Football Against Apartheid on THE BIG RIDE

5 years ago faa 0

There was an overwhelming feeling of elation as we rode into Shenstone to the cheers and applause of local people, campaigners and press at the end of the most amazing 3 days in the lives of most the approximately 250 riders.

20160806_094313.jpgThree FAA members preparing for the first leg of the 120 mile journey to protest at Israeli owned drone factory and create awareness throughout  the length & breadth of England.

We proclaimed victory over Elbit (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jan/09/armstrade-gaza ) and our own ruling classes as if we had just won a major war.  The Big Ride (  https://www.redspokes.co.uk/thebigride/)   had arrived at the entrance to the notorious manufacturer of weapons that massacres defenceless civilians, including 547 completely innocent children whilst sleeping peacefully in their beds.

The Big Ride had raised the consciousness of people across the country about the crisis of humanity that allows such massacres and ethnic cleansing of a whole innocent, peaceful people for the sole racist reason that they belong to “the wrong race”.  The Big Ride had four major branches from London, Manchester, Sheffield and Bristol, to which others fed into, met in Birmingham and rode  together into Shenstone.

Being part of the unique comradery of The Big Ride for three glorious days riding through the British countryside was a great and wonderful experience.   Nowhere else in life can you ride alongside a complete stranger of the same or different gender, age, colour, nationality and exchange views and feelings, not only on Apartheid Israel, and its massacres of the innocent Palestinian people but oppression and the cause of oppression, during a time in the history of the human race when we are capable of delivering all the needs of humanity to all of humanity.

I had not trained at all for a 120 Mile cycle. I was parted with my dad’s bicycle 54 years before, when my friend carelessly broke a wheel spoke on my three mile ride home from school in the wet, windy and hilly west of Ireland.  I was giving him a lift on the bar of the bike and he allowed the heel of boot to hit a spoke in the front wheel,  bringing us both to the ground with a bang.   Some had even less cycling experience, and some more experience  on busy streets of major cities across the world.

Critical Mass

Critical Mass reclaiming the streets of London as a safe place for cyclists

A few had taken part in Critical Mass, and The Big Ride 2015, whilst another few had ridden only occasionally since their school days in Colombia, Chile, Algeria, Ireland, Poland, Switzerland, Pakistan, Scotland,  but together we had an amazing comradely 3 days together, riding, talking, singing, admiring the beautiful English countryside in the sunshine whilst waiting for back riders to catch up.

It was our experiences of oppression, and our willingness to do something about it – no matter how little – that brought us all together.  All these discussions bring us back to the same conclusion that it was the exploiters, the rich, the employers or the benefactors of our labour in our own countries that were the cause of our oppression, along with American imperialism who supports the death and destruction in many of our countries and in particular the illegal and brutal occupation that Apartheid Israel has visit upon the Palestinian people.  English riders were always ready to point towards the huge country mansions and British Imperialists who lived there and used race, religion, colour, and gender to divide, concur and enslave peaceful communities across the globe.

The odd steep uphill climb would silence the chatter as we powered our way forward, with the experienced riders and organisers Dermot, Alberto, Jeremy and others always , encouraged us struggles, prompting with techniques to beat the bray, hammer the hill, with the promise of a big down hill, with the wind in our faces always got us to the summit.

There was a lesson there for every one of us struggling with life, that we can all help and we can all use the little help sometimes, just a little empathy, let alone good advice, a gently push,  encouragement, but mostly being there at that moment of need.   The Big Ride encompassed all of those things in abundance.

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Claire of FAA who travelled from Geneva in Switzerland has victory in her sights

And, yes we as Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaigners had won a battle.  In fact we have won several battles,  to peacefully expose and oppose the wholly owned Israeli factory that make the drones used to massacre 547 innocent children sleeping peacefully in their beds in Gaza just 2 years ago July / Aug 2014.

 

Protesters delivered the first peaceful blow when they climbed onto the roof, occupied and closed the factory on 05 August .

 

They delivered a second major blow when they demonstrated that the British ruling class could no longer sustain their arguments that the peaceful protesters were not preventing a far greater crime against humanity by dropping their criminal charges against the protesters. The criminal charges against the 9 roof protesters were dropped.

 

A third blow again exposed the inability of the ruling class to defend the rights of Elbit to manufacture deadly drones free from protest.  Drones that have been used in the midnight massacre of 547 children of Gaza when the Crown Prosecution service decided that they had no realistic prospect of success prosecutions against the 19 peaceful protesters arrested on 06 July 2015.  https://www.blockthefactory.org/

 

A fourth blow was delivered to Elbit when the Birmingham High Court decided that the injunction obtained by Elbit to prevent protests was bogus and protesters are henceforth free to demonstrate our opposition to the manufacture of deadly drones used to massacre civilians (On 27 October, the Birmingham High Court removed the injunction “ab initio”, with the Judge declaring that it “had never existed”, as the company had failed to disclose the history of peaceful protest at the site.

 

Whist we win battles daily, big and small, the war against the Nakba of terror, ethnic cleansing, arrests, jailing and massacres of children is still to be won, and speaker after speaker at the rally demonstrated that the day of Judgement for Apartheid is neigh.

For us Football Against Apartheid activists it was an especially exhilarating experience, and improved our fitness, sharpened our politics, and won more people to our cause, in the run up to the start of the new football season.  From this Saturday 13 August 2016 we expect to be campaigning for an hour every Saturday  / Sunday to have Apartheid Israel treated no more favourably by FIFA than Apartheid South Africa, which was expelled from FIFA (World Football) on 16 July 1976 by 78 votes to 9 and by so doing FIFA heralded the beginning of the end of apartheid in SA.

 

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This last minute selfie of three FAA member before the final leg of the 120 mile journey to expose the Israel massacre of 547 innocent sleeping Palestinian children 2 years ago

Football Against Apartheid (FAA) with groups in at least 6 countries, would dearly welcome as much or as little help as possible for any or every quarter, every religion, nationality, gender, skin colour Etc We peacefully leaflet football fans on their way to football matches to raise awareness and build FAA groups at ever football club to call on their club and their national football association to support the simple call to expel Apartheid Israel from FIFA.

A massive congratulations to Dermot and all the team at The Big Ride

for all their help and support that ensures at everyone that can cycle 4 / 5 miles can participate in one of life’s most fulfilling events.

 

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