Joan Court - an indominable spirit
Joan Court recently added her voice to those opposing the new Oxford vivisection laboratory by embarking on a 3-day hunger strike. Designed to raise awareness for the campaign and the plight of animals in laboratories, the protest also raised much-needed funds for SPEAK.
Last year on the 14th July 2004, Joan staged a 48-hour hunger strike near the building site of the proposed lab. This year she decided to go one better and at 1 pm on Wednesday the 20th April, surrounded by journalists and camera crews, she embarked on a 72-hour hunger strike in the more high profile area of Cornmarket St, at the heart of Oxford's main shopping area.
Joan has never been one to sit back idly; now in her mid 80s, she continues to campaign vigorously against the oppression of others, be they human or non-human. She has spearheaded campaigns and undertaken numerous gruelling fasts to highlight injustice, and in so doing has captured the imagination of the public.
Oxford was no exception and much of Joan's fast was taken up with what she does so well: convincing people of the true facts behind vivisection.
Despite the inclement weather, Joan's spirits remained high throughout. She even opted to remain outside the whole time, refusing a comfy bed, which might have helped her recoup some of her strength. Instead she slept in the back of a van, with very few creature comforts.
Throughout her fast, Joan was accompanied by representatives from the Amida Trust, a proactive Leicester-based Buddhist group whose principles are close to Joan's own ideals and philosophies. A special thanks goes to Susthama Kim who was with Joan on the first leg of her fast and to the Dharmavidya of the Amida Trust who stayed with her until the conclusion. A big thank you also to all the SPEAK supporters in Oxford who looked after Joan during the day and also kept her safe at night. You know who you are, and she couldn't have done it without you.
Thanks to Joan's sterling efforts, thousands of people viewed the banners and placards that acted as a backdrop during her 72 hours in Oxford. Hundreds of people signed the petition to stop the animal lab being built and many who had previously supported the development changed their minds once they learned the truth. Joan also raised a healthy f1,200, which has been ploughed back into fighting the University.
On behalf of all those engaged in fighting animal abuse we congratulate Joan for her achievement and for being such an inspiration to us all.