If the Government is as concerned as it claims to be about the people of Darfur, then it should at the very least abide by its international obligation to protect these Darfuri asylum seekers and issue an immediate moratorium on the further removal of non-Arab Darfuri asylum seekers to Sudan.
The lives of hundreds of other non-Darfuri asylum seekers facing deportation are at stake.
Therefore, I urge the Government to take the following action in order to provide adequate protection of Darfuri asylum seekers in the United Kingdom: There is considerable evidence compiled by non-governmental organisations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that those Darfuris returned to Khartoum face torture, as well as inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of the Sudanese government and its security agencies.
Deporting an individual to a country where he or she faces persecution and inhuman and degrading treatment is a serious breach of Article 33 of the Refugee Convention as well as numerous human rights conventions, including Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 3 of the Convention on Torture and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In light of the UNHCR's advice and recent evidence of torture endured by Sadiq Adam Osman upon deportation to Khartoum, the Home Office must place a moratorium on the further removal of non-Arab Darfuri asylum seekers to Sudan until their safety can be assured.
RICHARD MARX, Quayside, Newcastle
Put councils question on the ballot papers
WHEN Northumberland County Council decided to put in a bid to the Government to establish a single unitary authority, it did not consult with the district councils in Northumberland to any great extent. The Government itself did not require the ordinary man-in-the-street to be consulted either, despite most Northumbrians having a clearly expressed wish not to have a single unitary.
With the new consultation period open the Government is now asking, though not very clearly, for some input from the public. What better opportunity than the current council elections? Why not add the question of preference for single or dual unitaries, or for no change, to the ballot papers in May?
Then the public view will be very clear indeed or is that what the powers that be fear most?
JOE RONAN, Hexham, Northumberland
Damaged by years of failed regeneration
WITH local elections nearing, it is sadly unsurprising that Labour councillors Higgins and Beecham are still trying to associate themselves with the positive approach to regeneration of Scotswood introduced by the Lib Dem administration on Newcastle City Council (Voice of the North, April 10 and 11).
The Scotswood Joint Working Group, including local residents, visited Malmo as part of a series of visits to regeneration schemes, to get ideas for the future of the West End. I visited Malmo's Housing Expo with Scotswood residents a matter of days after the Lib Dems took control of the council to establish whether the idea was one that could be replicated on Tyneside. All subsequent work on developing this strategy has taken place under the Lib Dem administration, with useful support and encouragement from the local community.
However, for Labour to insist that this somehow proves the community-led approach to regeneration of the area predates the Lib Dem council is, in my opinion, a shabby attempt to mislead. They would earn much more respect if they apologised for the brutal way in which they introduced their own regeneration plans, which of course failed spectacularly.
When the then Lib Dem opposition tabled a council motion calling on the then Labour council to scrap the failing Going for Growth approach and replace it with a bottom-up, community-led version, Coun Higgins and Coun Beecham lacked the courage of their convictions and chickened out of the vote, whilst their Labour colleagues voted down the call. If they had had the courage to vote out Going for Growth and back the Lib Dem proposal at that time, a more sustainable regeneration scheme could have been started years before we finally got the chance. At long last, the future for Scotswood is looking up, but the damage done to it by years of failed Labour regeneration should never be forgotten.
COUN GREG STONE, Liberal Democrat, North Heaton Ward, Newcastle City Council, Civic Centre, Newcastle
Near tragedy caused by carbon monoxide
OH dear! I'm afraid Tom Shaughnessy is still very wrong in his letter of Friday, March 30. The near tragedy at a recent indoor karting activity was caused by carbon monoxide, a very poisonous, albeit small, component of exhaust gases. This, together with other components of exhaust gases (but not carbon dioxide), is one of the factors behind the nasty exhaust fumes in congested traffic scenes.
Of course, Mr Shaughnessy would not be aware but, before I came to Alnwick, I spent years working in central London and am very familiar with air pollution. And by the way, I worked for many years for an international oil company in charge of research into engine fuels, so I know quite a lot about octane numbers and so on.
Ethanol can be a very good substitute for petrol; ask the Brazilians. However, its increased use will have an impact on the price of wheat and other food. Good news for our farmers though.
RAY FARNSWORTH, Alnwick, Northumberland
Sun the most obvious climate change agent
P BENNISON asks what happens when there is no wind to drive the turbines, or conversely too much wind causing them to be turned off (Voice of the North, April 9).
The answer is that all turbines require enough conventional power stations to provide back-up for these occasions, which represent at least 75% of the time.
It is also refreshing that this correspondent is prepared to question the myth of man-made carbon dioxide emissions causing climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has now produced its Fourth Assessment Report running to 1,572 pages. If the IPCC knew the definitive answer, I would have thought 15 pages would suffice. The IPCC gives governments political advice, not scientific, which is why many distinguished scientists refuse to have anything to do with it. Its scaremongering can have only one objective: to produce a frightened population amenable to control and taxation.
There are two significant facts which demonstrate that climate change is a natural phenomenon. Firstly, ice cores reveal that past temperature changes came first and were followed by changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Secondly, the fact that the whole of the solar system is being affected, even as far out as Pluto, points to the Sun as being the major (and most obvious) agent of climate change.
PHILIP WARREN, Gosforth, Newcastle.
Land and sea travel can't compete with air
I AGREE with most of what Jon Strong says against developing increased air traffic ("Benefits of airport disputed", Voice of the North, April 11).
But I have recently made various two-day visits by air to annual meetings on the Continent. These journeys take less than 90 minutes by air, to be followed by integrated rail connections.
To travel via London by car, bus, train or ferry would require a night's hotel stay in each direction, not to mention getting through London at a time when security restrictions make the capital a particularly unpleasant place. Land and sea transport simply cannot compete with the simplicity and convenience of my air journeys.
Scotland and North-East England were promised through trains via the Channel Tunnel to Brussels and Paris, but the coaching stock was sold off. Rail sleeping cars from Newcastle have been cancelled.
Unless and until the dreadful land and sea links from Newcastle are improved (an unlikely prospect), does it really surprise Mr Strong if air travel becomes more popular?
E TURNBULL, Newcastle
Appeal over old Lake District postcards
I HAVE been collecting the coloured postcards of the Abraham brothers of Keswick, who were some of the first photographers to produce coloured postcards for a growing tourist market in the Lake District at the beginning of the 20th Century.
These postcards, each of which should have a legend and number in red, are becoming more difficult to trace and I would appreciate anyone who is prepared to part with such cards getting in contact me.
I am trying to build up a history of the Abraham brothers who produced these coloured postcards in the very early 1900s, many of which reflect an important part of the Lake District's social history.
P TRAVIS, 23 Kingsway East, Westlands, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, ST5 3PY