Calendar of racism and resistance (6 – 19 February 2019)

February 21, 2019 — News

Written by Institute of Race Relations

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.

Asylum and Migration

Asylum and migration rights

7 February: Lawyers and rights groups say increases in funding proposed in a review of legal aid by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), including restoring legal aid for migrant children separated from their parents, is a ‘drop in the ocean’ of need created by the cuts imposed by the 2012 Legal Aid Act. (Guardian, 7 February)

8 February: UK universities are told to ignore the net migration target when recruiting international students. (Times Higher Education (paywall), 8 February 2019)

9 February: The Times reports that hundreds of Commonwealth soldiers enlisted in the British Army are working second jobs to meet minimum income requirements to bring their children to the UK. (The Times (paywall), 9 February 2019)

10 February: In Rome, the mayors of ten Spanish and Italian cities (Barcelona, Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia, Naples, Palermo, Syracuse, Milan, Latina and Bologna), some of whom meet with the Pope, launch a call to ‘Welcome Migrants and Refugees’ and oppose current policies in the Mediterranean, particularly the closure of Italian and Maltese ports to search and rescue NGOs. (il manifesto, 10 February 2019)

15 February: The Institute for International Political Studies releases statistics showing that Italy has rejected a record 24,800 asylum applications in the last four months. Rejections, which coincide with the implementation of the Salvini decree, are up 25 per cent on the previous four months. (Guardian, 15 February 2019)

Borders

8 February: French magistrates open an inquiry into the death of Derman Tamimou, a 29-year-old man from Togo, who was found unconscious on the side of a highway linking the Hautes-Alpes with the northern Italian region of Piedmont. He is believed to have died of hypothermia. (Guardian, 8 February 2019)

16 February: The mayor of the Italian town of Oulx says that since the implementation of the Salvini decree, which has rendered many asylum seekers homeless, more migrants are arriving in the town, hoping to cross over via the Alps into France. (Guardian, 16 February 2019)

Reception and detention

7 February: MPs and peers on the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) recommend a 28-day limit to immigration detention, alongside other measures to improve the ‘prison-like’ conditions endured by detainees in immigration removal centres (IRCs). (Guardian, 7 February 2019)

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

8 February: The Morning Star launches a campaign to end wage slavery in immigration detention centres, estimating that detainees would have earned an additional £27.7m over the last decade on the minimum wage instead of the £1 per hour they receive. (Morning Star, 8, 9 February 2019)

9 February: Government figures reveal that of the 6,300 people in immigration detention identified last year by doctors and social workers as vulnerable and at risk of self-harm, only 364 – or 6 per cent – were subsequently released. (Guardian, 9 February 2019)

13 February: Lawyers and campaigners say the Home Office admission that a Chinese woman showing multiple indications of trafficking was unlawfully detained for six months demonstrates that its Adults at Risk policy fails to protect vulnerable people. (Independent, 13 February 2019)

15 February: The Hungarian Helsinki Committee says that despite being sanctioned by the European Court of Human Rights, the authorities are once again leaving asylum seekers without food for long periods of time in order to convince them to give up asylum claims and leave the country. (InfoMigrants, 15 February 2019)

Enforcement

16 February: The Observer reveals that the Home Office is offering to hire out immigration officials to public services, NHS trusts, local authorities and private companies at around £60 an hour, to attend interviews, perform real-time immigration status checks and encourage undocumented migrants to leave the country. (Observer, 16 February 2019)

17 February: MPs establish an all-party parliamentary group to investigate the fates of the 35,000 people accused of cheating in the Home Office’s official English test, to determine how many have been deported, allowed to stay, or are in detention. (Independent, 17 February 2019)

Deportation

7 February: Detainees, campaigners and politicians demand an apology from home secretary Sajid Javid after he claimed that the people deported by charter flight to Jamaica the previous day were all guilty of ‘very serious crimes’. They also call for an end to deportations of long-term UK residents, which divide families. (Independent, 7 February 2019, Guardian, 9 February 2019)

12 February: Peers, asylum lawyers, charities and a former British ambassador to Zimbabwe condemn the resumption of deportations of refused asylum seekers to the country, described as a ‘human rights-free zone’. (Guardian, 12 February 2019)

14 February: A bot designed by anti-deportation activists in the Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) group is used on Valentine’s Day to raise awareness about deportations using the Tinder dating app. (Guardian, 14 February 2019)

15 February: Following parliamentary questions by Die Linke on police brutality, separation of families and the use of sedatives during deportation flights, the German government admits that physical restraint was used against 300 people on 156 deportation flights in 2017 (until November), but declines to investigate further. (ECRE Newsletter, 15 February 2019)

Citizenship

7 February: Home Office statistics revealed to the Home Affairs Committee by Sajid Javid show that over 3,000 of the Windrush generation have been granted British citizenship since the Windrush scandal. But there is still no accessible compensation scheme or hardship fund for those affected. (Sky News, 7 February 2019)

19 February: Sajid Javid signs an order revoking the British citizenship of 19-year-old Shamima Begum, who travelled to Syria to join ISIS aged 15, making it impossible for her to return to the UK from the refugee camp where she is living with her newborn child. Her family say the order will make her stateless and are to challenge the order. (Guardian, 16, 19 February 2019)

Criminalising solidarity

7 February: A private letter from United Nations human rights experts to the government expressing ‘grave concern’ at the use of terrorism offences against the Stansted 15 is revealed. (Guardian, 7 February 2019)

11 February: Migration and anti-deportation activist groups including End Deportations launch a week of action against the Home Office with a day-long ‘Trial of the Home Office’ outside the ministry, to mark the conviction of the Stansted 15 and the cruelty of Home Office policies. Two activists are arrested. (i, 13 February 2019; End Deportations (facebook) 11 February 2019)

18 February: Swedish student Elin Ersson, who filmed herself preventing the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker, is fined 3,000 kroner (€287, £352) by a Gothenburg district court. The prosecutor had called for a six-month prison sentence. (Deutsche Welle, 18 February 2019)

Police and criminal justice system

6 February: The home secretary announces that police are to be given ‘greater power to crack down on trespassers’ at ‘illegal’ Traveller sites. (Travellers Times, 6 February 2019)

7 February: The Ministry of Justice rejects INQUEST’s demand for automatic, non-means-tested legal aid for families in inquests where state officials such as police or prison officers are represented. (The Law Gazette, 8 February 2019)

8 February: Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that in the year to March 2018 knife killings reached their highest level since records began in 1946. A quarter of all victims were black, an increase of 78 per cent for black men aged between 16 and 24. (Independent, 8 February 2019)

11 February: Up to 100 convicted knife crime offenders are to be tagged after leaving prison under a pilot scheme beginning on 18 February in Lewisham, Croydon, Lambeth and Southwark, four boroughs with high knife crime rates. (Guardian, 11 February 2019)

12 February: Liberty publishes Policing the Machine, an exposé of discriminatory police computer programs which highlights the implications of the use of predictive algorithms by 14  UK forces for already over-policed BAME communities. Download the report here. (Liberty press release, 12 February 2019)

12 February: A coroner says that the inquest into the death of 43-year-old Leroy Junior Medford in Thames Valley Police custody in April 2018 will focus on the fifteen hours after his arrest. (BBC News, 12 February 2019)

13 February: Three Met Police officers involved in the death of Sean Rigg in police custody in April 2008 have misconduct charges against them dropped, although they still face other charges relating to their reporting of the death. (BBC News, 13 February 2019)

National security

15 February: Sajid Javid tells The Times that he ‘will not hesitate to prevent’ the return to the UK of British citizens who have supported a terrorist organisation abroad. (Guardian,15 February 2019)

16 February: The Islamic Religious Community of Austria (IGG) welcomes the Vienna Administrative Court’s ruling against a government plan to shut down six mosques belonging to the Arab community as part of its crackdown on ‘political Islam’. (Muslim News, 16 February 2019)

Anti-fascism and the far Right

2 February: Three far-right activists are arrested in Lille in connection with an assault on a young woman filmed by an Al Jazeera undercover reporter for the documentary Generation Hate. The prosecutor does not name the accused, but the media name Remi Falize of Generation Identity’s Flanders branch as one of those arrested. (Al Jazeera, 5 February 2019)

15 February: Fascist Forge, a US website believed to be hosted in the Ukraine but used as a meeting ground for neo-nazis globally, most notably recently in Scotland, to plan race war, share bomb-making manuals and boast about their urges to rape women, has been taken down by the site’s register DreamHost. (Vice, 15 February 2019)

15 February: On the death of 96-year-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche, the Justice for Jeremiah Duggan campaign calls on those who attended the LaRouche conference in March 2003 in Germany, following which 22-year-old Jeremiah Duggan died, to reveal the true circumstances of his death. A court in Frankfurt is considering a fresh application to re-open the case on the ground that previous investigations were deeply flawed (Justice for Jeremiah, 15 February 2019)

17 February: Rape Crisis reports ‘overtly racist’ communications to the police after being bombarded with racist communications from Tommy Robinson supporters, when Robinson drew attention to a pamphlet from the charity aimed at helping black, Asian and minority ethnic women. (Independent, 17 February 2019)

Electoral politics

7 February:  The Bulgarian deputy prime minister announces new measures to ‘integrate’ Roma by curbing welfare, demolishing unauthorised settlements and offering free abortions to Roma mothers who have more than three children. All the measures are included in the government’s ‘Concept for the Integration of the Unsocialised Gypsy (Roma) Ethnicity’. (Balkan Insight, 8 February 2019)

14 February: Mike Whitehead, former Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Humberside, resigns from UKIP, saying party leader Gerard Batten’s promotion of Tommy Robinson and ‘alliance with right-wing extremists and his fixation with Islam is totally unacceptable’. (Hull Live, 14 February 2019)

15 February: The Austrian far-right interior minister, Herbert Kickl, citing crimes against women, announces a package of tough new measures, stating ‘We observe that very, very often people involved in these violent crimes are not Austrian and are from other countries and other cultures’. (Reuters, 13 February 2019)

18 February: Seven Labour MPs leave the party to form an independent grouping, with some citing ‘institutional anti-Semitism’ as a factor in their decision. One of their number, Angela Smith, is later forced to apologise for apparently describing people from BAME backgrounds as having a ‘funny tinge’. (Politico.euGuardian, 18 February 2019)

Media and Culture

9 February: Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement, attack the ‘radical chic’ judges of the annual televised Sanremo song festival who award the prize to ‘Mahmood’, whose song contains Arabic words. (Guardian, 11 February 2019)

12 February: William Mitchell, a former UKIP candidate, claims that he has appeared in the audience of BBC’s Question Time four times, and that he did not have to go through the process of applying but was personally invited by the BBC. (The Herald, 12 February 2019)

15 February: A group representing British East Asians in the TV and film industry accuse the BBC of racist stereotyping and ‘orientalist cliches’ over a children’s sitcom featuring a British Chinese family. (Guardian, 15 February 2019)

15 February: Eight high-profile French male journalists are suspended or stand down, as it emerges that they formed a ‘club’ called the League of LOL that ran an online harassment campaign against feminists, female journalists, writers of colour and gay people, often using false accounts to spread racist and sexist abuse. (Guardian, 15 February 2019)

Education

6 February: A report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) finds that the Home Office prioritised immigration status checks on pupils over their eligibility for free school meals. (Schools Week, 6 February 2019)

Employment

8 February: Fijian lance corporal Inoke Momonokaya, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan with the British Army, wins £490,000 in compensation for sustained racist bullying, including an order in 2011 to dress and act as a Taliban insurgent for a Ministry of Defence (MoD) training video. The racism left him suicidal and unable to serve (Metro, 10 February 2019)

9 February: A Guardian exposé finds that African migrant agricultural workers in Italy are paid as little as €2-3 an hour, 80 per cent of agricultural workers without contracts are migrants, and the Salvini migration decree is accelerating illegalisation and exploitation. (Guardian, 9 February 2019)

Housing

11 February: Politics.co.uk reveals that between December 2016 and July 2018 almost 300 Commonwealth nationals were evicted under the government’s ‘right to rent’ rules, introduced in 2016, which require landlords to end a tenancy if the Home Office notifies them that the tenant does not have permission to be in the UK. (Politics, 11 February 2019)

16 February: Activists, relatives and models representing the 72 people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire stage a protest at the start of London Fashion Week. (Independent, 16 February 2019)

Health

17 February: The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) admits that at least 22 people have been wrongly ordered to pay advance charges before receiving urgent care, violating safeguards in the charging regulations. (Guardian, 17 February 2019)

Discrimination

10 February: More that 55 per cent of voters in Geneva back the introduction of a law that bans elected officials and public employees from wearing visible religious symbols in the city. The law was originally proposed by the right-leaning cantonal parliament in April 2018, but Left, Muslim and feminist groups gathered enough signatures to force a public vote. (The Local, 11 February 2019)

15 February: Hundreds of Spanish citizens of Chinese origin take to the streets of Madrid accusing Spain’s second bank, BBVA, of racism after the bank suspended and closed their bank accounts with no warning or explanation. (The Local, 15 February 2019)

Sport

7 February: The Football Association charges Sheffield United Women forward Sophie Jones with racially abusing Tottenham’s Renee Hector in a match on 6 January. (BBC, 7 February 2019)

18 February: Raheem Sterling meets a young Newport player who has suffered racial abuse and encourages him to ‘always be proud of who you are, and never stay silent’ in a post on social media. (Independent, 16 February 2019)

Racial violence and harassment

7 February: The Community Security Trust reports a record number of antisemitic incidents in 2018. Violent attacks decreased by 17 per cent, and the most common type of incident was verbal abuse. (Guardian, 7 February 2019)

8, 16 February: The home of Jackson Yamba and his ten-year-old son is targeted with ‘No Blacks’ racist graffiti, as are communal doors, days after they move into a small block of flats in Salford, Greater Manchester. The police fail to respond to Yamba’s report, leading the trainee solicitor to take to Twitter, where offers of help and support pour in.(Guardian, 17, 18 February 2019)

8-9 February: A prayer hall at a Jewish cemetery in Whitefield, Bury, is desecrated in what a senior Greater Manchester police officer describes as ‘an abhorrent act of hate’. (Guardian, 10 February 2019)

9 February: In Berlin, two teenage Syrian girls are punched in the face by a man shouting racist abuse, and hours later a woman tries to tear off the hijab of a 12-year-old girl, threatening her with pepper spray before allegedly trying to stab the child with a syringe filled with what appears to be blood. (Deutsche Welle, 10 February 2019)

11 February: A Spanish bar owner is ordered to pay €1,500 (€300 each) to the five people he threw out of his bar saying that he didn’t ‘want black people here’. The judge says his action shows his ‘undisguised contempt’. (El Pais, 11 February 2019)

11 February: A man who was fined £800 nearly a year ago for posting a grossly offensive video featuring a dog doing a Nazi salute, boasts on a radio show that he has refused to pay the fine and taunts the police to come and get him. (Daily Record, 11 February 2019)

12 February: A retired university lecturer in Wilmslow is fined for racially aggravated harassment after twice telling his German neighbour to ‘go home’. (Manchester Evening News, 12 February 2019)

15 February: Official figures show incidents of anti-Semitism rose by 74 per cent in France and over 60 per cent in Germany in 2018. (Guardian, 14 February 2019)

16 February: A shopper was reportedly subjected to racial abuse by a group of 70 young people, who also damaged his car, outside a Tesco in Ingleby Barwick. (Teeside Live, 17 February 2019)

18 February: Police investigate reports of racially aggravated assault after Maajid Nawaz, presenter on LBC radio and founder of the Quilliam foundation, is reportedly attacked and racially abused by a man in Soho, London. (Guardian, 19 February 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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