey
Seán McCaughey was an Irish Republican Army leader in the 1930s and 1940s, and hunger striker....

, Tony D'Arcy
Tony D'Arcy
Tony D'Arcy, Irish Republican Hunger-striker, died April 1940.D'Arcy was a member of the I.R.A. during the 1930's. He was arrested and imprisoned during The Emergency but went on hunger strike. He died in jail. An undertaker by profession, his body was carried in his own hearse, driven by...

 and Sean (Jack) McNeela. Hundreds of others carried out shorter hunger strikes during the de Valera years with no sympathy from the Government.

The tactic was revived by the Provisional IRA in the early 1970s, when several republicans such as Sean MacStiofain successfully used hunger strikes to get themselves released from custody without charge in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. Michael Gaughan died after being force-fed in a British prison in 1974. Frank Stagg
Frank Stagg
Frank Stagg -Background:Stagg was the seventh child in a family of thirteen children, born at Hollymount near Ballinrobe, County Mayo,...

, an IRA member being held in a British jail, died after a 62-day hunger strike in 1976 which he began as a campaign to be repatriated to Ireland.

Irish hunger strike of 1981

In 1980, seven Republican prisoners in the Maze Prison launched a hunger strike as a protest against the revocation by the British government of a prisoner-of-war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

-like Special Category Status
Special Category Status
In July 1972, William Whitelaw, the British government's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, granted Special Category Status to all prisoners convicted of Troubles-related offences...

 for paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 prisoners in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. The strike, led by Brendan Hughes
Brendan Hughes
Brendan Hughes , also known as "The Dark", was an Irish republican and former Officer Commanding of the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army...

, was called off before any deaths, when Britain seemed to offer to concede their demands; however, the British then reneged on the details of the agreement. The prisoners then called another hunger strike the following year. This time, instead of many prisoners striking at the same time, the hunger strikers started fasting one after the other in order to maximise publicity over the fate of each one.

Bobby Sands
Bobby Sands
Robert Gerard "Bobby" Sands was an Irish volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and member of the United Kingdom Parliament who died on hunger strike while imprisoned in HM Prison Maze....

 was the first of ten Irish republican paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 prisoners to die during a hunger strike
1981 Irish hunger strike
The 1981 Irish hunger strike was the culmination of a five-year protest during The Troubles by Irish republican prisoners in Northern Ireland. The protest began as the blanket protest in 1976, when the British government withdrew Special Category Status for convicted paramilitary prisoners...

 in 1981. There was widespread support for the hunger strikers from Irish republicans and the broader nationalist
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

 community on both sides of the Irish
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 border. Some of the hunger strikers were elected to both the Irish
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 and British parliaments by an electorate who wished to register their support for the hunger strikers. The ten men survived without food for 46 to 73 days, taking only water and salt, before succumbing. After the deaths of the men and severe public disorder, the British government granted partial concessions to the prisoners, and the strike was called off. The hunger strikes gave a huge propaganda boost to a severely demoralised Provisional IRA.

Cuban dissidents

On April 3, 1972, Pedro Luis Boitel
Pedro Luis Boitel
Pedro Luis Boitel was a Cuban poet and dissident who opposed the governments of both Fulgencio Batista and Fidel Castro. In 1961, the regime sentenced him to 10 years in prison....

, an imprisoned poet and dissident, declared himself on hunger strike. After 53 days on hunger strike, receiving only liquids, he died of starvation on May 25, 1972. His last days were related by his close friend, poet Armando Valladares
Armando Valladares
Armando Valladares is a former prisoner in Cuba turned United States ambassador to the United Nations.-Political prisoner:Valladares was a Cuban Postal Bank employee . He was arrested when he refused to display a sign on his desk that promoted communism...

. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Cólon Cemetery
Colon Cemetery, Havana
The Colon Cemetery or more fully in the Spanish language Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón was founded in 1876 in the Vedado neighbourhood of Havana, Cuba on top of Espada Cemetery. Named for Christopher Columbus, the 140 acre cemetery is noted for its many elaborately sculpted memorials...

 in Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...


Guillermo Fariñas
Guillermo Fariñas
Guillermo Fariñas Hernández is a Cuban doctor of psychology, independent journalist and political dissident in Cuba. He has conducted 23 hunger strikes over the years to protest various elements of the Cuban regime. He has stated that he is ready to die in the struggle against censorship in...

 did a seven-month hunger strike to protest against the extensive Internet censorship in Cuba
Censorship in Cuba
Censorship in Cuba has been reported on extensively, and resulted in European Union sanctions as well as statements of protest from groups, governments, and noted individuals....

. He ended it in Autumn 2006, with severe health problems although still conscious. Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008...

 awarded its cyber-freedom prize to Guillermo Fariñas in 2006.

Jorge Luis García Pérez
Jorge Luis García Pérez
Jorge Luis García Pérez is a human right and democracy activist in Cuba.Antúnez was jailed for 17 years from 1990 to 2007. Other dissidents have referred to Antúnez as Cuba's Nelson Mandela....

 (known as Antúnez) has done hunger strikes. In 2009, following the end of his 17-year imprisonment, Antúnez, his wife Iris, and Diosiris Santana Pérez started a hunger strike to support other political prisoners. Leaders from Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Argentina declared their support for Antúnez.
On February 23, 2010, Orlando Zapata Tamayo
Orlando Zapata Tamayo
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was a Cuban mason, plumber, and political activist and prisoner who died after fasting for more than 80 days.-Political affiliation:...

, a dissident arrested in 2003 as part of a crackdown on opposition groups, died in a hospital while undertaking a hunger strike that had been ongoing for 83 days, in Cuba's "Kilo 8" prison. He had declared the hunger strike in protest of the poor conditions of the prison in which he was held. He was one of 55 prisoners of conscience in Cuba to have been adopted by Amnesty International. He was charged with an array of offences including “resistance,” “contempt” and “disrespect”. Such charges are commonplace in Cuba, where freedom of expression is severely limited and political power remains centralized.

Political prisoners in Turkey

Inspired by the Irish Republicans, Turkish political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s developed a tradition of hunger strikes, which continues to this day. After the suppression of rising civil socialist movements by a military coup
Kenan Evren
Ahmet Kenan Evren was the seventh President of Turkey; a post he assumed by leading the 1980 military coup. He was also the last president to be born in the Ottoman Empire.- Biography :...

 in 1980, many militants as well as civil activists were imprisoned under highly inhumane conditions. In response to torture and mistreatment of political prisoners, the first hunger strike was launched in 1984,taking the lives of 4 Dev-Sol militants, Abdullah Meral, Haydar Başbağ, Fatih Öktülmüş and Hasan Telci.

In the following years, socialist movements have been increasingly marginalized and moved underground. However, many militant Marxist/Leninist groups have survived. For this reason, the number of political prisoners has always been high. In 1996, when the nationalist minister
Mehmet Agar
Mehmet Kemal Ağar is a Turkish former police chief, politician, government minister and leader of the Democratic Party.-Early years:...

 of the Islamist
Necmettin Erbakan
Necmettin Erbakan was a Turkish engineer, academic, politician , who was the Prime Minister of Turkey from 1996 until 1997. He was Turkey's first Islamist Prime Minister...

Tansu Çiller
Tansu Penbe Çiller is a Turkish economist and politician. She was Turkey's first and only female Prime Minister.- Early career :She is the daughter of a Turkish governor of Bilecik province during the 1950s. She graduated from the School of Economics at Robert College after finishing the American...

 government launched a policy on segregation of political prisoners from each other, another hunger strike broke down, with the participation of several leftist militant groups. The strike lasted 69 days, took 12 lives, and the indifferent attitude of the government provoked a strong public protest. As a result, with the initiative of intellectuals including Yaşar Kemal
Yasar Kemal
Yaşar Kemal, is a Turkish writer. He is one of Turkey's leading writers. He has long been a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, on the strength of Memed, My Hawk....

, Zülfü Livaneli
Zülfü Livaneli
Ömer Zülfü Livanelioğlu is a popular Turkish folk musician , a novelist, newspaper columnist and a film director who has been highly popular for decades...

, and Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk
Ferit Orhan Pamuk , generally known simply as Orhan Pamuk, is a Turkish novelist. He is also the Robert Yik-Fong Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, where he teaches comparative literature and writing....

, a deal was achieved between the government and prisoners. The prisoners took most of their rights back, which they recall as a victory.

The last wave of hunger strikes in Turkey, which has become chronic in recent years, was started against F-type prisons, which were designed for efficient segregation of political prisoners. The project was developed starting in 1997, and the strike was started on October 20, 2000, demanding F-type prisons not to be opened, by a large coalition of militant groups, this time including the Kurdish-separatist militants of PKK. The result was tragic. On December 19, 2000, the now democratic left-extreme nationalist coalition decided to break the strike using force, which was named "Back to life" operation. The operation was faced by a well-organized resistance of prisoners, resulting in the death of 28 prisoners and 2 soldiers. Since then, both F-type prisons and related hunger strikes have become an issue of daily life. According to the organization of prisoner relatives, 101 prisoners have died and above 400 have suffered from unrecoverable disease, particularly Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome is a manifestation of thiamine deficiency, or beriberi. This is usually secondary to alcohol abuse...

. The governments have consistently denied claims about mistreatment of prisoners, and president Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Ahmet Necdet Sezer
- External links :* , Presidency of the Republic of Turkey...

 has been pardoning diseased prisoners, only to be criticized by the extreme right, since many of the released militants have been seen in different demonstrations against F-type prisons. The government maintains that 189 hunger strikers received presidential pardons since 2000.

Barry Horne

British animal-rights activist Barry Horne
Barry Horne
Barry Horne was an English animal rights activist. He became known around the world in December 1998, when he engaged in a 68-day hunger strike in an effort to persuade the British government to hold a public inquiry into animal testing, something the Labour Party had said it would do before it...

 died on November 5, 2001 after a series of four hunger strikes, the longest of which lasted 68 days from October 6 to December 13, 1998, leaving him partially blind and with kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...


Akbar Ganji

Akbar Ganji
Akbar Ganji
Akbar Ganji is an Iranian journalist and writer. He has been described as "Iran’s preeminent political dissident", and a "wildly popular pro-democracy journalist" who has crossed press censorship "red lines" regularly...

 is an Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian journalist imprisoned in Evin prison
Evin Prison
Evin House of Detention is a prison in Iran, located in Evin, northwestern Tehran. It is noted for its political prisoners' wing, where prisoners have been held both before and after the 1979 Iranian Revolution...

 since April 22, 2000. Ganji was on a hunger strike between May 19, 2005 and early August, 2005, except for a 12-day period of leave he was granted on May 30, 2005 ahead of the ninth presidential elections
Iranian presidential election, 2005
Iran's ninth presidential election took place in two rounds, the first on June 17, 2005, the run-off on June 24. Mohammad Khatami, the previous President of Iran, stepped down on August 2, 2005, after serving his maximum two consecutive four-year terms according to the Islamic Republic's constitution...

 on June 17, 2005. He is represented by a group of lawyers, including the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 Laureate, Shirin Ebadi
Shirin Ebadi
Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, a former judge and human rights activist and founder of Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. On 10 October 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women's,...

. While on hunger strike Ganji wrote two letters to the free people of the world. On July 12, 2005 the White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a statement that the US president, George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, called on Iran to release Ganji "immediately and unconditionally." "Mr. Ganji is sadly only one victim of a wave of repression and human rights violations engaged in by the Iranian regime", "His calls for freedom deserve to be heard. His valiant efforts should not go in vain. The president calls on all supporters of human rights and freedom, and the United Nations, to take up Ganji's case and the overall human rights situation in Iran." "Mr. Ganji, please know that as you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you", the statement said.

Guantánamo Bay hunger strikes

During the middle of 2005, detainees held by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp initiated two hunger strikes.

On December 30, 2005, the military reported that there were eighty-four strikers as of Christmas Day, forty-six having joined that day.

In the April 14, 2008, edition of the New Yorker magazine, Jeffrey Toobin reported that there are currently only about ten hunger strikers at Guantánamo.


On 9 February 2006, The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

reported that hunger strikers in Guantánamo were being strapped into restraining chairs for hours a day for force-feeding and to prevent vomiting up the food as attempts at suicide. An officer said the number of strikers peaked at 131 around September 11, 2005. Reportedly there was concern over the international impact if a striker were to die. Detainees' lawyers called the methods brutal and inhumane, and said other coercive methods were used, such as being placed in cold air-conditioned isolation cells. The assistant secretary of defense for health affairs said it was a moral question: allow suicide, or take steps to preserve life. On 21 February 2006, the military commander at Guantánamo conceded that the authorities were using restraining chairs as reported earlier. (NY Times 22 February)

The September 28, 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine
New England Journal of Medicine
The New England Journal of Medicine is an English-language peer-reviewed medical journal published by the Massachusetts Medical Society. It describes itself as the oldest continuously published medical journal in the world.-History:...

contained an article examining the medical ethics
Medical ethics
Medical ethics is a system of moral principles that apply values and judgments to the practice of medicine. As a scholarly discipline, medical ethics encompasses its practical application in clinical settings as well as work on its history, philosophy, theology, and sociology.-History:Historically,...

 of physician-supervised force-feeding
Force-feeding is the practice of feeding a person or an animal against their will. "Gavage" is supplying a nutritional substance by means of a small plastic tube passed through the nose or mouth into the stomach, not explicitly 'forcibly'....

 of hunger-striking detainees. The article questioned the legal and ethical foundation for physician participation in the force-feeding, writing that "...military physicians cannot follow military orders to force-feed competent prisoners without violating basic precepts of medical ethics never to harm them by means of their medical knowledge."

On April 9, 2007, the New York Times reported that according to military officials and detainees' lawyers a new hunger strike has broken out at Guantanamo, with thirteen detainees being force-fed daily. In the April 14, 2008, edition of the New Yorker Magazine, Jeffrey Toobin reported that two detainees are currently being force-fed.

Sami Al-Arian

On December 6, 2005, a federal jury acquitted Dr. Sami Al-Arian
Sami Al-Arian
Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian , is a former resident of Temple Terrace, Florida, now living in Northern Virginia, who is a Muslim activist, and former University of South Florida professor of computer engineering...

 on 8 of 17 counts against him, while deadlocking 10–2 in favor of acquittal on the other 9. On March 2, 2006, Al-Arian pled guilty to one count of conspiracy
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

 to contribute services to or for the benefit of the Palestine Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist
Specially Designated Terrorist
A Specially Designated Terrorist is any person who is determined by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to be a specially designated terrorist under notices or regulations issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control ....

 organization, and was later sentenced to the maximum 57 months in prison. The deal came after 11 years of FBI investigations, wiretaps, and searches, 3 years of trial preparation by federal prosecutors, and a 5-month trial, during which time Al-Arian spent more than three years in jail, most of it in solitary confinement, which counted toward the time he was sentenced to. Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 said Al-Arian's pre-trial detention conditions "appeared to be 'gratuitously punitive' " and stated "the restrictions imposed on Dr Al-Arian appeared to go beyond what were necessary on security grounds and were inconsistent with international standards for humane treatment." These include: 23 hour cell-confinement, routine shackling, deprivement of tools and communication to prepare for his defense, and a third of the cell space required by UN international standards.

Al-Arian was subpoenaed three times to testify in terrorism-related investigations before Virginia federal grand juries between 2006 and 2008. Each time, he refused to testify. He maintained that in a verbal agreement that appears in court transcripts, federal prosecutors agreed that Al-Arian would not have to testify before the grand jury. He challenged the initial subpoena in four different federal courts, each of which held that he was in fact required to testify. On January 22, 2007, Al-Arian began a hunger strike to "protest continued government harassment" after he was held in contempt of court
Contempt of court
Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority...

 for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury. He was imprisoned for 13 months for civil contempt for failing to testify in compliance with the first subpoena. He is awaiting trial as well for criminal contempt for his failure to testify in compliance with the second and third subpoenas.


Franklin Brito
Franklin Brito
Franklin José Brito Rodríguez was a Venezuelan agricultural producer and biologist who gained national and international prominence over a land ownership dispute with his neighbours. He carried out a series of legal challenges and dramatic public protests from 2004, often coinciding with other...

, a Venezuelan farmer died on August 30, 2010 after a series of hunger strikes.


Cornish people
The Cornish are a people associated with Cornwall, a county and Duchy in the south-west of the United Kingdom that is seen in some respects as distinct from England, having more in common with the other Celtic parts of the United Kingdom such as Wales, as well as with other Celtic nations in Europe...

 campaigner Michael Chappell was on hunger strike from 10th October 2010 until the 21st October regarding the British government's treatment of both the Cornish and the territorial integrity of Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...


Maikel Nabil Sanad

Maikel Nabil Sanad, a political activist and blogger. In April 2009 he founded the No to Compulsory Military Service movement. He declared his conscientious objection, demanding to be exempted from military service. Instead, he was arrested on 12 November 2010 by military police but was released two days later, and finally exempted from service on medical grounds. Sanad participated actively in the Egyptian revolution, highlighting the fact that Egypt has effectively been ruled by the military for six decades. He was arrested on 4 February by military police and tortured, but released 27 hours later. He was arrested in his home in the Ain Shams neighbourhood in Cairo at about 10 PM on 28 March 2011 by military police. He was only able to call his brother the next day to inform him of his arrest. Sanad was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on charges of "insulting the military" in his post "The Army and The People Were Never One Hand" on by the 10th of Ramadan military court in Nasr City near Cairo on 10 April. Before this, he was imprisoned in a special punishment cell at El Marg prison, which did not allow him any sunlight. In addition, his cell mates threatened him. Sanad demanded a doctor, as he suffers from unstable blood pressure and needs regular medication and medical attention. Maikel Nabil has been on hunger strike since August 23, 2011.

Legal situation

Article 6 of the 1975 World Medical Association
World Medical Association
The World Medical Association is an international and independent confederation of free professional Medical Associations, therefore representing physicians worldwide...

 Tokyo Declaration states that doctors can undertake force-feeding under certain restricted rules and only where a second, independent physician is consulted and agrees to the move:-
"Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially. The decision as to the capacity of the prisoner to form such a judgment should be confirmed by at least one other independent physician. The consequences of the refusal of nourishment shall be explained by the physician to the prisoner."

The World Medical Association recently revised and updated its Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers (see: Among many changes, it unambiguously states that force feeding is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment in its Article 21.

The American Medical Association
American Medical Association
The American Medical Association , founded in 1847 and incorporated in 1897, is the largest association of medical doctors and medical students in the United States.-Scope and operations:...

 is a member of the World Medical Association
World Medical Association
The World Medical Association is an international and independent confederation of free professional Medical Associations, therefore representing physicians worldwide...

, but the AMA's members are not bound by the WMA's decisions, and neither organization has formal legal powers.

The Code of Federal Regulations
Code of Federal Regulations
The Code of Federal Regulations is the codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government of the United States.The CFR is published by the Office of the Federal Register, an agency...

 rule on inmate hunger strikes states, "It is the responsibility of the Bureau of Prisons to monitor the health and welfare of individual inmates, and to ensure that procedures are pursued to preserve life." It further provides that when "a medical necessity for immediate treatment of a life or health threatening situation exists, the physician may order that treatment be administered without the consent of the inmate."

See also

  • Independent Royalist Party of Estonia
    Independent Royalist Party of Estonia
    The Independent Royalist Party of Estonia was a frivolous political party in early post-Soviet Estonia.The party, widely considered a humorous expression of protest, was surprisingly successful in the first post-Soviet elections of Riigikogu, gaining 8 seats after spending a grand total of 1 kroon...

     held an eating strike to ridicule a hunger strike by Riigikogu
    The Riigikogu is the unicameral parliament of Estonia. All important state-related questions pass through the Riigikogu...

     members Lebedev and Petinov.
  • Fasting
    Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.