Calendar of racism and resistance (22 November – 5 December 2018)

December 6, 2018 — 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, migrant rights and citizenship

21 November: The European Court of Justice rules that a 2015 Austrian regulation giving minimal social assistance to refugees is not compatible with EU directive on the recognition of ‘third-party’ nationals. (Deutsche Welle, 21 November 2018)

24 November: Following the Freedom party’s (FPÖ) unverified claims that it has got hold of the Turkish electoral register and that Austrian citizens of Turkish heritage are illegally holding dual citizenship, eighty-five Austrians of Turkish heritage are stripped of their citizenship by the interior ministry, which is controlled by the FPÖ. Thousands more are threatened in an administrative nightmare that is being dubbed Austria’s ‘Windrush scandal’. (The Telegraph, 24 November 2018)

25 November: Slovakia becomes the eighth EU member state, and the fourth and final Visegrad state, to withdraw support for the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. (Reuters, November 25)

28 November: Svein Ludvigsen, 72, a former high-ranging conservative Norwegian government minister, is charged with sexually abusing three asylum seekers over a period of several years and taking advantage of his position as regional governor to exploit an asylum-seekers vulnerable situation. (The Local, 28 November 2018)

28 November: The Decree-Law on Immigration and Security, dubbed the ‘Salvini decree’, is passed in Italy, abolishing humanitarian protection for refugees, vastly reducing the Sprar system of  asylum reception, and making it easier to strip naturalised citizens of citizenship. (The Local, 29 November 2018)

28 November: The Project for Registration of Children as British Citizens wins the right to judicially review the Home Office over the £1,012 fee it charges to register a child as a British citizen. Around 120,000 children are the victims of Home Office ‘barefaced profiteering’, it says. (Guardian, 28 November 2018)

28 November: A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission finds that asylum seekers are being deterred from using the NHS because of the introduction of upfront charges in England last year, and fears that their information would be shared with the Home Office. Many are having to choose between buying food and paying for medicine, with pregnant women and disabled people the worst affected. (Guardian, 28 November 2018)

3 December: Six refugee families from Iraq, Sudan, Ethiopia and Syria, stranded on a RAF base in Cyprus for more than twenty years, are given indefinite leave to enter the UK for permanent residence, as the government finally abandons its argument that the 1951 Refugee Convention did not apply to the sovereign base. (Guardian, The Times, 3 December 2018).

Reception and detention

21 November: The Croatian interior ministry’s refusal to extend a cooperation agreement with the Centre for Peace Studies ends its work over fifteen years providing legal advice and teaching refugees Croatian. (Euractiv.com, 21 November 20128)

A protest calling for the closure of Yarl's Wood detention centre on 12 March 2016. © Nilüfer Erdem

A protest calling for the closure of Yarl’s Wood detention centre on 12 March 2016. © Nilüfer Erdem

25 November: Forty-three women detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre begin a hunger strike to protest an imminent charter flight that will deport at least ten people to Nigeria and Ghana. (Independent, 26 November)

26 November: In the first ever action against the Moria reception centre in Lesvos, Greece, the family of Ahmed Elgamel, a 20-year-old Egyptian migrant who died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the centre in 2017, file a lawsuit for compensation. (ekathimerini, 26 November 2018).

30 November: The Greek ministry for immigration announces that bad weather and deteriorating conditions in refugee camps on the Greek islands has resulted in a plan to evacuate 5,000 refugees from the islands to the mainland, where they will be hosted in hotels for six months. (International Balkans News, 30 November 2018)

30 November: The Danish government announces that by 2021 all convicted foreign nationals and failed asylum seekers who cannot be deported to their country of origin will be detained in a facility on 17-acre Lindholm Island, two miles from the nearest Danish shore (The Local, 1 December 2018)

3 December: Following FOI requests, it is revealed that senior managers in Glasgow city council, who previously claimed to be ‘blindsided’ by Serco, knew months in advance about the private security company’s plans to issue seven-day eviction notices to around three-hundred refused asylum seekers living in accommodation it provided. (The Ferret, 3 December 2018)

3 December: A report reveals that staff at the G4S-ran Brook House immigration removal centre, near Gatwick airport, acted in a ‘draconian’ way and with ‘laddish behaviour’, and that violence at the centre was not properly investigated. The review was commissioned after an undercover reporter for BBC Panorama, broadcast in September 2017, filmed detainees being verbally and physically abused. (BBC News, 3 December 2018)

Destitution

2 December: Souaro Jaiteh, an 18-year-old Gambian migrant, dies in a fire at the San Ferdinando shantytown in Calabria, Italy, with the region’s president, Mario Oliverio describing the area as a ‘death camp’. His death comes after charities predict that thousands will be left destitute by the ‘Salvini decree’. (The Local, 3 December 2018)

Borders

28 November: The captain and crew of a Spanish fishing vessel Nuestra Madre Loreto, which rescued twelve Africans from a rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean, are left stranded for days with no country willing to accept the migrants and the captain unwilling to return them to Libya. (AFP, 28 November 2018)

3 December: After ten days, and amidst worsening sea conditions, Malta finally agrees to take eleven migrants rescued in the Med by the crew of the Spanish fishing vessel Nuestra Madre Loreto, with a twelfth migrant evacuated to hospital after falling seriously ill with dehydration. (Al Aribya, 3 December 2018)

Immigration enforcement

1 December: Calais-based human rights observers and French group L’Auberge des Migrants report that police clearances of makeshift camps around the port of Calais increased to a high of twenty per week in September and October. Read the report here. (Guardian, 1 December 2018) 

Deportations

23 November: A Home Office review of its use of a controversial, terrorism-related provision in immigration law reveals that between January 2015 and May 2018 it attempted to remove at least 300 ‘highly skilled migrants’ from the UK, and actually deported around eighty-seven. (Guardian, 23 November)

27 November: For one month, a Protestant church in the Hague maintains a 24-hour church service aimed at protecting the Tamrazyans family, who have sought sanctuary there, from being deported to Armenia. Dutch law prevents the police from entering places of worship during religious services. (ABC News, 27 November 2018)

28 November: In response to a question by Caroline Lucas MP, the immigration minister Caroline Nokes reveals that the Home Office has made no attempt to inform 49 individuals deported in 2017 from the UK to the Commonwealth countries of Ghana and Nigeria they may have been deported illegally, or to provide details of the Windrush taskforce. (Independent, 28 November 2018)

Crimes of solidarity

21 November: In Riace, Italy, the Associazione Città Futura, coordinator of the city’s award-winning efforts to integrate refugees, is evicted from its offices in a move which is seen as connected to the vindictive prosecution of the city’s mayor for ‘aiding illegal immigration’. The Network of Solidarity Municipalities vows to help rehouse the association. (radiocittafujiko.it, 21 November 2018)

Police and criminal justice

21 November: A West Midlands police constable is charged with racially aggravated wounding after a man who was with a group of travellers was bitten by a police dog in Northfield, Birmingham. (Bromsgrove Advertiser, 21 November 2018)

24 November: BirminghamLive reveals that racism allegations against the police in the West Midlands have prompted more than 250 internal investigations in the past four years. (BirminghamLive, 24 November 2018)

28 November: The CPS rules that there is not enough evidence to pursue charges against the retired Assistant Chief Constable Steven Heywood (facing an IOPC investigation for gross misconduct), in relation to evidence given at the inquiry into the death of Anthony Grainger, who was shot by a firearms officer in Cheshire, 2012. (BBC News, 28 November 2018).

28 November: Although the inquest into the death of Branko Zdravkovic at the Verne Immigration Removal Centre returns a suicide verdict, the coroner does not close the inquest. The Home Office is asked to provide more evidence on the management of vulnerable detainees, with a view to preparing a public report to prevent future deaths. (Inquest, 28 November 2018)

30 November: The Mayor of London is asked to intervene after the Met sends an email to community leaders advising them that armed police foot patrols could be introduced as a response to knife crimes. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)

Anti-fascism and the far Right

22 November: A Guardian investigation finds that Steve Bannon’s political consultancy ‘The Movement’, aimed at influencing the May European parliament elections, may be illegal under electoral law in nine European countries. (Guardian, 22 November 2018)

23 November: Ukip leader Gerard Batten appoints Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also know as Tommy Robinson, to be his personal special advisor on gang rapes and prison reforms, advising on ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ and prison conditions. (New Statesman, 23 November 2018).

26 November: In Finland, thirty members of the far-right Soldiers of Odin and the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement march through an East Helsinki shopping centre, as Somali community leaders warn that the far Right are getting ‘bolder’. (YLE, 27 November 2018)

28 November: Bristol anti-fascists protest against Generation Identity’s anti-refugee activities across the city, including spraying a prominent water fountain with red dye and leaving a sign reading ‘rivers of blood’ , a reference to Enoch Powell’s 1968 speech, beside it. (Bristol Post, 27 November 2018)

30 November: The lawyer for the Syrian schoolboy racially bullied in  Huddersfield (see education and racial violence sections below), announces that the family are taking legal action against Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also know as Tommy Robinson, for posting two ‘defamatory’ videos on Facebook claiming that  ‘Jamal’ had attacked two girls at the Almondbury community school. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)

2 December: In regional elections in Andalucía, Spain, the far-right Vox party takes twelve seats in the regional parliament, an electoral breakthrough that marks the first time a far-right group has won at the ballot box since the death of General Franco in 1975. (Guardian, 4 December 2018)

3 December: Far-right Jobbik MP István Szávay resigns his parliamentary seat after Hír TV releases a recording of him making antisemitic comments and discussing a verbal and physical assault on a woman in a pub who had called him a ‘stinking Nazi’. (Hungary Today, 3 December 2018)

3 December: Following an undercover BBC investigation, Cardiff MP Stephen Doughty calls for the System Resistance Network (SRN), a neo-nazi group that preaches zero tolerance to non-whites and says homosexuality is a disease, to be banned. (BBC News, 3 December 2018)

Electoral politics

22 November: Hillary Clinton, echoing the strong-borders rhetoric of Donald Trump, calls on European leaders to combat right-wing populism by reassuring electorates that ‘we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support’ to migrants. (Guardian, 22 November 2018)

26 November: Bruno Weber, an extreme-right Freedom party councillor in Amstetten, Lower Austria, is convicted of posting racist and homophobic comments, which included the Austrian equivalents of the term ‘faggots’ and the n-word, and is ordered to attend a workshop to learn good behaviour online. He claims that he did not realise the n-word was offensive. (Kurier, The Local, 26 November 2018)

25 November: Voters in a referendum introduced by the extreme-right Swiss People’s Party overwhelmingly reject the ‘Swiss law first’ proposal which would have seen the Swiss constitution take precedence over international law. Not a single canton voted in favour of the initiative. (The Local, 26 November 2018).

27 November: A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims calls on the government to adopt a definition of Islamophobia, which it says will help tackle what it describes as a growing problem. (ITV, 27 November 2018)

Discrimination

25 November: Three black schoolgirls who made it to the finals of a NASA school competition have spoken out about the racially-motivated sabotage they faced during the competition, during which online users urged others not to vote for them because they are black. (The Voice, 25 November 2018)

26 November: Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema says she will not enforce the law banning the wearing of  full-face covering clothing in public buildings, unofficially known as the ‘burqa ban’,  and that police capacity could be better used elsewhere. Administrators in Rotterdam and Utrecht agree. (Dutch News, 26 November 2018)

Education

30 November: As the Syrian refugee schoolboy Jamal pleads for people to not use social media to advocate violence against the schoolboy excluded from Almondbury community school for racially bullying him (see anti-fascist section above, and racial violence statistics section below), a Guardian analysis reveals that a record number of schoolchildren (4,590 cases in all, up from 4,085 last year) have been excluded from schools for racist bullying.  (Guardian, 30, 30 November 2018)

30 November: As the government is criticised by teachers’ unions and charities for removing the duty on schools to monitor racist bullying, the Department for Education announces that it has launched an internal review. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)

4 December: The Equality and Human Rights Commission launch an inquiry into racial harassment at UK universities. Students and staff have until 15 February 2019 to submit evidence. (BBC News, 4 December 2018)

Media culture

26 November: A comic called A suicide bomber sits in the library due to be released in May 2019 has been pulled from publication after an open letter signed by more than 1,000 writers, teachers and readers, criticise the book and say it is ‘steeped in Islamophobia and profound ignorance’. (Guardian, 26 November 2018)

3 December: The Bild newspaper is accused of pandering to the German far Right after describing a guide aimed at helping teachers and parents deal with racist attitudes among children as a ‘snooping manual’ that encourages children to ‘spy on their parents’. The publishers of the guide, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, receive hundreds of violent threats since the newspaper ran the story after picking it up on far-right German blogs. (Deutsche Welle, 3 December 2018)

3 December: The 2019 annual Wales Theatre Awards are cancelled after judges face criticism for shortlisting an opera featuring white actors playing non-white roles. (BBC News, 3 December 2018)

Sport

21 November: Half of UK football fans witness racist abuse at games, with only forty percent knowing how to report it, according to a survey conducted by Kick It Out and Forza Football. (Guardian, 21 November 2018)

3 December: Kick It Out, with the support of Chelsea and Eni Aluko, have released a short film aiming to tackle antisemitic abuse in football, after Kick It Out statistics from the 2017/18 season revealed that 10 per cent of discrimination reports they received related to antisemitism. (Sky Sports, 3 December 2018)

RACIST VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

Abuse and harassment

 21 November: A woman who racially abused her neighbour, a member of the travelling community and smashed the windows of her housing association home in Flintshire, Wales, is given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay costs. (LeaderLive, 21 November 2018)

22 November: Police appeal for information after a man, claiming he had a knife and acid in his possession, racially abused and threatened a woman while travelling on a train between Gatwick Airport and Bedford. (Crawley Observer, 22 November 2018)

25 November: Police appeal for information after a Sri Lankan shopkeeper is racially abused and spat on, before having his shop windows smashed, by a gang of youths in Scartho, Grimsby. (GrimsbyLive, 25 November 2018)

Attacks on people

23 November: A husband and wife report that both they and their three-year-old daughter are  racially abused and attacked by a couple, who punched and kicked them before trying to remove the wife’s headscarf in Banbury, Oxford. (Oxford Mail, 23 November 2018)

28 November: A 16-year-old boy is charged with assault after a video of a 15-year-old Syrian refugee being pulled to the ground before having water poured over his face in a school playground in Almondbury, Huddersfield, goes viral on social media. The schoolchild, who cannot be named for legal reasons, recounted the harassment he has received since coming to the UK on ITV News. (ITV News, 28 November 2018)

30 November: Fresh footage emerges showing the sister of the Syrian schoolboy, now named as Jamal, being physically abused at the same school. The family lawyer confirms that the girl, aged 14, has been bullied by another group of pupils, with a schoolgirl excluded for forcibly removing her headscarf. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)

Attacks on property

23 November: Police appeal for information after Nazi graffiti and racist slogans are found carved into wood at Swansea University’s Bay and Singleton campuses. (WalesOnline, 23 November 2018)

Attacks on asylum centres

25 November: In Ireland, an arson attack on a former hotel in Moville, Donegal which was set to open as an asylum accommodation centre, leaves one man injured and needing hospital treatment. (the journal.ie, 25 November 2018)

Charges and convictions

25 November: A judge at Carlisle county court convicts three men for assault but spares them from prison on the grounds that the incident in Botchergate started when they were continuously racially abused by two men and ‘being…victim[s] of racial abuse was significant in their mitigation’. (News and Star, 25 November 2018)

Statistics

28 November: A third of people of African descent who responded to an European Fundamental Rights Agency survey say they experienced racial harassment in the last five years, with one in twenty respondents saying they had been physically attacked, with the most incidents reported in Finland. (Guardian, 28 November 2018)

30 November: Freedom of information figures from thirty-nine local authority areas obtained by the Guardian shows a rise in racial incidents in schools from 2,702 incidents in 2014 to 3,660 in 2017. Huge surges in Glasgow and Rochdale are reported. Childline says that there have been more than 2,500 counselling sessions in the last three years about racial and faith-based bullying. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)

 

Thanks to Rajesh Bhattacherjee, Jamie Wates, Joseph Maggs and Ifhat Shaheen-Smith for helping compile this calendar.

 

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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