Ustiben report By Grattan Puxon
The same rabid anti-Gypsy racism which gave rise to the Nazi genocide is now being deliberately whipped up ahead of the UK general election, speakers at this year's Roma Nation Day rally will warn the UK Government.
Romani Rose, of the Central Council of German Sinti, who lost 17 members of his family during the Holocaust, will be among those addressing the Commemoration of Roma Victims taking place (12 noon) at St James's Church, Piccadilly, on Saturday, 9 April.
Paying their respects to the 500,000 Roma who died at the hands of the Nazis will be members of the foreign diplomatic corps and representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish communities.
After the signing of a Book of Condolence, candles will be lit to those who died both in the Holocaust and as a result of present-day racism. Among those to be remembered is Johnny Delaney, the 15-year-old Traveller murdered two years ago in Cheshire.
The church ceremony will be followed by a procession across central London in support of the aims of the GTLRC and in protest against threatened evictions at Dale Farm, Smithy Fen and elsewhere.
Attended by members of the Gypsy Council, TERF, the NTAG, UKAGW, ITM and other groups, the rally will be headed by the Romani Rad ensemble and a decorated horse-drawn vehicle.
Some marchers intend to deliver a demand to Savile Row police station for the SUN newspaper to be investigated for incitement to racial hatred over its recent article headed "Stamp on the Camps".
Similar complaints against other newspapers, among them the Evening Standard, the Mail and Daily Express will also be included.
At a public meeting following the march, Richard Sheridan is to announce his participation in the general election as a candidate for Billericay. He will be standing against the present Tory MP John Baron, well-known for his anti-Gypsy stance on the issue of the future of unauthorised caravan parks.
"As the first Traveller to stand for Parliament," says Mr Sheridan, "I intend to make our voice heard not only at Crays Hill but around the whole country."
His adoption by Dale Farm residents follows an intense voter registration scheme which ended on 11 March. Meanwhile, a plan for the creation of a housing association has been submitted to Basildon District Council as an alternative to the threatened 13 May eviction.
Known as the Sheridan Plan, the proposed Dale Farm Housing Association, drawing on Housing Corporation and local authority funding, would aim to build several family-sized mobile-home parks for people presently occupying unauthorised plots at Crays Hill.
"The first step is to obtain status as a registered social landlord," explained Patrick Egan, chair of the Traveller Community Project, which is meeting shortly to form the association.
At the same time, up to l5 fresh planning applications have been prepared for submission to Basildon council ahead of the May deadline. Also in the pipeline are eight human rights cases arising out of evictions by Hertsmere District Council and Chelmsford Borough Council. It is hoped that these cases will help deter Basildon council from resorting to similar methods - the employment of Constant & Co security men, riot police and bulldozers - to raze the homes of the many hundreds of residents at Dale Farm.