Calendar of racism and resistance (19 February – 5 March 2019)

March 8, 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

21 February: Humanitarian organisations criticise new parliamentary legislation in Denmark that increases the numbers of people eligible for deportation, a removal of indefinite stay for refugees and a reduction of social welfare given to asylum seekers. (The Local, 21 February 2019)

25 February: Concerns mount over the fate of two Palestinian refugees from Syria who, due to the prohibitive nature of German family reunification laws, opted to return to Syria to reunite with their partners. One disappeared at the Lebanese-Syrian border before being reunited with his wife; the other appears to have been detained by secret services shortly after arrival in Damascus. (InfoMigrants, 25 February 2019)

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25 February: The Institute for International Political Studies says that in Italy over the last four months 1,000 asylum claims submitted by Nigerian women and 1,134 humanitarian protection claims, have been refused, with many women, who are victims of sex-trafficking, disappearing after being thrown out of reception centres under the Salvini decree. (Guardian, 25 February 2019)

28 February: The Danish Government’s Immigration Service publish a report stating that there has been a ‘general improvement of conditions in government-controlled areas’ in Syria, and therefore, refugees to Denmark who come from these areas will no longer be automatically given asylum. (The Local, 28 February 2019)

Borders and externalisation

17 February: The French Defence Ministry announce the purchase of six boats that will be given to the Libyan coast guard in the spring to assist in Libya’s effort to ‘curb clandestine migration’. (Infomigrants, 25 February 2019)

19 February: Italy’s Senate Committee votes 16 – 6 to block an investigation into Interior Minister Salvini for kidnapping over his decision to allow 150 people to be stranded at sea for 5 days in August 2018. (Al jazeera, 19 February 2019)  

20 February: The German municipalities of Kiel, Lübeck, Flensburg, and Sylt, in conjunction with the state of Schleswig-Holstein, declare themselves ‘safe ports’ for people rescued in the Mediterranean. (Borderline Europe, 20 February 2019)

Salvamento Marítimo

21 February: Unnamed sources in the Spanish rescue mission Salvamento Marítimo claim that an agreement reached between Morocco  and Spain, which has come into immediate effect, means that some migrants rescued sea can be disembarked at Moroccan ports. (El País, 21 February 2019)

21 February: ANAFE publishes ‘Persona non grata’ which reveals that between 2016 and 2018, nearly thirty people died at the France-Italy border where dozens of illegal push-backs take place every day. (Read a summary of the report here)

24 February: An African Union ‘common African position paper’, on the EU blueprint for stemming migration by establishing ‘de facto detention centres’ on African soil, is leaked to  the Guardian. Coastal states are urged to resist plans that will ‘lead to the establishment of something like modern-day slave markets’, with the ‘best’ Africans being allowed into Europe and the rest ‘tossed back’. (Guardian, 24 February 2019)

25 February: Channel 4 News broadcasts mobile phone footage showing people being tortured inside camps in Libya where, with EU support, the Libyan authorities detain migrants to prevent them from crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. (Channel 4 News, 25 February; The Times, 1 March)

2 March: The EU’s funding of the Libyan coastguard comes under renewed focus as Al Jazeera reports that around 30 refugees and migrants, including minors, are punished for a revolt at Tripoli’s Triq al Sikka detention centre, by being beaten with sticks and bars, with the leaders taken to an underground cell and allegedly tortured. (Al Jazeeera, 2 March 2019)

3 March: Leaked documents from the European External Action Service and Frontex reveal that the EU knows its Mediterranean naval operations are making sea crossings more dangerous and that the Libyan coastguard that the EU funds, equips and trains collaborate with smuggling networks. (Politico.EU, 2 March 2019)

5 March: Thirty-five people are arrested in Lesvos after they illegally entered state land in order to install a huge metal cross – aimed at intimidating Muslim refugees – on a cliff  that overlooks the Aegean Sea and the Turkish mainland. (The Times, 5 March 2019)

Reception and detention

19 February: The parents of two Iraqi families are denied food by Hungarian officials whilst detained in Hungary’s transit zones, prompting the European Court of Human Rights to intervene. (Al Jazeera, 21 February 2019)

25 February: Following the deadly stabbing of a welfare official in Dornbirn by a rejected Turkish asylum seeker, the Austrian prime minister tables a constitutional amendment to allow for preventative ‘security detention for asylum seekers’ deemed a ‘potential threat’.  Refugee reception centres will be renamed ‘departure centres’. (Deutsche Welle, 25 February 2019)

2 March: Forty-four people are detained in Calais after climbing aboard a cross-channel ferry to try and reach the UK. (Times of Malta, 3 March 2019)

 Deportations

Symaag Demo

19 February: Around 300 people protest outside Vulcan House, the Home Office building in Sheffield, to protest the deportation of asylum seekers to Zimbabwe. (Assist Sheffield, 19 February 2019)

22 February: In Germany, an Air Algerie pilot refuses to deport a family, including an eight-month pregnant woman, to Algeria. The authorities issued the woman with a medical certificate declaring her fit to travel, despite documenting a high-risk pregnancy and the pilot expressing concern about the lack of medical equipment on board. (Hessenschau, 22 February 2019)

Citizenship

25 February: As lawyers acting for Chagos Islanders in the UK warn of the potential for a new ‘Windrush scandal’ affecting their clients, the UN’s International Court of Justice concludes that the Chagos Islands were not lawfully removed from Mauritius’ control in 1965, and urges the UK government to relinquish its continued colonial possessions. (BBC News, 25 February; Telegraph, 1 March 2019)

 HOUSING AND WELFARE

19 February: A Project 17 report on the hostile environment accuses the Home Office of forcing thousands of children into extreme poverty and homelessness because their parents’ immigration status means that they have no recourse to public funds (NRPF), and says that local authorities are avoiding their duty of care under Section 17 of the Children’s Act. Read the report here. (Independent, 19 February 2019)

21 February: The Local Government Association (LGA) says that council spending has risen from £77m to £152m between 2014 and 2018 as a result of increases in the number of asylum-seeking children in care in England. The LGA’s asylum, migration and refugee task group calls on the government to ensure that long-term funding is available for councils to provide adequate care for these children. (Guardian, 21 February 2019)

24 February: Lewisham Council says it will remove the embedded Home Office official who sits in on meetings between the council and vulnerable, often destitute migrants seeking recourse to public funds. (Guardian, 24 February 2019)

1 March: The High Court rules, in a legal challenge brought by JCWI, that the Right to Rent law, which requires private landlords to check the immigration status of tenants and potential tenants, breaches human rights law. The policy leads landlords to discriminate against BAME British citizens and ethnic minorities in general, foreign nationals with the right to rent, and anyone without a British passport. (Guardian, 1 March 2019)

1 March: A homeless Polish man who was unlawfully detained for 38 days as part of Operation Gopik, a policy to deport homeless EEA nationals, is awarded £14,800 in compensatory damages by the High Court. (Metro, 1 March)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

26 February: Protestors clash with riot police in Omonia, Greece following a march in central Athens to protest the death of a Nigerian migrant at a police station. Media reports that the 34 year old was beaten by police prior to his collapse. (Ekathimerini, 26 February 2019)

27 February Following the launch of Inquest’s Legal Aid for Inquest’s campaign on 25 February, shadow lord chancellor Richard Burgon pledges that a future Labour government would provide automatic legal aid for bereaved families at inquests where the relative died in state custody. Read Inquest’s campaign briefing here. (Guardian, 27 February 2019)

27 February: Basingstoke MP Maria Miller calls for more transparency from Hampshire police as it emerges that 16 police officers and 3 members of staff from a specialist team at the Basingstoke Investigation Centre are still under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, a year after allegations of  making racist and homophobic comments were made. (The Breeze, 27 February 2019, The News, 25 February 2019)

1 March:  Despite a 2012 inquest ruling that ‘unnecessary’ restraint contributed to Sean Rigg’s death in August 2008, a Metropolitan police panel dismisses misconduct charges against the five Met police officers involved. (Guardian, 1 March 2019)

4 March: To tackle high rates of knife crime, the chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation calls for the nationwide use of emergency stop and search powers under Section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. (Telegraph, 4 March 2019)

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

17 February: Ahead of upcoming May elections, leaders of Spain’s far-right Vox party hold a rally in Torrejon de Ardoz, a town near Madrid, attended by 800 supporters. Four of the towns where the far-right party is holding upcoming rallies are low-income towns with a high percentage of immigrants.  (El Pais, 19 February 2019)

22 February: The far-right Brothers of Italy, which has its roots in fascism, is admitted to the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe in the European parliament, the grouping of the UK Conservative party. (Independent, 22 February 2019)

23 February: In Salford, Manchester, around 4,000 people march to the BBC in support of Tommy Robinson and in protest of an upcoming BBC Panorama investigation into him. A counter-protest is held. (BBC, 23 February 2019)

24 February: As part of an intelligence-led investigation, an unnamed 33-year-old right-wing extremist is arrested in Leeds on suspicion of preparing acts of terrorism. (Independent, 24 February 2019)

26 February: Tommy Robinson is permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram for repeatedly breeching hate speech rules. His breeches include public calls for violence against people based on issues of race, hate speech targeted at specific groups and public praise for hate figures. (Guardian, 26 February 2019)

28 February: The Italian intelligence services warn that neo-nazi groups could target migrants in the run-up to the European elections, pointing out that racist attacks have tripled over the past year. (Guardian, 28 February 2019).

26 February: The Cologne administrative court rules that  intelligence services acted disproportionately and in breach of  the constitutional rights of political parties when it classified Alternative for Germany as ‘case to investigate’ for its alleged breach of  constitutional safeguards against extremism. (Reuters, 26 February 2019)

1 March: A Spanish ultraconservative catholic organisation Hazte Oír (Make Yourself Heard) has launched a bus campaign featuring an image of Hitler wearing makeup with the hashtag #StopFeminazis and the caption ‘Gender laws discriminate against men’ written below. The bus will travel through Spanish cities until International Women’s Day on 8 March. (El Pais, 1 March 2019)

3 March: A Guardian investigation suggests that, although membership is well down from the days of Farage, there has been a 50 per cent increase in UKIP party membership since February 2018, and that under the leadership of Gerard Batton, UKIP has shifted decisively towards the far right. (Guardian, 3 March 2019)

5 March: Anti-extremism officials say that far Right groups are attempting to infiltrate child protection charities to further an anti-Islam agenda. A community group for child sexual abuse survivors said it has been approached by senior UKIP figures who offered to fund an open-top bus to raise alarm about so-called ‘grooming gangs’. (Guardian, 5 March 2019)

EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR EXPLOITATION

20 February: A probe is launched into a livestock farm in Larissa, Greece, after two Pakistani men were physically assaulted for asking to be paid for their work. (Ekathimerini, 20 February 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS

credit: @sviki1980

21 February: In the run-up to European parliamentary elections, the Hungarian government launches a poster campaign showing European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker alongside George Soros, with the words ‘You have the right to know what Brussels is doing’. (Guardian, 21 February 2019)

2 March: The Hungarian government launches a new poster campaign, replacing the posters of Juncker with the president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, which claim to show ‘what kind of pro-migrant plans are under preparation by the Brussels bureaucracy’. (Deutsche Welle, 2 March 2019)

3 March: The anti-immigration Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) more than doubles its share of the vote in the Estonian general election; with almost 18 per cent of the vote it is the third largest party in the parliament. (Guardian, 3 March 2019)

 

MEDIA AND CULTURE

4 March: After a public outcry, the digital channel BBC One Scotland promise not to air programmes featuring Mark Meechan (also known as Count Dankula), a YouTuber who was fined for training a dog to give a Nazi salute on camera. (Guardian, 4 March 2019)

5 March: Social media is flooded with complaints after grotesque puppets of Orthodox Jews, as well as people wearing KKK outfits and blackface, were displayed on flats at Belgium’s world-famous Aalst Carnival recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. (Sputnik News, 5 March 2019)

19 February: Belgium’s former Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Theo Fracken announces that his book launch at the Veriers Hotel, Belgium, is cancelled after more than 200 people gather in front of the Hotel in protest. (Le Soir, 19 February 2019)

DISCRIMINATION

28 February: The Dutch appeals court rules in favour of Amersfoort city council which suspended a Muslim man’s welfare benefits for a month after he refused on religious grounds to shave his beard while training for a job as an asbestos removal officer. (Guardian, 28 February 2019)

NATIONAL SECURITY

3 March: The Austrian government says that as part of its efforts to preserve the rule of law and stop terror it will by 2020 establish an institution to monitor Islamist associations and organisations, including the spread of patriarchal courts of honour, ‘anti-integration content’  in mosques, and Islamist currents on social media.(Vienna Times, 3 March 2019)

28 February: Two Belgian women, widows of Syrian fighters, are denied the right to return in the Brussels Court of Appeal. The decision overturns the courts previous decision which ordered the government to accept their return. (Brussels Times, 28 February 2019)

 SPORT

22 February: Supporters of The Hague football club ADO, attending a fixture in Amsterdam against Ajax (whose supporters refer to themselves as ‘Joden’), spray-paint anti-Semitic graffiti across the capital, including the letters JHK, or Jews have cancer. (DutchNews.nl, 22 February 2019)

RACIST VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

20 February: Assault charges are dropped against Gillyon Emmanuel, a black ice-cream parlour owner in Hilversum, the Netherlands. Having suffered months of racial harassment, when three youngsters said ‘climb back into your tree…cancer ape’ and threw oranges at her shop window, she responded by hitting one of them with a mop. (DutchNews.nl, 20 February 2019)

21 February: In Berkshire, a 15-year-old boy suffers a broken jaw after a suspected racist attack in a Bracknell underpass, reportedly by a group of five to six men. (In your area, 21 February 2019)

22 February: A man is jailed for six years after he was convicted of racially aggravated wounding with intent for attacking a doorman in Llandudno in April 2018. (North Wales Live, 22 February 2019)

23 February: A 30-year-old personal trainer from Nottingham who set up a fitness class for Muslim women is bombarded with racist abuse and death threats from Tommy Robinson supporters after Robinson shared her flyer on his Instagram page. Her car tyres are also reportedly slashed. (The Independent, 26 February 2019)

26 February: A women from Sandwell, West Midlands, is given a 12-month community order for racially aggravated assault after she attacked a shop worker wearing a headscarf in Debenhams and told her to ‘Go back to your own country, f****** Muslim’. (Evening Standard, 26 February 2019)

26 February: In Islington, north London, a Jewish man in his 70s is punched in the face and brutally assaulted as he lay on the ground by a shaven-headed assailant who asked him if he was Jewish before attacking him. (Islington Gazette, 26 February 2019)

27 February: A new Scottish government report shows that of the 6,736 hate crimes recorded in 2017/18 by Police Scotland, two thirds are race-related. Of the 5 per cent of crimes with multiple aggravators, race and religion are the most common combination. (Scotsman, 27 February 2019)

2 March: A memorial stone that marks the site of Strasbourg’s old synagogue which was burnt down by the Nazis in 1940 is vandalised. Last month dozens of graves were sprayed with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans at a nearby Jewish cemetery. (BBC News, 2 March 2019)

4 March: Northern Ireland police are treating an incident in which graffiti was spray painted on to property in Cookstown as a racially motivated hate crime. (Mid-Ulster Mail, 4 March 2019)

 

This calendar was compiled by the IRR News Team, with the help of Zeeshan Ali, Graeme Atkinson, Joseph Maggs and Jamie Wates.

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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