18 November 2019
25 November 2019
Worldwide, London, United Kingdom
On November 18th the Extinction Rebellion Global Hunger Strike will officially launch to demand that governments act on the climate and ecological emergency that threatens the extinction of a million species, the collapse of civilizations and the death of billions of humans.
Many of these rebels will not consume food for one week and others will go for a longer period of time. They will go on hunger strike in solidarity with people starving because of climate and ecological breakdown and to force governments to confront the crisis by enacting Extinction Rebellion’s three demands.
IMPORTANT: CRITICAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PRACTICALITIES OF THIS ACTION FOR PARTICIPANTS CAN BE FOUND FURTHER BELOW.
– XR Rebels from Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Germany, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, the United Kingdom, Turkey, the United States, and more to go on hunger strike in symbolic locations
– 820 million people already suffer from hunger and starvation worldwide while billions of are at risk of starvation and death from climate and ecological collapse
– Action to highlight how millions are already living through the hell of our Planetary Crisis. Migrant justice and the rights of indigenous peoples must be put at the heart of efforts to end the climate and ecological breakdown
Rebels are employing this last resort tactic after more than three decades of petitions, protests and campaigns have failed to secure the urgently needed responses to mitigate ecological and climate breakdown. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and widespread ecological destruction is accelerating. Our leaders have abandoned us as the catastrophe escalates with each passing day. By denying themselves of their basic needs, the hunger strikers hopes that their bodies will sound the alarm.
The hunger strikers recognize that what they are doing is minor compared to the truly dire starvation that ten percent of the world’s population faces. They have the privilege of being able to choose when to eat, so the strike is carried out in solidarity with communities worldwide and particularly with those in the Global South who are forcibly starved. They also strike in solidarity with prisoners, migrants and racially marginalised peoples who hunger strike as a last resort against systemic oppression. And they do strike in solidarity with those who have pioneered, and continue to use, this incredibly powerful last resort tactic as a means to liberate themselves from the shackles of depression, apathy, and oppression.
Throughout history, hunger striking has been is historically a deeply-personal measure of last resort. It was used by Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian Independence Movement, Marion Wallace Dunlop in the women’s suffrage movement, US prisoners protesting solitary confinement, the students of Tiananmen Square, and other movements.
Everyone who will participate as a hunger striker will need to fill in a form (linked below). The form is mandatory and if a striker is not registered, they will not be considered as part of the Extinction Rebellion Global Hunger Strike. This is for safety reasons!
Furthermore, we are imposing a strict 24 hours limit for participants under 18 to hunger strike for health and safety reasons. For an under 18 to participate they MUST have both medical and parental consent.
Registration Form Over 18
Registration Form Under 18
It is recommended to read through this document before registering.
What kind of hunger strike will you do?
One Week Constant Hunger Strike
The one week constant hunger strike is what it sounds like. No food will be consumed, but plenty of water and daily vitamins and minerals will be taken (more on this further down in the document). All hunger strikers, but especially the one week hunger strikers, need supervision and monitoring as to make sure they are getting enough water, salts, vitamins and minerals and that their weight is kept on normal levels.
Rolling Hunger Strikes (24 hours)
Rolling hunger strikes are hunger strikes that are done for 24 hours and then broken (preferably in the morning) by a regular meal. Water and extra vitamins and minerals will be consumed just as in the constant hunger strike. Strikers under 18 years of age are limited to a strict 24 h limit on their hunger strikes, but can do rolling hunger strikes during the week.
Rolling hunger strikes can either be done for the whole week or for two days (24 + 24 hours). Rolling hunger strikes can also be done with a 12 hour rolling schedule.
Solidarity Hunger Strike for a day or more
Solidarity hunger striking is hunger striking done for a day or more, but not the whole week. Far from everyone has the opportunity to strike for a whole week, and thus this is a more inclusive option. A solidarity strike can for example be done during the weekend (Saturday and/or Sunday) when the striker is free from work or studying. Solidarity hunger strikers will consume plenty of water and extra vitamins and minerals just as the one week hunger strikers.
Preparing for the hunger strike
While there may be XR doctors willing to be around/contactable during a Fast/Hunger Strike it needs to be clear that this does not constitute ‘medical supervision,’ anyone refusing food for prolonged periods should seek the guidance of their own General Practitioner/Family Physician – someone who has access to past medical records and can order blood tests where appropriate. It is recommended that all participants check with their doctor, however this is not mandatory in all countries.
What happens to the body during a fast/hunger strike?
Total fasting forces the body to find substitute sources of glucose, essential for providing energy, to the brain in particular. The body begins to “digest itself”, breaking down the various tissues so as to have a constant supply of glucose.
The following physiological events occur during total fasting (absorption of water around 1.5 – 3 l/day):
Glycogen stored in the liver and in muscular tissue is the source of energy during the first few days of total fasting. Glycogen reserves are used up after 10 – 14 days.
Fatty acids coming from the breakdown of fat tissue are broken down into ketones, which also provide energy. This phase begins early on in the fasting, and the ketosis suppresses hunger pangs after 2 – 3 days.
Protein is catabolized but is “spared” by the body, providing only 10% of the energy source.
Significant weight loss occurs at the very beginning of total fasting, mainly from loss of fluid.
Medical monitoring is generally recommended after 10% weight loss in average weight individuals.
Major problems arise roughly when weight loss is around 18 – 20 % of the initial weight.
The XR Global Hunger Strike will only be for one week (although some may be free to extend their strike), where fasting generally is well supported (as long as water intake is sufficient). Other important information includes:
Hunger pangs and stomach cramps disappear after the 2nd – 3rd day.
For other than reducing the initial hunger-pangs, there is few of any benefits of slowly reducing your intake before the strike.
Since constipation will be an issue it can be good to end things with high-fibre foods such as fruit and berries, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains.
The immune system is rapidly affected by fasting, so once there is evidence of infection on top of the symptoms from fasting, the risks are much greater. It is dangerous to continue striking with the slightest suggestion of infection (sore throat, fever, beginning of a cold etc), and participants must therefore immediately break the strike.
People who are underweight are advised not to participate in the strike or choose to only strike for a shorter period of time.
People who are severely underweight (~16.5 BMI) or are struggling with eating disorders are NOT encouraged to participate in the strike whatsoever.
It is recommended that participants monitor their weight during the strike. It might also be useful for the hunger strikers to work out their starting Body Mass Index (this can be done on the internet using BMI calculators).
The media will try to talk to the strikers who have lost the most weight, who looks the most exhausted or the ones who looks most slender. Because of this, there should be people who can talk to the media instead of the hunger strikers when it is necessary.
Some strikers, especially younger ones, might have pressure from their families to break the hunger strike or to not strike at all. Support for the individual to make its own decision and for relatives to cope with their loved ones hunger strike, is crucial for the person’s and its surrounding family’s well being, and people from regenerative culture can step in and help mediate between the two parties if necessary. All participants under 18 years of age however, are strictly required to have both medical and parental consent as to participate in the hunger strike.
There should never be any pressure on any striker to continue the hunger strike longer than what the individual feels like. Any and all participants can stop their hunger strike whenever they feel like.
There are many more roles than just the hunger striking itself, which are just as important in making the action successful as the hunger striking itself. If a person is doubting whether to strike or not, they should know that they are fiercely welcome to help out with other things surrounding the hunger strike rather than than the actual hunger striking, because it is just as crucial.
Who is the strike aimed at?
Extinction Rebellions three demands are clearly aimed at the central governments and authorities in each country. However, hunger striking is a form of protest which is based on bringing forward compassion from the power holders. The major assumption is that if you suffer, the opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. But in order for this to work, the opponent must have a conscience. The governments, corporations and power holders in the world do not have a conscience. Therefore the hunger striking is in essence aimed towards the public, to showcase the lack of compassion and penetrating self-interest that is prevalent in governments and in the people in power.