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SSW demands Jeremy Corbyn suspend Southwark Leader Peter John now for discrimination against Muslims and Jews

2nd May 2016

www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk    |    savesouthwarkwoods@gmail.com    |    @southwarkwoods    |    Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods

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London's Southwark Council Leader Cllr Peter John

Image courtesy of the Daily Mail

The story of the Camberwell Cemeteries: Evening Standard 10th April 2016

Save Southwark Woods has today written to Jeremy Corbyn demanding the suspension of Southwark Council Leader Cllr Peter John from the Labour Party for his Council's discrimination against Muslims and Jews.

 

It is one thing to make anti-Semitic remarks. It is quite another to lead a Council that protects - and even promotes and subsidises discrimination - and defies formal complaints of discrimination from community groups and residents.

 

Cllr Peter John's Labour-run Southwark Council is spending millions subsidising local burial for Christians, atheists and other groups.

 

But no burial provision for the Borough's Orthodox Muslim or Orthodox Jewish residents, for whom burial is a religious obligation.

 

These residents must seek private burial outside the borough at their own cost, while their taxes subsidise Borough burial for other faiths.

 

This is religious discrimination.

 

Around 75% of the Borough's residents choose cremation. The remaining 25% who choose burial include Christian, Orthodox Muslim and Orthodox Jewish residents.

 

Orthodox Muslim and Orthodox Jewish residents make up around one in ten of the Borough’s residents (2011 Census) but are as many as one in three of those seeking burial.

 

Yet in 2012, John's Southwark Council agreed multi-million pound burial plans that excluded these two groups that bury their dead at any of the three Southwark-owned cemeteries: Nunhead Cemetery, Camberwell Old Cemetery in East Dulwich and Camberwell New Cemetery in Honor Oak.

 

Southwark has said that they have Muslim and Jewish burials in the cemeteries. Indeed, a handful of burials a year are provided in Nunhead Cemetery, but for non-Orthodox Muslim residents only, a much smaller resident group.

 

Southwark does not provide for Orthodox Muslim or Jewish burials, which are different.

 

The hypocrisy is evident on Southwark's own webpages:

 

"Southwark is home to many communities for whom burial is the only acceptable option. The council is obligated to respect their religious and cultural beliefs and continue to make burial an option for these communities."

 

But apparently some communities are more equal than others.

 

Save Southwark Woods supporter and Nunhead resident Lewis Schaffer said, “I am a Jew. I made a formal complaint to  Southwark Council in October of 2015 and have had no response. It is distressing that some faith communities are being taxed to subsidise burials for other faiths while they themselves have to go out of the borough.

 

"But it is worse to know that the Council Leader supports discrimination like this and is paying millions extending it.”

 

Community campaign group and member of Southwark's Cemetery Stakeholder Group Save Southwark Woods also wrote to Southwark Council in October 2015 to make a formal complaint of:

 

·  Religious discrimination in current burial provision

·  Failure to meet its Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010

·  Failure to comply with the Human Rights Act 1998

·  Developing a discriminatory burial strategy that would, if implemented, reinforce and extend existing religious discrimination 

 

No action was taken.

 

Southwark is now in the midst of implementing  discriminatory burial proviion, the most destructive grave ‘re-use’ project in UK history.

 

Southwark’s majority Labour Councillors have stated openly this is to provide burial for the expanding Christian population of Southwark.

 

But what about other faith communities who also seek burial?

 

Surely Southwark Council cannot be trying to buy votes from Southwark's expanding Christian communities?

 

Southwark Council will say they provide burial for those who request it. But burial is not provided for Orthodox Muslims or Jews - so of course people don't ask for it.

 

Why was there no provision for this considerable demand in Peter John's multi-million pound burial plans of 2012?

 

Why has Southwark Council never carried out a full and proper formal consultation of ALL its faith communities and residents to find out their burial needs?

 

Why have formal complaints against this religious discrimination been ignored by Peter John?

 

As we speak, Southwark Council is cutting down acres of woods, mounding over thousands of graves and preparing to dig up thousands of dead bodies to resell as ‘new’ burial plots - but not to Orthodox Muslims or Jews.

 

And Council Leader Peter John has refused all calls to stop.

 

We therefore ask Jeremy Corbyn to take action and suspend Peter John from the Labour Party with immediate effect.

 

[See press release and formal complaint of religious discrimination against Southwark Council by Save Southwark Woods from October 2015]

 

PETER JOHN DAILY MAIL IMAGE

2nd May 2016

 

Dear Jeremy Corbyn,

 

Formal request to suspend Cllr Peter John from the Labour Party now for religious discrimination against Muslims and Jews

 

I am writing to request that you suspend Cllr Peter John Leader of Southwark Council from the Labour Party with immediate effect for religious discrimination.

 

It is one thing to make anti-Semitic remarks. It is quite another to lead a Council that protects - and promotes and subsidises religious discrimination - and defies formal complaints of religious discrimination from community groups and residents.

 

Cllr Peter John's Labour majority Southwark Council is spending millions subsidising local burial for Christians, atheists and other groups.

 

But there is no burial provision for the Borough's Orthodox Muslim or Orthodox Jewish residents, for whom burial is a religious obligation.

 

Around 75% of the Borough's residents choose cremation. The remaining 25% who choose burial include Christian, Orthodox Muslim and Orthodox Jewish residents.

 

Therefore Orthodox Muslim and Orthodox Jewish residents make up around one in ten of the Borough’s residents (2011 Census) but are as many as one in three of those seeking burial.

 

These residents must seek private burial outside the Borough at their own cost, while their taxes subsidise Borough burial for other faiths.

 

This is religious discrimination.

 

The hypocrisy is evident on Southwark's own webpages that attempt to justify Peter John’s hugely unpopular plans:

"Southwark is home to many communities for whom burial is the only acceptable option. The council is obligated to respect their religious and cultural beliefs and continue to make burial an option for these communities."

(Southwark Cemetery Strategy FAQs)

 

Apparently some communities are more equal than others.

 

As a community campaign group and member of Southwark's Cemetery Stakeholder Group, we wrote to Southwark Council in October 2015 to make a formal complaint of:

 

·  Religious discrimination in current burial provision

·  Failure to meet its Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010

·  Failure to comply with the Human Rights Act 1998

·  Developing a discriminatory burial strategy that would, if implemented, reinforce and extend existing religious discrimination

 

No action was taken.

 

Southwark is now in the midst of implementing discriminatory burial provision, through the most destructive grave ‘re-use’ project in UK history – without the required consultation of residents, families with relatives buried in the cemeteries or ALL the Borough’s faith groups.

 

Southwark’s Labour Councillors have stated openly the destruction of woods and graves is to provide burial for the expanding Christian population of Southwark.

 

But what about other faith communities who also seek burial?

Surely Peter John’s Southwark Council cannot be trying to buy votes from Southwark's expanding Christian communities?

 

Southwark Council will say they provide burial for those who request it. But burial is not provided for Orthodox Muslims or Jews - so of course people don't ask for it.

 

Why was there no provision for this considerable demand in Peter John's multi-million pound burial plans of 2012?

 

Why has Southwark Council never carried out a full and proper formal consultation of ALL its faith communities and residents to find out their burial needs?

 

Why have formal complaints against this religious discrimination been ignored by Peter John, officers and other councillors?

 

As we speak, Southwark Council is cutting down acres of woods, mounding over thousands of graves and preparing to dig up thousands of dead bodies to resell as ‘new’ burial plots - but not to Orthodox Muslims or Jews.

 

And Cllr Peter John has refused all calls to stop.

 

We are therefore asking you Jeremy Corbyn to take action and suspend Peter John from the Labour Party for religious discrimination with immediate effect.

 

Sincerely,

 

Blanche Cameron

for Save Southwark Woods

07731 304 966

savesouthwarkwoods@gmail.com

 

[See press release and formal complaint of religious discrimination against Southwark Council by Save Southwark Woods from October 2015]