Calendar of racism and resistance (1-15 January 2020)

January 16, 2020 — News

Written by IRR News Team

 A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.

ASYLUM AND MIGRATION


Asylum and migration rights

1 January: Campaign groups Foxglove and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) criticise the Home Office’s refusal to disclose the list of countries it deems ‘high-risk’ in the algorithm that filters UK visa applications, following a legal challenge by JCWI. (Guardian, 1 January 2020)

5 January: The Home Office faces a series of legal challenges over its practice of inviting Zimbabwean government officials to interview Zimbabwean refused asylum seekers in the UK who claim they will be persecuted on return. (Guardian, 5 January 2020)

8 January: Campaigners react with dismay and anger as MPs vote down an amendment to the redrafted EU withdrawal bill which would have guaranteed the right of lone child refugees in Europe to be reunited with family members in the UK after Brexit. (Guardian, 8 January 2020)

9 January: A study by the University of Wolverhampton estimates that there are around 107,000 undocumented children living in London, more than half of whom were born in the UK, and warns that this number could rise dramatically if the estimated 350,000 young European nationals in the UK are not given help to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. (Guardian, 9 January 2020)

10 January: A report by Amnesty International UK, the Refugee Council and Save the Children finds that the UK government is ‘deliberately and destructively’ preventing child refugees from having their families join them, instead leaving them in the care of local authorities. The UK is the only EU country not to permit unaccompanied children with refugee status to bring parents or siblings to the UK. (Guardian, 10 January 2020)

12 January: The BBC reports on a Nigerian asylum seeker fleeing a death sentence for political activism against the military regime, who spent 21 years homeless and sleeping on London night buses after his application was refused, before he was granted leave to remain. (BBC, 12 January 2020)

13 January: A coalition of dozens of German municipalities petition the government and declare their willingness to take in more refugees rescued in the Mediterranean. (Deutsche Welle, 13 January 2020)

14 January: The Law Commission says the immigration rules are unworkable, badly drafted and over 1,100 pages, and recommends a complete redraft, in its report on simplifying the rules. Read the report here. (Guardian, 14 January 2020)

Borders and internal controls

1 January: The numbers of people attempting to make the dangerous Channel crossing to the UK by small boat have quadrupled in the past year and are increasing ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union on 31 January, despite heightened government enforcement. Kent Refugee Action Network calls the Home Office’s emphasis on turning back arrivals ‘extremely irresponsible’. (Independent, 1 January 2020; New York Times, 3 January 2020)

2 January: Are You Syrious reports that a migrant attempting to cross a treacherous rocky pass at the Italian-Slovenian border died after falling into a ravine.  (Are You Syrious, 2 January 2020)

3 January: Over 60 Spanish human rights organisations sign a statement denouncing the illegal push-back of 42 people from the Chafarinas islands to Morocco. (AP News, 4 January 2020)

7 January: An unidentified man is burned to death crossing the Serbian-Croatian border on top of a freight train. His body is discovered by a railway worker at the Croatian border town of Tovarnik, who sees the train on fire. (Are You Syrious, 7 January 2020)

8 January: The EU border agency Frontex reports that the number of recorded irregular entries by migrants into the EU fell last year to 139,000, the lowest since 2013. (Info Migrants, 10 January 2020)

8 January: French asylum group ANAFE says that the discovery of the body of a ten-year-old Ivorian child in the undercarriage of a plane at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris is a consequence of migration polices that provide hardly any legal pathways for people from sub-Saharan Africa to enter the EU. (ANAFE press release, 8 January 2020)

12 January: Twelve people drown and 17 more are missing as a migrant boat sinks near the south-western Greek island of Paxos. Hours later, 11 people, including eight children, drown when their boat sinks off Turkey’s western coast. Their nationalities are not yet known. (BBC, 12 January 2020)

15 January: The government’s appeal is heard against a High Court ruling that the Right to Rent policy introduced in 2014 as part of the ‘hostile environment’ causes discrimination by landlords and breaches human rights law. (Residential Landlords Association, 13 January 2020)

Libyan crisis

9 January: Two UNHCR-registered Eritrean refugees are shot dead inside their accommodation. Other refugees say that the Eritreans were amongst many forced out of an overcrowded UN gathering and departure facility ten days ago, a claim the UN contests (UNHCR press release, 10 January, Guardian, 13 January 2020)

9-12 January: As the conflict in Libya escalates, around 1,500 people try to escape from Libya by boat, of whom around 500 succeed in reaching Europe, while the Libyan coastguard intercept over 700 and return them to Libya. A Libyan merchant vessel returns 64 people to Libya, where one, who refuses to disembark, is allegedly shot by Libyan officials and his body thrown into the sea. The whereabouts of others who left Libya are unknown. (WatchtheMed/ AlarmPhone, 13 January 2020)

Reception and detention

6 January: AYS reports that a 31-year-old Iranian man has been found hanged in the Moria pre-removal detention centre, where 85 people are held pending removal, on the Greek island of Lesbos. (Are you Syrious, 6 January 2020)

8 January: Around 480 people are evacuated and twenty people arrested after a huge fire erupts at a centre in Marsa, Malta, where asylum seekers are detained while their applications are processed. An inquiry is launched. (Times of Malta, 8 January 2020)

10 January: The Irish Department for Justice announces that the Mount Trenchard direct provision accommodation centre in Foynes, Co Limerick, is to close after a six-year campaign by organisations against ‘inhumane conditions’ there. (thejournal.ie, 10 January, Irish Examiner, 12 January 2020)

11/12 January: Inmates of a CPR (reception centre for migrants) in Caltanisetta, Italy riot after a 34-year-old Tunisian dies, they say of medical neglect, as staff ignored his complaints of illness for weeks. Authorities say he died of natural causes. (AYS, 12 January 2020)

13 January: A Nigerian woman on trial for assault on guards at Yarl’s Wood during an attempt to remove her tells the court she feared for her life as five guards held her face down on the floor. (Guardian, 13 January 2020)

13 January: The release arrangements for immigration detainees are ‘medically unsafe’, says the British Medical Journal, as ‘discharges are ordered by the Home Office or the courts, usually without warning, making access to medical care after release… precarious.’ It notes that the contracts for healthcare services in immigration removal expire in June 2020, providing ‘an opportunity for a rethink’. (BMJ, 13 January 2020)

Crimes of solidarity

7 January: In an open letter, the far-right Alternative for Germany demands that Munich cardinal Reinhard Marx explains why he has donated €50,000 to United4Rescue, an Evangelical church initiative that supports migrant rescues at sea. (Deutsche Welle, 7 January 2020)

7 January: The Maltese Court of Appeal overturns the conviction of Claus-Peter Reisch, captain of the Mission Lifeline vessel Eleonore, saying he had no criminal intent when he brought over 200 rescued migrants to land in Valletta. But the ship remains in Maltese custody. (Deutsche Welle, Morning Star, 7 January 2020)

Immigration enforcement

2 January: Saiful Islam, a chef from Bangladesh who arrived in the UK in 2003 with a valid work permit and reported his employer in 2005 for exploitation, faces deportation despite receiving a full apology and an offer of £5,000 compensation from the Home Office for wrongly branding him a sex offender. (Guardian, 2 January 2020)

6 January: Freedom of information requests submitted to northern police forces by Big Issue North reveal figures for immigration-related arrests in West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and Cumbria. The paper reports that MPs reported 134 undocumented migrants to the Home Office in 2019, and Barnsley Hospital Trust reported 91. (Big Issue North, 6 January 2020)

ELECTORAL POLITICS

2 January: The Austrian Conservative-Green coalition vows to legislate to protect the environment while enforcing hard Right policies on the hijab (extending the ban in schools from age 10 to 14) and ‘precautionary detention’ for ‘potentially dangerous’ asylum seekers, even those who have committed no crime in Austria or the EU. Conservative prime minister Sebastian Kurz says his party will continue ‘the fight against illegal immigration’ and stop the forming of ‘parallel societies and political Islam’. (Guardian, 2 January, InfoMigrants, 3 January 2020)

5 January: The far-right Swiss People’s Party seeks backing for a referendum to end free movement of citizens from the EU. (Guardian, 5 January 2020)

9 January: Gypsy and Traveller organisations write to the new House of Commons speaker pointing out that MPs are breaching parliamentary rules of behaviour by persistently dehumanising Gypsies and Travellers,  referring to unauthorised encampments as ‘illegal’, using  language such as ‘incursions’ or ‘invasions’ to describe the camps, and consistently contrasting Gypsies and Travellers with ‘hard-working taxpayers’. (Independent, 9 January 2020)

10 January: Dudley councillor Colin Elcock is suspended for 21 days from the Conservative group after tweeting that Islam was ‘domination not integration’ and asking whether people in Iran were ‘all on the dole’. (BBC, 10 January 2020)

13 January: Labour leadership candidates endorse a ten-point plan drawn up by the Board of Deputies of British Jews to combat anti-Semitism within the party which includes engagement only with ‘mainstream’ Jewish bodies and full adoption of the controversial Holocaust Committee definition of anti-Semitism. (BBC, 12 January, Jewish Voice for Labour, 13 January 2020)

13 January:  The local Racial Equality Council criticises Conservative MP for Ipswich Tom Hunt after he writes in the East Anglian Daily Times that a ‘disproportionate number’ of offences in the town are committed by ‘individuals from certain communities’; that some bad behaviour ‘may be rife in other countries but is not traditionally in ours’; and that integration must include ‘learning English, respecting women and obeying our laws’. (Independent, 13 January 2020)

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

7 January: The trial opens at Birmingham Crown Court of three men and one woman accused of belonging to the proscribed far-right terror organisation National Action. It is expected to last ten weeks. (Breaking News.ie, 7 January 2020)

7 January: Kent resident George Fowle, aged 19, who allegedly accessed far-right material, including video of the Christchurch mosque massacre, is charged with possessing material likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. (BBC News, 7 January 2020)

10 January: Gilberto Cavallini, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionaryy Nucleus, is sentenced to life in prison for providing logistical support to those who planned a bomb in Bologna railway station in 1980, killing 85 people and injuring more than 200. (The Local, 10 January 2020)

13 January: As threats against local politicians rise by a quarter in two years, Christoph Landscheidt, mayor of Kamp-Lintfort in western Germany, who has received threats from the far Right, applies for a gun licence but is refused. The Interior Ministry says that while more state protection is necessary, arming politicians is not the answer, though there may be exceptions. (Deutsche Welle, 13 January 2020)

POLICING, CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND ARMED FORCES

6 January: Email trails obtained under FOI requests illustrate the ‘cynicism’ of the Ministry of Justice on legal aid for inquests, says the civil liberties organisation INQUEST, which highlights the department’s refusal to pay automatically for representation in cases where state agencies are involved in a death, and its penalising of families who crowdfund to cover costs. (Inquest press release, 6 January 2020)

6 January: Scottish prosecutor David Wilkie-Thorburn is fined £700 for sending a racially aggravated message threatening to use his position to deport a beautician. (Daily Record, 6 January 2020)

7 January: A Guardian investigation reveals that only 6 of the 35 racially aggravated crimes investigated by military police services for the army, navy and RAF over the past five years have resulted in guilty verdicts at courts martial. (Guardian, 7 January 2020)

8 January: The prisons ombudsman launches an investigation following the death of joint enterprise prisoner Liridon Saliuka in his cell at Belmarsh high security prison on 2 January, after a dispute over whether he should be classified as disabled.(Guardian, 8 January 2020)

10 January: Counter-terrorism police in the south-east withdraw a guide for schools on the Prevent duty after widespread condemnation as the Guardian reveals that they had listed environmental group Extinction Rebellion as an ‘extremist ideology’. (Guardian, 10 January 2020)

10 January: The Paris prosecution office opens an inquiry into police violence during a protest against Macron’s proposal to raise the age of retirement. (France info, 10 January, The Local, 11 January 2020)

Cedric Chouviat

12 January: People gather to remember Cedric Chouviat, the 42-year-old delivery driver and father of five, who died after being held to the ground during a police check on 3 January. Paris prosecutors and the citizens’ rights ombudsman have opened investigations. (Guardian, 9 January 2020; Twitter, 12 January 2020)

12 January: The Met police reveal that nearly half of those convicted of fatal stabbings over the past three years have previous convictions for knife crime, pointing to a failure of rehabilitation within the criminal justice system. Young BAME people are disproportionately represented among both offenders and victims.(Guardian, 12 January 2020)

12 January: Football fans wearing masks join Big Brother Watch in protests outside Cardiff city stadium before the derby match against Swansea at which police use facial recognition vans. (Guardian, 12 January 2020)

13 January: Somali community representatives tell the BBC that parents are wrongly being arrested and their children taken into care because of racial profiling around female genital mutilation (FGM), with statistics inflated to claim there is a ‘huge epidemic’ of FGM in the UK. (BBC News, 13 January 2020)

13 January: Constantine ‘Omar’ Boucher, the final member of the ‘Oval Four’ wrongfully convicted of theft and assaulting police in 1972, is traced. His case can now be referred to the Court of Appeal, for his conviction to be quashed. (Guardian, 13 January 2020)

EMPLOYMENT, EXPLOITATION AND INDUSTRIAL ACTION

8 January: Twenty people are arrested in the area of Gioa Tauro, in southern Calabria, on suspicion of exploiting migrant workers, who work up to 12 hours a day seven days a week with no protection on citrus fruit farms, for €2-€3 per hour. (Infomigrants, 10 January 2020)

10 January:  In France, after a 7-month strike, undocumented postal workers for the company Chronopost win the right to live and work in the country. (Are You Syrious, 10 January 2020)

13 January: Police are accused of a ‘completely disproportionate’ response after a barrister for the United Voices of the World, present at a picket supporting security guards striking against outsourcing at St. George’s University of London medical school, is arrested and then de-arrested under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 which cites ‘causing a nuisance on NHS property’. (Left Food Forward, 13 January 2020)

HOUSING

14 January: The Guardian reports on the segregation and exclusion of children in social housing, disproportionately occupied by BAME households, from play areas in mixed developments. (Guardian, 14 January 2020)

EDUCATION

8 January: An initiative to embed Black British history in the national curriculum, The Black Curriculum, is launched at SOAS, including art history, sus laws, gentrification and migration, to redress the national curriculum’s Eurocentric perspective. (Guardian, 8 January 2020)

9 January: London school students distribute 5,000 fake ‘Metro’ and ‘New Standard’ newspapers to commuters, in a ‘Fill in the Blanks’ project calling for the horrors of Britain’s colonial past to be included in schools’ mainstream curriculum. (Guardian, 12 January 2020)

12 January: The campaign group ‘No More Exclusions’ warn that schools are unfairly punishing students for their hairstyles, wearing bandanas and ‘kissing teeth’, with black students disproportionately targeted by zero-tolerance behaviour and uniform policies in schools. The group believes that the government push to increase academies, where there is far less scrutiny, is a factor in the increase in exclusions. (Independent, 12 January 2020)

13 January: Slough Children Services Trust apologises to a Somali family and withdraws an FGM Protection Order (which restricts the family leaving the country without permission). The family’s five children were taken into care and the mother arrested following a safeguarding referral from their school, which wrongly accused the family of planning to take their children abroad for FGM. (BBC News, 13 January 2020)

WELFARE

9 January: Local authorities complain of ‘unsustainable pressure’ on their ability to support vulnerable children, as figures reveal the number of children in care in England has risen by 28 percent to over 78,000 in the past decade. Over the same period, the number of children suffering or at risk of suffering serious harm has risen by 139 percent to over 200,000. (Guardian, 9 January 2020)

MEDIA AND CULTURE

6 January:  Media expert Brian Cathcart criticises the appointment of the new chair of IPSO, former Conservative justice minister Lord Edward Faulks, saying Faulks’ previous comments show he will be unwilling to protect British Muslims from Islamophobic media comment. (Byline Times, 6 January 2020).

10 January: Harper Collins apologises to the Palestine Return Centre for comments that appeared in Tom Bower’s biography of Jeremy Corbyn, admitting that the allegation that the PRC blamed the Jewish people for the Holocaust should never have been made. (Middle East Eye, 10 January 2020)

12 January: Film director Steve McQueen adds to the criticism of the BAFTA award nominations, saying that the film awards will become obsolete if they fail to recognise diverse talent. (Guardian, 12 January 2020)

14 January: Whistleblowers at the German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle say that racism, anti-Semitism, sexual harassment and severe bullying are rife and that staff who attempt to speak out are silenced. (Guardian, 14 January 2020)

SPORT

1 January: Two Brighton fans are ejected from the Amex stadium and arrested for racist and homophobic abuse, together with a Chelsea fan, at the fixture on New Year’s Day. (BBC, 2 January 2020)

1 January: The Huddersfield-Stoke match is stopped by the referee and Huddersfield fans warned that racist abuse would not be tolerated, after Stoke’s winger James McLean is targeted for abuse. (Fanbanter, 2 January 2020)

10 January: A 58-year-old Manchester City supporter is given a 5-year ban for racial abuse towards footballer Raheem Sterling at a match in Bournemouth in December 2018. (Guardian, 10 January 2020)

11 January: Holmesdale FC walk off alleging racist abuse after one of their players is sent off for his reaction to what he claims was racist abuse from a Rochester United player. (BBC, 12 January 2020)

11 January: A man is to appear in court in Lancashire for a racially aggravated assault on Fulham defender Cyrus Christie’s sister following the Fulham-Barnsley fixture on 3 August 2019. (Sky Sports, 11 January 2020)

RACIAL VIOLENCE

3 January: The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) condemns the second act of vandalism against the Holocaust Monument in Trikala, Thessaly, within two days and calls on the city authorities to provide effective security. (Amna.gr, 3 January 2020)

5 January: A 13-year-old boy is punched in the stomach and subjected to anti-Semitic abuse on a bus in north London; no arrests have been made. (BBC, 6 January 2020)

6 January: A Nottingham Deliveroo driver is told to ‘get back to your own country’ and pushed on to railings while trying to protect a colleague, and is offered no support from the company after the attack. (iNews, 6 January 2020)

9 January: A 22-year-old South Asian woman suffers a bloody jaw injury in a racist attack by a group of men in south Dublin, as she walks with a friend after a medical placement in Coombe Hospital.  (Irish Mirror, 9 January 2020)

north brixton islamic cultural centre – google maps

10 January: Anti-racist campaigners hold a protest outside North Brixton Islamic Cultural Centre following the spray-painting of a building opposite with Islamophobic slogans on New Year’s Day (Guardian, 1 January, Morning Star, 10 January 2020)

10 January: Two people are arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated affray, criminal damage and possession of offensive weapons at a petrol station in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire. (Knutsford Guardian, 10 January 2020)

10 January: Dudley Council reports a rise in number of racially fuelled hate crimes, with racist slurs and offensive comments making up the majority of incidents and public service professionals most at risk. (Birmingham Live, 10 January 2020)

13 January: Hertfordshire police release a CCTV appeal after the landlady of the Strafford Arms, Potters Bar was racially abused and the pub door kicked in by two men whom she asked to leave. (Welwyn and Hatfield Times, 13 January 2020)

 

 

The calendar was compiled with the help of Laura Wormington, Aisha Rana-Deshmukh, Graeme Atkinson and Ifhat Shaheen-Smith.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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