Dale Farm protest
The protest at the High Court today (4 December) was supported by members of A World to Win.
CAN WE SAVE DALE FARM?
YES WE CAN!
Contact us at: email@example.com
- Dale Farm victory for third St Christopher's
- Kidnap threat to Gypsy children
- Essex Travellers call for support
- Roma Children Dying of Lead Poisoning by: Paul Polansky, The New Kosova Report
Press Complaints Commission letter
DALE FARM HOUSING ASSOCIATION to:
Sir Christopher Meyer
Chair of the Press Complaints Commission
London EC1N 2JD
1 December 2008
RACIAL HATRED AGAINST ROMA STIRRED
BY UK NEWSPAPER ARTICLES:
Dear Sir Christopher,
The Daily Express on 17 November this year published as its front page lead under the heading FAMILIES MUST SELL LAND FOR GYPSY CAMPSITES a totally misleading story.
Shortly afterwards Under Secretary Sadiq Khan stated in the House of Commons that this was an untrue headline.
On page 5 of the same edition a photograph was used showing the Dale Farm community, at Oak Lane, Crays Hill, which I represent. It was described as ‘as site for Travellers’. The story inferred that this is the kind of site to be provided by local authorities. This is not so.
Dale Farm was purchased and developed as a mobile-home park by the residents themselves.
The Daily Express story is the subject of a detailed formal complaint which has been sent in the first instance to the editor by the Traveller Law Reform Project (with which the DFHA is linked). I understand a copy will reach the PCC shortly.
But this particular story is only the tip of the iceberg and my purpose in writing to you is to draw attention to a rising tide of highly prejudiced stories and editorials which have appeared over the past year or more about Roma, Gypsies and Travellers. Our communities, please note, are represented together in the European Roma and Travellers Forum and the International Roma Union (7th Congress held in October in Zagreb), and increasingly act together in matters of policy and legislation.
In general, the stories aim to cater for and further inflame public opinion in respect of these groups, better to sell papers. The main culprits are the Daily Express, the Mail and the Sun, the last of which ran the notorious Stamp On The Camps campaign.
These papers need to be reminded that Roma, Gypsies, Scottish and Irish Travellers are all recognized as ethnic groups under the Race Relations Act and have as much right to respect under the Act and under your Code of Conduct as are already afforded to Afro-British, Asian, Indian, Pakistani, Jewish and other groups.
The current lack of respect is well documented and amply expressed in such publications as Common Ground by the then Commission for Race Equality (2006, and The Road Forward issued by Communities and Local Government. Their view was amplified in the High Court last May when Mr Justice Collins heard evidence of media bias and called upon a local authority, namely Basildon District Council, to help improve this state of affairs. One aspect (which may or may not come within the remit of the PCC) is the need to filter out racially tainted comments made by member of the public on websites run by newspapers, of which the ECHO in Essex is a particularly bad offender.
My own experience in this field is as a professional journalist (former member of the NUJ now retired) and writer. I co-authored
with Donald Kenrick the standard work Gypsies Under the Swastika
and am the author of Freeborn Traveller, a novel based on my experiences in Ireland during the l960s. In 1966 I help found the Gypsy Council, which in 1971 hosted the 1st World Romani Congress, of which I was elected general-secretary.
On Thursday this week (4 December), members and supporters of the DFHA will be attending the Court of Appeal for a hearing in which Basildon District Council is asking to have overturned the ruling by Mr Justice Collins last May that residents of Dale Farm should not be evicted without alternative accommodation being provided.
After the morning’s hearing, at about 2.30 pm, we shall be coming to visit the offices of the PCC to request that:
a) you look again at the complaints made earlier regarding stories that discriminate against Roma, Gypsies and Travellers (whether individually or collectively);
b) that the Commission take a fresh look at this whole area taking into consideration the mounting evidence that our communities have been, and remain, the butt of racial prejudice and, increasingly, the objects of racial hatred, due in part to the way matters relating to us are reported (note the fact Gypsy is frequently used without a capital G; that where Travellers live or are going to live is referred to as a “camp”, be it a caravan park or mobile-home estate such as Dale Farm. Roma have even been referred to as “tinkers” (Daily Express, 17 November), a derogatory term previously used in respect of Travellers in Scotland and Ireland (and properly a metal-worker).
c) the PCC take seriously and act on (within your remit and Code) the fact that our communities are becoming increasingly marginalised, and victimised, noting that we experience evictions as ethnic-cleansing; and see a parallel between the way Sinti (Gypsies) and Jews were criminalized and vilified in Germany in the l930s and the present representation of us today in some section of the British media. In Germany it was a prelude to genocide. Here in the UK we are already severely socially excluded.
We believe that such is the seriousness of this situation, and its complexity, that we need to have a face to face meeting with you and other members of the Commission, as soon as possible. Please suggest a time and date.
Above all we need a sincere and creditable assurance from you personally that as of now our complaints are going to be accorded the attention they warrant. A measure of intent will be the way in which you respond to the current complaint over the Daily Express headlines.
DALE FARM HOUSING ASSOCIATION