Political Hunger Strike: How People Who Refuse To Eat Feel

Health 2023

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Political Hunger Strike: How People Who Refuse To Eat Feel
Political Hunger Strike: How People Who Refuse To Eat Feel
Video: Political Hunger Strike: How People Who Refuse To Eat Feel
Video: Former Afghanistan MP continues hunger strike 2023, February
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Lawyer of the Anti-Corruption Foundation Lyubov Sobol, who was not allowed to register as a candidate for elections to the Moscow City Duma, has been on a hunger strike since July 13. Today, before the meeting in the Moscow City Electoral Commission, she felt bad. We figure out who, when and against what protested by refusing food and how dangerous it is to health

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Olga Lukinskaya

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How long can you live without food

In 2013, 30,000 people joined the hunger strike in California prisons - and then guidelines for employees were issued, which explained what happens to people on hunger strike and at what stage they may need medical attention. Acute hunger disappears after about three days, then the body runs out of carbohydrates. From about the fourth to the thirteenth day, the body uses its own fat as a source, as well as muscle mass. After two to three weeks of fasting, severe weakness, dizziness develops, it becomes difficult for a person to speak and think. By the age of one and a half months, it can become difficult to drink water - and after this point, the likelihood of death is very high.

Lyubov Sobol described her feelings on the third day of the hunger strike in the following way: “If yesterday there was just weakness and aches in the legs and very strong feelings when I walked past the smelling food, now everything, the strength has left”. Citing a colleague with a similar experience, she explained that refusing to eat creates a feeling of extra age - “as if you are +40 years old”: “In principle, you can do anything, but every action is harder. You lie down from morning until the last: you think, well, yes, you want to go to the toilet, but not so much, I will lie still. He walked five steps - you have to sit down, fifteen - to lie down. So the body gives a signal: asks to save energy. And feed."

A long hunger strike is impossible without water: dehydration develops much faster than nutritional and energy deficiencies. People went on hunger strikes for 30-40 days, continuing to drink water, as Sobol does now - but without water, survival is calculated in days. And, of course, even if food is saved, but very meager, the consequences can be the most dire - just remember the consequences of the blockade of Leningrad. People received rations with food, but the amount was too small - and chronic malnutrition, coupled with the cold winter, led to the death of one and a half million people.

Peaceful starvation

Sobol's political hunger strike has already become a reason for jokes by pro-government commentators - the most common one describes the hunger strike as a harmless "diet" that "adorns a girl." The reason for refusing to eat is really the desire to lose weight. At the same time, a passion for dieting or fasting is usually accompanied by impaired perception of one's own body and, in certain situations, can lead to an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa.

Temporary refusal to eat is unpleasant, but usually does not cause acute harm - therefore it is practiced for various reasons unrelated to protests, from religious fasts to "curative" fasting or deliberate self-experimentation. We talked about how long-term or intermittent fasting is used for health purposes. In the first days, a person experiences a strong feeling of hunger, and many processes occurring in the body slow down slightly; because of this, especially from habit, discomfort may occur - for example, dizziness. This refusal of food even has a number of positive effects - it improves blood glucose control, and blood pressure decreases. However, there are also many disadvantages (from unpleasant sensations to a possible deficiency of nutrients in the body), and fasting certainly cannot be considered a medicine.

Of course, well-being depends on the degree of preparedness and general health.Climber and ultra-marathon runner Kilian Jornet in his book Res es imposible tells how he set up an experiment: “I wanted to understand what level of activity my body is capable of without the incoming energy - in other words, how many days I can train and run without a crumb food. To answer this question, I led my usual way of life: in the morning I went for a run, which lasted from two to four hours, and ran for another hour in the evening, but took away all meals. " On the first day, he did not notice any changes in endurance, from the second day he could not sprint while running up an incline, and on the fifth day, on another four-hour run, he fainted - after which he woke up and interrupted his hunger strike. In general, any refusal to eat is contrary to the basic needs of the body and is likely to affect health in one way or another.

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Hunger strike as a protest

More often than others, hunger strikes are held historically by prisoners who are dissatisfied with the conditions of detention - other forms of protest are simply not available to them. The first modern hunger strike is considered to be the Russian hunger strike of prisoners who protested against tsarism, which began in 1878. At the beginning of the twentieth century, protesters in England began to refuse food, apparently under the influence of publications in the London magazine Free Russia, created by immigrants. At the same time, the suffragette movement was gaining momentum, and in 1909, Marion Wallace Dunlop, arrested for trying to leave prosuffragetic graffiti on the wall of Westminster Palace, went on a hunger strike. Dunlop was best known for illustrating children's books - and was released 91 hours later.

The Irish revolutionaries adopted the idea of ​​hunger strikes from the suffragettes; this concept of protest was brought to India from England by Mahatma Gandhi, who, together with his supporters, went on hunger strikes from 1918 to 1947, when India became independent. It was reported that from 1906 to 2004, hunger strikes took place in 127 countries with different economies and different political systems. Caesar Chavez starved for equal working conditions, Nelson Mandela for the end of apartheid in South Africa. In recent years, hunger strikes have been declared for various reasons: because of unfair layoffs in Turkey, for freedom of the press in Serbia, for funding the health care system in Poland.

A series of hunger strikes in the USSR is associated with the names of political prisoners. From the 60s to the 80s, symbolic one-day hunger strikes were held in Soviet prisons, which reminded of the existence of political articles. And in 1986, dissident Anatoly Marchenko died in prison, who went on a hunger strike for 117 days demanding the release of all political prisoners in the USSR - the consequences of starvation were irreversible for the body. A few days after the death of Marchenko, General Secretary of the CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev called Academician Andrei Sakharov and said that his exile to Gorky (today - Nizhny Novgorod) was over. Following in the USSR began the mass release of political prisoners.

Academician Sakharov himself, who was also on a hunger strike for his wife's right to go abroad (she needed an urgent heart operation), talked about the force-feeding that was applied to him: “I was thrown on the bed, my hands and feet were tied. A tight clip was put on the nose, so that I could only breathe through my mouth. When I opened my mouth to breathe in air, a spoonful of nutrient mixture from broth with mashed meat was poured into my mouth. Sometimes the mouth was opened forcibly - with a lever inserted between the gums. " Soviet dissident Sergei Grigoryants even believed that force-feeding in his case was an attempt at poisoning: “Two hours after the next infusion, each of us started having seizures, unbearable headaches and fever (we asked the paramedic for a thermometer), it turned out that everyone was over 42 degrees. It was clear that we were all poisoned."

The deaths in Russian prisons in the mid-1980s ended the hunger strike of Ukrainian dissident Valery Marchenko and poet Vasyl Stus - he was on a dry hunger strike. Both protested against the administrations. Twenty-odd years later, Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov declared a hunger strike in a Russian prison, he demanded the release of Ukrainian political prisoners - his refusal to eat lasted 145 days and ended under the threat of force-feeding, which, as journalists found out, in Russian prisons is carried out according to the 1958 standards.

Hunger strikes, which a protester is willing to end even if the demands are not met, are often viewed with skepticism - such a hunger strike, critics say, can devalue the very form of protest. “Hunger strikes are the more effective the less frequent and longer they are,” says historian Alexei Makarov in an interview. “If there are many such actions and they last only a few days, there will be some“inflation”and it becomes more difficult to achieve something." Modern hunger strikes really rarely last for months - the hunger strike of the politician Sergei Udaltsov lasted 25 days, who tried to challenge the verdict in the Bolotnaya case (it ended under the threat of force feeding). 8 days after the start of the hunger strike for medical reasons, Pussy Riot soloist Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who opposed repression in her colony, resumed eating.

Tolokonnikova's colleague in the punk group, Maria Alyokhina, also went on a hunger strike against the tightening of conditions in the colony where she was serving her sentence, and ended it 11 days later: the colony administration complied with her demands.

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