Hunger strikes, and other forms of suicide by protest, are never welcome, moreso when the target of the protest is an amoral, callous, hateful institution like the Castro dictatorship. It not only doesn't matter to the regime if the protesters die, it would be preferable if not for the risk that the world would somehow hold it accountable, if only temporarily, for the deaths.
Hunger strikes are also tragic because the men and women and children with the courage and sense of sacrifice to start such a protest, are exactly the people Cuba, and the struggle for freedom on the island, needs to live.
But regardless of what you think of hunger strikes as a tactic in that struggle, all who support the cause of freedom for Cuba have the responsiblity to demonstrate solidarity and support for those who because they have nothing else to fight with, choose to lay their lives on the line to reveal the reality of Cuba today and to demand justice for their fellow citizens.
That exactly is what currently is happening in various spots in eastern Cuba, where dozens of activists are using hunger strikes and other protests to demand the release of their imprisoned fellow freedom fighter, Luis Enrique Lozada.
Lozada, an activist with the Patriotic Union of Cuba, was unjustly arrested on April 9, and soon after started a hunger strike to demand his release. In solidarity, other activists -- including his wife, son and other members of his family -- started their own hunger strikes.
Lozada currently is in intensive care at a Cuban hospital, and his son, who is only 17, is reportedly also critically ill.
On Tuesday, there were reports that security forces had expelled six activists from a hospital where they were receiving treatment because of the ill effects of their protests.
There is nothing we can do about the indifference and disdain the Castro regime has for the Cuban people, especially those who are very public in their opposition. Simply put, the dictatorship and its agents are slowly murdering the protesters.
But we can act to demonstrate not only solidarity with the protesters, but a commitment to holding the dictatorship accountable for its inaction, and worse. We don't have to like or support hunger strikes as a protest tactic, but we must act on the protesters' behalf so that they -- and those who would prefer them dead -- know that they are not forgotten.
And who knows, perhaps because of our actions of support -- whether it be by sharing or tweeting or Facebooking this post; by fasting for a few hours or a whole day; by signing an online petition; or by silent prayer -- we can force the Castro regime meet the hunger strikers' demand. In rare instances, it has worked.
But you have to do it now, before it is too late.
Their protests are their own, but do not confuse a condemenation of hunger strikes against the Castro regime, and other forms of suicide, as an indictment of the protesters. For they deserve, and have earned, much more than that.
One way to show your solidarity with the protesters is by reading and signing this online petition asking international human rights groups to join in the campaign to demand Luis Enrique Lozada's release from prison.
For the latest developments in Cuba, good sources of information include:
And the Twitter feed for Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, the head of the Cuban Patriotic Union and one of the hunger strikers demanding Lozada's release.