Calendar of racism and resistance (10 – 31 December 2019)

January 6, 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.

ELECTORAL POLITICS – UK

10 December: Open Democracy publishes details of ‘sickening’ ‘inflammatory’ and ‘discriminatory’ anti-Roma, anti-Gypsy statements made by Conservative candidates across the country in the run-up to the election. Michael Gove and Priti Patel are singled out, as is the government’s anti-Semitism tsar John Mann (a former Labour MP) for his past provocative statements. (Open Democracy, 10 December 2019)

13 December: Tommy Robinson announces on Telegram that he has joined the Conservative party. (Morning Star, 13 December 2019)

16 December: Far-right activist Katie Hopkins, who was spotted at Conservative party hustings in east Sussex, announces she has joined the Conservative party. Hopkins engages in a twitter spat with Baroness Warsi, writing: ‘Your party? Hold on a minute sister. I think you will find it’s OUR party now…. Nationalism is back. British people first’. (Plymouth Herald, 16 December 2019)

17 December: Professor Swaran Singh’s appointment to head the Conservative party’s review of its handling of discrimination complaints, is immediately criticised by the Muslim Council of Britain and Baroness Warsi, who cites Singh’s ‘unacceptable’ views on the Indian occupation in Kashmir. (Guardian, 17 December 2019)

19 December: Civil liberties groups express concern at the government’s hardline proposals set out in the Queen’s Speech, including increased police powers to criminalise Gypsies and Travellers and to seize their vehicles and property; a ban on boycott movements; updated treason laws; increased criminal sentences; and tougher penalties for unlawful immigration. (Prime minister’s officeGuardian, 19 December 2019)

20 December: The Muslim Council of Britain accuses the prime minister of ‘rewarding racism’ as Zac Goldsmith, who lost his seat in the general election, is elevated to the House of Lords. Goldsmith ran a campaign widely perceived as racist against Sadiq Khan in the last London mayoral election. (Guardian, 20 December 2019)

28 December: Britain First, known to have a dwindling membership, claims that 5,000 of its members, attracted by Boris Johnson’s stance towards Islam, have joined the Conservative party, suggesting also that they intend to form a movement of far-right activists within the party. (Guardian, 28 December 2019, Morning Star, 29 December 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS – EUROPE

16 December: The mayors of Budapest, Warsaw, Prague and Bratislava sign a ‘pact of free cities’ at the Soros-founded Central European University, Budapest, to promote the ‘common values of freedom, human dignity, democracy, equality, rule of law, social justice, tolerance and cultural diversity’ in opposition to their countries’ populist national governments. (IB Times, Guardian, 16 December 2019)

18 December: After Robert Möritz, a member of the CDU’s executive committee in Saxony Anhalt, is outed as a member of the far-right private military network Uniter, which is accused of compiling ‘death lists’ of left-wing and pro-refugee targets, at least two other CDU politicians’ links to Uniter are revealed. (Guardian, 18 December 2019)

20 December: Robert Möritz leaves the CDU after the revelation of his neo-Nazi links, which threatens the governing coalition with the Greens and Social Democrats. (The Local, 20 December 2019)

29 December: Hours after Dutch politician Geert Wilders announces he is reviving the contest of cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammed, he says the contest is over and publishes a picture of the ‘winning drawing’. (Haaretz, 30 December 2019)

30 December: In Italy, three senators from the populist Five Star Movement defect to the far-right League party. (Guardian, 30 December 2019)

ASYLUM, MIGRATION, CITIZENSHIP

Asylum and migrant rights

18 December: Refugee and migrant support groups mark International Migrants’ Day with protests outside the Home Office. (My London Diary, 19 December 2019)

20 December: The government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes its second reading in the House of Commons. Its removal of the obligation to reunite lone refugee children stranded in Europe with family members in the UK is condemned by opposition politicians and refugee charities. (Parliament UK, 20 December 2019; Guardian, 22 December 2019)

28 December: Days after charity Safe Passage reveals that the Home Office has ignored more than 1,400 offers of accommodation for child refugees from local councils, fostering agencies say dozens of foster places remain unused and the Home Office’ failure to take lone child refugees is not based on child welfare or capacity but is ideologically motivated. (Guardian, 21 December 2019, Observer, 29 December 2019)

Borders and internal controls

13 December: Videos obtained by Der Spiegel, verified by six former and serving law enforcement officers, show masked men, some dressed in military-style clothing with no national emblems – almost certainly Greek officials – carrying out ‘illegal pushbacks’ from Greece into Turkey across the river Evros. (Der Spiegel, 13 December 2019)

17 December: The Guardian reveals that an asylum seeker was stabbed by her violent husband while she waited in France, as the Home Office wrongly delayed, then refused her application to join her sister in the UK. (Guardian, 17 December 2019)

17 December: Glenda Caesar, 58, who has lived in the UK since she was three months old, says she will refuse the ‘insulting’ £22,264 compensation offered by the Home Office under the Windrush scheme as compensation for ten years’ destitution, after she was sacked from her job and unable to get other work for her inability to prove her status, and for refusal of benefits to which she was entitled. (Guardian, 17 December 2019)

17 December: 69 people, including 10 children, on five boats are intercepted in the English Channel and brought ashore at Dover. (Sky News, 17 December 2019)

18 December: In Italy, a 25-year-old Pakistani man living in the Cara camp of Gradisca is feared drowned after he slipped into the Isonzo river. (Il Piccolo, 18 December 2019)

20 December: The body of a young woman who fell from a dinghy off the Kent coast in August 2019 is identified as PhD student Mitra Mehrad, who was crossing the Channel in a boat with 20 passengers when she and three others fell. Her body was found nine days later, 30 miles off the coast of the Netherlands. (BBC News, 20 December 2019)

22 December: Migrant eye-witnesses to a shooting by a Croatian police officer of Farouk, an 18-year-old Afghan boy, in woods close to the border with Slovenia, which left him with life-threatening injuries to his thorax and abdomen, say he was deliberately shot and they were threatened with the same fate. (Guardian, 22 December 2019)

23 December: Six people, including two children, most likely from Syria, drown after their overcrowded boat capsizes in the Danube river as they try to cross from Serbia to Croatia. (Are You Syrious, 23 December 2019)

Libya crisis

24 December: A report by MSF Libya concludes that European taxpayers’ money is used to confine people indefinitely in squalid conditions and prevent them exercising their fundamental right to seek asylum in Europe. In clandestine prisons run by traffickers, the following are reported: ‘burning plastic poured on skin, daily beatings, and torture inflicted during a phone call to the victims’ relatives to convince them to pay’. (Are You Syrious, 24 December 2019)

Deportations

17 December: After campaigning at St Cronan’s School in Ireland, a deportation order is lifted against 10-year-old Eric Zhi Ying Xue. Around 200 children are in the same position as Eric, who was born in Ireland but is not a citizen, say migrant groups. (RTE, 17 December 2019)

Reception and detention

19 December: The Swedish Migration Committee says that from July 2020 new asylum regulations will take away the daily allowance of those asylum seekers who arrange their own accommodation in areas classified as a ‘socio-economically vulnerable’. (Are You Syrious, 19 December 2019)

24 December: In a legal first, the European Court of Human Rights orders the Greek government to transfer five migrant children living in appalling conditions in the Samos ‘hotspot’ to ‘appropriate housing’ within 24 hours, pending a hearing of the case brought on behalf of the children by the Greek Council for Refugees and NGOs ASGI and Still I Rise, who argue that keeping children in such conditions is inhuman and degrading. (Still I Rise, 2 January 2020)

26 December: The Greek Forum for Refugees reports that two male asylum-seekers, one from Iraq and one from Afghanistan, living in a hotel in Kilkis, northern Greece, close to the North Macedonia border, have committed suicide. (Greek Forum for Refugees, 26 December 2019

Criminalisation of solidarity

31 December 2019: Salam Aldeen, who has worked in Greece as a humanitarian emergency responder for the last five years as part of Team Humanity, is deported from the Greek island of Lesbos after being arrested as ‘a public threat’ on 11 December. Aldeen learned that he was being deported after being held without formal charge for 16 days, and had only three days to pack up and say his goodbyes. (Team Humanity press release, 11 December 2019; Are You Syrious, 1 January 2020)

Citizenship

19 December: The High Court rules that the Home Office charge of over £1,000 to register children as British is unlawful. The administrative cost of registration is £372. (Free Movement, 19 December 2019)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND ARMED FORCES

@davidperrotin ©

16 December: Oriana, a 30-year-old French woman, claims she was handcuffed, kicked and punched and her face slammed into the ground by police after a minor car accident in the Parisian suburb of Créteil, and that police in two districts refused to accept her complaint of police violence. She finally complained to the IGPN (French police complaints authority). She has been charged with violence against a police officer and will appear in court on 5 October 2020. (Loopsider, 20 December 2019)

19 December: The armed forces ombudsman says that incidents of racism are happening more frequently and the Ministry of Defence must do more to tackle racism among armed forces personnel, after an employment tribunal ruled that two former paratroopers had been subjected to highly offensive racial harassment which the MoD took insufficient steps to prevent. (Independent, 19 December 2019)

19 December: After a legal challenge brought by Rights Watch, the government withdraws Lord Carlile QC, who had previously voiced strong support for the Prevent programme, as independent reviewer of the government’s counter-radicalisation programme. (Guardian, 19 December 2019)

19 December: The Met police delete the details of a primary school child from the Prevent database following a legal challenge, but Counter-Terrorism Police Headquarters, the Home Office and a number of police forces across England and Wales refuse to reveal the number of individuals on the database. (Guardian, 19 December 2019)

20 December: The Investigatory Powers Tribunal rules that MI5’s partly secret policy allowing agents and informants to participate in serious crimes is lawful. Civil liberties groups will appeal. (Guardian, 20 December 2019)

20 December: Home Office figures reveal that the use of Taser stun guns by police forces in England and Wales reached a record high last year (April 2018 – March 2019). The government plans to provide funding for Tasers for a further 10,000 police officers in the coming years. (Guardian, 20 December 2019)

20 December: The Met police backs the senior detective who led the controversial investigation resulting in charges against a black woman superintendent, despite the detective having been named in a previous race discrimination and victimisation case, which the Black Police Association claims creates a conflict of interest. (Guardian, 21 December 2019)

26 December: Freedom of Information requests reveal that police forces have paid £30 million to settle claims in the past four years, with the Met police paying nearly £20 million, including nearly £8m to settle claims of misfeasance by officers, and Lancashire, West Midlands and Warwickshire police also making large settlements. The Northern Police Monitoring Project (NPMP) says the payments reveal the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of police misconduct. (Guardian, 26 December 2019)

27 December: A Guardian investigation reveals a surge in councils’ use of public space protection orders (PSPOs), with fines imposed in some areas for gathering in groups of two or more, for swearing, dropping litter, shouting, riding bicycles wantonly or furiously, begging or sleeping in tents. (Guardian, 27 December 2019)

27 December: Kevan Thakrar, a joint enterprise life prisoner, is stabbed four times with a sharpened piece of wood in a Close Supervision Centre aHMP Full Sutton, East Yorkshire by a known racist prisoner, says the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee. (Yorkshire Post, 27 December 2019)

27 December: Police Scotland reveals that more than 100 children, some as young as 13, have been subjected to strip-searches since 2017, and that in 86 per cent of cases no item of concern was found. (Morning Star, 27 December 2019)

31 December: The number of homicides in London has hit a 10-year high and there has been a surge in knife and gang-related killings since 2014, new figures from the Metropolitan Police show. (Guardian, 31 December 2019)

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

UK 

11 December: Police investigating a plan to mount an extreme-right attack inspired by the Christchurch massacre carry out dawn raids in Luton, arresting a Polish man who is suspected of plotting the atrocity. (Daily Mail Online, 12 December 2019)

13 December: Home Office statistics reveal that referrals to the Prevent programme for far-right extremism rose by 36 per cent in 2018/19 and now account for 18 per cent of all referrals. Of the 394 individuals who received Channel support, 45 percent were referred for concerns related to Islamist extremism and 44 percent for concerns related to right-wing extremism. (Guardian, 13 December, Counterterrorism Policing, 19 December, Birmingham Live, 20 December 2019))

16 December: Perth Against Racism reports that ‘It’s Okay to be White’ neo-nazi stickers have been posted across the city centre. (Daily Record, 16 December 2019)

16 December: Simon Flint from County Durham is sentenced to thirty months in prison after being found guilty at Teeside Crown Court of collecting weapons and explosives. During the trial, Youtube evidence was presented of Flint raging against immigration, ritual slaughter and Theresa May. (BBC News, 16 December, The Northern Echo, 9 December 2019)

Europe

16 December: Five far-right activists with suspected connections to Action Française are arrested in Le Mans, France after going on the rampage, destroying property including a gay bar. (Euronews, 16 December 2019)

17 December: Days after three Spanish footballers are sentenced to 38 years each for the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl in Aranda de Duero, northern Spain, a member of Casal Romeu, a branch of the far-right Valentia Forum in the working-class Orriols neighbourhood of Valencia, disseminates confidential audio material of the girl on social media – a criminal offence which carries a five-year sentence – and complains that the defendants did not get a fair trial because of ‘feminist ideology’. (Euro Weekly News, 13 December, El Diario, 17 December 2019)

Far-right party Golden Dawn poster

18 December: After a four-year trial in Greece involving 400 hearings, the public prosecutor proposes that the whole Golden Dawn parliamentary group be exempted from the charge of membership of a criminal organisation. Though the recommendation to the judges is not binding, anti-fascists are shocked at the turn the case has taken. (Golden Dawn Watch, 21 December 2019)

19 December: Vicente Casinos, a 60-year-old lifelong neo-Nazi and member of España 2000, is arrested in Valencia following a ten-month terrorism investigation, and an arsenal of illegal weapons and ammunition is seized from his home together with a cache of material from far-right groups including Radical Action, KKK, MSR, Blood & Honour and Combat 18. Casinos had posted pictures of his weapons online, together with Nazi symbols and threats against journalists who investigate the far Right. (Público, 27 December 2019)

21 December: Anti-fascists successfully mount a blockade around a country estate purchased as a meeting place for the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany, to prevent them leaving the site to march through the village of Eschede in Lower Saxony. (Deutsche Welle, 21 December 2019)

MEDIA AND CULTURE

12 December: A Rome civil court orders Facebook to reopen the account of Italian neo-fascist group CasaPound, and to pay the group €800 for each day since the account was closed in early September. (Guardian, 12 December 2019)

14 December: Unesco removes the Aalst carnival from its heritage list due to ‘recurring repetition of racist and antisemitic representations’ at the event. The unrepentant mayor claims that Aalst is ‘the capital of mockery and satire’. (Independent, 14 December 2019)

17 December: The editor of the Jewish Chronicle is criticised by Jewish groups for publishing a piece by Melanie Phillips which argues that there is no such thing as Islamophobia – a ‘profoundly anti-Jew’ bogus label invented to mimic anti-Semitism. (Guardian, 17 December 2019)

23 December: ITV apologises for misrepresenting in headlines and tweets grime artist Stormzy’s comments in an interview with La Repubblica, after the artist accused media outlets of ‘intentionally spinning my words for some click bait’. The media suggested Stormzy had said the UK was 100 percent racist, when he actually said he 100 percent believed there was racism in the country. (Guardian, 23 December 2019)

30 December: The outgoing chair of the Independent Press Standards Commission says the portrayal of Islam and Muslims in the British press has been ‘the most difficult issue’ he has faced and he suspects that Muslims are sometimes written about in ways that newspapers would not consider, if it were Jews or Roman Catholics. (Financial Times (£), 30 December 2019, Muslim Times, 1 January 2020)

EDUCATION

12 December: Edinburgh city council education department launches an investigation into equalities processes after parents at Dalry primary school accuse the authority of institutional racism over cuts in English as an Additional Language (EAL) provision. 203 of 298 children at the school need EAL support. (Edinburgh Evening News, 12 December 2019)

13 December: Bristol University is accused of not doing enough to counter racism on campus in an open letter signed by student union leaders. Amongst many examples cited are racist images ‘appearing in halls of residences’. (Bristol Live, 13 December 2019)

31 December: Former MP Frank Field, leader of a multi-academy trust, accuses Winchester and Dulwich colleges of racism for their refusal of a £1 million bequest which could only be used for the education of poor white boys. (Independent, 30 December 2019, Times, 1 January 2020)

WELFARE

17 December: Austria’s constitutional court overturns a law passed by Austria’s previous right-wing coalition government which deducted €300 a month from the benefits of claimants who could not prove proficiency in German or English. The court rules that the law targets immigrants and is unconstitutional. (The Local, 17 December 2019)

31 December: The prosecutor at the Oberhausen District Court in Germany is criticised after suggesting that the five children of a woman active in the Kurdish freedom struggle and protests against war in northern Syria, can be taken into care because she is indoctrinating them with PKK propaganda. (Morning Star, 31 December 2019)

EMPLOYMENT AND EXPLOITATION

23 December: In Catania, Sicily, two men are arrested and accused of exploiting eight fieldworkers who worked for €25 per day, one third of the minimum wage, and were forced to share unhygienic accommodation in a large warehouse-like building. (Are You Syrious, 23 December 2019)

30 December: In what is described as Italy’s first conviction for labour trafficking of European citizens, a Romanian man is found guilty of human trafficking. The case arose out of a Guardian exposé of the use for forced labour and prostitution of thousands of Romanian women on farms in Ragusa, Sicily. (Guardian, 30 December 2019)

DISCRIMINATION

12 December: Artificial intelligence pioneer Professor Noel Sharkey calls for all algorithms that make life-changing decisions in areas including job appointments and immigration to be halted because they are so ‘infected with biases’ that their decision-making processes cannot be fair or trusted. (Guardian, 12 December 2019)

SPORT

17 December: In Italy, a Serie A football executive apologises for artwork depicting apes under the slogan ‘No to Racism’ after criticisms from his own club and the FARE Network. (Espn.co.uk, 18 December 2019)

17 December: A Stoke City fan is banned for three years and ordered to pay costs after racially abusing the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper in September. (BBC News, 17 December 2019)

22 December: The Professional Footballers’ Association calls on the government to open an investigation into racism in football after monkey chants against Chelsea’s Antonio Rüdiger stopped the premier league fixture with Tottenham. Missiles are also said to have been thrown during the match. (Metro, 23 December 2019, Guardian, 22 December 2019)

25 December: After the prime minister and the home secretary say the football authorities must do more to tackle racism, West Ham striker Michail Antonio calls for clubs to have points deducted for racist abuse, which he says will cause fans to police themselves. (Guardian, 23, 25 December 2019)

26 December: Figures show that the number of football matches in England and Wales where a hate crime was reported increased by 47 per cent last season, but the Football Association of Wales found just one incident proven since 2015, leading to calls for an overhaul of the investigation system. (BBC News, 26 December 2019)

29 December: Newtongrange Star, a Scottish under-20s football team, walks off during a match as a key player is allegedly called a monkey by the rival team’s coach. (Daily Record, 29 December 2019)

31 December: The Daily Record calls for the rooting out of racism from Scottish football after claims that Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos was abused at Celtic Park and Dundee’s Kane Hemmings abused at Tayside. (Daily Record, 31 December 2019)

VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

13 December: After he attempts to stop a man urinating at Morden underground station, a tube worker is subjected to a racist rant by a man who screams ‘f***ing dirty Muslim c***’ A bystander films the abuse. (Daily Mirror, 14 December 2019)

14 December: Journalist Hannah Partos reports that she was on a bus coming home from central London when a group of men started shouting ‘are there any Jews on the bus, Jews get off the bus, fucking Jews’. She tweets that she considers the incident is related to the political climate since the election. (Twitter, 14 December 2019)

15 December: Masked assailants use wooden bars to smash the windows of a centre for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Dresden. (Neues Deutschland, 15 December 2019)

16 December: Two men are convicted of racially aggravated offences, including assault, against a taxi driver in Blackburn in September 2018. (Lancashire Telegraph, 16 December 2019)

21 December: A Gloucester couple are jailed for six months for unleashing a 15-minute racist attack on a black man in the cathedral grounds in June, which left him bruised and bleeding. (Gloucester Live, 21 December 2019)

17 December: In Croydon, a 16-year-old Muslim teenager who wears a hijab is accosted by a stranger on her way to college and told she is a ‘problem in the community’ and that she should ‘move away’ from the area. The incident is circulated by the girl’s sister on Twitter. (Evening Standard, 17 December 2019)

18 December: Two sisters who were punched, kicked and racially abused by a hostile shopper in Tesco at Thornton Heath, south London on 23 November are given a voucher by Tesco. (My London, 18 December 2019)

22 December: Hasan Patel, a 16-year-old Muslim Labour activist, reports repeated racist comments against him online to the Lancashire constabulary, including one in which he was sent a mock image of himself burning on a cross alongside an image of Boris Johnson’s face imposed on a Ku Klux Klan-like figure. (Metro, 22 December 2019)

24 December: A homeless man, described as the great-great-grandson of King George V, is convicted of racially aggravated harassment at London’s Victoria Station in April and sentenced to 16 weeks in jail. (Daily Mail, 24 December 2019)

26 December: In Scotland a man walking his dog in Blairhill, Fife is racially abused and then physically assaulted. (The Courier, 26 December 2019)

26 December: A drunken ‘British’ medical student from Poland is filmed doing a Nazi salute on a Wizz Air flight from Poland and making racist comments such as ‘Your job is to be the [N-word] of the world.’ On landing in Liverpool, he is arrested and is being investigated for racially aggravated harassment. (Euroweekly, 26 December 2019)

27 December: According to an analysis of Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) figures, the proportion of hate crimes prosecuted has fallen from a quarter to less than one in ten over the past 6 years, despite reported attacks more than doubling. (Independent, 27 December 2019)

29 December: Anti-Semitic graffiti reflecting the conspiracy theory that Jewish people were behind 9/11 are sprayed on a synagogue and several north London shop fronts in the Hampstead and Belsize Park area during Hanukkah. Campaigning group Jewdas says that the British Movement has been covering the area with ‘nasty fascist stickers’ for the past 18 months. (Morning Star, 29 December 2019)

30 December: Two men who the German media suggest are known ‘far-right extremists’ are arrested after 40 gravestones are vandalised in a Jewish cemetery in the small western town of Geilenkirchen. (Deutsche Welle, 30 December 2019)

30 December: FOI requests establish that just 17 out of 1,851 incidents (0.92 per cent) investigated since 2017 by Britain’s first police ‘online hate crime hub’ resulted in charges being brought, with prosecutions following in 7 cases. In 59 cases, cautions, harassment warnings, youth referrals, school interventions, apologies and other orders were issued. (Morning Star, 30 December 2019)

31 December: Anti-Semitic slogans including ‘Jewish snakes out’ are daubed on the recently-restored historic synagogue of Trikala, north of Athens. (France 24, 31 December 2019)

 

This calendar was compiled by the IRR News team with the help of Laura Wormington and Graeme Atkinson.

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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