In DepthSoapboxHunger strike: The Angola clock that doesn't stop

Mon,20Nov2017

Posted on Thursday, 01 October 2015 16:41

Hunger strike: The Angola clock that doesn't stop

By Aline Frazão, Angolan Singer

Aline Frazão is an Angolan singer. Photo©All Rights ReservedAt midnight on the 21st of September four Angolan political prisoners began a hunger strike.

The objective of a hunger strike is, fundamentally, to pressure the other side, placing the responsibility of the protestors' survival in the hands of those in power, in hope of provoking some feeling of guilt or compassion.

After the first 72 hours, the pain of the hunger tends to disappear. From the third day, the body begins to convert muscle reserves into energy in order to be able to function. Levels of potassium and of other vitamins decrease to critical levels. The body loses fat and muscle mass.

Free these young men, continue with the investigation that you have planned until there is evidence to justify this suffering. Avoid a tragedy. We don't want martyrs.

After two weeks, dizziness, chills, weakness, a lack of motor coordination, and low blood pressure increase. Low levels of vitamin B1 can cause neurological damage. Four weeks in, this damage can become irreversible. The risk of death is elevated.

Hunger strikes are an extreme form of protest. Historically, they have been used as the last resort by political activists to achieve their objectives. Among the best-known cases are those of Mahatma Gandhi, who more than once successfully used this form of passive resistance, and of the IRA's seven Irish political prisoners, whose hunger strike ended with their death.

A hunger strike only succeeds, normally, if there is a huge current of civil society and public opinion that can get the authorities to listen and negotiate with those on the hunger strike, in order to save their lives and prevent the worst outcome.

As we know, at midnight on the 21st of this month [September], four of the Angolan political prisoners began a hunger strike. The news hit all those who are concerned, in fact, with this case that has so intimately marked our political reality like a bomb of desperation and indignation.

The scenario is not optimistic. For weeks those in power have played the game of silence and demonstrated little concern with the physical and psychological well-being of the activists who are confined in small solitary cells for more than 90 days, some of them suffering from serious health problems.

Also Read: Hunger strike in Angola - A life at stake

This type of protest only makes sense when, on the other side, there is a minimum of good judgement and genuine concern with life and with human rights. If that is not the case, peaceful resistance can be a calamitous decision, even for as honorable and respectable a decision as it is.

I want to believe, one more time, that in Angola there will be, deep down somewhere, that concern, even if its only with the image that appears outside the country, which will be evermore difficult to escape.

Personally, I don't want any more pages of suffering in the history of my country and I believe that dialogue is possible, with the law and the Constitution of the Republic as the most objective mediators possible. I don't hesitate for a second to think that a solution is possible. It only depends on the presence of political will.

I would use all my most honest and powerful words, if I knew, if I would succeed, to call one more time on the good sense of the authorities. Free these young men, continue with the investigation that you have planned until there is evidence to justify this suffering. Avoid a tragedy. We don't want martyrs. We want these young men free to be able to exercise their citizenship with energy and to contribute to a country that is better for all, more just for all, with space for all.

The clock, that one, doesn't stop. And if I had special powers, I would travel to their jail cells and I would whisper these words in their ears: "Resist. You are not alone."

The portuguese version of this article first appeared in Rede Angola



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