The Guardian May 2, 2001


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 hscom@hscom.cjb.net.

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.

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