Calendar of racism and resistance (13 – 27 November 2019)

November 28, 2019 — 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 migrant rights

20 November: Doctors, nurses, and healthcare unions call on the prime minister to scrap the ‘health surcharge’ for non-EU NHS staff accessing NHS treatment after he proposes to increase the amount to £625 per year. ‘Raising the NHS surcharge for the second time in two years is nothing more than a way to scapegoat migrants and distract everybody from the fact that it’s austerity that is crippling our NHS,’ says Minnie Rahman from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. (Guardian, 20 November 2019)

22 November:  Legal aid organisations in Greece sign an open letter deploring the fact that from 15 to 20 November, the Regional Asylum Office of Lesvos served negative asylum decisions on 28 asylum seekers from sub-Saharan African countries without conducting the legally mandatory asylum interview. (Deportation Monitoring Aegean, 24 November 2019, Refugee Support Aegean, 22 November 2019)

24 November: The Home Office is facing investigation by the Parliamentary Ombudsman over failure to respond to complaints about its ‘incompetent’ outsourced visa service, after misconduct by Dubai-based VFS Global. Home Office revenues from overseas visa applications have soared ninefold to £1.6bn since visa services were outsourced, which the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association said had led to a lack of transparency or accountability for poor service. (Independent, 24 November 2019)

25 November: Step Up Migrant Women (SUMW), a coalition of more than 40 organisations, launches a petition calling on the next government to introduce an inclusive version of the Domestic Abuse Bill to ensure migrant survivors of domestic abuse have access to the specialist services they need in a safe environment free from discrimination. (Amnesty International Press Release, 25 November 2019)

Reception and detention

20 November: The Greek government says it will close down overcrowded camps on Lesbos, Chios and Samos and replace them with closed complexes for identification, relocation and deportation with a capacity of at least 5,000 people. NGOs working on the islands are likely to face stricter controls. (Guardian, 20 November 2019)

27 November: The Supreme Court rules that between 2014 and 2017, the Home Office unlawfully detained thousands of asylum seekers, including survivors of torture, whom it proposed to return to EU member states under the Dublin regulation, without performing the mandatory assessment of their risk of absconding. Compensation for unlawful detention could total millions of pounds. (Guardian, 27 November 2019)

Borders and internal controls

10 November: Documents reveal that Malta has secretly negotiated a ‘mutual cooperation’ agreement with Libya, whereby Armed Forces of Malta will coordinate with the Libyan coastguard to intercept migrants heading for Malta. (Times of Malta, 10 November 2019)

14 November: The Information Commissioner’s Office says it has ‘wide ranging and serious concerns’ about the Department for Education (DfE) breaching data protection after it finds the department shared pupils’ data with the Home Office, including home addresses, nationalities, and countries of birth, for immigration enforcement purposes. The investigation came in response to a complaint by Against Borders for Children, represented by Liberty, which argued the DfE had made schools complicit in the hostile environment. (Independent, 14 November 2019)

17 November: In the northern Adriatic town of Rijeka, Croatian police fire on a group of migrants trying to cross the border into Slovenia, leaving one man fighting for his life, having to undergo four operations after being shot multiple times in the stomach, spine and chest area. The police say the shooting was a single accidental incident. (Reuters, 17 November 2019, AYS, 19 November 2019)

19 November: Data collected by the Border Violence Monitoring Network reveals that 1,279 refugees have been shot at or threatened with guns by Croatian police officers since 2017. (AYS, 19 November 2019)

19 November: 25 migrants are found by Dutch authorities in a refrigerated container on board a ferry travelling from Vlaardingen, Netherlands to Sussex. After the ferry returns to the Dutch port, two are taken to hospital to be checked for hypothermia and the rest are processed by Dutch police. The origins of the migrants are currently unknown. (Guardian, 19 November 2019)

19 November: A Sicilian investigating magistrate places former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini under investigation on charges of abduction and dereliction of duty, in relation to the 164 migrants who spent three weeks at sea in August 2019 after being rescued by the Open Arms SAR NGO which was refused permission to dock on Lampedusa. (Ansa, 19 November 2019)

20 November: The unredacted version of a document by the presidency of the EU council on cooperation with the Libyan coastguard, leaked to the press, reveals that the EU is incapable of dealing with the widespread human rights violations in Libya, including deaths and disappearances, and trafficking, and that the detention of migrants is a ‘profitable business model’ for Libya’s government. (Guardian, 20 November 2019)

22 November: As part of an internal displacement scheme aimed at removing undocumented people in transit, a large-scale police operation targeting refugee squats is conducted in and around Šid, northern Serbia. (AYS, 24 November 2019)

23 November: Roy Harris, a Windrush migrant who came to the UK age 6, says he is left destitute and living in a bin shed while facing deportation and experiencing serious health problems. He has been unable to work or access public funds after the Home Office overturned a decision to grant him a residence permit, saying it had made an ‘administrative error’. (Guardian, 23 November 2019)

25 November: At a plea hearing at the Old Bailey in London, Mo Robinson, a lorry driver charged with the manslaughter of the 39 Vietnamese migrants found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex, pleads guilty to conspiracy to assist illegal immigration. (Guardian, 25 November 2019)

Citizenship

11-13 November: British citizenship-by-investment firm Henley & Partners hosts a London conference where countries sell citizenship to super-wealthy investors, a practice described as ‘dangerous’, ‘problematic’ and ‘unfair’ by incoming European Commission vice-president Véra Jourová. (Guardian, 16 November 2019)

Image from crowdfunder

13 November: Hubert Howard’s daughter launches a crowdfunding appeal to pay for her father’s funeral, the day after the Windrush victim died, jobless and in debt, with no compensation or apology from the Home Office, which finally granted him citizenship three weeks earlier following a 14-year fight to prove his right to stay. Donate here. (Voice online, 21 November 2019)

16 November: Home secretary Priti Patel is revealed to have intervened to block a rescue operation to bring more than 60 British minors, including three orphans, home from Syria, citing ‘security concerns’, after the evacuation plan had been prepared and a number of councils had offered care packages and reintegration programmes. The charity Save the Children describes the intervention as ‘grievous irresponsibility’. (Guardian, 16 November 2019)

23 November: A German woman suspected of being a member of ‘Islamic State’ and her three children are repatriated from Syria to Germany, where the authorities say they will decide on the repatriation of ‘jihadi wives’ on a case-by-case basis. (Deutsche Welle in English, 23 November 2019)

22 November: The charity Save the Children calls on the UK government to repatriate the estimated 60 British children caught up in the Islamic State conflict in Syria. The Home Office says it will take a case-by-case approach but is understood to have no plans for further repatriations for the foreseeable future following the repatriation of three orphan children. (Guardian, 22 November 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS – UK

15 November: Home secretary Priti Patel, who has proposed new police powers to move on gypsy camps, is roundly criticised for electioneering by campaigners. The police also oppose her plans to criminalise unauthorised encampments, saying using the charge of criminal trespass in this way could breach the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act. (Guardian, 14 November, Inews, 15 November, 2019)

17 November: The 3million campaign accuses Michael Gove of deliberately ‘lying to the public’ in a Daily Mail article in which he claimed that EU citizens had ‘preferential access to free NHS care… without paying in’. (Guardian, 17 November 2019)

19 November: The BBC publishes a fact sheet on 23 prospective Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Brexit party candidates who ‘fell at the first hurdle’, with many deselections linked to accusations of  anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, sexist or homophobic comments, most of which were made online, sometimes many years ago. The BBC comments that ‘Tweet dredging – going through people’s social media history to look for incriminating posts – has grown massively’.  (BBC News, 19 November 2019)

25 November: Rosamund Beattie, a candidate for the Brexit party, is accused of promoting ‘crude anti-Muslim racism’ and ‘hostility to immigrants’ in reference to comments she posted online during the 2017 general election, including that the UK should ‘remove citizenship’ of Muslim terror suspects and ‘intern and deport the threats to our lives and lifestyle’. (Evening Standard, 25 November 2019)

26 November: The Labour party launches a ‘Race and Faith’ manifesto, pledging that schoolchildren will be taught about injustice and the role of imperialism and will be taught to combat racism and anti-Semitism, in a move welcomed by NUT joint general secretary Mary Bousted. (BBC News, 26 November 2019)

26 November: In an article for The Times, chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis calls Jeremy Corbyn unfit to be prime minister for his failure to tackle anti-Semitism, an accusation refuted by the Labour Party. (Independent, 26 November 2019)

27 November:  Pressed for an apology for Islamophobia in the Tory party, as files reveal inflammatory comments by 25 sitting and former councillors and candidate Parvez Akhtar calls out ‘blatant discrimination’ in the party, Boris Johnson apologises for the ‘hurt and offence’. Baroness Warsi says Johnson feels there are no consequences for his ‘crass and racist’ words. (BBC News, 27 November 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS – EUROPE

13 November: Alternative for Germany’s Stephan Brandner is stripped of his role as head of the Bundestag’s legal affairs committee, on the grounds that he ‘was not able to meet the demands of his office or ‘always guarantee respect for people’, for his frequent use of anti-Semitic language – the first such dismissal in the Bundestag’s 70-year history. (Deutsche Welle, 13 November 2019)

21 November: Car manufacturer Volkswagen reacts to the booking of its Halle sports arena in Brunswick by Alternative for Germany for its national congress by demanding that its name be covered, as the party ‘stands unequivocally against the values of our company such as respect, diversity, tolerance and the spirit of partnership’. (Reuters, 21 November 2019)

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

11 November: Ten thousand anti-fascists gather in Warsaw as the official mobilisation on Poland’s Independence Day is dominated by far-right and nationalist groups, who chant anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ slogans and make anti-Semitic speeches. Discredited American psychologist Paul Cameron tells the crowds, ‘Brave Poles saved Europe from Islam, now they will save from the deadly LGBT invasion’. (Vice News, 12 November 2019)

13 November: Two neo-fascists, one connected to Movimento Idea Sociale (MIS), are arrested in connection with a plot to bomb a mosque in the central Italian town of Colle di Val d’Elsa. Ten more people are under investigation after weapons and explosives are found in searches across Siena province. (ANSA, 13 November 2019)

13 November: The Polish internal security agency, ABW, says it has broken up a group  planning terror attacks on Muslims, with two people detained in Warsaw and Szczecin and weapons, explosives, ammunition, and highly toxic chemicals seized in raids.  (Notes from Poland, 13 November 2019)

14 November: In Denmark, a prominent member of the Nordic Resistance Movement and another suspect are arrested following vandalism of 84 Jewish tombstones in the city of Randers on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. (BBC News, 14 November 2019)

19 November: Anti-fascists protesting at a memorial mass for Franco in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, are reported to the public prosecutor for possible hate crimes after eggs are thrown and the slogan ‘Neither forget nor forgive’ is painted on the church. (El Día, 20 November 2019)

19 November: As the far-right League party opens its regional election campaign in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, at least 7,000 people demonstrate in Modena as part of the growing ‘sardines’ movement in which opponents attempt to beat the numbers Matteo Salvini draws to his rallies. (Guardian, 19 November 2019)

20 November:  The Global Terrorism Index 2019 notes that while there has been a downward trend for the fourth consecutive year in terrorism-related deaths, there is a dangerous rise in far-right terrorism in the west, Europe and north America, with 17.2 percent of terrorist incidents in the west attributed to the extreme Right. (Euractiv.com, 20 November 2019)

23 November: Around 6,000 anti-fascists vastly outnumber the 120 neo-nazis of the National Democratic Party who march in Hanover, Lower Saxony, in protest against journalists exposing far-right activities and in support of a woman recently convicted of Holocaust denial.  (Deutsche Welle in English, 23 November 2019)

©Fields of Light photography

25 November: On UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children, the far-right Vox party’s Javier Ortega Smith refuses to sign a Madrid city council declaration condemning violence against women. He claims that the all-party declaration addresses only one side of gender violence and that ‘there are also men who suffer violence from women and are killed by their wives’. (Guardian, 25 November 2019)

 

POLICING AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

14 November: The two West Mercia officers facing criminal charges in connection with the death in August 2016 of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson are suspended from duty. The family express surprise that their initial suspension had been lifted in February 2018 and it had taken so long to re-impose it. (Guardian, 14 November 2019)

18 November: The inquest opens in Liverpool into the death of autistic teenager Mzee Mohammed-Daley, who died following restraint and arrest by security staff and Merseyside police at Liverpool One shopping complex on 13 July 2016. The inquest is expected to last four weeks. (Inquest press release, 18 November 2019)

19 November: The Metropolitan police launch an investigation after Mani Arthur, the founder of the Black Cyclists Network, was subjected to a ‘degrading’ police drugs search under the pretext that he smelled of cannabis. (Guardian, 19 November 2019)

19 November: Boris Johnson sets out plans to tackle knife crime by expanding controversial stop-and-search powers which would allow police to search people without having any grounds for suspicion. (Guardian, 19 November 2019)

25 November: The Independent Office for Police Conduct says it was not contacted over the finding in February of a swastika graffiti in an area of Edmonton police station accessible only to officers and staff, which the Met police say they investigated but were unable to identify a perpetrator. (Guardian, 25 November 2019)

DISCRIMINATION

20 November: Previously unpublished figures released to Sinn Fein show that only €4 million of the €13 million allocated by the Department of Housing in Ireland for Travellers’ accommodation has been spent, with fourteen local authorities failing to spend any of the funds. At the same time, the number of Travellers living on unauthorised sites, without running water, toilets or secure electricity supplies, is growing. (Irish Times, 20 November 2019)

MEDIA AND CULTURE

19 November: Reem Alsayyah, a Syrian refugee whose art is featured in the British Museum’s Troy exhibition, writes an open letter to the museum directors urging them to sever ties with BP, which she says is ‘fuelling conflict and colonialism in the Middle East in order to access its oil reserves.’ (Morning Star, 19 November 2019)

20 November: The German publisher Ullstein pulls out of publishing a book by Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, after Hallam gives an interview to Die Zeit newspaper where he appears to downplay the Holocaust, which he refers to as ‘just another fuckery’. The German branch of Extinction Rebellion distance themselves from his comments. (Guardian, 20 November 2019)

26 November: Cinema chains Showcase and Vue are accused of racism in a decision to pull the film Blue Story (about ‘gangs’) from their screens following a brawl at a screening in the west Midlands. Showcase decides to reinstate the film after protests. (Guardian, 26 November 2019)

EMPLOYMENT AND EXPLOITATION

14 November: Norway’s Council of Ethics, which monitors investments in the country’s pension funds, bans investment in British security company G4S, which employs 30,000 workers around the world, because of the ‘unacceptable risk of the company contributing to human rights violations’, in particular towards migrant workers in the Middle East. (Guardian, 14 November 2019)

17 November: Charity fund manager CCLA, working with a UN-supported investment network, launches an initiative against slavery in supply chains, ‘Find it, Fix it, Prevent it’, claiming that nearly every company in the UK has slavery somewhere in its supply chain, accounting for billions of pounds annually. (Guardian, 17 November 2019)

19 November: Hundreds of cleaners, porters, and security officers at University College London, outsourced to Sodexo and Axis, go on strike to demand equal employment rights and an end to ‘bullying and intimidation’. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) says the workers, the majority of whom are migrants or from ethnic minorities, receive worse basic and sick pay, pension and parental leave than in-house colleagues. (Independent, 19 November 2019)

22 November: Former staff, mainly EU migrants, picket Soho restaurant Martha’s, a celebrities’ favourite, claiming they are owed wages which have not been paid. (Guardian, 22 November 2019)

HOUSING

14 November: The Scottish Refugee Council says it is ‘bitterly disappointed’ as appeal judges uphold a ruling that it is lawful for Serco, housing contractor for the Home Office, to carry out lock-change evictions of refused asylum seekers in Glasgow without obtaining a court order because it is not a public authority. Fiona McPhail, solicitor for Shelter Scotland, says there is a ‘high risk’ those evicted will become homeless. (Daily Record, 14 November 2019; Electronic Immigration Network, 18 November 2019)

23 November: Campaigners in Wood Green, London, criticise plans drawn up by a billionaire property tycoon who is planning to cram more than 200 tiny flats into an office building there. They describe it as a ‘human warehouse’ that would be filled with people living in ‘cramped single-occupancy shoeboxes’ like ‘rabbits in hutches’. (Guardian, 23 November)

EDUCATION

17 November: Video evidence emerges showing Ebenezer Azamati, a blind 25-year-old student from Ghana, being ‘dragged by his ankles’ by security officers from an Oxford Union debate for which he had reserved a seat. The Oxford University Africa Society calls for the resignation of the union president. (Guardian, 17 November 2019)

20 November: Oxford Union president Brendan McGrath, who had claimed that Ebenezer Azamati had behaved violently, steps down, saying he had ‘manifestly failed’ in his duty to ensure that every member felt welcome and that he was wrong to blame Azamati in the aftermath of the incident. (Guardian, 20 November 2019)

24 November: As a week of industrial action is planned at sixty campuses across the UK, Liverpool university sends emails to undergraduate students warning them it is unlawful to join pickets, and in the same email, warning international students that those choosing not to cross picket lines to attend teaching sessions risked jeopardising their visa. (Guardian, 24 November 2019)

HEALTH

24 November: In the first case of its kind, mental health nurse Colleridge Bessong, supported by the Royal College of Nursing, takes legal action against the Pennine Care NHS trust for failing to protect him against assault from a patient known to be racist and aggressive. The patient punched him eight times, threatened to stab him with a pen and said ‘you fucking black, I’m going to stab you now’. (Guardian, 24 November 2019)

SPORT

19 November: A Sunderland football fan accused of a series of racially aggravated offences at an away game at Burton Albion is to stand trial. (Sunderland Echo, 19 November 2019)

20 November: The FA charges Mark Sampson, Stevenage caretaker manager and former England women’s manager, with aggravated breach of its conduct rules over alleged racist comments made to a former coach at the club. (Independent, 20 November 2019)

21 November: Home Office figures reveal a 66 per cent increase in hate crimes at professional football matches in England and Wales, with Burnley having the most reported incidents. (BBC News, 21 November 2019)

23 November: Players in all the top two Dutch football divisions stop play for a minute after kick-off while the words ‘Racism? Then we won’t play football!’ are screened across stadia, in a coordinated action following abuse directed at Excelsior winger Ahmad Mendes Moreira at Den Bosch the previous week. (Sky Sports, 23 November 2019)

26 November: Following the racial abuse of England fast bowler Jofra Archer at a New Zealand test match, the England captain pledges to support the player and the cricket boards are investigating. (Guardian, 26 November 2019)

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

12 November: A multi-millionaire landlord who had previously banned ‘coloured tenants’ for their ‘curry smells’, is told to pay £1,000 in compensation to a traffic warden whom he racially abused after getting a parking ticket. (Daily Mail, 12 November 2019)

12 November: In the wake of a surge in racist incidents, 55 percent of Italians surveyed in a poll say racist acts are sometimes or always ‘justifiable’, the first time in a decade racism has not been condemned outright by the majority. (Guardian, 12 November 2019)

13 November: Police call for witnesses to a racially aggravated assault on 11 November, by three white men near Bradford University, in which a victim sustained minor injuries. (Telegraph and Argus, 13 November 2019)

17 November: Plaid Cymru hits out at Islamophobia directed at one of its activists, a Muslim woman scientist Sahar Al-Faifi. (Metro, 17 November 2019)

19 November: A Wetherspoon’s app is used to send a banana anonymously to a black customer in Bromley as a clear racist message. The incident is reported to police after Wetherspoon’s staff fail to act. (Independent, 19 November 2019)

19 November: A man who repeatedly racially abused an Asian police officer called over a domestic dispute, is handed a community order and told to undertake rehabilitation for his drink problem. (Leicestershire Live, 19 November 2019)

19 November: The Muslim community around Bolton’s Al-Falah mosque is living in fear following what appears to be a random vicious attack to the head with a brick on a Muslim man collecting a Chinese takeaway with his family. (Manchester Evening News, 19 November 2019)

19 November: A Nuneaton man is jailed for 19 months for racially aggravated assault and criminal damage relating to an attack in a pub in June 2018 on two men. ((Warwickshire Police, 22 November 2019)

20 November: A 16-year-old boy is convicted at Manchester Crown Court of preparing terrorist acts. The teenager drew up a ‘hit list’ of areas he wanted to attack in ‘the Jewish system in Durham city area’, which included local synagogues, and wrote in his diary of ‘inevitable race’ war. He is the youngest person to be convicted of planning a terrorist attack in the UK.  (BBC News, 20 November 2019)

23 November: A man is arrested in Birmingham for a racially aggravated public order offence after allegedly directing anti-Semitic abuse at Jewish children on the London underground. A Muslim woman whose intervention was caught on video is widely praised for confronting the man.(Guardian, 23 November 2019)

24 November: Police are treating a night-time paint bomb attack on a Newtownabbey home as a racially motivated hate crime. (ITV News, 24 November 2019)

25 November:  A man in Barton, north Lincolnshire is charged with four counts of assault, criminal damage and racially aggravated harassment. (Grimsby Live, 25 November 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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