International hunger strike for Syria launched

Congressman Keith Ellison, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, and Kristin Stoneking of peace group Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) are among a group of US leaders and activists who on Dec. 20 launched a "rolling hunger strike" in solidarity with Syrian civil resistance figure Qusai Zakarya. That day was the 25th in Zakarya's hunger strike to protest the siege of over 30 towns in Syria. From the besieged Damascus suburb of Moadamiya, Zakarya proclaimed, "I want to live free before I die," noting that Syrians are dying daily of malnutrition because military blockades have prevented food and medicine from coming into their areas—with approximately one million people now affected.

"Starvation is a much worse weapon of war than sarin gas," Zakarya stated. "Dozens of women and children have died from malnutrition in the last few months. The world has to raise their voices together and say 'Stop using food as a weapon of war.' My hunger strike will continue until the siege is broken and aid convoys enter the besieged towns of Syria."

Minnesotans have taken the lead in developing the US solidarity response to Zakarya's hunger strike. Members of the Twin Cities-based Friends for a Nonviolent World have joined the fast to show their support for the region’s Syrian-American community, which has sent doctors to help in the refugee camps, raised money for refugees and medical aid, and led widespread educational efforts throughout their state to raise awareness about the crisis. (FOR, Dec. 20)