Friday, September 02, 2011

Other events of the day

Today is the birthday of my former wife Kina, with whom I had a nice little chat on the telephone this evening. We will be seeing her at the annual family High Elms picnic on Sunday.

This morning David Bergman & Gita Sahgal called on me for a useful discussion on current events in Bangladesh.

In the afternoon I had a visit from Sean Risdale and Matthew Brindley of the Irish Travellers movement in Britain. In spite of all the excellent work done by the ITMB, and their success in lobbying the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), it looks as though Dale Farm is at the end of the road and the evictions will be going ahead some time in the next few weeks. The CERD issued a statement yesterday criticising the evictions, see below.

The really sad thing about this disaster is that if there hadn't been a change of Government last year, there was a good chance that the Dale Farm question would have been solved, with some of the residents going to sites in other Districts within the county. As soon as Secretary of State Pickles announced the end of regionalism just after polling day, scrapping the target number of pitches for which planning permission was to be granted in every local authority area following a laborious process which had been accepted grudgingly throughout England, the rest of Essex said either that they weren't going to provide any land at all for Travellers, or that they were going to take some time to make up their minds what to do. So the families in the 51 pitches to be evicted, including pregnant women, the elderly, disabled and small children, are going to be homeless when their dwellings are carted away on low loaders and put into a store somewhere. Its an £18 million caastrophe, causing immense and unnecessary suffering.

Advance unedited version
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
79th session
8 August – 2 September 2011
Statement on Dale Farm

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination meeting in its 79th
session from 8 August to 2 September 2011 expresses its deep regret at the insistence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland authorities to proceed with the eviction of Gypsy and Traveller Families at the Dale Farm in Essex before identifying and providing culturally appropriate accommodation.

The Committee considered the combined eighteenth to twentieth report of the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 23 and 24 August 2011 during its current session. The issue of Dale Farm was extensively discussed with the delegation of the State party. The Committee will issue its concluding observations on all nine States parties considered at its 79th session, including the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Friday, 2 September 2011.

The Committee also considered this issue under its Early Warning and Urgent Action

Taking into account Articles 2 and 5 of the International Convention on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Committee’s General
Recommendation No 27 (2000) on Discrimination against Roma, the Committee calls on the State party to suspend the planned eviction which would disproportionately affect the lives of the Gypsy and Traveller families, particularly women, children and older people, and create hardship, until culturally appropriate accommodation is identified and provided. The Committee urges the State party to find a peaceful and appropriate solution which fully respects the rights of the families involved. Travellers and Gypsies already face considerable discrimination and hostility in wider society and the Committee is deeply concerned that this could be worsened by actions taken by authorities in the current situation and by some media reporting on the issues.

2127th meeting
1 September 2011

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