The Glasgow Celtic football club “ultras” fan group, the Green Brigade, supported the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike with large banners and Palestinian flags at a football match on Saturday, 6 May.
The Celtic fans lifted a huge Palestinian flag as well as massive banners with the slogans “Freedom and Dignity” and “Hungering for Justice.”
Celtic itself won its match against St. Johnstone, 4-1, while its supporters cheered for their team and for the Palestinian people.
The Green Brigade earlier raised $220,000 for Palestinian charities after the football team was fined by the UEFA when its fans waved the Palestinian flag when it played an Israeli team, Hapoel Beer Sheva, on 17 August 2016. The funds went to support Lajee Center in the Aida refugee camp in occupied Palestine and Medical Aid for Palestine.
Celtic fans supporting Palestine defied a ban imposed by UEFA in the 2016 match, noting that “Radical politics and Irish politics has always existed in Celtic Park” in an interview with Telesur, denouncing the ” system of apartheid laws and practices including religious and ethnic based colonization, military occupation and segregation of what remains of Palestinian land.” The group distributed free Palestinian flags to fans entering the stadium for the match. Celtic defeated the Israeli team in a 5-2 victory in the match.
Over 1500 Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike since 17 April 2017, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. The prisoners are demanding basic human rights, including an end to the denial of family visits, the right to access higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. They have faced harsh repression, including solitary confinement, denial of legal and family visits and confiscation of personal belongings, including the salt that the strikers use to sustain themselves along with water. Leaders of the strike, like Fateh central committee member Marwan Barghouthi, have been isolated, while an increasing number of prominent Palestinian political leaders, like Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Nael Barghouthi, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, have joined the strike.
The Green Brigade has a strong social justice approach, including a long history of support for Irish struggles for justice and liberation. In 2012, they also raised a banner supporting the mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners.
Some of the Celtic fans who support Palestine who participated in the display at the match on Saturday earlier took part in a Glasgow protest for the Palestinian prisoners, part of a Scotland-wide Day of Action to support the strike that saw protests in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, organized by We Are All Hana Shalabi, Scotland Supports Palestine and other Scottish Palestine solidarity groups. Numerous cities around the world have seen a growing number of protests and actions to support the hunger strikers, alongside ongoing mass support inside Palestine and in Palestinian communities in exile. Prominent figures, including Archbishop Atallah Hanna and Palestinian resistance icon Leila Khaled – alongside numerous students and community activists internationally – have also launched strikes to support the prisoners’ action.