Bike rallies and actions called on Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body of cycling to relocate the start of the famed Giro dâItalia cycling event, set for May 4 in Jerusalem. Participants highlighted Israelâs denial of Palestinian rights, including freedom of movement, and its use of the race to sport-wash its regime of occupation and apartheid.
The day of action started inÂ Palestine, with dozens of young Palestinian men and women participating in a âCounter Giroâ race in the occupied West Bank fromÂ RamallahÂ toÂ Qalandia, a locality confined by Israelâs apartheid wall and military checkpoints. The race was part of the events forÂ Israeli Apartheid WeekÂ and highlighted Israelâs ongoing destruction of Palestinian homes and farms.
Qalandia, remains of a Palestinian home demolished by Israel. In 2016, Israel demolished 33 homes in this village alone.
InÂ Switzerland, cyclists pedaled toÂ UCI headquarters in Aigle. Despite numerous letters and appeals to move the race start, citing UCIâs own ethics code, the organization has failed to take action to prevent professional cycling from being complicit in Israelâs violations of international law.
No Giro d'Italia in #Apartheid Israel! #RelocateTheRace #DĂ©placezLaCourseShort video of our protest last Saturday in front of the headquarter of the world cycling organisation UCI.
Posted by BDS Switzerland on Monday, March 12, 2018
InÂ Kuala Lumpur,Â more than 50 people, young and old, individuals and families, students and cyclists, gathered on Saturday morning to call on theÂ Malaysian Cycling Federation, a UCI board member, to take steps to ensure UCI relocates the race.
Protests were held in more thanÂ 10 cities across Italy. InÂ Rome, dozens of cyclists gathered for aÂ parody award ceremonyÂ near the Colosseum, where the Giro dâItalia finish line will be. Italian electric utility ENEL was âhonoredâ as Best Sponsor of Israeli Apartheid. UCI was given the Ostrich Award for keeping its head in the sand. Giro organizers, who received a reportedÂ 10 million euroÂ from Israel, were honored as Best Profiteers From Human Rights Violations. The Israeli cycling team was honored for Best Cycling Cover-up of Israeli Crimes.
InÂ Sicily, activists held a public assembly inÂ CataniaÂ to prepare for protests at the Giro dâItalia. The first Italian stages of the race will be on the island. Bike rallies were also held inÂ Bologna, Milan,Â Naples, Ravenna,Â Torino,Â Udine,Â VicenzaÂ andÂ Venice.
In theÂ Netherlands, roughlyÂ 80 cyclistsÂ participated in an âAlternative Giroâ inÂ The Hague, pedaling from Parliament past the Peace Palace and the International Criminal Court, noting Israelâs long record of war crimes and human rights violations.
InÂ France, cyclists inÂ ParisÂ rode from the Tour Eiffel to French Giro broadcaster L’Equipe. Bike rallies were also held inÂ Saint-ĂtienneÂ and inÂ Marseilles, where activists distributed over 1500 leaflets.
InÂ Belgium, activists inÂ LeuvenÂ distributed bike flags reading “Ride for peace and freedom, not for Israeli apartheid” to an incredibly responsive public, who objected to the abuse of cycling to hide Israelâs human rights abuses.
Israel has long borrowed from the playbook of theÂ apartheid regime in South Africa, using sports to mask its decades-long military occupation and apartheid regime.
Supporters of Palestinian rights around the world are committed to continue pressuring professional cycling until it ends its partnership with the Israeli government, allowing one of cyclingâs top races to be exploited for political means.
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