In the southern French town of Saintes, Jean-Marie Matagne, aged 68, the President of Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (ACDN), began a hunger strike on 15 May 2012 to obtain a referendum on nuclear weapons.

The goal of Matagne and his friends is to break what he calls the nuclear omertà, or the shameful silence which surrounds France's weapons of mass destruction, and which also continued during the recent election campaigns.

In an article, which Dr Matagne wrote together with the Norwegian-born presidential candidate, the judge Eva Joly, they note, that France is in breach of international law spending billions of euros per year to develop new nuclear weapons.

The tenacious philosopher himself is one year older than the world's first nuclear test in Alamogordo, NM, USA (July 1945). Now that more than fifty years have also passed since the first French atomic bomb explosion in Reggane, Algeria (February 1960), Matagne believes that humanity risks missing its last chance to prevent a further proliferation and catastrophic use of weapons of mass destruction.

Nuclear weapons  have never been the subject of democratic decision-making in France (or anywhere else). Now Jean-Marie Matagne and his friends insist on a referendum whereby the French people would be asked to decide on the following question: "Are you in favour of France participating with the other states concerned in the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, under a system of mutual and international monitoring that is strict and effective ?" 

When I called up Dr. Matagne on Sunday, he confirmed that he will be continuing his hunger strike at least until Saturday, June  23, when forty days will have passed since he began. He still hopes to have the opportunity to discuss the referendum proposal with France's new government and new president François Hollande. Minister of Education Vincent Peillon and other new Cabinet members have acknowledged receipt of Matagne's letter. - After 40 days, my condition will probably turn critical. I have already lost 17 kg in weight, Matagne said.

(This entry is an English summary of my letters to the editor of the Finland-Swedish daily newspaper "Hufvudstadsbladet" concerning Jean-Marie Matagne's hunger strike. My first letter was published on May 18, and a second letter appeared on June 20, 2012. Read more about Jean-Marie Matagne's action at http://www.acdn.net. And remember: Without disarmament, there will be no sustainable development.)