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The Story of a Hunger Striker

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Oct 28, 2011

Georgia hunger strikers

Salvador Zamora, Rev. Jeff Jones, & Martin Altamirano

On July 1st, 2011, Martin Altamirano and Salvador Zamora began a hunger strike to protest Georgia’s harsh anti-immigrant law, HB87.  After Salvador fell ill, Martin ended his fast to care for Salvador, who continued his hunger strike for a total of 70 days.  They hope to continue advocating for immigration reform across the country.

Rev. Jeff Jones of the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Marietta, GA was inspired by their effort and joined the hunger strike in solidarity with Martin and Salvador for 7 days.  You can read his reflections here.  Another group called Starving4Justice also joined Martin and Salvador’s fast for several days.

Martin agreed to share some of his story with Standing on the Side of Love. His advocacy for immigration reform in the United States is greatly inspired by his experiences as a young man in Honduras.

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My name is Martin Altamirano, I am graduated in my country Honduras in General Mechanic in 1986. I am a 45 years old, I came the first time to U.S. in 1992 and return and stay in U.S. since 1994, I am divorced and have 3 Kids, 21 years old and 17 years old undocumented Daughters, and one 4 years old American boy.

I born and was raised influenced with the teaching of a intelligent, brave rebel, with mystic knowledge, full of love and extraordinary human being, a carpenter of name Jesus of Nazareth.

While I was student in the Germany and Honduras Technical College I did get the good luck to meet in person a extraordinary man called Miguel Angel Pavon, who was also member of the Honduras Association for the Human Right Protection. He was shot dead on 14 January 1988, because He gave evidence before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on three cases against the Honduran Government concerning disappearances in Honduras between 1981 and 1984. Miguel Angel Pavon also leave a legacy to follow in my life of looking for the good of others in a pacifist way even if exposing your own life.

In 1986 after I graduate, looking to help in my community, I did learn about a community that is today known as The Red Cross. Unfortunately after five years of be a volunteer member, one volunteer co worker of name Carlos Rene Vasquez was killed for the Honduras Army associating him with a anti governmental violent group. This fact touch me very deep, for the possibility to have spent time helping my community with a extraordinary man who possibly was looking to make society changes for good of others but in a violent way. I don’t blame Carlos if he did but I don’t share the violent methods. Somehow I was start to be under persecution in my country by state intelligence and police services, only by circumstantial facts and suspicions, forcing me to emigrate first to Belize to feel safe, and after travel to U.S. The land of the free.

The Hunger Strike is the result of a work team: I am the Idea supplier, supported for Richard Pelligrino and his organization the Cobb Immigrant Alliance, La casa del Inmigrante of Norcross Georgia, The Honduran Association Inc. and my team partners Salvador Zamora and Rev. Jeff Jones. As part of the activity, we was looking for alternative tools to protest against oppression that the system is doing against immigrants. We make good choice when we did it because of what we achieve. When we start the hunger strike, we had several goals to achieve. One was to protest SB87. We was asking also to stop deportation process of not criminal people. White House already change this policy and was one achievement. Those person will start to produce and contribute to U.S. economy.

We are asking to the federal government: provide a way for undocumented immigrants start to contribute out of the shadow to the U.S. economy and pay taxes, allowing them to have access to the public schools to learn English. In this moment that is not possible under some states regulations like in Georgia. Allow them to receive a Drivers License to be able to buy a car, a insurance, allow them to buy houses and other basic services that will move on the U.S. economy. The immigrants are warranted NOT with a migratory amnesty, but with a Migratory Reform and Dream Act legislation for the young students at a Federal Level.

The people who are willing to create a better life for others, can affiliate with or support local pro-immigrant organizations to get the message faster and louder to elected officials in every State and to the elected officials in Washington. If you want to help us, you can contact us at the email boycotatlanta@gmail.com.  For right now, it is not finish.  It is first step.  It is practice. We also asked media to investigate detention corporation contributions to politician in Georgia and for DREAM Act.  We will resume in future with more people involved in our movement.

4 Responses to “The Story of a Hunger Striker”

  1. Kathy Tew Rickey says:

    Thank you Rev. Jeff. I so appreciate your deep compassion and your efforts in bringing immigrant issues to the forefront in the Atlanta area. Many blessings upon you and your justice work.
    Kathy
    Webster, NY

  2. Kathy Tew Rickey says:

    Dear Martin Altamirano,

    Blessings upon your work; you are deeply courageous and an inspiration to the cause of immigrant reform. Please know my prayers are with you in your continued efforts. Please know that many, many Americans, including most Unitarian Universalists are with you in your cause. We try as best we can as privileged citizens to uphold the worth and dignity of every person, believing also that every person should have a voice in the issues which affect them.

    I pray also for the full recovery of Salvador Zamora and for your continued work as justice seekers.

    Peace and blessings,
    Kathy Tew Rickey
    Candidate for Unitarian Universalist Ministry
    Webster, New York

  3. Robin Vestal says:

    Martin Altmirano and Salvador Zamora have been inspirational. After hearing about their fast (at around day 40) I contacted them to thank them. Our group on facebook is called Starving for Justice: Human rights for Immigrants in the USA holds a weekly fast on Tuesdays for Justice, several have been dedicated to and in solidarity with Mr Zamora’s and Mr Altmirano’s efforts. Our effort is ongoing. People interested in joing us are welcome.

  4. Martin Altamirano says:

    The love, the peace, the hope, the injustice are a few of the elemnts; that fuel the energy to continue in the challenges (this is not a faith for me, this is a revolution of concience)to every rebeld, that denied acept like normal the inhuman opression condition against other human being.
    Thanks for you messages, and if any get interested in reach us can email at boycotatlanta@gmail.com

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