Friday, September 30, 2011




Bulgaria: Anti-Roma Demonstrations Spread Across Bulgaria
Pictured: riot ...

30 September 2011

Bulgarian authorities must stop the escalation of violence targeting the Roma community

Amnesty International urges Bulgarian authorities to effectively tackle the escalation of violence which is resulting in racially-motivated attacks against the Roma community in the country.

The Bulgarian authorities have the obligation under international human rights law to ensure the security and the physical integrity of everyone, without any discrimination. They have to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and provide redress for racially motivated crimes by private individuals or groups. Amnesty International is monitoring the situation and urges the Bulgarian authorities to put in place all the necessary measures to stop racially-motivated attacks against Roma and to duly investigate the racial motivation in attacks against Roma neighbourhoods and individuals. Allegations that law enforcement officers made no attempt to prevent the violence on 24 September should also be subject to a full and effective investigation, with the results made public and anyone found responsible brought to justice.

Following the killing of an ethnic Bulgarian youth, Angel Petrov, who was hit by a minibus driven by an ethnic Roma, Simeon Iosifov, on 23 September, protests sparked off in Katunitza (Plovdiv district). The driver was arrested the following day and an investigation is currently underway.

On 24 September further protests with a more prominent anti-Roma character were staged; three houses belonging to a Roma local leader, Kiril Rashkov, were set alight. Football fan club members from Plovdiv joined the protests, slogans inciting hatred and violence against Roma and Turks were shouted. Law enforcement forces reportedly did not stop the protesters from entering the village of Katunitza, nor were the arson attacks on properties prevented. However, no one was injured on that day and the families living in the properties attacked were evacuated by law enforcement forces.

On 25, 26 and 27 September rallies were organised in other cities by local groups, football fan clubs and Neo-Nazi groups, supported by far-right and nationalist parties such as ATAKA and VMRO. Roma neighbourhoods and Roma citizens were threatened or actually violently attacked. Figures on the overall number of injured are not available. However, Roma are reportedly afraid to leave their homes in some areas due to panic about the widespread insecurity. Around 400 people were arrested for taking part into the attacks. Some of them have been already fined for hooliganism.




Statement by ERIO concerning the ethnic unrest against Roma in Bulgaria

Brussels, 30 September 2011

 The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) is deeply concerned about the heightened ethnic tension against Roma taking place in Bulgaria since 24 September. Particularly, regarding the failure of the Bulgarian government to take the necessary measures to protect victims of these inter-ethnic attacks lead by far-right individuals. ERIO calls on the Bulgarian government to take an urgent and strong position against right-wing extremism and incitement to hatred.

 The clashes started in the village of Katounitsa in the south of the country and quickly spread to other towns. Anti-Roma demonstrations with shouting anti-Roma slogans have been organised through Facebook. The aim of such demonstrations is to incite hatred against Roma. Such racist discourses are a powerful fuel of anti-Gypsyism. Incitement to ethnic hatred is a crime under the Bulgarian law. As such, ERIO calls for a strong implementation of criminal law against racist and ethnic offences.

 Despite the challenges to any attempts to regulate Internet content, online hate incitement has to be properly addressed by authorities. Internet has become a powerful tool to organise attacks and groups. These groups that embrace and promote racist anti-Roma ideologies and strategies constitute a direct violation of the fundamental rights of this minority.

 Bulgarian authorities need to improve their response to racially-motivated violence against Roma. ERIO urges the Bulgarian government to implement the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia. Bulgaria, being a member of the EU, is required to adopt a strategy for Roma inclusion until the end of this year. Given the current incidents, how can the government guarantee safety for Roma communities?

 Ivan Ivanov, ERIO’s Executive Director, said: ‘This is an unacceptable situation that goes against EU values of human rights and respect. It is urgent that the government react and send the message that racist hate crimes are punished in Bulgaria. I hope this is an isolated case and that it will disappear after the elections. Bulgarian society is generally tolerant. However, this image has been changing since nationalist parties have gained more support in Bulgaria. It is very dangerous when politicians play the ethnic card as a strategy to gain votes. Against the backdrop of rising right-wing extremist parties across Europe, it is imperative to guarantee equality and respect for human rights to all in Bulgaria.’

For more information, please contact
Ivan Ivanov, Executive Director
European Roma Information Office
Tel: +32 273 33 462

European Roma Information Office (ERIO) is an international advocacy organisation which promotes political and public discussion on Roma issues by providing factual and in-depth information on a range of policy issues to the European Union institutions, Roma civil organisations, governmental authorities and intergovernmental bodies.




Abuse of Roma Worsening in France, Says HRW
By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff
30/09/2011 -
France has continued to expel and evict large numbers of the Roma people, also known as Gypsies, despite the European Commission saying the situation has improved, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

In August, the commission, after giving warnings to France last year regarding the country’s treatment of the Roma, said it was satisfied with the government’s policies.

The deportation of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma people drew international condemnation, with some critics saying President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to garner popular support ahead of elections that are to be held in six months. Several hundred people were rounded up from makeshift camps and sent back to the two countries.

The New York-based rights group sent a briefing paper to the commission in July, which said France violated its obligations under European Union law and international human rights law when it removed Roma citizens.

“One year and a new immigration law later, Roma in France are still vulnerable to serial evictions, unfair expulsions, and discrimination,” Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at HRW, said in a statement.

In the first three months of this year, France expelled 4,714 Romanians and Bulgarians, compared with more than 9,500 who were deported during the entire year in 2010.

In late August, European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding said she was “satisfied” with how France was dealing with immigrants.

However, HRW said the situation has intensified since mid-September, and “hundreds of Roma” have been displaced from their settlements in Lyon.

“In one case, the police allegedly told a group of 80 to 100 Roma, including many children, who had been seeking new shelter for two days and nights following an eviction, to go to another informal camp,” the rights group said.

On Tuesday, France rounded up more than 200 Roma people from the Marseille camp in the south, with some 150 police taking part in the incident, according to local media reports. Authorities said that if the families cannot prove they can support themselves, then they will be deported.

Under European law, citizens in the European Union can live in any of the member states if they have enough money and medical insurance. France in the past three years has expelled several thousand Roma immigrants.

Regarding the present situation in France, HRW’s briefing says there is “ample evidence” that authorities are breaching EU-mandated law by rounding up and expelling Roma immigrants. Furthermore, officials have failed to sufficiently examine the circumstances of individuals before deporting them.

“The police required camp residents, many of whom do not read French, to sign pieces of paper without telling them what they said, and without leaving them a copy,” HRW said.


Thursday, September 29, 2011


Subject:Crays Hill  traverllers site feature Location:Crays Hill'They like to travel but they like a home too'

WHY are travellers at Dale Farm not travelling?

It is a question often aimed at the residents, many of whom have lived there for over ten years.​

PHOTO Crays Hill traverllers site feature Location:Crays Hill

But the fact they have settled does not necessarily mean they do not travel, according to a local academic.

Professor Thomas Acton, professor of Romani Studies at the University of Greenwich in London, told the Gazette that Dale Farm represents a "stage in the modernisation of the Irish Traveller community".
"Dale Farm is a little ghetto where they can have a base," said Prof Acton, who lives in Warley. "Children can go to school and enter into the modern world without losing their identity.
"They don't want to lose the elements of their lifestyle that they prize."

Prof Acton also shed some light on why travellers do not wish to live in bricks and mortar housing.
"They have never lived in houses. Their economic advantage is that they can move to the work and that creates a culture where mobility and living close to the sky are valued.
"I do know some gypsies who have moved into a house and they like it to be a bungalow with caravans out the back. Some of them actually prefer to sleep in the caravan," he said.

The argument that travellers no longer travel is also dismissed by the professor.
"Of course they travel. More than half of the families on the legal site are away travelling," he said.
"Many are away on work contracts in Europe, they will go where the work is.
"These are people who spend half a year in the US or Germany working. The thing that ties them down most is education for their children.

"Dale Farm is a sign of integration," he said.

"Irish traveller culture is becoming more accessible to other people. It is becoming a public culture. People are writing books about it, there are TV shows about it.

"An eviction will put things back to the way it was in the 1960s. It makes people hide. It would be a tremendous retrograde step."


Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This is a good video.  It runs for about 1/2 hour but is really worth it if you can make the time.
The woman on Skype is Gwendolyn Albert.  You may recognize her name as the translator of many articles on this blog which originally appeared on

The Northern Bohemia of the Czech Republic has been troubled by high unemployment, poverty, and a weak education system for years, and many of its estimated 300,000 Roma minority live in slums. Nearly 50 percent of Roma may be currently unemployed or living in poverty, based on 2008 statistics collected by the World Bank.

The “Worker’s Party for Social Justice” (known as DSSS in Czech), is the successor party to an alleged neo-Nazi group that was banned last year by the highest Czech court. Along with other right-wing nationalist groups, they are voicing opposition to the Roma minority in the Czech Republic, blaming Roma for crime and overcrowding due to migration.

On Aug 7 in the Northern Bohemia town Nový Bor, a group of Romani men entered a bar allegedly armed with clubs and machetes and, according to local reports, attacked several patrons in retaliation for an assault on Roma youth earlier that night.

In mid-August, a Czech nationalist group organized a demonstration via Facebook in response to a bar fight that allegedly took place between ethnic Czechs and Roma youth. The organisation, called Bezpečí Domova or “Homeland Security” in Czech, protested what they say is the state’s failure to provide security.

Later that month, on August 21, a group of 20 Roma men in Rumburk assaulted six Czech's leaving a disco around 5am.

The central government has responded by beefing up its presence in the region. Around 600 additional police officers have been sent to quell the unrest. Czech President Vaclav Klaus has called on police to “mercilessly” bring an end to violence.

The Czech government recently adopted an official “Strategy for Fighting Social Exclusion,” with measures to prevent the creation of new Roma slums in the country. The strategy also intends to improve education, employment, housing and security in Roma neighbourhoods.

Prague-based human rights activist Gwendolyn Albert joins the show via Skype to discuss Roma rights and the recent uptick in violence between the Czech Republic’s ethnic minority and majority. Roma musician Radoslav Banga, commonly known as “Gipsy,” also joins us via Skype to discuss Roma rights in the country.

Al Jazeera



Czech Xenophobes To Displaced Roma: "Gas The Gypsies!"

Pushed out of Prague, Roma are heading to northern Bohemia. Their arrival has triggered a backlash from native Czechs in the region of Ústí nad Labem, which is also attracting right-wing extremists who come from the city to stoke local anger and shout the ugliest of slogans

PHOTO: A memorial to Roma victims of Nazi regime, in Ukraine (Anosmia)

The northern Czech region of Ústí nad Labem is in an uproar, with citizens opposing the organized influx of Roma -- whom they hold responsible for mounting crime -- and radical-right extremists taking advantage of the heated situation.

On recent weekends, the radicals have traveled from Prague and other parts of the country to give incendiary speeches and yell slogans such as “The Czech Republic is for the Czechs – Gas the Gypsies!” The reference to killing the Roma by gas chambers is particularly vile, with estimates of between 500,000 and 1.5 million exterminated by the Nazi regime during World War II.

Roma areas have been cordoned off by police who use water cannons and tear gas if necessary. There are regular tussles and arrests.

The Roma have made their way here from the outskirts of Prague, where their rented living space was bought by real estate developers. So far their housing space has been rent-free, although normally they are charged exorbitant rents. Some who cannot find work -- there are few jobs for the largely illiterate Roma -- turn to crime. “The Roma are in a vicious circle from which they cannot escape,” says sociologist Ivan Gabal.

Crime has risen in the area since the arrival of the Roma, and “white” Czechs are now afraid to let their children go to school unaccompanied. The situation exploded when 20 machete-wielding Roma attacked six “white” Czechs in a disco.

Locals were also piqued that for weeks, nobody in the federal government seemed to take notice of the situation. A first visit by Czech Premier Petr Necas only came last week. He announced a plan to make people more employable by raising the number of years of mandatory schooling for all Czechs, including Roma. But the changes aren’t set to go into effect until 2015. Roma who do not send their children to school will lose social benefits, he also warned.

Critics of the measure say that what Roma children need is to be taught Czech, a language many do not speak. Until now, Roma children who attend school go to special schools that they leave early because they’re under pressure to join the criminal milieu that enables Roma to make ends meet.
Necas also stated that the special police forces would for the time being stay in the area, a measure supported by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who favors a hard line against the violence. Meanwhile, radical right wingers are using the Internet to organize demonstrations in other Roma ghettos

Monday, September 26, 2011


These performers are wonderful.  Romano Kalo from Spain and Banjaran Gypsies from India.
They show the continuity in our music so very well. 
Please check them out.


French Left's Election Wins Are Troublesome for Sarkozy





Sunday, September 25, 2011


FROM The Economist, Sept. 24-30 2011, pp. 63-64
Central Europe's Roma

Cold comforts


Roma in the Czech provinces are the butt of racism-­and respond violently

The gritty small towns of the Sluknov foothills in northern Bohemia are a long way from the baroque delights of Prague. A simmering social problem is now boiling over into violent clashes between Roma (gypsies) and locals.

The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, in an interview with the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes,
has urged the police to respond “mercilessly” to the escalation, which has included narrowly
foiled attempts to storm the squalid hostels in which many Roma families live.
Relations have been tense for years. Poverty, prejudice and crime fester among the 300,000-odd Roma in the Czech Republic.
Governments have dodged the problem. In the 1990s European Union pressure forced the town of Usti nad Labem to pull down a wall that it had built around a Roma ghetto.

Many observers complain
that large sums (including EU grants) budgeted for do-gooding are wasted on consultants or irrelevant projects.
The new element is Roma retaliation.
In August three Roma men used a machete to attack "whites" (as non-Roma are called in Czech) in a
gambling joint. Some 20 truncheon-wielding Roma youths beat up six young white men outside a
disco. A far right political party has fanned the flames. But the main fuel is local anger over
crime and migration. Property businesses have been moving Roma tenants into cheap local housing
in order to sell their renovated former houses in richer parts of the country. Some 2,360 such
displaced Roma have arrived in the town of Rumburk alone in the past 18 months. The rhetoric has become incendiary.

Foes of the Roma call them "unadaptables". Many want them confined in walled ghettos, a growing practice in Slovakia­-where a far-right politician, Jan Slota, has said that the Roma should have a separate state (he didn't say where).

Harsh words are reminding some of Nazi persecution of Jews and Roma­and of Czech wartime collaboration with it.
Although overtly neo-Nazi parties are illegal, even respectable Czech politicians flirt with
anti-Roma sentiment. A former deputy prime minister, Jiri Cunek, began his career in local
politics by moving Roma families from a town centre into shipping containers on its outskirts.
TOP 09, a junior partner in the Czech coalition, has boycotted cabinet sessions to demand the
firing of Ladislav Batora, an education-ministry adviser with lurid anti-Roma views. (He has now been moved to another post.)
Mr Batora is a protege of Mr Klaus, who likes to lambast political correctness and
has a penchant for hiring mavericks as aides. He publicly backed the deputy head of his office,
Petr Hajek, after he came under fire for denouncing participants in this summer's Gay
Pride march in Prague as "deviants" and for opposing the "media lynching" of skinheads who
had petrol-bombed a Roma home.

Some suspect that Mr Klaus may be planning to form a new nationalist, Eurosceptic party when he leaves the presidency in 2013.

He should have no problem winning support from disgruntled "white" Czechs.

Saturday, September 24, 2011



Dale Farm: Who are the UK's travellers?

Children of Dale Farm travellers site hold pictures of themselves at the gate to the illegal travellers site in Cray's Hill, Essex Children of Dale Farm travellers site held pictures of themselves at the gate to the illegal travellers site

 The eviction of some 400 people from the UK's largest illegal travellers' site, Dale Farm in Essex, has once again brought to the forefront Britain's traveller community.

Not to be confused with Romany Gypsies, who are the largest traveller group in the world with some 12 million members according to the Gypsy Council, the families who live at the site are Irish Travellers.

"A lot of Romany Gypsies are very angry at Irish Travellers in terms of the way our two identities are confused," says Jake Bowers, a Romany Gypsy journalist who writes for the Travellers' Times.

"We're two separate ethnic groups. Whilst there is some conflict because people inhabit the same social and physical space, there is some kind of harmony; some inter-marry and live alongside each other."

Both Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies are recognised as distinct ethnic minority groups in English law because they are communities which share a history stretching back hundreds of years.

In a guide to Gypsies and travellers, Mr Bowers writes that from the 16th Century to the present day, "no ethnic groups in Britain have aroused as much curiosity, romance, hatred and fear as Gypsies and travellers".

The law and gypsies
  • Romany Gypsies have been in Britain since at least 1515 after migrating from continental Europe
  • The 1554 "Egyptians Act" banned gypsies from entering England and imposed the death penalty on those that remained in the country for more than a month
  • From 1597, the Vagrancy Act reduced the death penalty to expelling anyone who led that "roguish kind of life"
  • Britain's attitude towards Gypsies relaxed over the years; in 1968 the Caravan Sites Act ordered local authorities to provide sites for all Gypsies living or moving to their areas
  • This was the first time that the state had recognised responsibility to provide secure, legal stopping places for Gypsies
  • This changed in the 1990s when the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act removed the legal obligation to provide these sites and gave police eviction powers
  • Currently it is up to Gypsies to find their own sites; however, councils have to provide options for them

Irish Travellers mainly came to England after the potato famine in the 1850s and then after World War II, when men came over to build motorways and work as labourers.

Many travellers, including those from Dale Farm, describe Rathkeale in County Limerick as their spiritual home, says BBC Look East correspondent Sally Chidzoy, who visited the Irish town earlier this month.

She said many Irish Travellers moved between the town and other traveller sites in eastern England.

Many Irish Travellers in the UK have been born in Britain and some now speak with British regional accents, says Grace O'Malley from the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain charity.
Nomadic way
The term traveller refers to anyone who has a nomadic way of life. It can not only refer to Irish Travellers or Romany Gypsies, but also those who live on the road for economic reasons such as New Travellers or Showmen.

Having said that, about half of all Gypsies and travellers nowadays live in houses, the other half live in caravans on private caravan sites, public caravan sites and on unauthorised encampments, says Mr Bowers.

Many Gypsy sites have been built near rubbish dumps, sewer works or industrial sites.

"There isn't one Gypsy and traveller culture, just as there isn't one single Gypsy and traveller community," says Mr Bowers.

However, the way of life of living on the road means that there are "certain cultural things in common", he added.

Irish Travellers share some of the same cultural values as Romany Gypsies, such as a preference for self-employment, but there are also big differences - for example most Irish Travellers are Catholic whereas Romany Gypsies are Church of England, says Joseph G Jones from the Gypsy Council.

Irish Travellers speak a language called Gammon or Cant, a language which mixes Gaelic words with English.

"Broadly speaking it's basically the same community," says Ms O'Malley.

"There are different groups, but there are no huge defining differences other than accent and religion. They live together on council sites."
Big costs
Gypsy culture is built on strict codes of cleanliness, says Mr Bowers. Concepts such as mokadi and mahrime place strict guidelines on what objects can be washed in what bowls.

A Gypsy caravan at an encampment near Latimer Road, Notting Hill, London, circa 1877 A Gypsy caravan at an encampment near Notting Hill, London, circa 1877

Gypsies view gorgias (non-Gypsies) as unclean because of the way they live. For example, Gypsies and travellers rarely let animals inside their homes because they believe them to be carriers of disease, according to Mr Bowers.

They often value visible signs of wealth.

"Travellers having big cars can be summarised by the fact that they don't have mortgages, so they don't have the same cash outlay month by month (as the settled community)," says O'Malley.

"They don't have the same costs, and big costs (such as cars) are normally hire purchases."

Ms O'Malley added that communities also lent money amongst themselves, so people who appeared poor could spend a lot of money on a wedding because the community had given it to them.
'Settled base'
The term traveller can also be misleading.

"It's the biggest misconception - you don't have to be a traveller to be a traveller," says Ms O'Malley.

"People are settling - the mother will settle in one place, while the father will travel around Europe working."

And Mr Jones agrees, saying: "They don't travel aimlessly; they go from place to place for a reason."

"Gypsies want a settled base from which to travel and where they can get access to education and healthcare for their families," adds Mr Bowers.

Legal and illegal sites

  • There are 18,383 traveller caravans in the UK on both legal and illegal sites
  • About 83% of travellers and Gypsy caravans are on legal sites
  • Local authorities in London and in the North East of England have the fewest caravans in their areas
  • Across England a total of 3,109 Gypsy and traveller caravans were on unauthorised sites, a reduction of 510 from 2010
  • Illegal sites can be common land or beside the road

Historically, Gypsies and travellers do not attend schools as they see them as places where children will be bullied for their way of life.

"Gypsy and traveller pupils have the worst school attendance record of any minority ethnic group," says Ms O'Malley.

Girls are often expected to help at home caring for their younger siblings, whereas boys are often expected to be working with their fathers receiving, in effect, an apprenticeship in how to earn a living, says Mr Bowers.

Travellers or Gypsies can have difficulty in Britain doing the jobs they used to do because they have either been replaced by a cheaper alternative, such as eastern Europeans undertaking agricultural work, or machines which have replaced what they used to do, according to Ms O'Malley.

"Much of their lifestyle has been made illegal as it now no longer possible to knock on front doors and ask people if they need any construction work, resurfacing or trees cut down," she adds.

As many do not have any education (although in recent years this is changing and more travellers and Gypsies are going to school according to the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain) they cannot apply for licences to be able to do these jobs as they only have basic reading skills, so instead they go to France, Germany or the Netherlands to earn a living.

Although different in many aspects, the fortunes of both groups are inheritantly intertwined in the public's mind.

As Mr Bowers, says: "The Romany Gypsy community will be reaping the whirlwind of whatever happens at Dale Farm."

Thursday, September 22, 2011



I've been down here at death row, and we just heard the horrific news.

After a torturous delay of more than 4 hours, the state of Georgia has just killed Troy Anthony Davis.

My heart is heavy. I am sad and angry. The state of Georgia has proven what we already know. Governments cannot be trusted with the awful power over life and death.

Today, Georgia didn't just kill Troy Davis, they killed the faith and confidence that many Georgians, Americans and Troy Davis supporters worldwide used to have in our criminal justice system.

Wende, on our Abolish the Death Penalty Campaign team, met with Troy Davis yesterday to convey the support that he has had from all of you. He asked us to deliver this message back to you:

"The struggle for justice doesn't end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I'm in good spirits and I'm prayerful and at peace."

Let's take a moment to honor the life of Troy Davis and Mark MacPhail. Then, let's take all of our difficult feelings and re-double our commitment to abolition of the death penalty.

Please pledge to continue this fight because it is far from over.

This Friday at 7 pm EST, please join us for a special call to discuss Troy Davis' case, what your work means for the death penalty abolition movement as a whole and what we can do next.

I am Troy Davis. You are Troy Davis. We will not stop fighting for justice.

Thank you for everything you have done to make your voice heard.

In Solidarity,
Laura Moye
Director, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Amnesty International

Wednesday, September 21, 2011




A Call For Solidarity And Action On Dale Farm

20 September 2011

It’s a trend: institutional hostility to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people. Remember last summer’s expulsion of Roma from France. That is still on-going, by-the-way, just that President Sarkozy has learnt not to boast about it. The Danes had there own summer hostility towards Roma and the Italian authorities are constantly dismantling Roma camps throughout Italy. And there are serious institutional racial issues against Roma in Hungary and the Czech Republic.

This summer has seen the British authorities in the limelight. Beforehand this country was perceived as a bastion of multiculturalism, let alone tolerance. Now one has the spectacle of the forced eviction of the largest Traveller site in Europe. From a former scrapyard that they bought ten years ago.

I recall from last summer that it was the Irish Traveller Movement in the UK that led the protests outside the French Embassy against the deportation of Roma. Now is the time for Roma groups and those who work with and support Roma to show similar solidarity. Staff at Equality have been helping the residents of Dale Farm. We need your help.

Time is pressing. Dale Farm has won an injunction in court that stays the forced eviction until a High Court hearing on Friday 23 August.

You can help. Every action may contribute to swaying those that have the gift to influence the outcome. There is a solution: the residents have said they will move at no cost to an alternative site, and sites have been identified by a government agency, if only the local authority that so wants to evict the Travellers would consider these planning applications first.

If you live in the UK, please write to your MP and MEP about Dale Farm today. This link will locate your MP and MEPs and prepare an email to send them. Please use your own words to describe what you want the MP/MEP to do about Dale Farm. That is more powerful than using prepared email texts.

If you live outside of the UK (and also those that live within the UK), please write to Ms Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Mr Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

Clicking on the underlined links should prepare the email header for you. Just spend a few minutes describing what you want these representatives to do.

And last action please write to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who is denying the UN Regional Representative for Europe, Jan Jarab, the possibility to visit the UK to mediate a solution.
Ten minutes of your time. It may make a difference to the lives of 86 families at Dale Farm.

Thank you for your help!
Alan Anstead MCIPR
Founder & Chief Executive
T: +44 (0)1787 371504
M:+44 (0)7704 616909

Tuesday, September 20, 2011



It is with a very heavy heart and a deep sense of outrage that I let you know that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to deny clemency to Troy Davis.

This means that very little is standing in the way of the state of Georgia executing a potentially innocent man this Wednesday, September 21 st at 7pm.

The actions of the Board are astounding in the face of so much doubt in the case against Troy Davis. However, we are not prepared to accept the decision and let anyone with the power to stop the execution off the hook.

Join us in calling on the Board to reconsider its decision, and on the Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm to do the right thing. They have until the final moments before Troy's scheduled execution to put the brakes on this runaway justice system.

We have seen an unprecedented level of support from our members, coalition partners and all sorts of concerned individuals across the political spectrum.

I was blown away as I carried one of the many boxes containing your petition signatures up to the Parole Board office last Thursday. Close to a million signatures have been collected from the many organizations working with us. I looked back as we were marching down Auburn Avenue in Atlanta Friday night and I could not see an end to the crowd. About 3,500 people came out!

The movement here is very alive. It is electric. And I have no doubt that we will raise the volume together against what could be an unthinkable injustice.

Join your voices with us - we will not allow Troy Davis to be executed, not in our names! Troy Davis and his family have counted on us for many years now and we will not let them down. Please take action - human rights and a human life are on the line. Please contact Georgia's District Attorney and urge him to stop the execution of Troy Davis.

Make the state of Georgia hear you! Tell them that executing Troy Davis will only deepen the cycle of violence and injustice.

In Solidarity,
Laura Moye
Director, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Amnesty International USA

P.S. We'll be organizing a Day of Protest today to express our outrage at the recent decision to deny Troy Davis clemency. And on Wednesday (Sept. 21), we're calling for a Day of Vigil on Troy's impending execution date






Suffolk/Essex: School racism hike blamed on Dale Farm furor


Tuesday, September 20, 2011
9.00 AM
RACIST abuse of gypsy children has risen since the furore over Dale Farm erupted, a Suffolk charity has claimed.

Ormiston Children and Families Trust (OCFT) said hateful views children had picked up at home had found their way onto the playground.
The charity, which works across East Anglia, said the hike in racist incidents had seen travellers families withdraw their children from schools.

But Suffolk and Essex education authorities said their schools had not reported any racist incidents towards gypsies or travellers since the start of term.

The charity’s claim came as bailiffs yesterday moved onto the former scrapyard near Basildon in Essex to begin evicting up to 400 people. But they withdrew amid concerns over a structure erected by campaigners which they feared may endanger life.

Geoffrey Prescott, chief executive of OCFT, said: “Racism seems to be somehow having a greater tolerance when it is towards gypsies and travellers and we see that reflected in the playground.

“We are very worried about reports from our teams of an increase in incidents of bullying and racial abuse in primary and secondary schools in the region. No doubt this will be reflected nationally too.
“Children will pick up on any animosity and stereotyping they hear at home or through the media and we are urging parents and teachers to nip this in the bud.

“There are many gypsy and traveller children in schools in the region, but there are also schools without gypsy and traveller children.

“Racism should not be tolerated in either and we are extremely concerned that publicity over the Dale Farm story has allowed adults to air some horrible views which are now being repeated in playgrounds and classrooms.

“The impact on the children who are being bullied is awful.”
Jane Le Breton, a supporter worker for the charity who works directly with traveller families, said: “This is regression. We have spent years working with families, getting their children into local schools and feeling part of their wider community.

“Families are now afraid for their children and some are refusing to send them back to school because of an increase in name-calling, bullying and intimidating behaviour.”

Essex County Council (ECC) said earlier this summer it had contacted schools in the Dale Farm area to issue advice over the potential for racist abuse towards children from gypsy families.

A spokeswoman added: “Essex County Council has not been made aware of any reported racist incidents in schools involving traveller children.”

A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said; “There have been no incidents involving racial discrimination against gypsies or travellers reported in any schools within Suffolk or via the police to the hate crime team since children returned after the summer holidays.

“Suffolk County Council take any forms of discrimination in schools or otherwise extremely seriously and any incidents will be dealt with quickly and efficiently.”

Monday, September 19, 2011


Dale Farm Travellers win injunction delaying eviction

Celebrations after high court grants emergency order restraining Basildon council from clearing site

Protesters at Dale Farm celebrate after winning a last-minute reprieve in their fight against eviction.


19/09/2011 -

Residents due to be evicted from the Dale Farm Traveller site won an 11th-hour reprieve on Monday after being granted an emergency injunction restraining Basildon council from clearing structures on the site pending a further hearing at the high court on Friday.

There were cheers from the barricade shortly after 5pm when the news arrived that bailiffs, who were due to begin evicting 86 families from the site built on a former scrapyard, would not be able to enter legally until after the hearing.

The council will also not be able to cut off utilities to the site, something that had concerned residents, who argued that the lives of sick people of on the site could be endangered.

Speaking at the high court in London, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart granted the order because there were concerns that measures carried out by Basildon borough council "may go further" than the terms of the enforcement notices.

The case hinges on the argument that residents have not been sufficiently informed about what is allowed on each pitch, and what must be removed.

Despite the scale of the operation by Basildon council, which includes a camp to accommodate bailiffs, police, council staff and the hundreds of journalists from around the world covering the case, it took three individuals, without the aid of a lawyer, to put a stop to their plans.

Candy Sheridan, vice-chair of the Gypsy Council of North Norfolk, resident Mary Sheridan and volunteer Stuart Carruthers appeared at three courts on Monday, including the high court, before the injunction was granted.

Speaking after the decision, Sheridan said: "This is a victory for residents who have been shown a glimmer of respect today from a judge who listened to our reasoned arguments."

The leader of the council, Tony Ball, said he was "extremely disappointed and frustrated" by the judge's decision.

"I am absolutely clear that on this issue, on Friday, the court will find in the council's favour and that the site clearance will be able to continue," he said.

"But until then, as always, this council will comply with the law and we will comply with the judgment that has been put before us."

The judge ruled that Basildon council must tell residents on a plot-by-plot basis what enforcement measures are proposed. Residents must respond to the proposals by noon on Thursday. The judge will then decide at 11.30am on Friday if there are any remaining legal issues that could extend the injunction further.

Physical structures including cars and caravans will not be able to be moved by bailiffs and electricity and water will not be cut off unless they pose a danger "to life and limb".

But the judge said further protest – which has included several protesters chained to the gates, to concrete blocks and to each other – should be discouraged and that the 20ft (6m) high barricade, festooned with banners of support, should be taken down.

"It is in nobody's interests that we have a riot on this site," he said. "There's got to be a bit of give and take over a limited timeframe to see if the problems can be dealt with in an orderly rather than disruptive way."

Council representatives should be allowed on site to discuss the arrangements with individual residents, he said.

He told the Dale Farm representatives: "I appreciate it is a deeply unpleasant situation but unfortunately this is a road which is reaching its end and there is sadly no mileage in prolonging the agony."

Some protesters were not in favour of bringing down the barricade. "I think it's tactical on their side and therefore it needs to be tactical on ours," said Carol Stuart McIvor, a writer on the site. "But the decision must be the Travellers'. It's their gig – we are only here to support them."

The council's barrister, Reuben Taylor, told the judge a lengthy delay to the eviction could cause losses to the public purse "running into millions", he said.

Any damages granted would not come "anywhere near" meeting the council's costs for the thousands of police officers on special duty, compounds, plant hire and bailiffs, he said. "The consequences would be enormous."

The judge responded that there was "a lack of clarity" as to which properties would be affected and to what extent.

He said: "They are entitled to know whether their home is on the list for permanent removal or not, or whether just a little bit of their plot is to be removed."

There was delight at Dale Farm as the news came through after a tense day that saw bailiffs jeered as they issued a final warning to protesters and residents.

Bailiffs were called "scum" and "fascists" as they told residents the council was concerned for their safety as a result of the blocking of the site gate.

Tom Berry, a resident at the site, said the injunction was a stay of execution and a relief for families.
"I'm over the moon. Especially for my family and the other residents on here. At the end of the day, we've got another week for them to sort something out for us or somewhere to go to."

He had a personal message for the leader of the council who had, earlier in the day, insisted that delaying tactics from residents were unacceptable. "Tony Ball should go back to school," he said.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the government refused help from the United Nations to help broker an agreement between the Travellers and the council.

Jan Jarab, the European representative of the UN high commissioner for human rights, said the UN had offered to help negotiate a "less dramatic" solution.

"There was communication between the British government and our headquarters, but it was made clear to us that we would receive a letter that that offer was rejected," he said.


Sunday, September 18, 2011


Arthur Evans, Leader in Gay Rights Fight, Dies at 68

Arthur Evans, who helped form and lead the movement that coalesced after gay people and their supporters protested a 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar, died on Sunday at his home in San Francisco. He was 68.

The cause was a heart attack, his friend Hal Offen said. Mr. Evans was found to have an aortic aneurysm last year.

Mr. Evans was not at the Stonewall disturbances, but they fueled in him a militant fervor and inspired him to join the Gay Liberation Front, an organization started during the wave of gay assertiveness that followed.

For Mr. Evans and other militants, however, the group was not assertive enough. They worried that it was diluting its effectiveness by taking stands on issues beyond gay rights — opposing the Vietnam War and racial discrimination, for example. So in December 1969 they split off to found the Gay Activists Alliance, choosing a name to suggest more aggressive tactics.

Based in New York, the alliance became a model for gay rights organizations nationwide, pushing in New York for legislation to ban discrimination against gay men and lesbians in employment, housing and other areas. Mr. Evans wrote its statement of purpose and much of its constitution, which began, “We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”

To attract attention the alliance staged what its members called “zaps,” confrontations with people or institutions that they believed discriminated against gay people. Among other incidents, they confronted Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York, went to television studios to protest shows perceived as anti-gay, demanded gay marriage rights at the city’s marriage license bureau, and demonstrated at the taxi commission against a regulation, since abolished, requiring gay people to get a psychiatrist’s approval before they could be allowed to drive a taxi.

In the fall of 1970, Mr. Evans and others showed up at the offices of Harper’s Magazine in Manhattan to protest an article it had published sharply criticizing gay people and their lifestyle. It was Mr. Evans’s idea to bring a coffee pot, doughnuts, a folding table and chairs for a civilized “tea party.”

When the editor, Midge Decter, refused to print a rebuttal as the group demanded, Mr. Evans erupted.
“You knew that this article would contribute to the oppression of homosexuals!” he yelled, according to the 1999 book “Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America” by Dudley Clendinen, a former reporter for The New York Times, and Adam Nagourney, a current Times reporter. “You are a bigot, and you are to be held responsible for that moral and political act.”

Arthur Evans was born on Oct. 12, 1942, in York, Pa. His father was a factory worker who had dropped out of elementary school, and his mother ran a beauty shop in the front room of the family house. Mr. Evans attended Brown University on a scholarship and there joined a group of self-styled “militant atheists.”

He left Brown after three years and headed for Greenwich Village, having read in Life magazine that it welcomed gay people. In New York, he transferred to City College and switched his major from political science to philosophy. Graduating in 1967, he entered the doctoral program in philosophy at Columbia, where he studied ancient Greek philosophy and participated in antiwar protests.

But, becoming disenchanted with academia, he withdrew from Columbia in 1972 and moved to rural Washington State, where he and a companion, calling themselves the Weird Sisters Partnership, homesteaded a small patch of forest land and lived in a tent.

When the Washington experiment failed, Mr. Evans and his companion moved to San Francisco. There, he and Mr. Offen opened a Volkswagen repair business they named the Buggery.

While living in Washington, Mr. Evans had spent his winters in Seattle researching the historical origins of the counterculture. After settling in San Francisco, he wrote “Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture,” a 1978 book tracing homophobic attitudes to the Middle Ages, when people accused of witchcraft, the book contended, were being persecuted in part for their sexuality, often their homosexuality.

He went on to write “Critique of Patriarchal Reason” (1997), arguing that misogyny and homophobia have influenced supposedly objective fields like logic and physics.
Mr. Evans is survived by his brother, Joe.

Growing up, Mr. Evans had hid his sexual orientation, though he himself was aware of it at 10, he said. By November 1970, when he was scheduled to appear on “The Dick Cavett Show” with other gay leaders, he had still not told his parents that he was gay. But, by his account, he did tell them he was going to be on national television. Thrilled, they told friends and neighbors to tune in.

Mr. Evans later said he regretted his handling of the matter.
I had many political disagreements with Arthur Evans, but I always appreciated his energy, committment and willingness to listen to opposing viewpoints.  He will be missed.




Sunday September 18,2011

By Daily Express reporter

POLICE are scouring social network websites to predict tactics in the battle for Dale Farm, Europe’s largest illegal gypsy site.
Officers braced for the coming eviction at the six-acre compound near Basildon, Essex, learned from the August riots how sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to wrong-foot the authorities.

Essex Police believes that in a worst case scenario there could be as many as 2,000 people on the site, including the 240 travellers living there, when the eviction begins, possibly as early as tomorrow.

A police source said: “We would like this to go peacefully, but nobody believes that is going to be the case. We will be constantly examining websites such as Twitter and Facebook to make sure that if they are being used to encourage criminal activity we will be able to deal with it.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Dale Farm eviction: Travellers 'remain unpopular cause'

Traveller protesters at dale Farm What is happening at Dale Farm has a significance beyond immediate events, says our correspondent


A planned eviction of plots at the Dale Farm travellers' site in Basildon, Essex - the UK's largest illegal site - has once again brought into focus the issue of travellers and their acceptance by wider society.

They were a familiar sight on the rural roads of Ireland during my childhood, driving their traditional caravans and piebald horses, crouching under tarpaulin in makeshift camps or squatting by open fires.

On the streets of our cities and towns you might encounter traveller women, wrapped in plaid blankets and asking for money to buy milk for their children.

We knew them then as "Tinkers", a word now regarded as pejorative by the Irish travellers. In his poem "The Tinker's Daughter", the County Kerry writer Sigerson Clifford, described the prevailing social attitude.

"The farmer walked his weedful fields and he made the tinkers travel on."

The travellers were part of our scenery but few made them welcome. The people of the traveller clans were the ultimate outsiders in Irish society.

In those days the idea that a UN committee would declare its support for travellers, as the committee on the elimination of racial discrimination did earlier this month, was unthinkable.

Wednesday's visit to the Dale Farm site by Professor Yves Cabannes, a former chairman of the UN advisory group on forced evictions, is a mark of the profound change in the Irish traveller community.
Education embraced
From the 1960s onwards travellers began to organise, often with the help of Catholic clergy who lobbied the local and national government on their behalf.

Although still lagging well behind the settled communities in Britain and Ireland, traveller children embraced education in a way that simply was not possible for their parents.

Religious statue at Dale Farm Signs of prosperity mix with icons of a traditional religious devotion

Candy Sheridan, who campaigns on behalf of the Dale Farm residents, is a case in point. With Irish roots but raised in England she went to convent school and emerged as an articulate champion of her people.

She was twice elected as a Liberal Democrat councillor in Norfolk. It is the women who are the agents of change, she says.

"They don't want the roadside living, the forced evictions. They want their children to have an education."

But Irish travellers find themselves pulled between opposing forces. The desire to keep to a way of life that can involve travelling for months at a time militates against the desire to educate their children.

And in both Britain and Ireland settled communities are frequently bitterly opposed to their presence.

The involvement of some travellers in crime has been highlighted extensively in the media. Complaints of anti-social behaviour like the dumping of rubbish and fighting are common on both sides of the Irish Sea.

The man who has become the public face of opposition to the Dale Farm camp, Len Gridley, says he has received death threats for his stance.

"They want it both ways… we're not going to put up with them anymore," he says.

What is clear is that the travellers' growing political awareness has not yet been matched by any large-scale support in the wider community.

Among the settled community they remain a profoundly unpopular cause. Addressing that crisis will prove the longest, and most difficult, challenge.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Jewelry Stolen in ‘Gypsy’ Burglary of Elderly Woman
I am only publishing this because it exemplifies the stereotyping of Romani as criminals.  THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE TO INDICATE THIS MAN IS GYPSY. 
They think that by putting "Gypsy" in quotes they are free to malign all Romani.

Schaumburg, Ill. -

Police in northwest suburban Schaumburg have released a sketch of a man who stole jewelry from an elderly person during a “gypsy” ruse last week.

On Sept. 8, the man approached a resident at her home near Wise and Rosell roads, a release from Schaumburg police said. He said he was installing a fence for her neighbor and asked if she could accompany him to the backyard.

He then kept her busy for an extended period of time while an accomplice entered her home.
The man was on his cell phone the entire time and spoke in a foreign language, presumably in contact with the accomplice, the release said. He then left the woman in the backyard, claiming he’d be back shortly with construction plans, but never came back.

She later learned jewelry had been stolen from a spare bedroom.

Police have released a composite sketch of the suspect, who is described as 50- to 55-year-old white man, clean shaven with brown eyes and short black hair with some gray, the release said. He is 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-9, 160 to 180 pounds with a medium build and medium complexion.

The suspect’s vehicle is a newer four-door silver foreign-made vehicle, possibly a Nissan or Hyundai.

The scam, often called a “gypsy” burglary, has been previously done with several different “cover stories.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Romani activists write to Czech President and ask him to publicly help calm unrest


Czech Republic, 13.9.2011 04:06, (ROMEA)

Various Romani civic associations, individuals and initiatives have decided to write to Czech President Václav Klaus regarding recent events in the Šluknov foothills. News server publishes their letter in full:

Esteemed Mr President:

We are turning to you because we believe that just like us, you are following events and are aware of the mutually exacerbated relationships between people from the majority part of society and the Romani national minority in our country. The recent events in the Šluknov foothills are ample proof of the situation.

In that context, we must inform you that the members of Romani families are afraid of their fellow-citizens' behavior. Romani people who lived through the 1930s cannot help but compare those days to today's reality, and very often they evaluate their position today as worse. They cannot forget what Czech guards were capable of perpetrating in the Nazi concentration camps at Lety by Písek and Hodonín by Kunštát.

Esteemed Mr President, citizens are watching in disbelief how easily part of society can be manipulated by extremists and neo-Nazis into hunting down Romani families. It's obvious that someone from high political life must publicly call on the nation to restrain itself. Otherwise, these manifestations of intolerance will be repeated with even greater intensity in other parts of the republic.

Esteemed Mr President, you enjoy the honor and respect of the citizens. We believe that you have the opportunity and the power, in your position as head of state, to speak to all citizens irrespective of their origins. Please consider whether the time has come for you to make a public statement through which you can ameliorate the tension in society through the force of your personality. The citizens will certainly accept such a move from you with gratitude and understanding.

We too would appreciate and welcome the opportunity to meet with you. If you were to receive us, it could have a very positive impact not only on the tense situation of today, but on future developments for our society as a whole.

With respect,

Forum CZ, o.s.
ROS Karlovy Vary
Grémium romských regionálních představitelů (Committee of Romani Regional Representatives)
ROMSKÝ BLOG 2011 o.p.s.
Skupina proti rasismu na FB Roma Aven Jekhetane (Group against Racism on Facebook "Roma Aven Jekhetane")
Miroslav Kováč
Václav Zástěra
Ladislav Bílý
Čeněk Růžička
Štefan Tišer
Ignác Zima
Marie Horváthová
Hana Pláhová
Marcel and Iveta Grundzovi
Nadežda Kováčová
Pavel Botoš
Drahomír Radek Horváth
Ivan Šaray
fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert