Tuesday, 18 December 2012

‘Bug-Splats’ December 17, 2012 - By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian

George Monbiot

George Monbiot 










December 17, 2012







Some dead children are mourned; others are dehumanised.


By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 17th December 2012

“Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”(1) Every parent can connect with what Barack Obama said about the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town.

It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world’s concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them; no pictures on the front pages of the world’s newspapers; no interviews with grieving relatives; no minute analysis of what happened and why.

If the victims of Mr Obama’s drone strikes are mentioned by the state at all, they are discussed in terms which suggest that they are less than human. The people who operate the drones, Rolling Stone magazine reports, describe their casualties as “bug splats”, “since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed.”(2) Or they are reduced to vegetation: justifying the drone war, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser Bruce Riedel explained that “you’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”(3)

Like Bush’s government in Iraq, Barack Obama’s administration neither documents nor acknowledges the civilian casualties of the CIA’s drone strikes in north-west Pakistan. But a report by the law schools at Stanford and New York universities suggests that during the first three years of his time in office, the 259 strikes for which he is ultimately responsible killed between 297 and 569 civilians, of whom 64 were children(4). These are figures extracted from credible reports: there may be more which have not been fully documented.

The wider effects on the children of the region have been devastating. Many have been withdrawn from school because of fears that large gatherings of any kind are being targeted. There have been several strikes on schools since George W Bush launched the drone programme that Obama has expanded so enthusiastically: one of Bush’s blunders killed 69 children(5).

The study reports that children scream in terror when they hear the sound of a drone. A local psychologist says that their fear and the horrors they witness is causing permanent mental scarring. Children wounded in drone attacks told the researchers that they are too traumatised to go back to school and have abandoned hopes of the careers they might have had: their dreams as well as their bodies have been broken(6).

Obama does not kill children deliberately. But their deaths are an inevitable outcome of the way his drones are deployed. We don’t know what emotional effect these deaths might have on him, as neither he nor his officials will discuss the matter: almost everything to do with the CIA’s extrajudicial killings in Pakistan is kept secret. But you get the impression that no one in the administration is losing much sleep over it.

Two days before the murders in Newtown, Obama’s press secretary was asked about women and children being killed by drones in Yemen and Pakistan. He refused to answer, on the grounds that such matters are “classified”(7). Instead, he directed the journalist to a speech by John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism assistant. Brennan insists that “al-Qaida’s killing of innocents, mostly Muslim men, women and children, has badly tarnished its appeal and image in the eyes of Muslims”(8). He appears unable to see that the drone war has done the same for the United States. To Brennan the people of north-west Pakistan are neither insects nor grass: his targets are a “cancerous tumour”, the rest of society “the tissue around it”. Beware of anyone who describes a human being as something other than a human being.

Yes, he conceded, there is occasionally a little “collateral damage”, but the US takes “extraordinary care [to] ensure precision and avoid the loss of innocent life.” It will act only if there’s “an actual ongoing threat” to American lives(9). This is cock and bull with bells on.

The “signature strike” doctrine developed under Obama, which has no discernable basis in law, merely looks for patterns(10). A pattern could consist of a party of unknown men carrying guns (which scarcely distinguishes them from the rest of the male population of north-west Pakistan), or a group of unknown people who look as if they might be plotting something. This is how wedding and funeral parties get wiped out; this is why 40 elders discussing royalties from a chromite mine were blown up in March last year(11). It is one of the reasons why children continue to be killed.

Obama has scarcely mentioned the drone programme and has said nothing about its killing of children. The only statement I can find is a brief and vague response during a videoconference last January(12). The killings have been left to others to justify. In October the Democratic cheerleader Joe Klein claimed on MSNBC that “the bottom line in the end is whose 4 year-old get killed? What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that 4 year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”(13) As the estimable Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, killing 4 year-olds is what terrorists do(14). It doesn’t prevent retaliatory murders; it encourages them, as grief and revenge are often accomplices.

Most of the world’s media, which has rightly commemorated the children of Newtown, either ignores Obama’s murders or accepts the official version that all those killed are “militants”. The children of north-west Pakistan, it seems, are not like our children. They have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and flowers and teddy bears. They belong to the other: to the non-human world of bugs and grass and tissue.

“Are we,” Obama asked on Sunday, “prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”(15) It’s a valid question. He should apply it to the violence he is visiting on the children of Pakistan.



1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/17/obama-speech-newtown-school-shooting

2. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-rise-of-the-killer-drones-how-a...

3. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-10-23/world/35500278_1_drone-campaign...

4. International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School and Global Justice Clinic at NYU School Of Law, September 2012. Living Under
Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan.


5. eg http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=4043&Cat=13&dt=11/5/2006

6. International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School and Global Justice Clinic at NYU School Of Law, September 2012, as above.

7. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/12/12/press-briefing-press-se...

8. John Brennan, 30th April 2012. The Ethics and Efficacy of the President’s Counterterrorism Strategy. http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/the-efficacy-and-ethics-us-counterterrorism...

9. John Brennan, as above.

10. International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School and Global Justice Clinic at NYU School Of Law, September 2012, as above.

11. http://dawn.com/2011/03/18/rare-condemnation-by-pm-army-chief-40-killed-in-dr...

12. http://dawn.com/2011/03/18/rare-condemnation-by-pm-army-chief-40-killed-in-dr...

13. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/23/klein-drones-morning-joe

14. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/23/klein-drones-morning-joe

15. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/17/obama-speech-newtown-school-shooting

Monday, 17 December 2012

Mass rape, amputations and killings – why families are fleeing terror in Mali

The Guardian home


Mass rape, amputations and killings – why families are fleeing terror in Mali

At refugee camps, reports are flooding in of horrific human rights abuses in a country once famous for its music and joyous lifestyle. Mark Townsend reports on the jihadist nightmare in the Sahel

Zicki Fli and family outside their tent
Zicki Fli and family outside their tent in Goudebo camp, Burkina Faso. Photograph: Mark Townsend for The Observer

They were told to assemble in Gao's market place at dusk. A man accused of using tobacco was escorted before the crowd by several members of the al-Qaida splinter group Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa.

"Then they chopped off his hand. They wanted to show us what they could do," said Ahmed, 39, a meat trader from the town in northern Mali.

That was not the end of it. The severed hand was tossed into a vat of boiling water. Then, according to Ahmed, the man was pinned down and over the next hour the bent, misshapen hand was sewn crudely back onto his stump. Ahmed, too terrified to disclose his full name, fled Gao the next day, 8 November: "I had to go. I could not live my life."

Fresh witness accounts such as this, from people arriving smothered in the red Sahel dust that clogs every pore at the refugee camps straddling the border with Burkina Faso, suggest that the situation in northern Mali is deteriorating fast. Given the dangerous situation in the region, it was impossible to verify the accounts, but they were numerous and disturbing.

Mali graphicCredit: Observer graphics

Islamist militants who seized control of an area larger than the UK six months ago have imposed their ultra-conservative brand of sharia law. The tales recounted suggest a population subjugated by a regime well versed in appalling brutality. Allegations of war crimes include summary executions, mass rape, racism and the targeting of elders by child soldiers recruited by the extremists. Some allege that child soldiers are being forced to rape women.

Analysts warn that the crisis in Mali threatens to destabilise the entire Sahel region, the belt of Africa immediately south of the Sahara where 19 million people live on the edge of malnutrition. The arrival of Islamic terrorists against this backdrop saw the United Nations last Monday describe Mali as "one of the potentially most explosive corners of the world". Within 24 hours, the country's prime minister was forced by the military to resign , further complicating any attempts to reclaim northern Mali.

MaliAhmed, from Gao, Mali, witnessed Islamic extremists trying to sew a shrivelled hand onto a man as punishment. Photograph: Mark Townsend for the Observer

Last week refugees told how the Islamists – an amalgam of militant extremists Ansar Dine, al-Qaida from north Africa, and the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa – are hunting down Tuaregs, whose desert lands they have seized. Refugee Zicki Fli, 39, who arrived in Burkina Faso's Goudebo camp several days ago, said: "We were hunted. They came to track us down and if they found Tamasheq [the ancient language spoken by Tuaregs] they beat us badly."

Fli stayed in Mali until, 10 days ago in the town of Gossi, he witnessed something that changed his mind: "A man I knew would meet his fiancée every night, but somebody saw them and called the Islamists. They were beaten with batons 100 times. They kept on beating until both were dead."

Fli left Gossi the following morning, walking seven days to the refugee camp to which his heavily pregnant wife Fadii had fled weeks earlier to give birth. Fli says Fadii is depressed: they own nothing and don't know when, or if, they will return to Mali.

Toufenat Wallet Fikka, 37, spoke two weeks ago to a friend in Timbuktu who described a woman having a hand amputated and being whipped after being accused of stealing money equivalent to just over £1: "They had no evidence. Many people are very scared or running away. Two women, she said, were beaten to the floor because their heads were not totally covered."

One refugee returned to Mali wearing an Oxfam T-shirt and carrying condoms, the charity's main weapon in curbing population growth in a region with one of the world's highest infant mortality rates. When searched by the Islamic police, he was thrashed with a "wire whip" 80 times and told to return for further sentencing the next day.

He, too, fled to Burkina Faso. Those leaving say there is nothing left to enjoy. Mahmoud Ag Hatalio worked as a DJ. He says La Voie de N'Tillit, a popular local station, now broadcasts only prayers. Hatalio says he got lucky: a friend wrongly accused of stealing a bicycle lost a hand to the giant steel scissors specially made by a local blacksmith and later also a foot, to deliberately impair his mobility.

One aim appears to be the complete dismantling of Mali's once-famous secular, pluralist democracy, defined by world-renowned blues and folk music and fabled joie de vivre.

Ahmed Abdullai, from Haribomo, 30km from the Burkina Faso border, claimed that families, including Tuaregs, are being forced to hand over children to the militia. "There is a lot of these Islamic groups," said the 37-year-old former teacher. "Families are being forced to give up their children. They are told to kill, rape. Children do whatever they are told."

Kristalina Georgieva, the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid who recently visited the region to launch an increase in aid, said reports that respected elders were being killed by extremists were particularly troubling: "The effect is unravelling the very fabric of society. It's very hard to rebuild."

MaliMothers gather outside a health centre near Dori, north Burkina Faso. A quarter of children in the country suffer from malnutrition. Photograph: Mark Townsend for the Observer

The concern, for Georgieva, is that northern Mali's transformation into a massive jihadist enclave could replicate the recent history of Somalia. Others warn that Islamic militants are set on establishing a caliphate (a Muslim political-religious state) across the entire 3,000-mile wide Sahel. Intelligence suggests local militia are being assimilated into the extremist structure, and that Nigeria's notorious Islamist group Boko Haram has been seen in Mali.

Georgieva said: "The situation is now mushrooming, metastasising: there are around 100 little groups claiming to be involved. No one expected Boko Haram to explode in Nigeria, but once it did it was very hard to control. We could have a Somalia situation all over again if we do nothing."

The Malian army is fractured and under-resourced, and Europe, the US and local states are squabbling about intervention. The former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, appointed UN envoy to the Sahel, still doesn't have an office in the region. "The speed with which we are moving towards mobilisation needs much more urgency," said Georgieva.

What exactly they are up against remains something of a mystery. The threat of abduction of foreigners is high, and the refugee camps in Burkina Faso have been moved away from the border to avoid raids. However, the rumours persist that al-Qaida is operating in Burkina Faso – and throughout the region. Charities are nervous. Seven French nationals are missing in northern Mali. In Bamako, the country's capital, the tension is palpable. Air France no longer allows its aircrew to stay overnight because of the risk of them being kidnapped.

MaliKids getting off truck at Burkina refugee camp. Photograph: Mark Townsend for the Observer

How well-equipped and numerous the Islamic extremists are is open to conjecture. Aboubacan Traoré, 27, who fled from Timbuktu last month, described the moment that heavily armed Islamic forces first stormed the city. "They were shooting everywhere. They had lots of guns, rocket-propelled grenades. There were many, many of them – hundreds."

No one doubts that the crisis is destabilising the entire region. Almost 350,000 Malians have fled from their homes, almost half to neighbouring countries, including 8,000 in Goudebo camp.

In simple terms, people are being forced from their homes on to land that can barely support its present incumbents. Oxfam is hurriedly sinking boreholes to serve communities that suddenly have to cope with tens of thousands of fresh arrivals.

But it is the inevitability of war that most agencies fear: any attempt to clear al-Qaida's latest assembly point will create a huge influx of refugees and animals on to a land that cannot sustain them.

In the meantime the situation is likely to worsen. Food prices in Mali and Burkina Faso remain stubbornly high despite a decent harvest, rendering the poorest unable to feed their families.

Experts say the region's rapid population growth is compounding the impact of the world's rapidly growing global middle class on prices. Climate change too cannot be ignored. The Sahel has endured three droughts in the past seven years.

Georgieva said the capacity for the poor to withstand such shocks has all but disappeared: the arrival of Islamic militants in the region is a factor too far. Despite a 13% increase in Burkina Faso's harvest, forecasters are already adamant that 2013 will bring no respite for the region's food crisis.

Mali refugees in BamakoMali refugees in Bamako Photograph: Mark Townsend for the Observer

Although a concerted and rapid response by aid agencies to conditions in the Sahel narrowly averted a humanitarian "catastrophe" this year – the European Commission estimates 400,000 children in the region have been saved from death by malnutrition – the same urgent response is required again.

Many fear complacency may set in, and that reports of yet another near humanitarian crisis in west Africa is unlikely to attract many headlines while foreign finances could be diverted to assist any military campaign. "It is why the Sahel has to be our top priority next year," said Georgieva.

Beyond the threat of a large-scale desert war, conflict on a micro scale is already evident in camps like Goudebo, which has a provisional capacity of 20,000 refugees. Camp visitors will wonder why only black Africans, 'Bella', can be seen queueing at the water collection points or building refugee tents.

The ancient Tuareg caste system, where the Bella were once slaves, still survives and means that the dark-skinned members of the tribe occupy the lowest positions in Tuareg society. By contrast, the Tuareg are often called "white" and claim that they are routinely victimised by the predominantly black, southern-ruled, post-independence Malian governments who themselves are uncomfortable with the Tuaregs' reputation for enslaving black Africans.

The UN says it is "deeply aware" of the tension in its camps but rejects claims the Bella are slaves. "They are more like servants – it is a master and servant relationship," said one.

But skin colour dominates many conversations with the Malian refugees. Mohamed Ag Almougamar alleges that members of the Malian army killed a large number of Tuaregs at Nampalari, a network of 22 desert villages in the north of the country holding 11,000 people.

The incident, again impossible to verify, was said to have occurred over the summer and, according to Almougamar, was racist in motive. "We have clear skin, we are killed like sheep," he said.

As the west deliberates its next move with France favouring immediate military intervention and the US opting for a diplomatic resolution, it seems certain that the hundreds of thousands of Malian refugees, including the traditionally nomadic Tuaregs, are destined to remain in camps for months yet.

Mossa Ag Wantaganatt, 46, who arrived in Burkina Faso at the start of the month, said: "Our lives are on hold. We are living in a cage."

Sunday, 16 December 2012

UA: 358/12 Index: ASA 38/006/2012 Taiwan Date: 14 December 2012 URGENT ACTION EXECUTION OF TAIWANESE MAN IS IMMINIENT



UA: 358/12 Index: ASA 38/006/2012 Taiwan Date: 14 December 2012



Cheng Hsing-tse is facing imminent execution in Taiwan after the Prosecutor General rejected a request on 11 December to seek an extraordinary appeal. The Minister of Justice could sign an execution order at any moment.

Cheng Hsing-tse was arrested on 5 January 2002 and accused of killing a police officer during a gunfight. He was sentenced to death for murder by the Taichung District Court on 18 November 2002. The case bounced back and forth between the High Court and the Supreme Court for appeals and retrials; however Cheng Hsing-tse’s death sentence was finalized on 25 May 2006. His lawyers have since applied for extraordinary appeals but the requests have been rejected each time by the Prosecutor General.

Cheng Hsing-tse first retracted his confession, allegedly extracted by the police through torture, on 6 January 2002 and again on 22 January 2002. He continued to retract his confessions in court proceedings. There have been no investigations into the torture allegations so far.

Cheng Hsing-tse’s lawyers have also argued that there were irregularities in the investigation. For example, four guns were obtained from the crime scene but Cheng’s fingerprints were not found on any of them. The police also failed to keep the crime scene intact by moving the guns and the court has never sought ballistic or forensic analysis.

Taiwan provides no procedures that would allow people on death row to seek a pardon or for the sentence to be commuted – a right recognized by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Taiwanese parliament has voted to implement.

Cheng Hsing-tse has been in custody for more than ten years and he is currently being detained in the Taichung Detention Center.

Please write immediately in English or your own language:

 Urging the authorities not to sign an execution order for Cheng Hsing-tse or any other prisoner;

 Urging the authorities to introduce a legal procedure for requesting clemency;

 Urging the authorities to establish an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, in line with UN General Assembly resolutions 62/149 of 18 December 2007, 63/168 of 18 December 2008 and 65/206 of 21 December 2010;

 Urging the authorities to commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment.


Minister of Justice

Minister Tseng Yung-fu

No.130, Sec.1, Chongqing S. Road

Taipei City 10048


Fax: 011 886 2 23319102

Email: tyftp@mail.moj.gov.tw

Salutation: Dear Minister


Ma Ying-jeou

Office of the President

No. 122, Sec. 1, Chongqing S. Rd.

Zhongzheng Dist.

Taipei City 100


Fax: 011 886 2 23832941

Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Cheng Hsing-tse

Taichung Detention Center

No.11, Peide Road

Nantun District

Taichung City 408


Salutation: Dear Cheng Hsing-tse

Also send copies to:

Representative Jason C. Yuan

Taiwan Embassy, 4201 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC 20016

Tel: 1 202 895 1800 | Fax: 1 202 495-2138 | Email: tecroinfodc@tecro.us

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

UA Network Office AIUSA │600 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington DC 20003

T. 202.509.8193 │ F. 202.675.8566 │E. uan@aiusa.org │ amnestyusa.org/urgent




Taiwan has not carried out any executions this year and 61 people remain on death row. Five people were executed in 2011. Family

members are not informed about scheduled executions in advance and they learn about them afterwards, when they are invited to

collect the bodies from the mortuary.

Since 2000, the government of Taiwan has repeatedly pledged to abolish the death penalty. However, on 30 April 2010 they resumed

the implementation of the death penalty for the first time since 2005 by executing four people.

The current government agreed to implement the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2009, and reaffirmed its

intention to eventually abolish the death penalty.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime;

guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. International law

and standards on the use of the death penalty require that in all capital cases rigorous compliance with international standards for fair

trial, at least equal to those contained in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are observed. These

include: the right to be tried before an independent, impartial and competent tribunal; the right to competent defense counsel at every

stage of the proceedings; the right to adequate time and facilities to prepare one’s defense; the right to be presumed innocent until guilt

has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt; the right to appeal to a higher court; the right not to be compelled to testify against

himself or herself or to confess guilt; the right to seek pardon and commutation of sentence.

Name: Cheng Hsing-tse (m)

Issue: Imminent execution, Death penalty, Legal issues

UA: 358/12

Issue Date: 14 December 2012

Country: Taiwan



More Americans die

in gun homicides and suicides

in six months

than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack

 And the

 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq



New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof


Published: December 15, 2012


The Daktory Court Support - Dakta Blaze Public event - Dakta Blaze faces a charge of "obstruction of a police officer" stemming from a visit made by the police while undertaking bail checks of Dakta Green at The Daktory.

  • Dakta Blaze faces a charge of "obstruction of a police officer" stemming from a visit made by the police while undertaking bail checks of Dakta Green at The Daktory. 

    Dakta Blaze stepped outside to talk to them and the door closed behind him. He was arrested for obstruction after refusing to open the door for police. Blaze does not have to comply by Dakta Greens bail conditions. This date has been set down for a status hearing.

    Show your support for cannabis law reform by protesting with us!

  • https://www.facebook.com/events/194326004035893/

The Daktory Court Support - Dakta Blaze Public event - Dakta Blaze faces a charge of "obstruction of a police officer" stemming from a visit made by the police while undertaking bail checks of Dakta Green at The Daktory.

  • Dakta Blaze faces a charge of "obstruction of a police officer" stemming from a visit made by the police while undertaking bail checks of Dakta Green at The Daktory. 

    Dakta Blaze stepped outside to talk to them and the door closed behind him. He was arrested for obstruction after refusing to open the door for police. Blaze does not have to comply by Dakta Greens bail conditions. This date has been set down for a status hearing.

    Show your support for cannabis law reform by protesting with us!

  • https://www.facebook.com/events/194326004035893/

Do We Have the Courage to Stop This? By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF Published: December 15, 2012


New York Times


Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?

Published: December 15, 2012

IN the harrowing aftermath of the school shooting in Connecticut, one thought wells in my mind: Why can’t we regulate guns as seriously as we do cars?

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof

Edel Rodriguez


The fundamental reason kids are dying in massacres like this one is not that we have lunatics or criminals — all countries have them — but that we suffer from a political failure to regulate guns.

Children ages 5 to 14 in America are 13 times as likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized countries, according to David Hemenway, a public health specialist at Harvard who has written an excellent book on gun violence.

So let’s treat firearms rationally as the center of a public health crisis that claims one life every 20 minutes. The United States realistically isn’t going to ban guns, but we can take steps to reduce the carnage.

American schoolchildren are protected by building codes that govern stairways and windows. School buses must meet safety standards, and the bus drivers have to pass tests. Cafeteria food is regulated for safety. The only things we seem lax about are the things most likely to kill.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has five pages of regulations about ladders, while federal authorities shrug at serious curbs on firearms. Ladders kill around 300 Americans a year, and guns 30,000.

We even regulate toy guns, by requiring orange tips — but lawmakers don’t have the gumption to stand up to National Rifle Association extremists and regulate real guns as carefully as we do toys. What do we make of the contrast between heroic teachers who stand up to a gunman and craven, feckless politicians who won’t stand up to the N.R.A.?

As one of my Facebook followers wrote after I posted about the shooting, “It is more difficult to adopt a pet than it is to buy a gun.”

Look, I grew up on an Oregon farm where guns were a part of life; and my dad gave me a .22 rifle for my 12th birthday. I understand: shooting is fun! But so is driving, and we accept that we must wear seat belts, use headlights at night, and fill out forms to buy a car. Why can’t we be equally adult about regulating guns?

And don’t say that it won’t make a difference because crazies will always be able to get a gun. We’re not going to eliminate gun deaths, any more than we have eliminated auto accidents. But if we could reduce gun deaths by one-third, that would be 10,000 lives saved annually.

Likewise, don’t bother with the argument that if more people carried guns, they would deter shooters or interrupt them. Mass shooters typically kill themselves or are promptly caught, so it’s hard to see what deterrence would be added by having more people pack heat. There have been few if any cases in the United States in which an ordinary citizen with a gun stopped a mass shooting.

The tragedy isn’t one school shooting, it’s the unceasing toll across our country. More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides in six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

So what can we do? A starting point would be to limit gun purchases to one a month, to curb gun traffickers. Likewise, we should restrict the sale of high-capacity magazines so that a shooter can’t kill as many people without reloading.

We should impose a universal background check for gun buyers, even with private sales. Let’s make serial numbers more difficult to erase, and back California in its effort to require that new handguns imprint a microstamp on each shell so that it can be traced back to a particular gun.

“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” President Obama noted in a tearful statement on television. He’s right, but the solution isn’t just to mourn the victims — it’s to change our policies. Let’s see leadership on this issue, not just moving speeches.

Other countries offer a road map. In Australia in 1996, a mass killing of 35 people galvanized the nation’s conservative prime minister to ban certain rapid-fire long guns. The “national firearms agreement,” as it was known, led to the buyback of 650,000 guns and to tighter rules for licensing and safe storage of those remaining in public hands.

The law did not end gun ownership in Australia. It reduced the number of firearms in private hands by one-fifth, and they were the kinds most likely to be used in mass shootings.

In the 18 years before the law, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings — but not one in the 14 years after the law took full effect. The murder rate with firearms has dropped by more than 40 percent, according to data compiled by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, and the suicide rate with firearms has dropped by more than half.

Or we can look north to Canada. It now requires a 28-day waiting period to buy a handgun, and it imposes a clever safeguard: gun buyers should have the support of two people vouching for them.

For that matter, we can look for inspiration at our own history on auto safety. As with guns, some auto deaths are caused by people who break laws or behave irresponsibly. But we don’t shrug and say, “Cars don’t kill people, drunks do.”

Instead, we have required seat belts, air bags, child seats and crash safety standards. We have introduced limited licenses for young drivers and tried to curb the use of mobile phones while driving. All this has reduced America’s traffic fatality rate per mile driven by nearly 90 percent since the 1950s.

Some of you are alive today because of those auto safety regulations. And if we don’t treat guns in the same serious way, some of you and some of your children will die because of our failure.


On the Ground

Share Your Comments About This Column

Nicholas Kristof addresses reader feedback and posts short takes from his travels.

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A version of this op-ed appeared in print on December 16, 2012, on page SR11 of the New York edition with the headline: Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?.



Saturday, 15 December 2012

Morgan Freeman - " do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine?"



He isn't wrong. ~ Belfast

Morgan Freeman's brilliant take on what happened yesterday :

"You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here's why.

It's because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed
people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he'll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN's article says that if the body count "holds up", this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer's face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer's identity? None that I've seen yet. Because they don't sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you've just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man's name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news."

Friday, 14 December 2012

Reprieve - Frankie Boyle announces that Shaker Aamer is to sue MI5 & MI6 for defamation



14 December 2012

Frankie Boyle announces that Shaker Aamer is to sue MI5 & MI6 for defamation

Shaker Aamer

Comedian Frankie Boyle today joined Reprieve to announce that the last remaining British resident in Guantanamo Bay is suing the intelligence services for defamation.

Shaker Aamer has been held at Guantanamo without charge or trial for nearly 11 years. He has been cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama administrations and yet remains imprisoned.

The UK government has repeatedly claimed that they want Shaker returned to the UK. Yet Shaker has told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that UK agencies are still telling lies about him – lies which prevent him from being released. Reprieve has finally been able to declassify enough material through the US censorship process to move forward on this litigation, and call the UK agents out on their defamation.

The defamation consists of untrue allegations and includes a picture of Shaker wearing normal Arabic clothes in London as proof of him being an extremist.

Shaker Aamer is currently at the centre of a police investigation into his torture and that of other men held at Guantanamo Bay.

Clive Stafford Smith, said: "They [the security services] go around saying all these awful things about him, which aren’t true. And say that this doesn’t infringe his good character. It’s just laughable. All we want is our day in court, where these allegations would never stand up.”

Frankie Boyle, said: "I can’t even call it a miscarriage of justice, because he’s never even had a trial. We just want to see him back home.”

MP Caroline Lucas, who supports the action, said: "The defamation of Shaker Aamer is evidence of the immense power of the security services to say whatever they want behind the backs of an accused man, to devastating effect. Shaker has been cleared for release by the US government – twice! - and yet remains in Guantanamo Bay where he has been for eleven years because of these lies, unable to defend himself. Such hypocrisy on the part of the British government is shameful and damaging. They should be holding the security services properly to account and redoubling efforts to bring Shaker home.”

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Report by members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers Visit to Dale Farm Travellers site: A year on from the eviction September 2012



Report by members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers

Visit to Dale Farm Travellers site: A year on from the eviction

September 2012


On 7th September Lord Avebury and Andy Slaughter MP, both members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Roma and Traveller’s (APPG), and Jane Connolly from the Irish Embassy1 visited the evicted residents of Dale Farm who continue to live on the entrance road to the unauthorised site. In advance of the visit, Lord Avebury contacted Cllr Tony Ball, Leader of Basildon Council and constituency MP John Baron who both agreed to meet APPG members to discuss the issues further. The visit was organised by the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain and attended by the British Red Cross and volunteers working closely with the Travellers. The visiting delegation would like to thank the Travellers for their kind hospitality on the day.

The objective of the visit was to establish how the situation at Dale Farm has developed since last year’s eviction and to explore peaceful and sustainable solutions to the issue. The visit was carried out in the context of Dale Farm being a national issue which brings to light the severe shortage of Gypsy and Traveller sites across the country and the discrimination these communities face in accessing appropriate accommodation.


Following last year’s £7M eviction2, many of the families made homeless from the land they owned or rented at Dale Farm returned to the area and have, for the last year, been

1 The Irish Embassy is not included as a party to this report’s conclusions and recommendations. It’s role in the delegation was to gain a better understanding of the issues facing the Irish Traveller Community in the UK and observe some of the Irish Embassy funded work ITMB are involved in.

2 http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/9510408.Dale_Farm_eviction_cost___7million/


living either on the side of the privately owned road leading into Dale Farm, or on the authorised site at Oak Lane, which is adjacent to Dale Farm. Numbers of caravans vary, but typically there are between 20-30 caravans on the road into Dale Farm.

During the visit the Dale Farm Travellers made two key points regarding their circumstances: Firstly, if they had anywhere else to go, they wouldn’t continue to live in such poor conditions, and secondly that the vast majority of Travellers living on Oak lane or temporarily on authorised pitches are the original residents of the evicted site (contrary to claims by Basildon that the Travellers temporarily living on Dale Farm have moved in from outside the Borough and were never resident on the site).

Meanwhile concern has been expressed by the British Red Cross regarding the health of Travellers as a result of their continued poor living conditions and the major excavation works on the nearby evicted site. The Environment Agency has also recently conducted tests on the site for asbestos and hydro-carbons, both pollutants which are dangerous to public health. It should be noted that the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain (ITMB) have submitted a planning application for 15 permanent residential pitches on vacant non-Green Belt land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) at Gardiners Way in Basildon.

The visit and issues arising

Lord Avebury, Andy Slaughter MP and Jane Connolly spent over an hour talking to the Dale Farm Travellers on issues ranging from health, services, further enforcement, future accommodation, education and children. Serious concerns were expressed by Travellers in all these areas as outlined below. The group also took a tour of the unauthorised section of the site where Basildon has carried out extensive works to restore it to the green belt.

Lord Avebury talking to Dale Farm Travellers about conditions on the site



Residents expressed serious concern about the health and wellbeing of Travellers living on the entrance road and temporarily on the authorised pitches. Of particular concern was the fact that midwife visits to women living on the site were suspended for approximately 8 months, with women who had given birth by caesarean section (who are generally discharged from hospital 2 days following the operation) being refused visits and expected to make their way to the hospital for care. It was only following complaints from various individuals and organisations that these services were restored. However, during the visit some residents and volunteers indicated that health visitors were still reluctant or not willing to visit the site and that provision of such services may not be in line with standard provision to other communities. One resident made this comment:

“Midwives and health visitors don’t come here since the eviction; we have to go to Billericay for ante-natal care. Three women are pregnant on the roadside, two on the settled site”.

Volunteers on the site and the British Red Cross updated the group that as of May 2012 a Health Bus has been conducting weekly visits and offers baby-weighing, health advice etc. However, it was emphasised that this was no substitute to standard domiciliary services and mid-wife ante and post-natal home visits.

The delegation found that many of the residents are highly vulnerable and have serious conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia, Osteoporosis, Chron’s Disease, Bowel Cancer, Down Syndrome etc. Below are some of the health conditions residents described to Lord Avebury (personal details have been removed):

Male 24, severely disabled after a car accident and 30 operations for broken bones.

Female 65, has dementia. Daughter is her full-time carer and has high blood pressure herself.

Male 81, oldest resident, COPD, gout, high blood pressure, was a smoker and uses a breathing machine at night. He has no carer.

Female 76, dementia, stroke, over-active thyroid, needs to go twice a week to health centre at Billericay.

Female 76, Parkinson’s, used to be visited by district nurse, but that stopped after the eviction. Daughter is her carer, has thyroid problem for which she is treated with 275mg thyroxine daily.

Female 36, children 14, 15, has Crohn’s disease for which she had surgery last year, and is taking medication. [Note: there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but symptoms can sometimes be alleviated].

Female 72, COPD, uses breathing machine, also osteoporosis. Daughter is carer.

Male 7, has Down’s syndrome who attends Pioneer special needs school in Basildon where he is doing well. He has a problem with his hearing and also with breathing for which he needs to attend Wickford Health Centre and Basildon Hospital regularly. “I don’t drive, so I need the help of my community. When Basildon evicted us they didn’t assess


special needs. If we get evicted, where do we go? Everybody helps each other here, but if we’re separated we can’t do that”.

Female, looks after her brain-damaged son, 32. Partner (Male) has had 2 heart attacks, suffered stroke 2 days after the eviction. “We have nowhere to go with all our problems”.

Female 60, high blood pressure, stroke victim, being treated at Wickford Health Centre, which she says is good. “I can’t drive, so I depend on the neighbours for shopping and visits to the doctor”

Male 80, Angina, bowel cancer, scan awaited for prostate cancer. Lives with daughter and her three children. She suffers from depression and two of the children are deaf, one profoundly.

Female, fractured spine caused by police attack with batons during the eviction, caught on video. She described the police shouting at her ‘Get down you pig’ when she tried to stop them knocking down a wall on a legal site. Police have admitted responsibility, her solicitors have made a claim for damages.

It should be noted that the British Red Cross have expressed concern regarding the health of Travellers as a result of their long-term poor living conditions and the works carried out on the nearby evicted site (see Appendix A).


The delegation found conditions to be very poor on site, largely due to the lack of services. There are no toilets. Fresh water is only available from taps on the authorised site and residents complain about the number of rats. Residents also made the point that if they had anywhere else to go, they wouldn’t be living in such poor conditions. It was noted that the community returning to the site reflects the chronic shortage of accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers throughout Essex and nationally. It also reflects the increasing impossibility of living on the side of the road (because of the risk of repeated evictions, abuse, assault etc). During the visit residents repeatedly expressed their worries about spending yet another winter living in such precarious conditions. Below are some of the concerns residents described to Lord Avebury:

“Conditions are terrible. No toilets, no electric. Water has to be fetched in jugs. Nearest laundrette is 3 miles away”

“Biggest problem is the toddlers – 12 aged 1-2 out of some 60 children up to the age of 16 on the site. About 20-25 from the illegal site attend primary school, none go to secondary school”.

“There has been a recent outbreak of vomiting and diarrahoea. Fifteen children have been to the doctor in Wickford or Billericay”.

“You can have a shower at the ‘sporting village’ in Basildon, at £3.50 for an adult, £2.70 for a child”.

Resident on lawful site: Overflow from drains broken by Council in his garden.


Environment Agency and British Red Cross

Between 14th and 16th August the Environment Agency were on the evicted site at Dale Farm testing for pollutants, particularly asbestos and hydro-carbons. The fact that they have taken this action suggests they are convinced there is a significant risk that harmful pollutants could exist. If they are found the responsible parties (potentially Basildon Council and their bailiffs) could be liable for the costs of carrying out the testing and of possibly capping the site. The EA’s test results are not expected until mid-to-late September.3

Meanwhile an independent assessment carried out by the British Red Cross in February 2012 expressed concern regarding the health of Travellers on the site as a result of the major excavation works and the shortage of adequate sanitation (see Appendix A). During the 7th September visit members of the Red Cross again stated their continued concerns regarding the physical and mental health of the Travellers, lack of sanitation and the possible health threats posed by the evicted site.

Dale Farm volunteer showing Andy Slaughter MP excavation works carried out on the evicted site

in order to restore it to green belt

Enforcement notices

In July 2012 Basildon Council served enforcement notices on residents living on the entrance road to Dale Farm, but not on the allegedly overcrowded authorised plots. These notices were appealed by the Travellers, however, the Planning Inspectorate deemed the appeals invalid as the appellants could not prove they ‘had any interest whatsoever in the land the subject of the issued Enforcement Notice.’4 As a result the notice came into effect

3 http://www.thisistotalessex.co.uk/Environment-Agency-inquiry-Dale-Farm-asbest...

4 Letter from Basildon Council dated 7th September 2012, Neil Costen, Manager of Planning Enforcement (see Appendix B)


on the 29th August 2012 and according to Basildon its requirements must be complied with by the 29th September 2012 (see Appendix B).

Planning application Gardiners Way Basildon

In media interviews Cllr Tony Ball, Leader of Basildon, has acknowledged the need for further provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites in Borough.

On 21st August the ITMB submitted a planning application for 15 permanent residential pitches on vacant non-Green Belt land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) at Gardiners Way in Basildon. This application was validated by Basildon on the 4th September and should be determined within 8-13 weeks, after which time the applicant may have the right to appeal against non-determination on the grounds of invalidity.

The objective of the application is to deliver a high quality authorised site for the most vulnerable on Dale Farm (the 15 proposed pitches will address approximately half the accommodation needs of the homeless Travellers on Dale Farm). The plans for the site also include a children’s play area and a community building / site manager’s office (see Appendix C).

ITMB together with Homes Space Sustainable Accommodation5 (who are a partly Gypsy owned, not-for-profit Community Interest Company with expertise in site management and development) will shortly be submitting a bid for funding to the Homes and Communities Agency for funds to develop the Gardiners Way site.

Meeting with Dale Farm Travellers, Matthew Brindley ITMB, Josie O’Driscoll ITMB (standing)

and Jane Connolly from the Irish Embassy (seated in front of Josie)

5 http://www.homespacesa.co.uk/Home.html



Basildon Council will note that under the Government’s Planning Policy for Traveller Sites and National Planning Policy Framework, they have a duty to develop a core strategy which includes a five-year rolling land supply for Gypsy and Traveller sites that will cover the needs of the community in the area, including those displaced from Dale Farm, by March 31, 2013. It should also be noted that the 2009 Essex Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment (GTANA) carried out by Fordham Research found that Basildon had a requirement to provide 148 additional residential pitches between 2008-2013 and a total of 177 additional pitches by 2021.6

If Basildon’s core strategy is not in place by given date, the Council may not be able to resist planning applications on land they may consider unsuitable.

The delegation also noted that none of the children of secondary school age of the families living on the roadside is attending secondary school, and the Council is in default of its obligation to satisfy itself that these children are receiving suitable education, through the Education Welfare Service.


The PCT (to be replaced in 2013 by Clinical Commissioning Groups) and the local authority should immediately conduct assessments of the health and welfare needs of the residents, to ensure that they are carrying out their statutory duties to vulnerable groups including the chronically ill, the disabled, older residents, mothers, babies and children. The Health and Social Care Act places specific duties on each Clinical Commissioning Group to (a) reduce inequalities between patients with respect to their ability to access health services; and (b) reduce inequalities between patients with respect to the outcomes achieved for them by the provision of health services. (Section 14T)

Basildon should refrain from carrying out further evictions of the residents on Oak Lane when it is patently evident that they have nowhere else to go. As previously recommended by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Basildon should identify alternative culturally appropriate accommodation with full respect for the rights of the children and families involved.

The Gardiner’s Way planning application should be granted, providing there are no objections based on sound reasoning and robust evidence. The immediate welfare of the Travellers living at Dale Farm should be taken into serious consideration in all future planning decisions made by BBC.

The office of the Children’s Commissioner should visit Dale Farm, and make relevant representation to the Council Leader and CEO of BBC regarding the current serious risks to the health and welfare of babies and young children living in Oak Lane.

6 2009, Fordham Research, Essex Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment, p. 117



Appendix A



Appendix B



Appendix C

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who is wanted in the US, will not face charges in the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.




Gary McKinnon will not face UK charges

Breaking news

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who is wanted in the US, will not face charges in the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC announced the decision, some three months after Home Secretary Theresa May stopped the extradition.

Mr McKinnon, 46, admits accessing US government computers but says he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

He would have faced up to 60 years in prison if convicted in the US.

Mr McKinnon, who had been fighting extradition since 2002, suffers fromAsperger's syndrome.

He was permitted to stay in the UK on human rights grounds after medical reports showed he was very likely to try to kill himself if extradited.

Both Prime Minister David Cameron - who held talks on the case with US President Barack Obama - and his deputy, Nick Clegg, had previously condemned plans to send the Briton to the US.

A US Department of Justice (DoJ) spokeswoman, in an October statement, said the US was "disappointed" by the home secretary's decision not to extradite Mr McKinnon.

It stressed the decision had been an "exceptional" one that would not set a precedent for future cases.

More on This Story

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URGENT: 2nd eviction of Dale Farm families - write to Basildon Council Event for Dale Farm Solidarity


At 7.30pm on the 18th December, the Development Control & Traffic Management Committee of Basildon Council is meeting to consider a further eviction of the Dale Farm families they made homeless last October. The families have been living on the roadside of Oak Lane, adjacent to their former home, with inadequate sanitation, electricity and running water, for the last year.

This week this same Committee finally granted planning permission for a 15 pitch Traveller site in Basildon, after rejecting countless 

applications by the Dale Farm families. There is a strong case that no eviction should go forward until the council has assessed the housing needs of the families and found culturally appropriate alternative accommodation for them.

We are asking supporters of the Dale Farm community to email the councillors sitting on this committee to urge them to halt these costly and confrontational eviction plans in favour of finding sustainable sites for the displaced families.

NB: Please be careful mentioning the conditions at Oak Lane at the moment, as this could be used by the Council as another excuse for eviction.

You can use our template below, or you can write your own/adapt the letter. The more individual your letter is, the more likely they are to take notice of it.

The email addresses are:

And don’t forget to cc. Tony Ball, the Basildon Council leader.


Dear Councillors S. Allen, P. Arnold, A. Hedley, C. Morris, P. Rackley and G. Williams,

I am writing to urge you to halt the planned enforcement action against the homeless Dale Farm families living on Oak Lane, Crays Hill.

83 families were made homeless by the Council’s enforcement action at Dale Farm in October 2011. Some of these families now live by the roadside at Oak Lane, where they can continue their children’s education at the local primary school and remain close to their elderly relatives, many of whom require extensive care. Further enforcement action will not provide a resolution to this situation. The families have nowhere else to go and so will be forced to stay on land that they do not own in Basildon, leading to further costly evictions. Neither side wants another costly eviction battle, or any repeat of last year's events. It is the provision of sites, not forced evictions, which will provide a cost-effective and sustainable solution.

The permission granted to the Gardiner’s Lane site on Tuesday 11 December 2012 was a welcome and long-overdue step in the right direction, and will provide much needed accommodation for a small number of the many homeless Travellers in Basildon. I was also pleased to hear the recent announcement that the Council is commissioning a long overdue assessment of the Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople housing needs in the Borough.

It has been predicted that the needs assessment will be completed by summer 2013 (in fact the Council has a duty to have completed its needs assessment by March 2013 under the Government’s Planning Policy for Traveller Sites and the National Planning Policy Framework). I understand that the intention is to move quickly with the development of the Gardiner’s Lane site, and for this to be ready for families to move on to before next Christmas. It is clear that the Council should not proceed with enforcement action against families on Oak Lane when many of these are highly eligible for pitches on the new site: according to all normal housing allocation policy criteria, they will meet the highest level of needs and are therefore extremely likely to be allocated pitches. It is unlikely that any kind of eviction action could be lawfully pursued until these allocations have been made and until eligible families have been able to move onto the new site.

A recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers on conditions at Oak Lane found a high level of serious health needs amongst the community: http://irishtraveller.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Dale-Farm-visit-report-September-2012-2.pdf. However, Basildon Borough Council’s procedures for assessing the welfare of the families living on Oak Lane have been deeply flawed and the Council has not upheld its duties under the Equality Act 2010. Under Section 29 of the Equality Act, the Council has a duty to provide information appropriately to a marginalised ethnic minority community with high levels of illiteracy, in particular where the impact of not doing is potentially severely detrimental and harmful to the community. The Council has not provided adequate time or support to the community in completing the forms, relying on written letters, a limited capacity SOS bus service, which has not been consistently able to attend the site over the last six weeks. Moreover, trust between the Council and the community is very low due to the use of previous assessments by the Council to facilitate legal action against them.

I am calling for the Development Control & Traffic Management Committee and Basildon Borough Council to:

1. Suspend enforcement action against the families living on Oak Lane, Crays Hill, pending completion of an adequate welfare assessment of the families and the completion of the Council’s long overdue needs assessment for Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites.

2. Provide an adequate temporary alternative site for the families living at Oak Lane until need has been assessed and provided for. This would include ensuring the rapid development of the recently approved site at Gardiner’s way in order to meet the urgent housing needs of the community.

3. Support applications for Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites in Basildon in order to meet the need for housing. As previously recommended by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Basildon should identify alternative culturally appropriate accommodation with full respect for the rights of the children and families involved.

I look forwards to a response from the Council detailing what action they will be taking to meet the housing needs of the families living on Oak Lane.

I would be grateful if you could also pass this letter on to Councillor Bennett.

With best wishes,