Tag Archives: eric avebury

Rare diseases are not so rare, but are rarely well-researched

rare-disease-day-logoYesterday was Rare Disease Day, although I missed the opportunity to write about it here. It does happen every year, in spite of it being on Leap Day this time.

But the report today that linked the Zika virus to an increased risk of developing Guillain-Barré syndrome has brought rare diseases back into the limelight. Rare diseases and disorders are defined as those which affect fewer than 1 in 2000 people, and there are over 6000 conditions that qualify.

And, counter-intuitively, a lot of people do suffer from rare diseases, just because there are so many of them. It is estimated that 3.5 million people in the UK have a rare disease, and half of them are children.

Eric Avebury was a great champion of rare diseases, and I enjoyed some stimulating email conversations with him about it after he wrote this post. He suffered, and eventually died from, a rare form of leukemia, which must have sparked his interest in rare diseases, although he was such a wonderful campaigner for all sorts of minority issues, from caste to gay asylum seekers.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Lord Avebury was a giant in the struggle to outlaw Caste-based discrimination in the UK

This article is rather longer than usual but offers a different perspective on Eric Avebury and his commitment to international human rights. The author is Vice Chair of the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA), and the President of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO UK).

Eric-Avebury-March-2013

Lord Eric Avebury at an Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance-led protest outside Parliament on 4 March 2013 supporting legislation to outlaw Caste-based discrimination in the UK

I first met Lord Eric Avebury on 11 November 2009 at the official launch of the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA)’s report Hidden Apartheid – A voice of the Community that he willingly hosted for us in the House of Lords. He was the first parliamentarian to respond to ACDA. That report and that historic meeting would help shape Parliamentary consciousness to do with Caste-based Discrimination (CBD) and legislation during the following, critical months.

Posted in Obituaries and Op-eds | 3 Comments

Lord Eric Avebury talks about his life

Earlier today, we heard the sad new that Liberal Democrat peer Eric Avebury had died.

In January last year, he sat down at the National Liberal Club to talk about his life with his son John and liberal historian Seth Thevoz:


A Liberal Life: Eric Lubbock at the National Liberal Club from John Lubbock on Vimeo.

Posted in News | 8 Comments

Lord Eric Avebury writes…Polio and Terrorism

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO),has reduced the number paralysed by polio from 350,000 in 1988 to 405 in 2013, and the number of countries where the disease is endemic has been cut from 125 to just 3 –Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. But progress has come to a grinding halt, with Pakistan reporting 174 new cases so far this year out of 193 worldwide.

The WHO says there is a high risk that this highly infectious disease will spread to other parts of the world, paralysing many of its victims.

Three quarters of all cases are reported from two lawless areas of Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KP) and the misleadingly named Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In these provinces terrorists call the shots, intimidating and murdering those who don’t agree with their fundamentalist brand of Islam.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

The Immigration Bill: 23 Liberal Democrat Lords rebel on “stateless” power, 12 on child trafficking guardian

immigrationThe Immigration Bill was back in the Lords this Monday where the Government suffered two defeats. The first was to overturn the power of the Home Secretary to deprive terror suspects who had acquired British citizenship  (note, suspects, not anybody who has been convicted of anything) of that citizenship even if so doing would render them stateless.

Of the 242 peers supporting Lord Pannick’s amendment, 23 of them were Liberal Democrats. And their ranks included more than the usual Awkward Squad.

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Conservatives block moves to outlaw caste discrimination

eric aveburyEric Avebury has written before about the need to outlaw caste discrimination, and about the legislative processes as proposals within the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill  went through the Lords. It is therefore disappointing to learn that the campaign has suffered a serious setback. 

In 2010 the Government commissioned independent research into caste discrimination and harassment in the UK.  The summary (pdf) of that research reported that between 50,000 and 200,000 people in the UK are culturally identified as low caste. It found evidence of caste discrimination in work …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Government changes its mind and makes caste discrimination illegal

The BBC reports that Vince Cable has agreed to outlaw caste discrimination after the House of Lords twice voted on an amendment incorporating it into the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.

Those proposing the change argued that those considered to be of lower caste in some communities were discriminated against in employment or even at school. A government report from 2010 argued that a change in the law was the most effective way of dealing with this issue.

Liberal Democrat peer Eric Avebury has been at the forefront of the campaign to outlaw caste discrimination and has written about

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  • User AvatarPhil Wainewright 27th May - 12:12am
    Thank you Katherine for a bit of honest passion. It's a welcome antidote to the evidence-based pragmatism that LibDems feel obliged to practise. For goodness...
  • User AvatarMatt (Bristol) 27th May - 12:11am
    TCO, I agree that there is incoherent anger and rage. There is also focused, rational, well-articulated anger. And that should go hand-in-hand with clear policy-making....
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 27th May - 12:10am
    @ Glen, I find them refreshing.
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 27th May - 12:08am
    @ Stuart, I watch iplayer rather than the television. Whereas, my husband and I used to check the Sunday Times TV guide and decide on...
  • User AvatarGlenn 27th May - 12:08am
    Jane, Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 27th May - 12:00am
    ... grandfather.