Calendar of racism and resistance (18 September – 3 October 2019)

October 3, 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, MIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

Asylum and migrant rights

17 September: The inquest opens into the death of Mulubrhane Medhane Kfleyosus, a 19-year-old asylum seeker from Milton Keynes who took his life on 18 February 2019, the fourth from his friendship group to do so. Milton Keynes social services, an interested party in the case, challenge the family’s proposal to have the scope of the inquiry as wide as possible. (Guardian, 17 September 2019)

18 September: Freedom from Torture and other migrant support organisations publish Lessons not Learned: The failures of asylum decision-making in the UK, which finds that the ‘culture of disbelief’ behind the hostile environment still operates to bar refugees from recognition. Read the report here. (Guardian, 18 September 2019)

18 September: The Public Accounts Committee finds that the Home Office rushed to revoke the visas of students accused of cheating in English-language tests, without assessing the reliability of the evidence. Read its report here. (Guardian, 18 September 2019)

26 September: Italy grants Deniz Pinaroglu, an opponent of the Turkish regime, political asylum one month after he started a hunger strike at a pre-deportation centre in Turin following the initial rejection of his claim. (Are You Syrious, 26 September 2019)

27 September: The head of the Children’s Rights Alliance in Ireland says the country has a moral duty to relocate unaccompanied minors living without shelter or access to education in Greece. Ireland’s justice minister promised in December 2018 to bring 36 unaccompanied minors to the country by the end of 2019, a target it is yet to meet. (InfoMigrants, 27 September 2019)

30 September: The High Court gives permission for a legal challenge to the Home Office practice of allowing Zimbabwean asylum seekers to be interrogated by embassy officials. If successful, the case could oblige the Home Office to review hundreds of failed asylum claims. (Independent, 30 September 2019)

Borders and internal controls

15 September: Members of far-right group Britain First announce plans to patrol Dover beaches to intercept migrants attempting the Channel crossing, a project they are calling ‘Operation White Cliffs’. A spokesperson for the Fire Brigade Union accuses the group of ‘apprehending struggling working class people.’ (Independent, 20 September 2019)

19 September: A Sudanese man is shot dead in Tripoli in front of International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff hours after being returned by the Libyan Coast Guard. The shooting took place when a number of people tried to escape the guards attempting to take them to detention centres.  (IOM, 19 September 2019

23 September: Are You Syrious reports on the tragic death of ‘Ali’, a man who lost his mind after losing his toes to frostbite when police confiscated his shoes as he attempted to cross the Balkans route. On 21 September he died in hospital in the Bosnian town of Bihać, having returned there after being pushed back into Croatia. (Are You Syrious, 23 September 2019)

25 September: Greek prime minister Mitsotakis and Turkish president Erdogan agree at a side meeting of the United Nations to reduce the numbers of displaced people reaching the Greek islands, the day after the Greek government launched a new plan to seal its land borders and improve surveillance at sea to stop people arriving on Greece’s shores. (Ekathimerini, 24, 25 September 2019)

25 September: French president Macron launches a National Debate on Immigration and Migration Policy, with speeches claiming France ‘cannot host everyone’ and that ‘there is not enough cooperation in Europe’ on migration policy. (Aljazeera, 25 September 2019)

Reception and detention

17 September: A Doctors of the World spokesperson accuses the French police of ‘institutional violence’ as more than 700 people, including families and pregnant women, are removed from a migrant camp in Dunkirk in the largest camp eviction by French police in over a year. Home Office staff were invited by the French authorities as part of a collaborative project to reduce the number of attempted boat crossings; NGO Care4Calais warns that the crossings will continue despite camp clearances. (GOV.UK, Guardian, 17 September 2019)

18 September: During the Home Office investigation into the death of Oscar Okwurime in Harmondsworth detention centre, family members claim staff knew he was ill weeks before and did nothing. (Aljazeera, 18 September 2019)

18 September: In a coordinated operation, Greek police evict 150 refugees and migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, among them 30 babies and children, from squats in downtown Athens where the new government has promised to crush ‘illegality in Exarchia’. (Keep Talking Greece, 19 September 2019).

23 September: Greek authorities continue their raids in Athens, evicting 143 people, including 50 children and their families, from the 5th School squat, deporting those without papers and transferring others out of the city to the newly-established Corinthos camp in the middle of a dusty plain, where they are expected to wait for the winter. (Are You Syrious, 23 September 2019)

24 September: In Greece, a 5-year-old Afghan boy is run over by a truck and killed as he plays inside a cardboard box close to the Moria refugee camp, Lesvos. (Ekathimerini, 24 September 2019).

24 September: The outsourcing company G4S says it will not renew its contracts to run Brook House and Tinsley House detention centres when they expire in May 2020, ending its involvement in the asylum and immigration sector. The company was heavily criticised after undercover filming at Brook House for a BBC Panorama programme revealed detainees being abused by staff. (Guardian, BBC, 24 September 2019)

26 September: The German branch of Doctors of the World announces that the organisation is withdrawing from the Anker centre in Bavaria due to poor living conditions that do not allow for successful medical treatment. DOW can no longer carry responsibility for the state of mentally traumatised patients, it says. (Frankfurter Rundschau, 26 September 2019)

28 September: 3,000 people join a protest in Oughterard, Galway, against the conversion of a local hotel into a direct provision centre where asylum seekers will be housed until their asylum claim is assessed. Local independent councillor Thomas Welby says protesters are opposed to the ‘inhumane’ centres, while the Bishop of Galway criticises the state for its lack of transparency and consultation in implementing the controversial system. (Irish Times, 28 September 2019; Independent, 30 September 2019) 

30 September: 200 women at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, where 13,000 residents are housed in converted cargo containers meant for just 3,000 people, stage a sit-in with their children the day after an Afghan mother and possibly her child died in a fatal fire in which at least nineteen people are injured. The women demand details of who died, and call on the authorities to ensure their safety. (Ekathimerini, Guardian, Morning Star, 30 September 2019)

30 September: Parents and children in Athens call for the return of refugee children who have been removed from their schools when Greek authorities evicted over 100 refugees and displaced people from a disused school, the third eviction in two weeks. (Aljazeera, 30 September 2019)

Deportations

25 September: According to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, in the year to August, 2,600 people have been deported by plane from Sweden, nearly matching the figure for the whole of 2015. The biggest single mass deportation so far this year, of fifty men to Afghanistan, occurred earlier this month and was assisted by Frontex. (Are you Syrious, 25 September 2019)

25 September: A British court rules that it has no power to stop the deportation of a 10-year-old girl at risk of female genital mutilation in Sudan, after the Home Office rejects her mother’s asylum application. (Guardian, 25 September 2019)

POLICING AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

17 September: The Guardian identifies a number of cases where young British victims of human trafficking who have been forced to sell drugs in county lines operations are being charged and prosecuted despite guidelines saying prosecution is not in the public interest. (Guardian, 17 September 2019)

18 September: Police forces show interest in an American ‘Spider-Man’ device which entangles suspects in a web of fibre, immobilising them, as a ‘safer’ alternative to tasers. The charity Inquest warns that the device might be dangerous. (Guardian, 18 September 2019)

Priti Patel © DIFID via Wiki Commons

1 October: At the Conservative party conference, home secretary Priti Patel announces a number of ‘law and order’ measures including plans to recruit 20,000 extra police officers and a £10m ring-fenced fund to equip up to 60 per cent of police officers with tasers. (Sky News, 1 October 2019)

EMPLOYMENT AND EXPLOITATION

27 September: The Brussels public transport company (STIB) is being sued for its discrimination against veiled women in its hiring process. The case involves a woman who applied for two different non-public facing positions. (Brussels Times, 27 September 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS: UK

25 September:  A motion by Momentum and Labour Against Racism & Fascism that urges the party to extend migrants’ rights and close immigration detention centres, is passed overwhelmingly at the Labour party conference. (BBC News, 25 September 2019)

25 September: Boris Johnson causes uproar in the Commons by responding ‘humbug’ to a plea from MP Paula Sherriff, to stop using ‘offensive, dangerous or inflammatory language’ such as ‘traitor’, and ‘ betrayal’ since ‘many of us in this place’ are ‘subject to death threats and abuse every single day’. Johnson claims the best way to honour the memory of Jo Cox (the MP murdered by a far-right extremist before the referendum) is to deliver Brexit. At a meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee, he refuses to apologise for his language and says he will continue using it during the Brexit debate. (Guardian, BBC News 26 September 2019)

26 September: A man is arrested for a public order offence after allegedly banging on the window of MP Jess Phillips’ Birmingham constituency office and shouting ‘fascist’, following her tabling an urgent Commons question about inflammatory language. (Guardian, 26 September 2019)

26 September: In a series of interviews with the Guardian under the heading ‘Abuse is the norm’, women MPs, many of ethnic minority descent, speak out about the very specific hate mail and threats they receive on a daily basis, especially since the 2016 referendum, saying the politics of hate has become mainstreamed and public figures are amplifying tensions. A series of experts agree that rhetoric from politicians can trigger violence on the streets and attacks on public figures. (Guardian, 26 September 2019)

28 September: Police investigate hundreds of horrifying abusive messages, including a death threat, received by Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff after she called Johnson to account in the Commons, citing the killing of fellow MP Jo Cox by an extremist. Many messages parroted the toxic language used by Johnson, and 70 per cent of messages were also misogynistic. A few miles away, MP Tracy Brabin, elected after Cox’s death, received four times as much hate mail as usual after the Commons encounter, and has had to ask for a police presence at her surgery. Both MPs are worried about a planned march by anti-Islamic Yorkshire Patriots in Dewsbury on 12 October. (Guardian, 28 September 2019)

30 September: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn initiates a Westminster meeting where senior figures from the main parties recognise their responsibility to use moderate language and pledge to weigh their words carefully. (Guardian, 30 September 2019)

30 September: The National Union of Students (NUS) president Zamzam Ibrahim pulls out of two speaking engagements at the Conservative party conference following reports of ‘deeply disturbing, downright Islamophobia’ at a fringe event on Sunday. (Guardian, 30 September 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS: EUROPE

25 September: Irish president Michael Higgins accuses ‘some people’ of ‘abusing facts’ about asylum seekers after TDs representing Cork and Galway say immigrants are ‘flooding’ the system and ‘sponging’, in a row about a proposal for a new Direct Provision centre in Co. Galway. (Irish Examiner, 25 September 2019)

29 September: In the Austrian general election, support for the Freedom Party (FPÖ) plunges by more than a third. With 16 per cent of the vote, it is the third-largest party in the Austrian parliament. (Guardian, 29 September 2019)

1 October: New Democracy, the governing party of Greece, expels Theodoros Giannaro, a molecular biologist and adviser to ND on healthcare issues, after he sends a series of tweets to Arash Hampay, an Iranian refugee and community activist in Athens, one stating ‘You are gonna be kicked back where you came from, you monkey’. (IranWire, 1 October 2019).

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

18 September: On the sixth anniversary of the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, thousands of people demonstrate in his home district of Keratsini, western Athens.  At the same time, anti-fascists celebrate as Golden Dawn closes its central headquarters in Athens and shuts down many other branches throughout the country. (Observer, 21 September 2019) 

19 September: Counter-terrorism police say the fastest growing threat of terrorism in the UK is from the far Right. (Guardian, 19 September 2019)

24 September: Uli Grötsch, secretary-general of the Social Democrats in Bavaria, receives two death threats from neo-nazis, reading ‘Kill Uli Grötsch! A shot in the back of the neck, like Lübcke!’ (Deutsche Welle in English, 24 September 2019)

24 September: In a confidential ‘Strategic Report’, Europol warns that growing far-right violence is accompanied by attempts to ‘win over members of the military and security services in order to learn their expertise in the area of surveillance and combat readiness’. (Deutsche Welle in English, 24 September 2019)

27 September: According to interior ministry statistics, German police seized 1,091 weapons from the far Right in 2018, a 61 per cent increase from the previous year and a sign of ‘massive rearmament’ of the far-right scene. (Deutsche Welle in English, 28 September 2019)

29 September: An investigation by BBC Countryfile establishes that Michael Wrenn, the leader of British Revival, set up as a ‘patriotic’ alternative to Extinction Rebellion, is the former South West regional head of the far-right Generation Identity. British Revival has now had its Facebook page closed down.  (Sunday Express, 29 September 2019)

30 September: The trial of eight neo-nazi members of Revolution Chemnitz opens in a regional court in Dresden, Saxony. The eight are accused of ‘forming a rightwing terrorist organisation’, carrying out violent attacks on foreign residents in Chemnitz in September 2018, and attempting to acquire semi-automatic weapons for a bloodbath on Germany’s National Unity Day. (AFP, 30 September 2019)

DISCRIMINATION

25 September: The French education minister reignites the headscarf row by criticising France’s largest parents’ association for a pamphlet featuring a mother in a headscarf saying ‘Yes, I go on school trips, so what? Secularism is about welcoming all parents without exception’. Mothers in headscarves are not banned from school trips following a legal ruling in 2013, but the minister wants to discourage the practice. (Guardian, 25 September 2019)

30 September: Following an FOI request from the Guardian, the Ministry of Defence admits that military police have launched 35 investigations into racially aggravated crimes in 2018 and 2019. The service complaints ombudsman calls for independent research into why disproportionate numbers of female and BAME personnel complain of bullying, harassment and discrimination. (Guardian, 30 September 2019).

HOUSING

17 September: The new Home Office housing contractor, Mears, says asylum seekers refused the right to remain in the UK will no longer face lock-change evictions from social housing without a court order. Protests and legal challenges were raised against former contractor Serco, preventing many scheduled lock-change evictions of those denied asylum in Glasgow. (BBC, 17 September 2019)

23 September: Research by Heriot-Watt University, commissioned by the National Housing Federation, finds that 8 million people in England are living in unsuitable accommodation, 3.6 million are in overcrowded homes and 2.5 million cannot properly afford where they live. Read a summary here. (Guardian, 23 September 2019)

26 September: The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s five-yearly measurement of ‘English Indices of Deprivation 2019’ finds that in some London boroughs, hardship has decreased. However, other research suggests this is the result of the ‘gentrification effect’, whereby wealthier newcomers are changing the socio-economic make-up of historically working-class neighbourhoods. See the report here. (Guardian, 26 September 2019)

1 October: A new report from the Office for National Statistics finds that over the past year, homeless deaths have increased by twenty-two per cent. 726 homeless people died in England and Wales in 2018. Read the report here. (Guardian, 1 October 2019)

2 October: Two dozen homeless protesters occupy a council-owned building in Chester, barricading themselves in and claiming ‘squatters rights’. The activists say that the heavy rains have left them no other choice. (Guardian, 2 October 2019

HEALTH

8 September: Kelemua Mulat, a 39-year-old Ethiopian asylum seeking mother, dies after being denied potentially life-saving treatment for breast cancer for six weeks by the Home Office due to a hostile environment rule requiring migrants to pay upfront for healthcare. (Guardian, 19 September 2019)

24 September: The British Journal of General Practice publishes findings that three-quarters of London GP surgeries are breaching NHS guidelines in denying care to homeless people, travellers and recently-arrived migrants by wrongly instructing them to produce photographic identification or proof of address before allowing them to register and get urgent treatment. (Guardian, 24 September 2019)

EDUCATION

20 September: A 10-year-old boy who endured racist bullying at his school for two years tries to hang himself. Almost 200 racial incidents were recorded at his Canterbury school during the years he was there as one of only four mixed-heritage children. A teacher advised him to get more resilient to racial abuse. His mother, who removed her son last May, accuses the school of failing to protect her son, and now the council has offered to pay for his private education. (Metro, 20 September 2019)

26 September: The trust which manages 96 Christian Brothers schools in Ireland, the Edmund Rice Trust, calls for an end to the Direct Provision system of asylum support, in a report pointing to its harmful effects on young asylum-seeking school students. (Irish Times, 26 September 2019

MEDIA AND CULTURE

19 September: A study finds that in 2018, only 4 per cent of children’s books published in the UK featured a black or minority ethnic hero. (Guardian, 17 September 2019)

27 September: Over 150 BAME broadcasters sign a letter accusing the BBC of racial discrimination for its rebuke to Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty, accused of breaching impartiality guidelines for saying that Donald Trump telling BAME congresswomen to ‘go home’ was racist. (Times, 27 September 2019)

30 September: BBC director-general Lord Hall reverses the decision which partially upheld a complaint against presenter Naga Munchetty, saying her words were insufficient to merit the rebuke. Both the home secretary and leader of the opposition had spoken out against the BBC’s view. (Guardian, 26 September 2019, BBC News, 30 September 2019)

1 October: To mark the start of Black History Month, a plaque commemorating Eric Irons, Britain’s first black magistrate, is unveiled in Nottingham. (Guardian, 30 September 2019)

SPORT

19 September: Former England striker Peter Beardsley is banned from football for 32 weeks on three counts of racially abusing black players while coaching the Newcastle under-23s, compounding the abuse by accusing the players concerned of fabricating allegations for financial gain. (Guardian, 19 September 2019)

21 September: Managers of Hartlepool United and Dover Athletic discuss taking their players off the field because of racist chants, after an Athletic player is abused following a goal. But the players want to stay on the pitch to finish the game, that Dover wins 2-0. (BBC Sport, 21 September 2019)

22 September: A Brazilian defender, Dalbert, who plays for Italian team Fiorentina, asks the referee to stop play during a match with Atalanta after receiving racist abuse from the Atalanta fans. (The Local, 23 September 2019)

23 September: UEFA rules that Hungary and Slovakia will play their next Euro 2020 qualifiers behind closed doors after both national federations are sanctioned for racist behaviour by their supporters. The Romanian Football Federation is also sanctioned. (RTE, 23 September 2019)

24 September: West Ham bans a supporter for life after a racist video was posted on social media. The club, which was made aware of ‘disgusting’ footage of a fan making racist remarks to away fans at the London Stadium early last season, hands the evidence to the police, as well as banning the fan for life, saying it has ‘zero tolerance of abhorrent behaviour’. (BBC Sport, 24 September 2019)

26 September: A study from the Observatory on Racism in Football finds that racism blights Italian youth football as much as the top leagues, with eighty incidents against young footballers recorded over the last two seasons. Italy, unlike other countries, has never addressed the racist abuse in the stands, which comes from children and parents. (Guardian, 26 September 2019)

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

20 September: The Daily Mirror interviews Clive Pyott, a 50-year-old man who was left with a broken nose and a fractured jaw after intervening to stop a racist attack on an Asian boy in Hulme, Manchester, on 24 August. The assailants shouted ‘speak f***ing English’ as they punched the boy repeatedly and stamped on him. (Daily Mirror, 20 September 2019)

24 September: A man is jailed for four years at Cardiff crown court for a series of Instagram posts in which he posed with a shotgun and urged people to stand up ‘against Muslims’. Jay Davison, who talked about ‘Aryans’ and wrote ‘heil, heil, heil’ in a series of posts and comments was convicted of stirring up religious hatred. (Independent, 24 September 2019

26 September: An Irish woman says she and her Brazilian partner and their child might have to leave the country because of a storm of racist abuse after the family featured in a Lidl TV and billboard advertising campaign. Journalist Gemma O’Doherty started the abuse with a tweet telling followers to ‘Resist the Great Replacement’. (Irish Times, 27 September 2019)

27 September: Police in Lewes, East Sussex investigate a spate of suspected hate crimes committed overnight, including the bricking of an anti-Brexit campaigner’s window, antisemitic graffiti on a garden fence and Nazi symbols daubed on a house. (Guardian, 27 September 2019).

28 September: In Ulm, southern Germany, a man is arrested after an attempt to attack a woman at a Support Diversity and Islamophobia awareness event organised by a Turkish Muslim association (IGMG). He shouted, ‘I will kill you’ and was blocked when he lunged at a woman with a knife. (AA News, 28 September 2019)

30 September: Research by the London Assembly Police & Crime Committee finds that racist and religious hate crime is up by 107 per cent since 2011. The report also sets out recommendations for the Mayor of London. Read the report here. (Mayor of London, 30 September 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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