Susan Craig-Greene

Susan Craig-Greene (Dale Farm Housing Association): Susan is originally from Oklahoma. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in International Relations. Susan then won a Bailey Scholarship to enter the University of Leipzig, where she studied the changing role of women in reunified Germany. She returned to teach in Germany two years later on a Fulbright scholarship and entered the private sector to work at an IT market research consultancy. Susan then returned to university and earned an MA in Human Rights at the University of Essex, where she earned a distinction for her dissertation. After graduating, Susan took a placement with Amnesty International’s International Justice Project. She left Amnesty following the birth of the first of her two children and began studying documentary photography. She lives close to the Dale Farm site.



We have failed the Dale Farm Travellers

04 Sep

After all local taxi companies refused to come to the Traveller site on Oak Lane on Wednesday morning (except the Crays Hill School bus driver), eight women from Dale Farm and I endured a long journey on a protestor’s hippy bus to hear the tragic news that they had reached the end of the road at the High Court in London.  The 25 Traveller women present at the hearing were bewildered and said that the proceedings and judgment “might as well have been in a foreign language”.  I explained that they had been refused their final appeal to access an independent tribunal to consider their personal circumstances and human rights before Basildon evicts them from the land they own. The Court upheld previous rulings that stated that although there will undoubtedly be an interference with their Article 8 human rights if they are evicted, this is proportionate and justified in order to protect the greenbelt and traffic regulations.  On the solemn journey home after the hearing, Margaret could not understand how “they think more of a former scrapyard and traffic than the human rights of our families.” We were all left speechless.Mary Flynn, praying with her family at Dale Farm, 2011. Photo by Susan Craig-Greene. Mary Flynn's case was the subject of the hearing in the High Court last week. The judge will not reopen the case but was "concerned" about her deteriorating health and asked Basildon Council to answer to this. Many of other Dale Farm residents have also had significant changes to the health in recent months.I have been at Dale Farm every day since, filling out forms for the solicitor, explaining the current legal situation and discussing their options and, most importantly, spending time with the people who have come to mean so much to me over the past 3 years. The site is much busier than it would normally be this time of year, with everyone who was away travelling back to deal with the realities of the imminent eviction, media swarming, and activists building barricades and chasing off media. Despite this frenzied activity on the site, there is an overwhelming atmosphere of dismay and loss. All around, women are crying as they pack up the treasured contents of their soon-to-be-bulldozed chalets to put into caravans. These women are forced now to face the imminent reality of once again living on the road and endlessly being moved on, separated from their extended families and community, and with no proper access to healthcare or education.

Tragically, last minute pleas from religious leaders, the UN, the Council of Europe and Amnesty International for the UK government to consider the realities and human rights implications of this eviction have fallen on deaf ears. The UK government is ignoring its obligations under international law and fully supports Basildon Council’s £18 million eviction campaign that will make an entire community homeless and vulnerable and will offer no long-term solution to anyone’s problems.

In the UK, planning law is king.

Posted By Susan Craig-Greene

Posted Sep 4th, 2011

4 Comments

  • Marilyn Fetcher

    September 4, 2011

     

    Susan – sending you and everyone at Dale Farm my heartfelt wishes for strength – and a miracle would be welcome – over these next few weeks.

    It’s outrageous that a Government that has proposed the “loosening” of planning regulations to enable easier corporate development of “green belt” land priorities private-sector greed over humane compassion.

    But it’s not just the current Government who should be ashamed: successive administrations since the 1960s have failed to enforce caravan site requirements placed on local councils. And local councils have mis-counted (i.e. ignored/lied about) the numbers of travellers “residing in or resorting to” their areas (quote from the 1965 Caravan Site Act and many subsequent acts). Result: too few sites/pitches for travellers to actually travel these days, and a community that, because of a wide range of legislation, is likely to be committing an offence except when moving along a road.

    However, it is this Government that has chosen to ignore the UN, Amnesty International, countless religious leaders and a huge number of ordinary people in our pleas to stop the eviction. They could – and should – stop the misery, abuse of vulnerable people and “cultural genocide”. But I’m not holding my breath . . .

  • Roxy Freeman

    September 4, 2011

     

    Such an overwhelmingly sad outcome. In my heart I always believed common sense would prevail. The system has let these people down, it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. My heart goes out to them all and the many thousand others that battle to uphold their/our culture in this country of marginalization. I’ve lost faith in Britain. Time to move on to pastures new. Sending strength.

  • Chrissi Lee

    September 5, 2011

     

    We can still get a reprieve if we can get 5,000 signatures by Thursday. Please sign and share this petition set up by Candy Sheridan.

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/dalefarm/

    Considering the statement made on 2 September 2011 by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination regarding Dale Farm, we the undersigned request Basildon Council to find a peaceful and appropriate solution for the Gypsy and Traveller residents of Dale farm, including identifying culturally appropriate accommodation, with full respect for the human rights of the families involved and further; that Basildon Council takes no action against the residents of Dale Farm until such time as it has fulfilled this request.

  • Stephen Leley

    September 6, 2011

     

    Susan Craig-Greene wrote:
    ‘all local taxi companies refused to come to the Traveller site on Oak Lane on Wednesday morning’

    It’s highly unlikely that any tradesmen or local service providers would venture into the Traveller site, and this is not due to unfounded racial prejudice.
    Relationships between Irish Travellers and the so-called ‘settled’ host community have always been terrible and this cannot be dismissed simply as bigotry and prejudice.
    It’s a proven fact that Travellers who descend on a given area bring with them a culture of anti-social behaviour, intimidation, violence and theft, and until the travellers take steps to drastically alter the perceptions of local settled communities this climate of mutual suspicion and in some cases loathing will continue to fester.
    Activists may well lend a measure of support to Travellers threatened with eviction from illegal encampments but the Travellers would be hard pressed to find any real support amongst the host community because of their unacceptable behaviour in the past.
    It’s far too easy to dismiss this hostility as racial prejudice, Romany Gypsies are often welcomed into similar communities because they are prepared to abide by the rules and societal norms of this country.
    This may be why ‘settled’ communities’ are not prepared to accept legal local authority Travellers sites in their respective localities, Travellers need to integrate to make any headway otherwise they will continue to be seen as pariah’s, unwanted and without support here in the UK.

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