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He's in good condition because his convictions are strong and he drinks at least four litres of water a day. Uwe P. Tesch is German, lives in Stuttgart and has been on hunger strike for 15 days in solidarity with the Catalan political prisoners. It didn't take him long to decide: "Joining the hunger strike was a consolidated but spontaneous decision," he tells El Nacional.

There are three main reasons for the hunger strike. The first is to denounce the "total injustice Catalan politicians are receiving from Madrid". He says that, however much he has analysed the trial following last year's Catalan referendum, nobody has been able to explain to him exactly why some of the pro-independence leaders have been in pretrial detention for over a year. "It's clear that a violation of human rights is being suffered," he believes. He adds: "The Catalan question is no longer just a question of independence, it's about values and basic rights".

Tesch Vaga de Fam 1 

Uwe P. Tesch

His second reason is his profound disappointment towards the European Union. "I sincerely reject that based on the standards established by the EU they should always talk about Europe's values and the well-being of European citizens and that, in this case, European leaders should have shut their eyes and ears whilst they ask themselves why the far right is growing on the continent".

For Tesch, "it's very easy to see that it's a total injustice". He compares the situation with Kosovo's independence process for which the EU eased the process, "and the same thing isn't happening with Catalonia, despite the support and social base calling for it being majorities".


The third reason is personal. Since he was young he's had links with Catalonia and has always been very interested in the latest political and social news from the country. His parents had a house in Begur, on the Costa Brava, and he would spend seven weeks there every summer. "My roots are also in Catalonia," he explains. He made good friends during his childhood holidays who he keeps up with and travels regularly to visit. He spends weekends, for example, in Barcelona and Mataró among other places. In fact, Tesch notes that this summer, during the days he was in Catalonia, he noticed a certain disenchantment among those he met, which he was "very sad about". On 21st December, however, he thinks that Catalans "will defend their rights again".

The decision to start a hunger strike

One of the moments which has marked him most during during the years of the "independence process" was Puigdemont's arrest in Germany shortly after crossing the border from Denmark before being taken to Neumünster prison. "Since then, writing, debating politics and social media hasn't seemed enough to me," he says. Having "legitimate politicians in exile and imprisoned" is the worst thing that can happen in a democracy, for Tesch, and "carrying out a hunger strike seemed to me to be the most effective action to send them a signal".

There was little he could do from Germany, he argues, but when he learnt that the political prisoners had decided to undertake a hunger strike, "I wanted to let them know they're not alone in Europe". "There are only two activist things an inmate can do from prison: one is a hunger strike, the other is to take their own life," he says. That they should have decided on the first "is very serious and dangerous because their own health is at stake," he says.

Tesch started his hunger strike on 3rd December, two days after Jordi Turull and Jordi Sànchez and a day before Joaquim Forn and Josep Rull. He hasn't stopped working despite not eating, doing so from home. He has an online sports publication, and during the day he writes from his office: "The first three days were difficult, my head hurt a lot and it was difficult to concentrate". That said, after the first week, his body started adapting to the new situation and now he feels "strong and with his ideas clear".

Tesch Vaga de Fam 3

Uwe P. Tesch

That said, after preparing breakfast for his children, aged 13 and 16, he goes to his office to not be around whilst they eat. He does the same during all other meals. He drinks, at least, four litres (7 pints UK; 8.5 pints US) of water a day, and has one tea in the morning and another in the evening. Occasionally, he'll dissolve a kind of German soup in a glass of water for the minerals it give him.

International profile

With the hunger strike, Tesch is also hoping "to help to raise the international profile of the case". He believes that in Germany the media hasn't covered the political prisoners' situation enough. "For the moment, I've managed to make my wife and two children aware, as well as those closest to me", he explains, but argues that Europe still has to become more involved in the case of Catalonia.

Unlike the prisoners, Tesch has a date to end his hunger strike. It will be Friday, 21st December, after 19 days without eating. He hopes that "the prisoners in Lledoners can stop soon because it will mean that their claim has been listened to". If that doesn't happen, and the political prisoners decide to continue through Christmas, he doesn't dismiss the option of doing the same.