We can all agree with Julia Child’s proverb, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” A basic need is for food, therefore eating is a must. We all like eating, and tasting it again after an absence enlivens the spirit.
In today’s society, it is quite uncommon to see someone skip a day of meals on purpose. What millennials fail to understand is how effective hunger strikes were as a form of activism protest in the past. Prisoners mostly used this tactic of protest. Some of the institutions and liberties that we now take for granted were created while people were starving. And it gives me the utmost joy to recognise such individuals for their altruistic efforts on behalf of a bigger good.
10 hunger strikers who campaigned for human rights include:
10. Bhagat Singh
born in 1931 in an Indian colonial neighbourhood under British control. Bhagat Singh was raised as the poster child for Indian resistance to British rule. He actively participated in the Indian independence struggle, which resulted in several national demonstrations and multiple incarceration terms.
His worst setback, though, was being wrongfully accused of killing Saunders and Channan Singh. He made the decision to use the hunger strike to get attention for his appeal and complaints about the lack of higher hygiene standards in political prisons. The British authorities lured them with delectable food portions in their cells, but many of the prisoners who joined the protest were won over by this tactic and refused to break their fasts. They never touched any of it since they were so committed to the cause.
9. Cesar Chavez
Cesar was an industrious man who spent a large portion of his early life cultivating the crops in Arizona and California. He was born into a low class Mexican family. However, he was incensed at how the agricultural Lords had treated the majority of his fellow migrants. They were treated more like slaves than valuable workers on these fields.
He was inspired by this to start the National Farm Employees Association, a group that fights for the rights of these workers. He organised demonstrations and rallies, winning over the bulk of the mistreated fans. However, the plan was unsuccessful. Therefore, he made the decision to organise many hunger strikes in order to draw attention to the workers’ predicament and to the brutal farm Lords.
The 36-day strike was in place. He was also honoured as a hero after his away in 1993 for fighting for the rights of migrant workers in the United States of America.
8. Parit Chiwarak
The leader of the anti-monarchy government protests in Thailand, Mr. Chiwarak, often known as “the Penguin,” has emerged as a contemporary hero of our time. A student at Thammasat University, he has participated in a number of demonstrations, such as hanging white ribbons across Bangkok to draw attention to the disappearance of a fellow activist in Cambodia.
On March 15, 2021, he chose to go on a hunger strike in order to get bail, which caused his popularity to plummet throughout his incarceration. The activist’s 46-day hunger strike ended when he was ultimately granted bail and released from pretrial prison.
7. Solange Fernex
The activist, who was French by birth, rose to prominence in French politics. for promoting her position on raising awareness of the negative environmental effects of nuclear power and the possible threats that the reactors may cause in the case of a catastrophic incident.
This prompted a powerful politician to plan a 40-day hunger strike in an effort to persuade the people to vote against the introduction of nuclear power. However, because the public chose to support nuclear disbarment, embracing the consequences of nuclear technology, the cause was evil and pointless. She continues to be admired by many for her uncompromising stance in her heroic efforts as an activist.
6. Irom Chanu Sharmila
With a 500-week long hunger strike, the Indian-born “Iron Lady of Manipura” holds the world record for the longest fast. Impossible? Not. In order to keep her alive for the duration of her hunger strike, the government was compelled to implement nasal drip.
Ten unarmed individuals died as a result of the Indian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gave soldiers the right to murder without a warrant and shot anybody they saw. This infuriated a lot of people, so Irom decided to take a position against it by fasting. Her fame increased every day during that time, despite the fact that she was detained by the authorities for attempting to starve herself to death.
She did, however, choose to break her fast on July 26, 2016. For her unrelenting actions, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Asian Human Rights Commission, and she continues to be an example to younger generations.
5. Jatindra Nath Das
Alongside Shaheed Bhagat Singh, the Indian activist fought for the rights of political prisoners. They were both inmates in the Lahore Central Prison. He underwent a 63-day fast as a result of his dedication to his cause, which was to defend political prisoners from injustice.
He was repeatedly assaulted and forced to go through a variety of difficulties as a result of his unshakable refusal to eat, which caused him to suffer from damaged lungs as he was made to eat. He was so committed to his goal that he kept fasting despite the paralysis eating away at his entire body. At the time, he was extremely popular with the populace, and the administration was worried about his release. Due to his hunger strike, he ultimately passed away in prison.
4. Raymond McCreesh
While attempting an ambush on a British Army observation station, the temporary Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer from the South Armagh Brigade was apprehended. He received a fourteen-year jail term in March 1977 for the crime. further five years for belonging to the IRA. He was also charged in 1976 with the murder of 10 protestant citizens and condemned to the notorious Maze Prison.
He participated in the five-year blanket protest by the captured IRA soldiers being detained at Maze jail. Their special category status, commonly known as their position as political prisoners, has started to be removed. They were then compelled to start working and wearing prison uniforms as the other regular inmates and would be treated as regular criminals with criminal records.
In order to fight for their rights as political prisoners, Raymond and the other convicted political prisoners rejected the terms and later took part in the 1981 Irish hunger strike. He was discovered dead in his jail cell after a 61-day hunger strike. Severe hunger was the cause of death. He was given a hero’s send-off during his funeral, with countless numbers of people in attendance.
3. Bobby Sands
The 1950s generation of Irish-born activists is indelible in Irish history, for both good and terrible reasons. Sands had a reputation as a troublesome prisoner after being detained for gun possession in connection with the bombing of the Balmoral furniture in Dunmurry.
In 1981, he planned a hunger strike. Along with other Republican inmates, they demonstrated against the elimination of the special category status, which forbade political prisoners convicted of crimes that caused difficulty from receiving benefits like extended visits, time off from employment, and the right to refuse uniforms.
But his 66 days of self-imposed fasting also contributed to the deaths of the other nine hunger strikers from the notorious 1981 hunger strike. As a result, there were riots all throughout the country, and the British Prime Minister accused Mr. Sands of planning his suicide mission.
2. Jawar Mohammed
Imagine having to fast in prison in order to suffer on someone else’s behalf for their better good. Hats the kind of life Mr. Jawar freely choose. After observing a 39-day fast while imprisoned, this modern activist, a former American citizen now living in Ethiopia and a member of the Oromo Federalist Congress, became a hot subject on the internet. This occurred during an incident following the murder of well-known Oromo singer-songwriter Hachalu Hundessa, who was also accused with instigating violence and killing of a law enforcement officer in addition to other constitutional offences.
He went on the 39th hunger strike primarily to call for the release of Oromo, as well as the leaders and members of opposition political groups. the establishment of their party offices as well as an end to the way security personnel treat families of prisoners.
1. Gandhi, Mahatma
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, rose to prominence for his home rule agitation and for popularising passive resistance around the world.
At Yerwada Jail in Pune, Mahatma made the decision to embark on a hunger strike in protest of the British government’s proposal to divide India’s election system by caste. His subsequent hunger strikes, which he refers to as “fasts of death,” begin with this one. The tactic was implemented in opposition to the new Indian constitution, which granted the lowest classes a 70-year tenure of political representation. Gandhi predicted that this would cause conflict amongst India’s socioeconomic strata.
But less than two weeks after breaking his fast, he was killed while travelling to a prayer gathering in the evening.