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The Grenfell Inquiry Must Say That Everyone - Whatever Their Background - Has The Right To Life

06/08/2017 17:19 | Updated 06 August 2017
NIKLAS HALLE'N via Getty Images

Looking at Grenfell is like peeling the layers of the onion. At the surface is a range of issues about building safety and the failure of services to respond adequately to an emergency and a tragedy.

Behind that is the history of systematic contempt, neglect and discrimination against the low paid the vulnerable and BME and migrant communities. This enabled those building regulations failures.

But behind that is the reality of discrimination: the process that decides who it is gets burned to death and who sleeps happily in their comfortable homes. Many survivors have put their finger on that underlying reality: they were given unsafe housing and their attempts to make it safe refused or ignored because of who they are.

An then, it's about how those people are treated as citizens . That they effectively excluded from the important decisions and that compounds their disadvantage

Put simply, those in power value our lives less than they do the lives of the rich and powerful.

That is the fundamental cause of the regulations that failed to ensure our safety, and also why when people like us have raised concerns we have been systematically excluded, ignored and sidelined.

We have a fundamental right to life and the right not to be subjected inhumane or degrading treatment. What Grenfell tells us is that some people get those protections because of who they are and that some people don't because of who they, and those people are people on low income, the vulnerable and people form BME communities. Once in adequate or unsafe housing, they are not listened to. They tried all avenues that were available to them. Their concerns were dismissed. They were treated like second class citizens

We want the inquiry to look at all the causes of the fire as Theresa put 'no stones will be unturned'. One of these stones is the manner in which people were treated and this partly led to tragic consequences. So we need to change the law, but not just on building regulations.  We need to change how councils and other public authorities act so that they must listen to the people they are meant to represent.  We need to have enforceable rights to protection that are supported by real consultation and real access to legal help when we need itWe need to invest in our communities which are the communities that built London and now find ourselves getting squeezed out by those who make nothing but have money.

So maybe we will see some changes, although the signs are not encouraging and just maybe those who are responsible will be held accountable. This in itself will not prevent another Grenfell tragedy from happening. It is a system that failed our friends and our neighbours, a system that cripples people like us. It is time we faced this reality and we tackled the root causes of this indifference.

It is not about widening the terms of references of this public inquiry: it is about dealing with the fundamental issues that caused this tragedy. Our community knows what caused the fire, our community warned the very public authorities that fail us again and again.

We will never forget what we witnessed on 14 June 2017: the pain, the despair and the suffering. This must never happen again.

For this inquiry to serve its purpose and to attract our confidence, it must listen to what we say. The terms of references have been the talk of the community for weeks. It is important to us. A group of residents, race equality organisations, academics, lawyers and experts have put in a submission to the panel and may ask to become core participants.

Our community is bruised, confidence in public authorities is at its lowest and we cannot cope with any further disappointment, any further rejection. We want our views to be taken into account for a change.

Above all, this inquiry needs to say that everyone, whoever they are, however low their pay, whatever their race or religion or status has the right to life and they must make recommendations about how that can be enforced.

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