(1954-1981) Bobby Sands, born Robert Gerard Sands, was an Irish martyr who gave his life so that his fellow Irishmen may one day be free. Sands was arrested and sentenced to fourteen years in Northern Ireland's infamous Long Kesh prison without a fair trial. There, Sands was treated much in the same way that other, more well known political prisoners, such as Nelson Mandela, were treated. Sands and his comrades suffered horrible abuse at the hands of prison guards and were deprived of the basic rights all political prisoners are garunteed, such as the right to not wear a prison uniform, the right to free association with other prisoners, and the right not to do prison work. In order to protest this unfair treatment, Sands and his comrades went on what is referred to as a "hunger strike". Basicaly, Sands refused to eat until the rights of his comrades were given back. Seeing that Sands was an elected member of British Parliament, nobody thought the British government would allow such a strike to last long. However, sixty six days after the strike began, the rights of the prisoners were still not granted, and Sands died due to self imposed starvation. Following Sands' death, nine other men died in the hunger strike. Finally, the strike was called off on October 3rd,1981 when the British government granted the rights that were demanded by Sands and the other participants.
The death of Sands caused outrage across the globe. Some of the international reactions include:
-In Milan, 5,000 students burned the Union Flag and shouted "Freedom for Ulster" during a march
-In Oslo, demonstrators threw a balloon filled with tomato sauce at Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom.
-In New York City, there was a 24 hour boycott of British goods.
-In Paris, thousands marched behind huge portraits of Sands, to chants of 'The IRA will conquer'.
-In Hartford, Connecticut a memorial was dedicated to Bobby Sands and the other hunger strikers in 1997, the only one of its kind in the United States.
-The New Jersey General Assembly, the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, voted 34-29 for a resolution honouring his "courage and commitment."
-In 2001, a memorial to Sands and the other hunger strikers was unveiled in Havana, Cuba.
-The Hindustan Times, India's largest newspaper said Margaret Thatcher had allowed a fellow Member of Parliament to die of starvation, an incident which had never before occurred "in a civilised country."