Calendar of racism and resistance (23 January – 6 February 2019)

February 7, 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

23 January: After two years of unlawfully refusing his safe passage from the Calais Jungle, the Home Office finalises arrangements for an Eritrean child refugee to join his aunt in the UK. (Independent, 23 January 2019)

28 January: The Labour Party’s last-minute opposition to the government’s post-Brexit Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill proves ineffective as Parliament votes in favour by 297 to 234 votes. (Guardian, 28 January 2019)

28 January: In Genoa, Italy, Prince Jerry, a 25-year-old Nigerian chemistry graduate, who arrived in Italy over two years ago on a boat from Libya, kills himself  by jumping under a train after  becoming deeply depressed after being denied a residence permit. (Naij.com, 31 January, Guardian, 1 February 2019)

30 January: The Dutch government announces that it will allow 630 ‘well-rooted’ child refugees facing deportation to stay but, after that, the amnesty for child refugees will be abolished and the number of refugees the Dutch take from UN resettlement schemes will be cut. (DutchNews, 30 January 2019)

30 January: In The Hague, a 96-day non-stop church service run by 1,000 volunteer pastors and priests from across Europe to protect an Armenian family from deportation comes to an end as the family of five benefits from the amnesty (see above). (New York Times, 30 January 2019)

Borders

24 January: A special tribunal in Catania rules that interior minister Salvini could stand trial for kidnap in relation to his refusal to allow an Italian coast-guard ship carrying migrants to enter Italian waters. (The Local, 25 January 2019)

31 January: After twelve days at sea, the Dutch-flagged Sea Watch 3 is allowed to dock in the Sicilian port of Catania as six European countries agree to accommodate the migrants it carries. Italian interior minister Salvini is threatening legal action against the crew for aiding ‘illegal immigration’. (The Local, 31 January 2019)

February: The impounding of the vessel Sea-Watch 3 for technical irregularities by the authorities in Catania, Sicily, means that there are currently no independent search and rescue missions operating in the Mediterranean. (Euractiv, 5 February 2019)

4 February: A section of the port in Lesvos is named after Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a coastguard who distinguished himself during the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015/16 rescuing more than 5,000 people, but who died last year aged 44 of a heart attack. (Ekathimerini, 4 February 2019)

Immigration enforcement

29 January: French police clear 300 people, many from Africa and Afghanistan, from a makeshift refugee camp by Porte de la Chapelle in northern Paris. La Cimade condemns repeated evictions, saying  that more than 2,400 refugees and migrants, including children, are sleeping rough in camps north of Paris or in Saint-Denis. (Reuters, 29 January 2019)

Reception and detention

23 January: The first mass eviction of refugees since Italy introduced the ‘Salvini’ immigration decree begins, with 500 people forced out of the Castelnuovo di Porto reception centre, near Rome. (Guardian, 23 January 2019)

23 January: Lewisham Council becomes the eighth local council to pass a These Walls Must Fall motion calling for an end to immigration detention. (Detention, 24 January 2019)

25 January: The Inspectorate of Prisons’ final report on Campsfield House immigration removal centre, due to close in May, finds that 41 per cent of detainees felt unsafe in the facility. (BBC News, 25 January 2019)

5 February Government figures, revealed in response to a written question by the Liberal Democrats, show that the government has spent £523.5 million on immigration detention between April 2013 and March 2017. (Independent, 5 February 2019)

Deportations

30 January The Morning Star reveals that following the Stansted 15 action, Stansted Airport refused to allow the Home Office to use its runway for chartered deportation flights. The RAF, whose runways would be used instead, also began labelling anti-deportation activists as ‘enemy forces’. (Morning Star, 30 January 2019)

4 February Two men are earmarked for deportation on a charter flight to Jamaica despite being summoned as key witnesses in the inquest into the death of Carlington Spencer in Morton Hall IRC in 2017. (Guardian, 4 February; Independent, 5 February 2019)

6 February: About 50 people, including many who have lived in the UK with families and children for decades, are deported on a charter flight to Jamaica, believed to be the first such flight to Jamaica since the Windrush scandal. At least 7 people who were given removal directions are understood to have been granted a last-minute reprieve from the flight. (Sky News, 6 February, Guardian, 6 February 2019)

 

Crimes of solidarity

22 January: The Legal Centre Lesvos says that there is no basis for the arrest of human rights activist Bangladeshi asylum seeker, Sohel M, for criminal offences relating to a fire at the Moria detention centre in October 2016, in which no one was hurt. (The Legal Centre Lesvos, 22 January 2019)

The first day of the trial of the Stansted 15.

6 February: As hundreds gather outside Chelmsford Crown Court in support of the Stansted 15, who were awaiting their sentence after being found guilty of endangering an airport for blocking the takeoff of a deportation flight in 2017, a Crown Court judge indicates that all 15 will avoid immediate jail time, with 3 given suspended sentences and 12 given community service. (Guardian, 6 February 2019)

 

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

22 January: A man accused of causing an explosion during a nationalist protest against the Prespes ‘name deal’ between Greece and Macedonia, is linked to the far-right Apella group. Journalist Thomas Jacobi, who co-produced the documentary ‘Golden Dawn: a personal affair’, was also violently attacked during the same demonstration. (Ekathimerini, 22 January 2019, Anti-Fascist Action Greece, 22 January 2019)

25 January: The far Right is believed to be behind the firebombing of the home of Syriza MP Theodora Tzakri in the city of Giannitsa, and linked to the ongoing parliamentary debate on the ratification of the Prespes accord. (Ekathimerini, 25 January 2019)

25 January: Fourteen members of the far-right Austrian ‘Federation of States’, including a former police officer, are convicted of attempting to initiate an army-led coup. (Deutsche Welle, 25 January 2019)

27 January: On International Holocaust Day, around 70-100 neo-Nazis protest outside Auschwitz claiming that only Jews and not Poles who died there are remembered. Alternative for Germany is banned from participating in the commemoration at the Buchenwald camp. (i24news, 26 January 2019, Associated Press, 27 January 2019)

28 January: German bloggers post on netz.politik.org previously unseen classified intelligence on the far-right AfD detailing some members’ links to the Identitarian movement. (Deutsche Welle, 28 January 2019)

29 January: Tommy Robinson is refused a visa by the Australian authorities, derailing a speaking tour in which he was due to speak in five cities alongside Gavin McInnes and Milo Yiannopoulos. (Independent, 29 January 2019)

POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

23 January: An inquest jury finds that numerous systemic and individual failings contributed to the death from self-inflicted injuries of Tyrone Givans at HMP Pentonville on 26 February 2018, including a failure to recognise and address his profound deafness and vulnerability to alcoholism and substance abuse. (Islington Gazette, 23 January 2019)

25 January: Following a judicial review, the high court orders a new inquest into the death of Windrush citizen Dexter Bristol. The original coroner refused to designate the Home Office an interested party or to consider whether the stress caused by its hostile environment policies was a contributing factor to his death by heart failure.  (Guardian, 25 January 2019)

27 January: Two police officers involved in the death of Sheku Bayoh in May 2015 challenge the Scottish Police Authority’s refusal to grant them early retirement on medical grounds. (Daily Record, 27 January 2019)

28 January: A report by the Inspectorate of Prisons finds that 51 per cent of young boys in young offenders’ institutions and over 40 per cent of those in secure training centres in England and Wales are from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. (Guardian, 29 January 2019)

30 January: A joint inspection report reveals that staff at the MOJ-run Medway secure training centre (STC), a children’s prison for 12- to 18-year-olds, are still restraining inmates who engage in passive non-compliance. (Guardian, 30 January 2019)

31 January: The chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime says that a  government proposal, to amend the offensive weapons bill to introduce ASBO-style knife crime prevention orders, risks criminalising a whole generation of young people. (Guardian, 31 January 2019).

31 January: New Ministry of Justice safety in custody statistics show that 325 people died in prison in 2018, a 10 per cent increase on the year before, and that there were even larger increases in incidents of self-harm, prisoner-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-staff assaults. Read the report here. (Guardian, 31 January 2019)

31 January: Guardian Cities gives the background to last week’s urban disturbances in Lisbon during which a spontaneous demonstration against police brutality is called in the city centre after a video showing police beating up the black residents of the Bairro de Jamaica goes viral. Rubber bullets are fired against the protesters, and disturbances erupt across the capital, with cars set on fire and police stations targeted. (Guardian, 31 January 2019)

Sean Rigg

Sean Rigg

1 February: Five Metropolitan police officers accused of gross misconduct over the death of Sean Rigg under police restraint in August 2008 lose their bid to have disciplinary charges against them dropped. (Guardian, 1 February 2019)

2 February: Swedish police launch two investigations after a video goes viral showing a heavily-pregnant black women travelling with her daughter being forcibly removed from the Stockholm metro. The security guards are being investigated for potential misconduct and the woman for ‘violent resistance’. (Guardian, 2 February 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS

25 January: Over two hundred prominent Austrians, led by authors Elfriede Jelinek and Daniel Kehlman, demand the resignation of the country’s far-right interior minister, Herbert Kickl, after he questioned Europe’s human rights conventions in relation to asylum seekers and said ‘it was up to law to follow politics’. (Deutsche Welle, 25 January 2019)

4 February: Several conservative MPs, including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel, tweet support for new right-wing youth group Turning Point UK, an apparent offshoot of a US group accused of anti-Islam views and connections to racism. (Guardian, 4 February 2019)

DISCRIMINATION 

4 February: University and College Union (UCU) research, based on interviews with 20 of the total 25 black women professors in UK universities, finds that black women professors have to overcome bullying, stereotyping, and institutional neglect in order to gain promotion. (Guardian, 4 February 2019)

COUNTER-TERRORISM

22 January: Majed Al-Zeer, a British citizen and chair of the Palestinian Return Centre, wins £13,000 damages after bringing a case against the World-Check risk intelligence database for wrongfully designating him a terrorist threat leading to the closure of three bank accounts belonging to him and the Centre. (Al Jazeera, 22 January 2019)

25 January: The Counter-Terrorism Professional Standards Unit and Redbridge Council launch investigations after the parents of an 8-year-old boy say he was left traumatised after being questioned at school in Ilford by  two counter-terrorism police officers and a social worker about alleged radicalisation. (Muslim News, 25 January 2019)

EDUCATION

5 February: The Vice-Chancellor of Warwick University announces that two undergraduates who discussed women as rape targets in an online group chat, which included racist and homophobic remarks, will not be allowed to return to campus, reversing a recent disciplinary panel decision that drew heavy criticism. (Guardian, 5 February 2019)

SPORT

31 January: Interior minister Matteo Salvini mocks the Italian Football Federation’s new measures to tackle racism in football, claiming they introduce a ‘Richter scale for booing’. (Guardian, 31 January 2019)

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

23 January: Batley and Spen Labour councillor, Fazila Loonat, links the racial abuse and threats she has received online and on the street to an article written by the owner of a local newspaper who described her as a ‘divisive extremist’ and member of an ‘anti-British’ ‘anti-Semitic’ organisation – a reference to Momentum. (Guardian, 23 January 2019)

24 January: Charlotte Knobloch, the 86-year-old former head of the Central Council for Jews in Germany is targeted for hate mail and threatened by email and telephone ‘almost by the minute’ after describing the far-right AfD, in a speech in the Bavarian parliament, as a threat to democracy. (i24News, 24 January 2019)

25 January: The Bahr Academy, an Islamic school in Newcastle, is attacked and vandalised with graffiti such as ‘Moslem terrorists’ scrawled on the walls. (BBC News, 27 January 2019)

25 January: Oxford hate crime figures may be an underestimate, warns the Oxford Polish Association. 188 racially or religiously aggravated crimes were reported to police in Oxford last year – an increase of over 40 per cent from the previous year. A total of 261 racist incidents were reported in Oxford in 2018, compared to 191 in 2017. (Oxford Mail, 25 January 2019)

25 January: Stockton council’s hate crime statistics for 2018 show that recorded cases in Teesside have doubled since 2014, and that attacks on taxi drivers are now a ‘daily occurrence’. A total of 268 incidents were recorded in 2018, with one in six of all victims aged 17 and under. (Teesside Live, 25 January 2019)

29 January: A man is arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence for a racist video posted online. It appears to have been filmed in Bow, east London and shows Muslim school girls while a male voice threatens a Nazi sterilisation programme and makes other racist and derogatory remarks. (inews, 29 January 2019)

30 January: In Xanthi, Greece, a teacher, Thanasis Papastathopous, vows to protect his pupils from racism after graffiti describing him as a ‘leftist mathematician, f****t and rabbit’ appears on the school walls, alongside comments like ‘punches and kicks to the Turkish-friendly teachers’ and ‘we will be back and the earth will tremble’. (efsyn.gr, 30 January 2019)

30 January: The Never Again Association in Poland publishes a report on the targeting on 2017/18 of Muslims, those perceived to be Muslim, Muslim-run restaurants and mosques often accompanied by racially abusive comments like ‘Osama, Osama’, ‘dirtbags’,  ‘terrorists’ ‘your turban’ and ‘to the gas chamber’. (Never Again Association, 30 January 2019)

31 January: A leaflet featuring a cartoon of Sajid Javid with the words ‘Migrants: our country needs you to stay away’ and ‘just get out of England’ written underneath, is delivered to the headquarters of the Nottinghamshire Polish-language newspaper, and is being investigated by the police as a hate crime. (Holdthefrontpage.co.uk, 31 January 2019)

3 February: The family of the 15-year-old Syrian refugee who was filmed being bullied in Almondbury Community School last October say they have moved away from Huddersfield to escape threats of racist violence. (Guardian, 3 February 2019)

3 February: A brutal attack on 29 September 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria on Leon Koffi – a British citizen originally from the Ivory Coast – is not reported on in the mainstream media. Koffi was set upon by neo-Nazis and beaten almost to death, losing his front teeth, suffering a broken jaw and severe concussion. He subsequently received scant support from any official agency, including the British Embassy. (Lee Jasper blog, 2 February

5 February: Police officers in Cumbria report a rise in racist, homophobic and transphobic hate crimes from 2017- 2018, and a decrease in the number of reports of religious hate crime. (News & Star, 5 February 2019)

This calendar was compiled by the IRR News Team with the help of Zeeshan Ali, Graeme Atkinson, Odysseas Grammatikakis, 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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