UN protests pending evictions at Dale Farm “traveller” camp

On Sept. 14, Yves Cabannes, UN advisor on forced evictions, visited the contested Dale Farm site at Basildon in England’s Essex county, where a community of “Travellers” and Roma face imminent removal. Cabannes charged that the Basildon council and British government are “violating international human rights law on three points. These are the right to adequate housing, the right to be defended from forced eviction and discrimination.” To howls of protest from Britain’s conservative press (notably the Daily Mail), he drew a comparison to recent forced evictions in Nigeria, in Zimbabwe, and in China. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers has also issued an urgent appeal to local authorities and Prime Minister David Cameron to put off the evictions, saying a postponement would allow for “the brokerage of a solution which we believe is achievable.”

The Travellers (mostly of Irish heritage) and Roma are living in mobile homes at the site, which was an abandoned scrapyard before it was reclaimed by the residents some 10 years ago. Many of the residents—some 80 families, numbering some 400 persons—hold legal title to the plots they have carved out of the site, but have been denied permits to develop them, making their homes technically “illegal.” One of the residents, elderly and ailing Traveller Mary Flynn, sought an injunction to stop the eviction, but this was turned down by the high court in London late last month. Supporters from throughout the UK and Europe have set up an encampment to protect the site, and pledge to resist any attempt to remove the residents. Eviction is expected on Sept. 19. (Irish Times, Sept. 16; The Guardian, BBC News, Aug. 31; Dale Farm Travellers website)

See our last post on the struggle in the United Kingdom.

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