Three Palestinian farmers were invited here to attend Fair Trade fortnight; it should have been a proud and happy occasion. The farmers, from newly certified co-operatives, whose olive oil is the only one in the world to bear the Fairtrade mark, had been invited by the UK social enterprise Zaytoun.
They were due to arrive this week, and would have attended events in England, Scotland and Wales, meeting potential buyers here as well as Non-Governmental Organisations with an interest in fair trade and economic development.
But this welcome development has been thwarted by the British government denying them visas. What makes this denial even more galling, as tour supporters point out, is this report from a year ago:
'Gordon Brown said he was "delighted" by the launch, marking the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, the annual campaign urging people to buy goods with the internationally recognised mark designed to ensure producers from poorer countries get a fair price and long-term security.
Brown said: "Olive oil production provides an essential part of the West Bank economy. In buying this oil, British shoppers wil be helping the farmers of Palestine to make a living.'
Sign a petition to protest the ban. I think dialogue is the way to make progress, banning people solves nothing.
Reading has a variety of events for Fairtrade Fortnight. Thursday sees the Reading Green Party quiz and music night.
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