Vanunu Feedom Ride


Starting on 7th April at the Faslane Nuclear base in Scotland, the Vanunu Freedom Ride made its way over 500 miles to the Israeli Embassy in London on 21st April.  The purpose of the Ride was to publicise the plight of Mordechai Vanunu, Israel's nuclear whistle-blower, who was kidnapped in Rome in 1986, after visiting London to tell the Sunday Times that Israel had developed nuclear weapons at their Dimona plant.



Guess who had a puncture!


Rosemary Addington and I took part in this event on the last day, joining the ride at Watford then cycling to London.  On the previous day, the Government of Israel had extended for a third year the draconian and vindictive restrictions imposed on Mordechai Vanunu when he was released from prison after serving a full sentence of 18 years imprisonment, 12 years in solitary confinement.  He is forbidden to leave Israel, may not move freely inside Israel, and is forbidden to speak to foreign nationals, 'for fear of causing damage to the security of the State'.  These restrictions are in violation of Articles 13 and 19 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.  Kam Datta and Adeline O’Keeffe, two of the organisers of the Ride, had sent a letter to the Israeli Ambassador from the riders, saying:  “It was not the fault of the whistle-blower that, in 1986, your country, Israel, had hidden away the sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. And you continue to deny this truth….. Vanunu has no secrets. You know this, we know it. You know that your persecution of him is wrong”.


People had cycled from Lancaster, Birmingham & other places en route, but only one other rider had cycled the whole distance.  He was John Volynchook, who we discovered lives in Surbiton, and who said he was very pleased to complete all of the 560 miles from Faslane only 6 months after a lucky escape being knocked off his bicycle by a double-decker bus in Wandsworth!



We stopped for a late lunch at Kensal Green, where we were welcomed by Brent Stop the War Coalition and the local press.


Outside the Israeli Embassy we were officially welcomed by Tony Benn and Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary of UNISON.  They released 20 white doves to symbolise the 20 years since Vanunu was first imprisoned. 



After that we continued the Ride to 10 Downing Street where a delegation of the riders and supporters handed in a letter asking the Prime Minister to intervene in Vanunu’s case.

Gill Hurle