Hunger Strike for Justice in the UK.
British Hunger Strike For Justice Enters Fifth Day.
I write to you to draw your attention to a serious case of injustice
taking place in Britain.
You may have heard of Bhaktivedanta Manor, the UK headquarters of
the Hare Krishna Movement. This temple was founded by the spiritual
head of the movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. in 1973. It was the
last place he visited in the West before he returned to India and
passed away in 1977. The Manor serves a large community in North
London, many of whom are of Gujerati descent from East Africa.
Hindus travel from all over the UK, and the Manor has in many ways
become a place of pilgrimage. The attendance at the Manor for
Janmastami each year is perhaps one of the largest outside India.
Last year 40,000 came to offer homage to the dieties of Radha and
Krishna. The Manor is a cultural heart for many families. The Sunday
school, and the Youth Forum are particularly valued. Many weddings
are also held here.
Without going into great detail, I want to tell you that this
important place is about to be closed by the British Government. The
Manor has planning (zoning) as a theological college, and has
always had a public shrine. The local Council issued a planning
enforcement notice in 1986 to stop the public attending for worship.
Local villagers complained that too much traffic was coming through
their village, although we understand from friends in the village
that there was overt concern about falling property values. After
eight long and costly years of fighting through various appeals and
court cases since that time, the closure date now faces our
community on March 16th, 1994, less than a month hence. The legal
process has now gone to the European Court for Human Rights in
Strasbourg, and is progressing favourably, although very slowly.
There will be no final decision from Strasbourg for perhaps three
Our community has put forward a solution. We will build a new access
road, avoiding the local village. We have bought two small strips of
land with this in mind at enormous expense. We have pledges from
community members for the road construction. We have put up with a
lot from some of these locals such as suggestions that we move to a
'Hindu Area' (apartheid?), or endless body counts by local officials
as we come for Sunday worship. (A 1985 court affidavit lists
worshippers in two columns, White Persons and Coloured Persons).
The local council, Hertsmere District, have refused to answer our
letters requesting postponment of the enforcement notice until the
case is decided at the European Court. They have now put off a
decision on our application for the new access road until June 16th.
We cannot contemplate our place of worship being closed for one
second let alone a minimum of three months.
For that reason, members of our community have begun a relay fast
outside the offices of the Council, in the town of Borehamwood, in
Hertfordshire. We began on the coldest day of the Winter, in a
blizzard. On the second day, we were joined by 83 year old Mrs Sarla
Bhatia, who husband sat with Mahatma Gandhi himself. We want an
immediate settlement of this situation. It's a simple matter of a
rubber stamp. All the local's concerns are met. We need to put
pressure on the British Government and the Council.
If you want more information, please mail me at Bhagavat@dharma.
If you would like to do something directly, please write to, call,
or visit your local British Consulate or Embassy. Tell them that you
find it outrageous that your fellow religionists should be treated
like second class citizens in this way. Tell them that the new road
and planning should be granted without delay. You can also write
directly to the Council Head....
Councillor Michael Byrne
Leader of the Council
Hertsmere Borough Council
Our Campaign motto is taken from Gita. 'Yuddhasva mam anusvara',
'Remember Me and fight'
Many thanks for reading through this note. I hope you will find it
in your heart to lend a hand to this noble cause.
ISKCON Communications UK