In June of 1967, a Sikh man named Tarsem Sandhu returned to his job as a bus driver in Wolverhampton after a three week break, wearing a turban and newly grown beard. His supervisor immediately assessed that his turban violated the dress code and being unshaven was considered unprofessional, and sent him Sandhu home without pay. Sandhu called upon C.S. Panchhi, a prominent Sikh community leader in Birmingham, for help.
At the start of November in the year 1995, a new system was instated in the correctional institution of Full Sutton, located near York in New Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Over the few months before November changes to the system had begun to surface. The changes culminated in the incentives and earned privileges scheme, which added another level of control to prisons, to the prison rules, and to govenors' discretionary powers. In Full Sutton Prison, prisoners were already allowed to be punished for what seemed to be virtually anything according to the inmates.
Hunger strikes have a long history in Ireland dating back to the medieval periods when Cealachan, a method of gaining justice for some perceived offense through starvation, was codified in the civil code called the Senchus Mor. This starvation tactic, whereby the victim fasted on the doorstep of their wrongdoer, could be used to settle or recover a debt, or address an injustice – the threat lay in that if the complainant was allowed to die on the defendant’s doorstep, that person would be held responsible for the death and the victim’s family.