Over 10 million gypsies, travellers and Roma live in Europe. In every country they have faced centuries of persecution for wishing to maintain their own culture. Over a quarter of a million were murdered in Nazi concentration camps. This persecution continues to the present day. Butchered in Romanian villages, ethnically-cleansed from Kosovo and more recently murdered in Hungary and fire-bombed by Italian thugs, Europe’s 12 million Roma are compelled to make common cause. And on the frontline of this growing conflict stands the bastion of Dale Farm.
The ongoing attempts by Basildon council to evict over 100 traveller families from the Dale Farm site in Crays Hill in Essex has become Britains starkest example of persecution of travellers in the UK. They have followed every suggestion, guidance and legal process that that the state have provided in order to ensure safe and secure homes for themselves and their families. Despite this they continue to face racism and harassment from the both the local council, local residents and the media – all of whom have played a part in stoking the same prejudice and hatred that has allowed the persecution of travelling communities to remain unchallenged for decades. This time the residents of Dale Farm are fighting back. In a way they have no choice – with nowhere else to go an eviction will push families back into a life of insecurity and marginalisation.
It is still unclear when the planned eviction, for which Basildon have earmarked £3million, will finally take place. Dale Farm residents are hoping to appeal to the House of Lords to overturn the Appeal Court finding, and in the meantime Basildon have to deal with over one hundred homelessness applications – one of the few obligations put on them by the Court of Appeal. They have promised that residents will be given 28 days notice of eviction – but whether this can be relied on is unclear. Recent council meetings on the issue have been held behind closed doors and Basildon council have refused to release their plans for the eviction.
Should their final appeal to the House Of Lords fail Dale Farm residents face an army of bailiffs and bulldozers. But this isn’t their last chance. Over the last 4 years the Dale Farm Residents Association have been reaching out to groups outside their own community, using the example of their struggle to highlight the wider problem of traveller repression. The call has been made for all those who refuse to accept the ignorance, intolerance and misinformation peddled by the media and the press to stand with them in solidarity. With support from local communities, churches and activists Dale Farm residents are preparing to resist the biggest traveller eviction in British history. Should they win this could represent a landmark victory – one that calls time on the isolation and repression of this until now marginalised community.
Previous traveller evictions have involved armies of bailiffs, bulldozers and wreckers. Yet Dale Farm have decided enough is enough and are calling for support in resisting. Bristol No Borders, along with many other groups, has agreed to stand with Dale Farm should the eviction finally take place. If you would like to join us please email email@example.com to get updates and transport down to Dale Farm.