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Nuclear Age Peace Foundation: University of California Students and Alumni to Hunger Strike to Demand Nuclear Weapons Lab Severance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 8, 2007
6:16 AM

CONTACT: Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Ellen McClure, 2nd-year UCSB student: (858) 663-9326
Mark Valen, 3rd-year UCSC student: (619) 395-2794
Chelsea Collonge, UC Berkeley alumna: (408) 813-5625
Will Parrish, NAPF: (805) 965-3443
Jedidjah de Vries, Tri-Valley CAREs: (925) 443-7148

 
University of California Students and Alumni to Hunger Strike to Demand Nuclear Weapons Lab Severance
 

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA - May 8 -

WHAT: UC Student & Alumni Hunger Strike
WHEN: Wednesday, May 9th until ?
WHERE: UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley
WHO: The Coalition to Demilitarize the UC and supporters

Students and alumni at three UC campuses will begin a fast this week to demand that the University of California stop designing, engineering and manufacturing nuclear bombs. Many of them pledge to go without solid food until the demand is met. The hunger strikers are calling on the Regents to pass a resolution at their next meeting -- scheduled for May 17th -- severing all ties to the nuclear weapons complex (see attached). The UC has managed, since their inception, the two US national labs responsible for all nuclear weapon design in the U.S., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

This bold act of principled non-violent resistance is timed in response to the US Nuclear Weapons Council’s recent announcement that LLNL would design the first new Hydrogen bomb since the end of the Cold War, as well as to the planned resumption of plutonium bomb core (“pit”) manufacturing en masse at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2008. These programs are the first step in plans to revamp the entire nuclear weapons complex, under the auspices of the DOE’s “Complex 2030.”

“There has never been a more critical time for the UC Regents to take a principled stand against the US’ nuclear weapons programs,” says Will Parrish, a UCSC alumnus (2004) who has pledged to go without solid food until the Regents meet the demand for severance. “They are in a very powerful position to do so: They can withdraw their management of the Los Alamos and Livermore labs, which are the keystone institutions in the US nuclear weapons complex. They could cast the UC's enormous political and intellectual weight on the side of international law and morality, and seize this opportunity to work toward nuclear disarmament. To do otherwise is to continue to provide a much-needed veneer of academic legitimacy to the creation and maintenance of weapons that poison communities and endanger the entire world.”

According to second-year UCSB student Ellen McClure, “The university should not be involved in any way with the production of weapons of mass destruction. The UC's involvment has done nothing to make the research at the labs more transparent or less deadly.” Jedidjah de Vries, outreach director of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (CAREs), said: “The programs of the UC’s nuclear weapons labs threaten our security by driving foreign nations to develop their own weapons, as well as our environment by continuing to contaminate the already heavily-polluted nuclear weapons complex sites. It also opens the door to new nuclear tests, something the U.S. has not done since 1992 and is banned under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Not only is severing ties with the labs the right thing to do, but it would have a real impact on the ability to carry out this plan and begin building new nuclear bombs.”

During the week the hunger strikers will camp at central locations on their individual campuses. You can follow their progress at: http://nonukeshungerstrike.blogspot.com. On May 17th they will converge, along with supporters, at the regents' meeting in San Francisco to hold the Regents accountable to the will of the students and to the moral responsibility of the university. Student governments at multiple campuses have passed resolutions opposing the UC's ties to the weapon labs, and more are considering similar resolutions.

The students of the UC have a long history of organizing and taking action on this issue. The multi-campus Coalition to Demilitarize the UC has worked on several fronts to sever the UC's nuclear ties, including writing letters, generated petitions and speaking at Regents meetings during the public comments period. Most recently, this past November, they undertook an act of nonviolent civil resistance, disrupting the Regents meeting during its discussion of the nuclear weapons labs. Students are concerned with the Regents’ actions, not only because of the dangers posed by nuclear weapons, but because the Regents presume to act on their behalf and in their name.

To arrange an interview with the hungers strikers, contact any of the individuals listed above.

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