Page 1, 9th June 1978

9th June 1978
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Page 1, 9th June 1978 — Hunger strikers struggle on
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Locations: Geneva, Santiago, Cardiff, London

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Hunger strikers struggle on

By John Carey THE six Chilean exiles on hunger strike at St Aloysius Church, North London, have undergone blood tests and are receiving daily visits from doctors to check on their health.

But as their protest went into its third week on Wednesday they were still in good spirits and determined to carry on.

A spokesman for the Chile Committee for Human Rights said that the tests were to check on the level of potassium in the blood. But she added: "They are all as well as can be expected and have managed to get through the first "crisis period" all den. They feel they should be fit enough for another week or so."

Mgr Bruce Kent, parish priest of St Aloysius, said that he had agreed to extend hospitality to the strikers as a matter of human rights and not because it concerned Chile.

He added: "They have been exceptionally good in keeping the church clean and all that sort of thing."

The protest is to show support for the hunger strike going on in the Chilean capital Santiago where more than 130 people are demonstrating in an attempt to force the government to give clear information about the fate of more than 2,000 people who have disappeared. Their action is going on in eight Santiago churches and they have also occupied the headquarters of the International Red Cross and UNICEF.

Three Irislf-born missionaries who have joined the strike there, are reported to be in good health. They are Fr Brendan Forde, a Franciscan, Fr Desmond McGillicuddy, of the Mill Hill Fathers, and Sr Clara Walsh of the Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph.

However doctors from the Vicariate of Solidarity, a Catholic organisation which helps political prisoners in Chile, have been visiting the strikers and have described the situation as "critical."

They said that unless something is done immediately, irreparable damage to people's health could result. Five Strikers have already been taken to hospital including one 53-year-old woman with five children who is being fed intravenously.

The Chilean government has said that it would not take any action to help end the strike, which is said was the "exclusive responsibility of the instigators." It described it as being "politically

motivated rather than seeking a solution."

On Monday a delegation which included Bishop Victor Guazzelli, bishop in east London, and Lord, Avebury, chairman of the parliamentary human rights commission, visited the Chilean embassy in London.

They were assured by Dr Bergun, Charge d'Affaires that concern about the strikers would be passed on to the Chilean government.

Dr Berguno also said that they would be told when negotiations regarding the visit of a United Nations Working Group on human rights were to take place. Other strikes have been going on in at least twelve other British cities and in centres in Europe, America and South America. In addition the World Council of Churches headquarters in Geneva were occupied last Tuesday, Rev Philip Potter, general secretary of the WCC sent a telegram of support to Cardinal Raul Silva of Santiago. • 'Freedom to Believe," a human rights group in the parish of St Joseph's, Cardiff, has collected more than 1,000 signatures in support of Jacqueline Binfa Contreras, one of those who has disappeared in Chile. Petitions and Letters will be sent to the Chilean Embassy in London.




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