Cyclists and supporters of Palestinian human rights took to the streets inĀ 20 citiesacross the world on Saturday, March 10, 2018 for theĀ #RelocateTheRace International Day of Action.

Bike rallies and actions called on Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body of cycling to relocate the start of the famed Giro dā€™Italia cycling event, set for May 4 in Jerusalem. Participants highlighted Israelā€™s 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 inĀ Palestine, with dozens of young Palestinian men and women participating in a ā€œCounter Giroā€ race in the occupied West Bank fromĀ RamallahĀ toĀ Qalandia, a locality confined by Israelā€™s apartheid wall and military checkpoints. The race was part of the events forĀ Israeli Apartheid WeekĀ and highlighted Israelā€™s 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.

InĀ Switzerland, cyclists pedaled toĀ UCI headquarters in Aigle. Despite numerous letters and appeals to move the race start, citing UCIā€™s own ethics code, the organization has failed to take action to prevent professional cycling from being complicit in Israelā€™s violations of international law.

InĀ Kuala Lumpur,Ā more than 50 people, young and old, individuals and families, students and cyclists, gathered on Saturday morning to call on theĀ Malaysian Cycling Federation, a UCI board member, to take steps to ensure UCI relocates the race.

Protests were held in more thanĀ 10 cities across Italy. InĀ Rome, dozens of cyclists gathered for aĀ parody award ceremonyĀ near the Colosseum, where the Giro dā€™Italia finish line will be. Italian electric utility ENEL was ā€œhonoredā€ as Best Sponsor of Israeli Apartheid. UCI was given the Ostrich Award for keeping its head in the sand. Giro organizers, who received a reportedĀ 10 million euroĀ 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.

InĀ Sicily, activists held a public assembly inĀ CataniaĀ to prepare for protests at the Giro dā€™Italia. The first Italian stages of the race will be on the island. Bike rallies were also held inĀ Bologna, Milan,Ā Naples, Ravenna,Ā Torino,Ā Udine,Ā VicenzaĀ andĀ Venice.

In theĀ Netherlands, roughlyĀ 80 cyclistsĀ participated in an ā€œAlternative Giroā€ inĀ The Hague, pedaling from Parliament past the Peace Palace and the International Criminal Court, noting Israelā€™s long record of war crimes and human rights violations.

InĀ Manchester,Ā cyclistsĀ from The Big Ride for Palestine pedalled to theĀ British Cycling Federation HeadquartersĀ and theĀ Italian Consulate, chantingĀ ā€œSave face! Relocate the race!ā€

InĀ France, cyclists inĀ ParisĀ rode from the Tour Eiffel to French Giro broadcaster L’Equipe. Bike rallies were also held inĀ Saint-ƉtienneĀ and inĀ Marseilles, where activists distributed over 1500 leaflets.

InĀ Belgium, activists inĀ LeuvenĀ 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 Israelā€™s human rights abuses.

Israel has long borrowed from the playbook of theĀ 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 cyclingā€™s top races to be exploited for political means.

Via the BNC official website.

Search IMEMC: “boycott”