Calendar of racism and resistance (31 October – 13 November 2019)

November 14, 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

1 November: The international protection and other provisions law, rushed through the Greek parliament in a matter of days, aimed at curbing the sharpest increase in arrivals since 2015, will restrict access to safeguards for asylum seekers, with serious consequences for fundamental rights, says Human Rights Watch. (Guardian, 1 November 2019)

5 November:  The French government announces that migrant workers’ quotas will be introduced for the first time, in a move that is widely seen as an attempt to woo voters away from the far-right National Rally in advance of local elections in March 2020. (Guardian, 5 November 2019)

8 November: Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit says thousands of EU national children in care will be unable to obtain settled status post-Brexit and will risk homelessness and possible detention and deportation owing to lack of documentation. (Guardian, 8 November 2019)

8 November: At the inquest of Osman Ahmed Nur, the senior coroner for inner north London criticises the Camden and Islington NHS foundation trust for failure to properly assess the mental condition of the 19-year-old, one of four young Eritrean refugees in the same friendship group who took their own lives in the space of a year. While the coroner says, he took his own life on 19 May 2018, she is not clear whether it was suicide because he may have been suffering from psychosis. (Guardian, 8 November 2019)

Reception and detention

28 October: Detainees at Mesnil-Amelot CRA, near Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, revolt against their treatment, setting fire to a number of cells. (Are you Syrious, 1 November 2019)

31 October: The Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) report that in 2018, only 44 per cent of people leaving UK detention were deported. Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) says the figures show that ‘detention fails to achieve its stated aim in the majority of cases and is frequently used to coerce people into leaving the UK’. The boards also raise concerns over excessive use of restraints and the prevalence of mental health problems and self-harm. (Independent, 31 October 2019)

2 November: Sixteen women prisoners from Syria and Palestine, including one minor, start a hunger strike at the Petrou Ralli detention centre in Athens, demanding immediate transfer to the islands for processing of their asylum claims, and protesting the dirty, unhealthy conditions of their detention.  (Enough is Enough, 3 November 2019)

2 November: The Irish justice minister postpones the transfer of 13 female asylum seekers to a hotel on Achill Island, County Mayo because of fears for their state of mind, saying that the ongoing ‘protests’ against an emergency direct provision centre on the island ‘would add further to the vulnerability of the women’. (Irish Times, 2 November 2019)

3 November: Over 100 charities sign a letter to the Home Office calling for urgent action over the state of asylum housing. They say living conditions have worsened since the charity Migrant Help took over asylum support from G4S in September 2019, citing reports of rat infestations, no heating and ‘drastically increased’ waiting times. (Independent, 3 November 2019)

3 November: A 25-year-old Nigerian man sleeping rough in Calais dies from smoke inhalation in his tent, where he had tried to light a fire to keep warm and prepare food. A protest is held against this, the third death in Calais this year. A recent mayoral decree preventing migrants from gathering in the town centre during cultural festivities is also criticised as an attempt to strip migrants of ‘their humanity and label them as parasites that have to be hidden or walled in’. (Guardian, 3 November 2019)

4 November: In Ireland, Ballinamore residents set up a ‘welcoming committee’ for refugees, seeking to provide an ‘alternative voice’ to those holding round-the-clock protests in the Co Leitrim town where a Sinn Fein councillor’s car was recently set alight. (Irish Times, 4 November 2019)

6 November: A public inquiry begins into allegations of abuse at Brook House, a G4S-run immigration detention centre in Gatwick, after a 2017 BBC Panorama programme revealed evidence of mistreatment of detainees by staff. The inquiry, chaired by specialist custody investigator Kate Eves, will also investigate whether monitoring mechanisms were sufficiently robust. (Independent, 6 November 2019)

7 November: French police evict over 1,600 people from makeshift migrant camps in northern Paris after President Macron announces a new tougher stance on migration. A spokesperson from the migrant solidarity organisation Utopia56 says the police operation will mean more people attempting the dangerous journey to the UK via camps in France’s Channel ports. (BBC, 8 November)

Anti-refugee protests

1 November: A priest in Skyda, West Macedonia in Greece, is filmed at a town meeting threatening that he and residents will ‘take the law in their hands’ and use guns should displaced people be resettled in the town as part of government plans to relieve pressure on the Greek Islands. (Keep Talking Greece, 1 November 2019)

3 November: In Greece, over the weekend of 2-3 November, multiple racist protests and blockades are held in Giannitsa, Serres, Kos, Chios, and Leros, against the arrival of refugees, and in Thessaloniki the far Right organise protests against the transfer of refugees from the islands. (Are You Syrious, 4 November 2019, Greek Reporter, 3 November 2019)

5 November: Questions are asked in the Greek parliament about the lawfulness of a planned ‘barbecue protest’ announced by the United Macedonia group near the Diavata refugee camp, a few miles west of Thessaloniki, where attendees have been invited on social media to consume pork and alcohol to protest at the growing number of immigrants in Greece. (Deutsche Welle,  5 November 2019)

7 November:  Fifty pupils at a vocational high school in Giannitsa, Central Macedonia, occupy their school in a protest against refugees and migrants. They then march through the centre of town chanting ‘illegals out of schools’ and ‘Macedonia is Greek’.  Watch a video here. (Keep Talking Greece, 7 November 2019).

7 November: Residents of Karitsa village, near Larissa in Central Greece, block a main road in order to prevent a bus with 40 unaccompanied minors from reaching a reception hotel. (Keep Talking Greece, 7 November 2019)

10 November:  Around 100 people attend the ‘United Macedonian’s pork and alcohol barbeque protest against refugees in  Diavata, Northern Greece.  The Movement Against Racism and Fascist Threat (KEERFA) organise  in support of the refugees outside the former military camp ‘Anagnostopoulos’.  (Keep Talking Greece, 10 November 2019).

11 November:  Police confirm that arson is the most ‘probable’ cause of a fire  that raged through a building set to house asylum seekers in the town of Bilzen, in  the province of Bilburg close to the Dutch border. Since October, locals have protested against the asylum housing scheme.  (Brussels Times, 11 November 2019)

Borders and internal controls

29 October: The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and Foxglove, a new advocacy group promoting justice in the technology sector, launch a legal case to force the Home Office to explain on what basis a new algorithm that filters UK visa applications streams applicants. The two groups fear the AI ‘streaming tool’ would lead to ‘speedy boarding for white people’ while ‘poorer people of colour get pushed to the back of the queue’. (Guardian, 29 October 2019; Electronic Immigration Network, 30 October 2019)

31 October: Italian NGO Open Migration reports that the daily illegal pushbacks between France and Italy are increasing, with 1,855 pushbacks registered in October alone. (Are you Syrious, 31 October 2019)

31 October: The body of a young man, thought to be between 25 and 30 and presumed to be a refugee, is found off the coast of Gumusluk, Mugla in Turkey. His mobile phone is being used to try to identify him (Are you Syrious, 31 October 2019)

31 October: Italy renews its agreement with Libyan authorities whereby it provides assistance to the Libyan coastguard to stop people attempting to come to Europe. This is despite the criticism of Libyan treatment of displaced people in its detention camps. (The Local, 31 October 2019)

4 November: The foreign affairs select committee calls for a rethink in immigration policies in the wake of the Essex lorry deaths, saying closing borders only drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and agreements with Libya, Niger and Sudan to stop migration risks fuelling human rights abuses. Read its report here. (BBC News, 4 November 2019)

4 November: In northern Greece, the driver of a van is arrested after police carrying out a check at a motorway near Xanthi discover 41 migrants, believed to be from Afghanistan, alive in a refrigerated truck. Seven people are rushed to hospital with respiratory problems. (Guardian, 4 November 2019)

4 November: After urging those with information about the 39 Vietnamese nationals found dead in a lorry trailer in Essex to come forward ‘without fear’ last week, Essex police refuse to confirm that they will not share data on respondents’ immigration status with the Home Office. Human rights barrister Parosha Chandran says ‘The police need to be very careful that they are not betraying the trust of frightened and vulnerable people’.  (Guardian, 4 November 2019)

5 November: 15 organisations sign an open letter urging local authorities to suspend their cooperation with the Rough Sleeping Support Service, a new Home Office scheme involving the embedding of immigration surgeries in community and religious organisations, saying it ‘makes no sense from a support perspective’ and is ‘being used to co-opt councils and charities into the delivery of immigration controls’. The Public Interest Law Centre says the scheme has a ‘strong element of racial profiling’. (Guardian, 5 November 2019)

5 November: Following a high court challenge by the Public Interest Law Centre, the homelessness charity St Mungo’s apologises for sharing information with the Home Office about rough sleeping migrants, some of whom were subsequently wrongly deported from the UK. (Guardian, 5 November 2019)

9 November: A 20-year-old refugee from Syria who was rescued by his family from a forest in the south of the country dies from hypothermia and exhaustion in the town of Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia, as medical assistance arrives too late. (Are You Syrious, 9 November 2019)

9 November: Hundreds of civil society activists join members of Sea Watch and Mediterranea on the streets of Rome to demand the abolition of the new state Security Laws which rescue NGOs complain keep their ships idle in port. (Are you Syrious, 9-10 November 2019)

Citizenship

6 November: The Cyprus government strips 26 individuals of citizenship they received under a secretive passports-for-investment scheme amid concerns that the ‘golden passport’ scheme facilitates crime and money laundering. (BBC News, 7 November 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS – UK

3 November: In the run-up to the general election, leading politicians sign a pledge issued by the campaign group Compassion in Politics to avoid hateful language during the general election campaign. (Guardian, 3 November 2019)

8 November: Labour parliamentary candidate Gideon Bull withdraws his candidacy after allegations that he used the word ‘Shylock’ at a meeting where a Jewish councillor was present. (Guardian, 8 November 2019)

9 November: Boris Johnson is accused of backtracking on his promise to set up an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Tory party after he tells the BBC that there will be no such inquiry – but instead a ‘general investigation into prejudice of all kinds’. (Politics Home, 9 November 2019)

11 November: Former aide to Boris Johnson, Anthony Browne, faces calls to withdraw his candidacy for a safe Tory seat over ‘abhorrent’ articles he wrote for the Spectator from 2002 to 2005, blaming immigrants for bringing ‘germs’ and HIV to the UK. (Guardian, 11 November 2019)

11 November: British Indians in Harrow, north-west London, criticise messages by supporters of the Hindu nationalist BJP telling Hindus to vote Tory, saying they should not interfere in the British general election. (Guardian, 11 November 2019)

12 November: The Guardian present a dossier to the Conservative party containing evidence that 25 current and former councillors posted Islamophobic and racist content on social media. Conservative party suspend all existing members pending an investigation. (Guardian, 12 November 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS – EUROPE

31 October: The Independent exposes a trip by far-right European MEPs from the Brexit party, Alternative for Germany, and the National Rally in France, to the Kashmir region where they voiced support for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s ‘fight against global terrorism’. (Independent, 31 October 2019)

7 November: In Kozani, Greece, the governing centre-right New Democracy party expels a local official after he posts on Facebook  ‘These blacks […] should be thrown in the Aegean Sea.’ (Keep Talking Greece, 7 November 2019)

8 November: More than 1,600 academics sign a statement denouncing the manipulation of crime statistics by the far-right Vox leader during a TV election debate. Santiago Abascal falsely claimed that 70 per cent of gang rapes in Spain are committed by foreigners, and singled out the unaccompanied minors’ centre in Hortaleza as a centre of crime.  On the same day, a colleague stood outside the gates of an unaccompanied minors’ centre in Seville and labelled it a serious problem. (El Pais in English, 8 November 2019, Observer, 10 November 2019)

8 November: In an open letter, 17 Christian Democrat (CU) politicians in Thuringia say coalition talks with ‘all democratically elected parties’ should be considered.  This is seen as a reference to an alliance with the far-right Alternative for Germany, a demand the CDU leadership rejects. (Guardian, 8 November 2019)

10 November: The far-right Vox party make significant gains in the Spanish general election, increasing its share of the vote to 15.1 per cent, winning 52 seats and emerging as the third largest party in Spain.  (Guardian, 11 November 2019)

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

29 October: A judge in Warsaw finds fourteen anti-fascist women not guilty of unlawful assembly, saying that they were right to unfold a poster saying ‘Fascism Stop’ at an Independence Day rally in the Polish capital in November 2017. (Euronews, 29 October 2019)

30 October: It emerges that the alleged neo-nazi killer of CDU politician Walter Lübcke was known to the Hesse authorities. The alleged murderer had maintained a relationship with controversial official Andreas Temme, who was present at the murder of one of the victims of the National Socialist Underground, and was responsible for running  the Hesse intelligence agency’s informants within the neo-nazi scene (World Socialist, 30 October 2019)

2 November: A German offshoot of a US-based neo-nazi group, Atomwaffen Division Deutschland, which has been linked to several murders and planned terror attacks, appears to be behind an execution threat sent to Cem Özdemir a former leader of the Green party and one of Germany’s highest-profile politicians with Turkish origins.(Deutsche Welle in English, 2 November 2019)

2 November: The city council in Dresden passes a motion declaring a ‘Nazi emergency’, noting that since the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA emerged in the city in 2014, Dresden has become a bastion of the far Right. (Deutsche Welle in English, 2 November 2019)

2 November: US white supremacist Greg Johnson, editor-in-chief of the white nationalist publishing house Counter Currents, is arrested in Oslo prior to giving a speech at the far-right Scandza Forum –  Human Biodiversity conference. (Deutsche Welle, 2 November 2019)

9 November: In Germany, 15,000 anti-fascists mark the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht by organising a counter-protest in Bielefeld, North-Rhine Westfalia against a march by the neo-nazi party Die Rechte. A human chain was formed outside the synagogue. (Deutsche Welle, 9 November 2019)

POLICING AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

29 October: A new medical report into the 2005 death of asylum seeker Oury Jalloh finds he sustained bone fractures before he died. His charred body was found with the hands bound to a bed in a police cell in Dessau, east Germany. The authorities always claimed that he killed himself by igniting his mattress with a lighter in his cell. (Deutsche Welle in English, 29 October 2019)

3 November: The children’s commissioner describes the youth justice system in England and Wales as “chaotic and dysfunctional” after almost a decade of cuts and court closures, while a Guardian investigation finds the system plagued by increasing delays, confusion and poor child protection. (Guardian, 3 November 2019)

4 November: The Ministry of Justice reveals that the proportion of children convicted of a crime who are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds has nearly doubled in eight years (Guardian, 4 November 2019)

5 November: Austerity-linked violent crime in the West Midlands has risen 103 per cent since 2014, according to a House of Commons briefing paper. (Guardian, 6 November)

7 November: The Crown Prosecution Service announces murder and ABH charges against unnamed police officers in connection with the death of Dalian Atkinson. A former footballer, Atkinson died in 2015 following the use of force by officers of West Mercia police, including restraint and taser. (Inquest press release, 7 November 2019)

12 November:  The Scottish government announces it is setting up a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act into the death of Sheku Bayoh who died after being restrained by up to nine officers near his home in Kirkcaldy in May 2015. The Lord Advocate had ruled, a day previous, that no police officer is to be prosecuted in relation to his death, also granting immunity for police officers and prison officers.  (The Sunday Post,  12 November 2019)

12 November: The inquest into the death of Carlington Spencer, who died at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre in  2017, identifies a  series of failings that possibly contributed to the stroke that caused his death. The coroner announces he is preparing a report to send to Morton Hall and Nottingham NHS on how to improve their response to warnings and prevent ‘confirmatory bias’ by staff.  (Inquest press release, 11 November 2019)

HOUSING

3 November: Lawyers launch a legal challenge to councils’ use of public space protection orders (PSPO) which criminalise homeless people for begging and rough sleeping, after a crowdfunding campaign reaches its target. (Guardian, 3 November 2019)

© Alan Stanton

4 November: Local authorities in London are moving families into council estates that are planned for demolition, and campaigners in Tottenham, Haringey say it disproportionately affects black, Asian and minority ethnic residents, whose mental and physical health is suffering. (Guardian, 5 November 2019, See also IRR interview with Tottenham temporary accommodation tenant Tash here.

HEALTH AND WELFARE

31 October: Data published by the Department for Education show a 30 per cent increase in referrals of asylum-seeking children to social services and significant increases in children affected by trafficking and abuse related to religion. (Guardian, 31 October 2019)

3 November: The Home Office is blocking plans agreed by the health secretary and NHS bosses to bring more trainee medics to the UK to help ease acute staff shortages in the NHS. (Guardian, 3 November 2019)

4 November: North Bristol Trust launches a Red Card to Racism campaign after staff report an increase in racist and sexist language, gestures and behaviour at Southmead Hospital.  (BBC News,  4 November 2019)

8 November: A Local Government Association survey finds that for children’s services in England, domestic violence, poverty, poor housing and substance abuse are driving a surge in children at risk, as austerity pushes families over the edge. (Guardian, 8 November)

DISCRIMINATION

10 November: In the first march of its kind, 40,000 people take to the streets of Paris to protest against the state’s Islamophobia. (CCIF, 11 November 2019)

11 November: A former Financial Conduct Authority board member warns that banking tools which identify unprofitable customers risk exacerbating discrimination and exclusion. (Guardian, 11 November 2019)

MEDIA AND CULTURE

1 November: The Spectator is criticised for running a piece by Rod Liddle which appears to call for elections to be held on days when Muslims are forbidden by their religion to vote. Editor Fraser Nelson says that the article should not have been published in the form that it was but defends Liddle’s right to satirise UK politics. (Guardian, 1 November 2019)

EDUCATION

6 November: A 17-year-old pupil from Edinburgh is threatened with suspension after reporting to teachers how she had been abused, including use of the ‘N’ word, by fellow pupils. The victim is asking the local council to do more to help victims. (BBC News, 6 November 2019)

EMPLOYMENT AND EXPLOITATION

31 October: Migrant workers at 5 Hertford Street, a private members’ club owned by millionaire Robin Birley, who has donated £268,000 to UKIP and £20,000 to Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign, ballot for strike action. Their union, the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB), says they are demanding the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour and proper occupational sick pay. (Left Foot Forward, 31 October 2019; iNews, 31 October 2019)

7 November: A Polish chef who was repeatedly harassed, abused and discriminated against by a member of staff at a restaurant in Co. Londonderry is awarded £15,000 by an employment tribunal. (BBC News, 7 November 2019)

11 November: Outsourced porters and cleaning staff at St Mary’s hospital occupy the A&E waiting area demanding a meeting with management, on the fourth day of their strike over pay and conditions of work. (Socialist Worker, 12 November 2019)

12 November: McDonald’s workers across the UK, supported by War on Want, the TUC and trades unions, strike for £15 per hour and guaranteed hours, as part of a global action uniting the company’s staff from Brazil and New Zealand to France and Belgium. McDonald’s employs 130,000 workers in the UK, and its chief executive ‘earned’ £12 million in 2018.  (Manchester Evening News, 12 November 2019)

SPORT

3 November: Brescia forward Mario Balotelli is targeted for monkey chants at Brescia’s away match against Verona, but later, Verona’s manager denies any racist abuse took place. (Guardian, 4 November 2019)

4 November: Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla is charged by the Football Association with using abusive language (discriminatory comments) towards Charlton Player Jonathan Leko during a match on 28 September. (ITV News, 4 November 2019)

7 November: In Italy, a new ‘Love Lazio, Fight Fascism’ football fan group is launched. It aims  to challenge the image of the club as far-right supporting, while also preventing neo-nazis from using the club’s north stand to indoctrinate young football fans.  (The Local, 7 November 2019)

8 November: England captain Gareth Southgate, Kick it Out and others criticise the sanctions against Bulgaria following sustained racist abuse from their fans towards England’s black players during last month’s 2020 qualifier. Bulgaria was merely ordered to play two matches behind closed doors and the Bulgarian Football Union was fined £65,000 by UEFA. (Independent, 8 November 2019)

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

29 October: Police investigate an assault in Tidworth on a man and his 3-year-old niece in which the assailant racially abused the victims. (Andover Advertiser, 29 October 2019)

31 October: A video showing a young woman being verbally and physically attacked on a Madrid bus by a man shouting ‘go back to your country’, is leaked online, three months after a man was arrested for a racist attack against a black woman on a bus. The Madrid municipal transportation company, EMT, claims to have no record of the incident. (El Pais, 6 November 2019)

2 November: Watford police seek witnesses to a racially aggravated assault on a teenage girl in Watford High Street on 22 August. (Watford Observer, 2 November 2019)

5 November: A 25-year-old man pleads guilty to a racially aggravated assault on an Uber driver in Bristol and is given an 18 months community order for punching the victim several times, biting him in the back of his neck and racially abusing him. (Bristol Live, 5 November 2019)

Romani group unveils memorial plaque before it was vandalised

7 November: The newly-erected Romani Rose True Holocaust Memorial in Govanhill, Glasgow, thought to be the first of its kind in Scotland, is vandalised. (The Scotsman, 7 November 2019)

7 November: The head of operations at First Eastern Counties investigates the allegation that a paralysed wheelchair-bound black man was abused by a Cambridgeshire bus driver who also refused to help him and his wheelchair on and off her bus. (Cambridge News, 7 November 2019)

7 November: In Italy, 89-year-old Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre, a lifetime senator, is given police protection after receiving hundreds of threats, including death threats, on social media following her call for the establishment of an extraordinary parliamentary commission to combat racism. The measure was passed, though The League and Brothers of Italy abstained. (BBC News, 7 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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