13. 9. 2005
Dale Farm residents, who face the bulldozing of their homes by an extreme right-wing Tory council, led a procession through St Paul's Cathedral yesterday (11 September), marking London's 10th.
Racial Justice Sunday. Flanked by Polish, Czech and Bulgarian Roma, along with members of the Peace & Progress Party, Dale Farm chairman Richard Sheridan told a rally outside the cathedral that the 85 families in the settlement still hoped to obtain planning permission from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
"We'll not give up our homes without a fight," Sheridan said. "All our hopes are invested in the land we have bought and we won't go - even if they bring bulldozers."
At the start of the service, Travellers and Roma were welcomed by the Bishop of Southwark Tom Butler, who told the packed congregation that Gypsies were among the most discriminated against people in Britain.
Another speaker. Sam Bekoe, of Pan African Legal Services, said Roma, as well as English Gypsies, were the targets of racial treatment by the authorities. Romani children were being snatched from schools by immigration officers to be forced back to eastern Europe.
Janette Gronfers, from Finland, representing the International Romani Women's Network, said afterwards they would continue to campaign for Dale Farm. She accepted an invited from residents to visit the village settlement shortly.
"We are raising the issue of Dale Farm with both EU and UN human rights commissions," said Gronfers, who is working closely with the UK National Association of Gypsy Women. She has recently started teaching Romani children in East London.
Hagir Ahmed, steering committee member of the Peace & Progress told Ustiben that the deteriorating situation of Travellers in Britain was an indication of just how much intolerance and racism had increased in recent years. What happened now at Dale Farm would show whether this racism can be halted.
Members of the Trans-European Roma Federation, linking Bulgarian and Czech Roma, and the Roma Support Group, representing Polish Roma, also took part in the service. Speakers included Kieran Conry, president of the Catholic Association for Racial Justice and Archbishop Gregorios, of the Greek Orthodox Church.
"This was a beautiful event," said Wickford resident Anna Kobayashi. "I'm glad to see that Dale Farm families are gaining so much national support, especially from the churches."
(Ustiben, by Grattan Puxon)
Why Roma and Romanichal in this country would even consider backing the Dale farm issue, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Romani People, beats me. Do they think to have the Irish Travelers, a.k.a. Irish Gohja in Trailers, will help them if they, the Romani, face eviction from wherever they, the Romani, may be encamped? Far from it. The truth is that those Irish trailer trash will be there to help drive them off if not even before, probably by using firearms even.