The actress Vanessa Redgrave CBE will visit Dale Farm on Tuesday 30 August to show solidarity and support for the Traveller residents who are threatened with forced eviction.
She and her brother, the actor Corin Redgrave, have been key supporters of the Travellers at Dale Farm. Corin suffered a heart attack in 2005 while pleading with Basildon Councillors not to vote for the destruction of Dale Farm. On the day of his heart attack, Corin wrote in The Guardian newspaper about Dale Farm “It is not too late to stop this destruction”. Sadly Corin died last year but his wise words still ring true.
Vanessa, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, said “The UK signed and ratified the UN convention on the rights of the child. I am certain that the eviction of the Dale Farm Traveller families is illegal under international, mandatory, human rights conventions. I am appalled that such an eviction can be upheld by our government.”
In 2005, Vanessa and Corin said “we will, if necessary, create a human shield” to protect the women and children of Dale Farm from the bulldozers, when the eviction was announced by Basildon Council. Six years later the threat of bulldozers is imminent. And the human shield that the Redgraves called for was started at the weekend at Camp Constant as political activists from across Europe met with residents at the Dale Farm Traveller site last weekend, vowing to save the community from eviction by Basildon Council.
150 people, including activists from Sweden, Italy, Belgium and France, came to Dale Farm to set up the protest camp, which has been running human rights monitor trainings and non-violent direct action workshops. The weekend marked an unprecedented level of public opposition to the eviction. Support has also flooded in from faith groups across the country, with the Catholic bishop of Brentwood and the Anglican bishop of Chelmsford visiting the community on Tuesday morning.
“It is amazing seeing such diverse communities join forces to fight for a unified cause. The residents at Dale Farm have welcomed us in working alongside them to defend their community from ethnic cleansing.”