On the 13th of May, as the ‘deal’ to end the mass Palestinian hunger strike was about to emerge from the rumour-mill, far away from Palestine in Scotland’s biggest city Glasgow, a display of solidarity with the Palestinian hunger strikers was done supporters of Celtic Football Club. This was the final game of the season when Celtic were given the league trophy and crowned Scottish Football Champions and amid all the displays, colour, noise and party atmosphere a flurry of Palestine flags and a banner reading “Dignity is more precious than food” appeared in one particular corner section of the stadium.
This was the 111 section, home of the Green Brigade an ultras group formed in 2006 in rejection of the modern corporate games reducing football fans to mere silent and compliant consumers. The political footing of the group is left-wing, anti-racist,anti-fascist and anti-sectarian. Celtic football club was formed in 1888 by immigrant Irish and has since become to symbolise the Irish heritage of the large Irish diaspora in West Scotland who faced the best part of a century of religious discrimination. The Green Brigade have come under fire for continuing the tradition of Celtic fans giving vocal support for Irish Republican resistance to the British presence in Ireland as well their opposition to any association between the club and the British army’s wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite this day including some quite elaborate displays, the Green Brigade still marked the day with their display of solidarity with the Palestinian Hunger Strikers, they very rarely make any form of public statement about their political actions but agreed to once the impact of what they felt were very modest actions became clear.
We did this in solidarity, to raise awareness and because it’s the right thing to do.
We want Palestinians to know we are thinking about them and encourage Scottish civil society to look at the injustice in Palestine. The Western media ignores the struggle so we felt we had to at least try and highlight the issue. Its hard to explain the feelings when hear of the actions undertaken by Palestinian prisoners or the oppression of Israeli State. All we can say that there is no greater sacrifice than to be willing to hunger strike until death for justice.
Solidarity with the people of Palestine.
Until The Last Rebel.
Anon Green Brigader
Palestine activists here in Scotland helped make sure the Palestinian activists we knew saw them via social media and within few days the images had went viral via twitter & facebook and many Palestinian expressed their gratitude, while the Green Brigade were for the most part unaware of the great impact their actions had.
With the aims of making the Green Brigade fully aware of how much their solidarity action was appreciated, to foster interaction between Palestinian youth and their international supporters and to facilitate the wish of Palestinians to express their thanks the idea grew that some sort of statement should be written for Palestinian youth activists to sign. This is all the more timely as largely unknown to the world, 4 Palestinians remain on hunger strike including the Footballer Mahmoud Sarsak, arrested 3 years ago on his way to play for the Palestinian national team and held since with no charge or trial. Mahmoud a refugee living in Rafah Camp in Gaza is now on (at the time of writing) his 68th day of hunger strike and while there is no football for him the Israeli Women’s U21 team will play a match in Scotland on June 16th and Israel will host the UEFA 2013 U23 tournament. It is hoped that the actions of the Green Brigade and a response from the Palestinians that highlight the role these type of actions have may lead to supporters of human rights in Scotland and Europe to question the morality and ethical soundness of bodies such as the Scottish Football Association and UEFA treating Israel as a normal state rather than the apartheid state that it is and should be sanctioned as.
The response from the Palestinian Youth statement has been quite emphatic with almost 100 Palestinian Youth activists from the occupied West Bank & Gaza, ’48 and forced exile, from the refugee camps, popular committees and Palestinian NGO’s have signed the statement.
Dear Green Brigade comrades,
As our free prisoners were fighting with “empty stomachs” battle in the dungeons of the Zionist regime, we outside prisons were protesting on streets, taking our part in the fight. Our decades old fight has been of ups and downs. At times, we feel frustrations witnessing the world being indifferent. At other times, we felt hope.
We watched as the Green Brigades supported our just cause and our prisoners’ hunger strike. And this was one of the times of hope. We can’t thank you enough. Your action gave us strength here. Photos and videos of your support were circulated between us in Palestine widely. And we knew not to expect any less from our Irish-Scottish comrades.
The Scottish, “the last of the free”, has a history of survival. They have a history of fighting for their freedom and dignity and not giving up for any less. It is true that injustice anywhere in the world is a threat to justice everywhere in the world. But it is also true that free people anywhere inspire free people everywhere. The history of the Scottish people is a history of free people who did not bow to the Roman walls. And with your proud Irish roots, this makes you part of our struggle.
Every Palestinian youth look up to the Irish struggle. No one, better than an Irish, would understand the Apartheid wall that divides our land. No one, better than an Irish, would understand settlers taking over our lands. No one, better than an Irish, would understand the meaning of fighting occupation and sacrificing oneself. No one, better than an Irish, would understand what fighting with empty stomachs inside prisons means. Needless to say, the struggle of Bobby Sand and his comrades has inspired us.
Many parts of Scotland & Ireland became ‘Apartheid free-zones’
in the past. Your support to the South African struggle led the way to the fall of the exclusively-white Apartheid regime. We believe you will repeat history again and will lead Glasgow to be an Apartheid free-zone once again. And will lead the way to the fall of the Zionist Apartheid regime.
Our fight is far from over. We will keep up our fight until freedom, equality and full right of return for our refugees.
Green Brigade comrades, I once again would love to express our deep gratitude and appreciation. Your support makes us stronger.
Hurriyah Ziada (sibling of a prisoner)
Raya Ziada (sibling of a prisoner)
Samer Sharif (sibling of a prisoner)
Mohammed Lotfi Yousif
Marwan Mahmoud Fararja
Majde Mostafa Abu Aker
Ahmed Eaid Mohammed
Ra’fat Riyad Malash
Layan Nidal Alazzeh
Nabil Abed Alazez
Shadi Al Barmil
Jehad Abu A’oda
Mohammed Basim Abu Sror
Khalid Walid Alazza
Mostafa A’oad Alaraj
Sabreen Mohamoud Asad
Hanin Monther Alaraj
Samer Ibrahim Awais
Ahmad Lotfi Ahmad Yousif
Mahmoud Ya’qob Hammad
Fadi Mohammed Nasrallah
Jamal Jamil Ikhlayil
Mohammed Nidal Abu Aker
Mohammed Qasim Alazraq
Kefah Ahmad Alajarma
Tamam Abu Salama