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Welcome to Aj-Rromale, a blog about the culture and world news of Romani, and sometimes Travellers. Please, feel free to submit anything of interest that you find. If anyone is ever interested in helping to run this blog, please let us know!

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My new hero~!

To the travellers at Dale Farm he is a shaven headed activist who helped man the barricade and played a key role in their High Court battle against eviction.

But today the Daily Telegraph can reveal the man who calls himself Yoshka Pundrik is in fact Dr Jonathan Oppenheim, one of the world’s leading physicists who works alongside Professor Stephen Hawking.

Dr Oppenheim, a Royal Society Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, is usually concerned with the intricacies of time, space and the universe.

But recently he has been focusing his forensic mind on something some people consider equally complex: Britain’s planning laws.

And to the dismay of councillors and neighbours his advice has already helped the gipsies win three last-minute reprieves.

When confronted The Daily Telegraph Dr Oppenheim, an expert in quantum information theory and quantum gravity, admitted his real identity and claimed the travellers were victims of the last “socially acceptable form of racism”.

READ MORE: The Telegraph

Tagged: Dale FarmTravellersIrish TravellersRomanichalUKevictionsquantum physicistso much awesomeAlly

Bailiffs arrive at Dale Farm

Travellers and their supporters barricaded themselves behind newly built brick walls and chained themselves to fences today as bailiffs arrived to evict them from an illegal site in southeast England at the end of a decade-long battle.

One woman was chained by her neck to the main gate, while others lay down under cars or clambered up hastily erected scaffolding and wooden platforms as they waited for the bailiffs to arrive.

"If you attempt to open this gate you will kill her," one protester called Julia told reporters at the site. "All over the site, people are attached to immovable objects. If force is used, limbs will be broken or worse."

Banners draped around the caravans and low-rise buildings said “No Ethnic Cleansing”, “Save Us” and “Justice”. A police helicopter hovered overhead in the late summer sunshine.

The showdown between the bailiffs and travellers and a variety of protest groups who have joined their cause marks the climax of one of Britain’s most contentious and bitter planning rows in recent years.

Basildon Council in Essex said last-ditch talks had broken down this morning after the travellers asked for the eviction to be delayed until November 22nd. Council leader Tony Ball said many families had already left and that bailiffs would enter the site to evict those remaining and their supporters as scheduled today.

" I am very disappointed we have come to where we are today ," he told reporters. " Our operatives, when they begin the site clearance, which will be today, will do everything they can to make sure that it is done in a safe and professional manner ."

The council said it was purely a planning dispute, with the travellers breaking the law by illegally building on the Green Belt, the band of countryside around London intended to stop urban sprawl.

However, the travellers say the argument’s roots go deeper. They accuse the council and courts of breaching their human rights, targeting a vulnerable group whose choice of lifestyle doesn’t fit in with the mainstream.

Actress Vanessa Redgrave visited the site to lend her support to the 400 travellers there and said she hoped “humanity would triumph”. The United Nations’ special rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, urged the authorities last month to hold more talks with the residents to reach a deal on relocation.

Many locals support the eviction, however. They say the planning laws should apply to everyone and they have complained of litter and noise from Dale Farm.

The local authority wants to evict the travellers and clear the six-acre site after the courts ruled that they had settled there illegally.

Basildon Council issued a 28-day notice to them to leave the 51 pitches, built partly on a former scrapyard next door to a legal site, but the eviction was delayed by a last-minute High Court injunction. The legal battle appeared to end on August 31st when the High Court dismissed the appeal.

[Source: The Irish Times]

Tagged: RomanichalgypsiesgypsytravellerIrish Travellerpikeyevictionsdale farmforcedracist

Dale Farm and Ghettoization


Bailiffs are poised to evict up to 400 people from the six-acre stretch of green belt land in Basildon, Essex where they have lived without planning permission for more than a decade.

But fears have been raised that dozens of travellers could simply set up camp on nearby pitches without permission – effectively creating a second illegal ghetto.

Around 13 families have left Dale Farm already, and several are swapping their static chalets for touring caravans and plan to take to the road.

The remainder of the camp’s residents have vowed to stand their ground when the bailiffs arrive on Monday, claiming that they have nowhere else to go.

But several of the families are known to own plots of land elsewhere in Essex, raising the prospect that they may move their homes there without permission.

Last night, Tony Ball, Conservative chairman of Basildon Council, admitted that there was a “risk” that travellers will set up illegal camps elsewhere when they are expelled.

“We know the travellers do own other pieces of land which do not have planning permission, but again they will be breaking the law,” he said.

Cllr Ball added that the travellers have been handed lists of unoccupied legal pitches “up and down the country” as well as “many” private camp sites that would be willing to accommodate them for a fee.

There are around 5,000 legal pitches in England, but a survey of 30 local authorities found yesterday that almost all are running at full capacity.

The Dale Farm residents own the plot of green belt land on which they live, but it is illegal for them to set up caravans and chalets there without planning permission.

About half of the site has permission, and it emerged earlier this month that its 40 legal plots are only occupied for one month each year, casting doubt on claims that the travellers facing eviction face becoming homeless.

At least 12 families fighting to stay at Dale Farm reportedly own six double-size pitches at Smithy Fen, in Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, which could accommodate them.

Candy Sheridan, a traveller activist and Lib Dem councillor, has told council chiefs that some of the families are prepared to move to legal pitches they have recently bought in the Cambridge area.

But the majority of the Dale Farm residents were last night promising to “fight to the bitter end” to defend their camp.

Kathleen McCarthy, said: “They are treating us like animals, we never wanted to break this law, we had meetings, we begged Tony Ball, we wanted a peaceful solution, we wanted to find a piece of land but they couldn’t find anything.

“We identified land and still they said ‘no’. No matter how we try not to break the law we will never be able to win this”.

I can’t believe the way the local council and the British government are handling this… wait, yes I can. It’s always the same. They decide to evict the Travellers (or Romani/Pavee/Romanichal) and then scrabble for legal reasons when people make a fuss. The information has changed almost daily—first it was that the whole site was illegal; then only half; then it was built on greenbelt; then they owned a couple houses in Rathkeale; then a whole housing estate; now it’s that they only live there one month out of the year (REALLY?… and that would just happen to be this month would it?) The council claim that legal pitches are available immediately, but other councils deny this saying they don’t “want” the travellers either…

The use of the word “illegal ghetto” just strikes fear into my heart. The term ‘ghetto’ was first applied to settlements where Jewish (and Roma/homosexual/black) people were “compelled” (ie: forced) to live. It automatically “others” the people there and forces a stereotype on them—that they are a danger to the majority population. The term ‘ghetto’ immediately conjures up one of two visions—the ghettos of WWII where targeted groups were held by Nazi forces; or the poverty-stricken inner city ghettos of the US fraught with violent crime and drug problems (due to unequal treatment by the government). The ghettoization of Travellers (and associated groups) in the UK therefore implies one of two things: They are an unwanted and unnecessary population; or they are a dangerous and ‘different’ population.

Either way it’s a dangerous label for them.

It makes me sick to my stomach; sick to my heart; it reminds me that my lack of a clan gives me privilege. It means I don’t have to face eviction threats and notices and taunts and jeers of settled folks.

I feel broken.

Tagged: RomanichalPaveeIrish TravellersTravellersRomaniCaleDale Farmevictionsforcedbullshit

Dale Farm traveller exodus to begin

Travellers living on the UK’s largest unauthorised site are expected to begin leaving voluntarily today.

At least one chalet, carried by two trucks, and eight caravans have been seen leaving Dale Farm near Basildon this week.

Residents say that while some feel it is their duty to remain on site and ensure the clearance, due to begin on Monday, is conducted lawfully, others will take “holidays”.

One supporter based on Dale Farm, who gives her name only as Marina, wrote on Twitter: “A lot of thought being given to ensuring the children off site and safe during the eviction - should it come to that.”

A traveller, who declined to be named, said: “This is our home and many of us have lived here for 10 years.

"There are a lot of us who are determined to stay and feel we have a duty to protect our homes.

"But we have to think about safety and it is likely caravans will begin to leave."

Bailiffs employed by Basildon Council are due to begin the clearance of 51 unauthorised plots on the former scrapyard on Monday.

It is estimated up to 400 people live on Dale Farm although this number fluctuates as residents travel on a seasonal basis.

About 50 homes neighbouring the illegal site have planning permission and will remain.

Last night Basildon Council leader Tony Ball sent an open letter to Dale Farm residents, saying: “I am taking this last opportunity to urge you from my heart to pack up your belongings and leave Dale Farm in a peaceful and orderly fashion.

"If you need any help to move please contact council officers and we will do what we can to assist you."

[Source: The Independent]

Tagged: RomaniDale Farmevictionsvoluntary my asschildrenIrish TravellersTravellersgypsiesgypsy

Resume talks on Dale Farm evictions

We urge the government to review its support for the planned eviction of Dale Farm Travellers’ site until such time as culturally appropriate accommodation has been identified and provided. The UN committee on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination has requested that the UK government suspend the planned eviction at Dale Farm and secure a peaceful and appropriate solution, including identifying culturally appropriate accommodation, with full respect for the rights of the children and families involved. We support the committee’s request and urge the government to seek that Basildon, neighbouring councils in Essex and the residents of Dale Farm resume negotiations.

An amicable solution which respects the human rights of both the Traveller and the settled communities must be found. Such a solution should provide enough land for those families currently living on the 51 pitches which are subject to eviction. We strongly believe that the planned eviction is inhumane and will pose particular risk to the welfare of children, young people, pregnant women, and disabled, sick and elderly residents. The planned eviction does not provide a long-term solution to the issue and would be an unnecessary waste of £18m of taxpayers’ money.

We urge the government to support a peaceful, long-term solution and to withdraw the funding allocated by the Home Office and the Department for Communities for the eviction of Dale Farm.

Yvonne MacNamara Director, Irish Traveller Movement in Britain

Andy Slaughter MP

Andrew George MP Chair, all-party parliamentary group for Gypsy Roma and Travellers

David Ward MP

Katy Clark MP

Alan Meale MP

John McDonnell MP

Chris Ruane MP

Lord Eric Avebury

Lord Nigel Jones

Baroness Janet Whitaker

Lord McKenzie of Luton

Baroness Elizabeth Deirdre Doocey

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

Lord Jeremy Beecham

Lord Hylton

Lord Rea

Lord Alf Dubs

Viscount of Falkland

Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Baroness Hussein-Ece

Shami Chakrabarti Director, Liberty

Bob Reitemeier Chief executive, The Children’s Society

Simon Woolley Director, Operation Black Vote

Jean Candler British Institute of Human Rights

Rodney Bickerstaffe Former secretary general of Unison

Jennie McShannon Chief executive, Federation of Irish Societies

Patrick Yu Executive director, Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities

Vivienne Hayes Director, Women’s Resource Centre

Anna Watson Friends of the Earth

Dr Rob Berkeley Director, Runnymede Trust

Rahana Mohammed Race on the Agenda

Rosie Bairwal Catholic Association for Racial Justice

Lee Eggleston Chair, Rape Crisis (England and Wales)

Tim Hopkins Director, The Equality Network

Elizabeth Sclater Secretary general, Older Peoples Network (Europe)

Debbie Kohner Committee on the Administration of Justice

Pragna Patel Director, Southall Black Sisters

Les Allamby Director, Law Centre (NI)

Barbara Cohen Director, Discrimination Law Association

Eleanor Lisney Disabled People Against Cuts

Sue Robson NEWomen’s Network

Ratna Lachman Director, JUST West Yorkshire

Karen Chouhan Equanomics

Susan Alexander Travellers Aid Trust

Conn Mac Gabhann Irish Chaplaincy in Britain

Helen Jones Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange

Niki Kandirikirira Engender

Dr Kevin McNamara Retired Labour MP

David Watkinson Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Timothy Jones Barrister, No. 5 Chambers

Liz Davies Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Sister Patricia Bell The Institute of our Lady of Mercy

Sister Lynda Dearlove Women at the Well

Tony Lindsay Cambridge Racial Incident Support project

Bernadette McAliskey South Tyrone Empowerment Programme

Candy Sheridan The Gypsy Council

Siobhan Spencer Director, Derbyshire Gypsy Liason Group

Pete Mercer National Federation of Gypsy Liason Groups

Mrs Tanver Parnez Black & Ethnic Minority Infrastructure Scotland

Tim Brogden London Voluntary Service Council

Tagged: RomanichalTravellerIrish TravellerPaveeDale FarmEvictionsUKLetters to the EditorGuardian UK

Source: Guardian

Why rabbis are supporting the Dale Farm Travellers

It is being reported widely that some members of the clergy are getting hot under their dog-collars at the proposed eviction of Travellers from Dale Farm in Basildon. Among these concerned clerics are several progressive rabbis who recently visited Dale Farm to publicly decry the contentious eviction of the 86 Irish Traveller families.

The Traveller and Romany communities have a long and rich history as a nomadic people, yet they also have a long and painful history as victims of prejudice. Some of their cultural practices are incomprehensible to many, especially after those sensationalist TV documentaries. This lack of understanding has often led to a great deal of enmity from those who live near their settlements. Sometimes this friction overshadows the fact that the Travellers and Romany people, like the Jewish community, are recognised ethnic minorities with rights. Of course, these rights do not mean that they can ride roughshod over the law, but the proposed eviction at Dale Farm may have far more to do with nimbyism than with legal action.

One could be forgiven for assuming that Jews, Travellers and Gypsies have little in common; we are, after all, peoples of differing cultures and lifestyles. Although Jews and Gypsies in particular have coexisted across Europe for centuries, there are only very minor traditions, such as Jewish klezmer music, that have been influenced by our encounters. Yet it is our shared history as “others” and as victims of oppression which cannot be ignored. For an example, take the Gypsies’ porajmos (from the Romany word for destruction) and our hurban (from the Hebrew word for destruction) – names for the Holocaust where Jew and Gypsy alike were forced from their homes, too often to their deaths. It is, of course, quite ludicrous to compare the Holocaust with evictions at Dale Farm, but the plight of the residents has drawn a number of rabbis prepared to champion this cause.

A primary factor is the language being bandied about, especially when some of the terminology is nothing short of racist. Our communities have experienced being labelled as an underclass, they have been the victims of “acceptable” discrimination and dehumanised by language. Yet our concern should also be directed at the misuse of inflammatory language by those opposing the eviction. To label this process as “ethnic cleansing” is to confuse a heartless situation with genocide.

Alongside the disturbing language there are increasing concerns that the residents are victims of discrimination. It is clear that half the site is a legal, privately owned, Travellers camp. The other half is also owned by Travellers but lacking planning permission. Their land is located in the greenbelt, but the site was not some unspoilt patch of countryside, it was a scrap yard.

We cannot and should not ignore the legalities; a violation of greenbelt planning policy is against the law. Jewish teaching maintains the principle that “the law of the land is the law”. While it is understandable for Basildon council and local residents to feel that they must challenge illegal construction, is that the only reason Dale Farm is in their sights?

Jewish law calls on us to show empathy not enmity for others, for we too have experienced hardship and suffering. As the UN pointed out, Basildon council’s actions should not proceed at the expense of fragmenting a community. This is especially true of plans that involve relocating many of the evicted Travellers, including children settled in local schools.

There are also reports that the full cost of the eviction may exceed £18m; an astronomical sum in these economically challenging days of hefty public service cuts. Yet it is not the fiscal costs that ultimately concern me, it is the refusal to look beyond the letter of the law at the suffering of others. As I am reminded by my tradition, “to execute true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another” (Zechariah 7:9).

• This article was commissioned after a request by ZhengHe.

Tagged: Dale FarmTravellersIrish TravellersgypsyRomanichalRomaniEnglandUKsemanticsevictions

Source: Guardian


Dale Farm kids, not a shoe among them, take a break in a bus shelter during the protest held today.

Tagged: RomanichalIrish TravellersTravellersgypsyDale FarmEvictionsprotest

Revealed: The Irish houses secretly ‘owned’ by Dale Farm travellers facing eviction

Many travellers who say they will have nowhere to live when they are evicted from Britain’s biggest gipsy camp secretly own properties elsewhere, it has been claimed.

The 86 families have long protested they’ll be made homeless when they are forcibly removed from Dale Farm, Essex.

However, new evidence has revealed many of them are connected to homes in Rathkeale, a town in the Republic of Ireland which is often regarded as a spiritual home for travellers.

Travellers at Dale Farm in Essex taking part in a protest on Saturday to stop the eviction

Travellers at Dale Farm in Essex taking part in a protest on Saturday to stop the eviction

Don't make us go: The travellers make their voices heard before the upcoming eviction

Don’t make us go: The travellers make their voices heard before the upcoming eviction

Spiritual home: The town of Rathkeale where many of the travellers are alleged to have homes

Spiritual home: The town of Rathkeale where many of the travellers are alleged to have homes

They deny any links but a number of them are listed on deeds, others are on planning applications to build property and many are still listed on the electoral roll.

David McPherson-Davis, an Essex parish councillor, said: ‘This appears to confirm suspicions people have had for a number of years following various inquiries carried out into the background of the people on the Dale Farm site. 

'It indicates there are alternative places for, at least, some of the families to return to. It begs the question, why do they keep denying they have anywhere to go? 

Make-shift: Caravans are seen on the grounds of the site where more than 80 families live

Make-shift: Caravans are seen on the grounds of the site where more than 80 families live

Unauthorised: The travellers have built roads and connections to electricity - all without permission from the council

Unauthorised: The travellers have built roads and connections to electricity - all without permission from the council

'And why, therefore, are they going to put themselves through a traumatic eviction when it can apparently be avoided?'

Illegal plots began appearing at Dale Farm, which is built on green belt land near Basildon, Essex, about 10 years ago.

More than 400 people now occupy the site and the community has built roads and connections to electricity.

Many of the residents admit they are originally from Southern Ireland but deny current connections.

 But new evidence gathered by the surrounding community has found one couple, who were recently married in London, own a plot of land in Rathkeale and recently won planning permission to build a property there.

There are also examples of women who use their maiden names at Dale Farm but who appear on deeds of Irish properties with their husbands.

John Dornan, a local Tory councillor in Essex, said: ‘I am sick to the back teeth of calling for an inquiry into the funding and management of this site. 

Warning: An extract of a letter issued to travellers from Basildon Council which gives details about the upcoming eviction

Warning: An extract of a letter issued to travellers from Basildon Council which gives details about the upcoming eviction

'We have travellers saying they chipped in and spent between £1.8million and £2.5million on developing Dale Farm, when the majority of people were on benefits. How? 

'And now there is more evidence of some of them with access to property elsewhere.' 

The area is now the biggest traveller site in Europe with human rights groups saying it is inhumane to evict the travellers.

Supporters and people living at the site are so determined to stop the eviction they are taking part in a various demonstrations, one of which will take place later today.

But Basildon Council has said it will push ahead with plans on Monday, September 19, to restore the site.

The eviction, which will cost £18m, is being backed by Prime Minister David Cameron.

He recently said: ‘Everyone in this country has to obey the law, including the law about planning permission and about building on green belt land. 

'And where this has been done without permission, it is an illegal development and so those people should move away.'

Determined: The travellers have accused the council of 'ethinic cleansing' but they have denied this, saying the site is illegal

Determined: The travellers have accused the council of ‘ethinic cleansing’ but they have denied this, saying the site is illegal

 Okay, being originally from Ireland doesn’t mean anything. The majority of these people are Irish Travellers (many are Pavee)… The misnomer of gypsy has been used so that making claims like “they lived in Ireland” sounds outrageous. Almost like “send them back then”… Being on deeds just means that one of their relatives lived in one place for a while—though probably was evicted just as these people face eviction now. So there are maybe two or three families who have access to Irish land. SO WHAT? I’m a UK citizen. I will appear on records and my family will appear on deeds. Does that mean that I am not ‘allowed’ to be nomadic? Does that mean that my family were never evicted? Does that mean that we’re rich? 

Who cares about the funding and management of Dale Farm? It’s no ones business. How I manage my family and my land is MY business… why is it not so for travellers? Why must we always be accused of something? 

I wish I could be a part of the protests today. 

Sorry for using my personal voice here on Aj, Rromale but I feel so very strongly about this and really want to get the word out there to as many people as possible. 

Tagged: RomanichaltravellersIrish TravellersgypsiesDale FarmUKIrelandevictions

Source: Daily Mail

'Culturally acceptable racism' at Dale Farm


Jewish activists have urged the community to support Travellers and Gypsies’ rights to stay on the controversial Essex site, Dale Farm.

Basildon Council’s planned eviction of the Travellers and Gypsies from the site will cost around £18m. Once a scrapyard, the land was bought by the travelling community around 30 years ago, but at least half the site has no planning permission for the building of homes, and 400 people are due to be evicted on September 19.

Council leader Tony Ball said: “The council has spent 10 years trying to avoid a forced clearance. We have always sought to persuade the Travellers to move on.” He said the dispute was purely down to planning law and not because of the Travellers’ lifestyle.

Local residents have complained of antisocial behaviour on and around the site, including illegal fly -tipping.

But Jewish campaigners have sought to draw parallels between anti-Traveller feeling and antisemitism. A website called Jewify.org replaces the word “Gypsy” in negative news stories, with the word “Jew”. The result is headlines such as “Anger at Jewish invasion.”

Liberal Judaism’s Rabbi Janet Burden has been visiting the site as a member of a Jewish solidarity group, which includes Plane Stupid activist Dan Glass and former refugee Ruth Barnett. Rabbi Burden said: “The Travellers are vilified just as Jews were in this country in the early part of the 20th century. The language used clearly echoes the rhetoric of antisemitism.”

Ruth Barnett, who came to the UK from Berlin on the Kindertransport, said: “[Attacking Travellers] is the last bastion of culturally acceptable racism. Even the local taxi drivers refuse to drop me at the site for fear of being labelled ‘gypsy lovers’.”

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said: “This is a difficult case, with raised passions on all sides, but our concern as Jews is the tendency for members of the Traveller community to be stereotyped and stigmatised. As we have learned from our shared experiences as victims of Nazi tyranny, demonising a minority in this way is never acceptable.”

Jewish human rights charity René Cassin has been providing legal workshops and media training on the site for the last two weekends, and demonstrated outside the High Court on August 31 during an unsuccessful appeal for an injunction to stop the eviction.

The charity’s director, lawyer Simone Abel, said: “There’s been a large amount of private support, even from the conservative Jewish establishment.”

Tagged: RomanichalgypsyTravellerIrish TravellerRomaniDale Farmevictions

Source: thejc.com