Calendar of Racism and Resistance (6 March – 19 March 2019)

March 21, 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.

An additional calendar on the Christchurch massacre of fifty people in New Zealand, its European implications, and related racial violence in the UK can be found here.

ASYLUM, MIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

ASYLUM AND MIGRANT RIGHTS

6 March: The public accounts committee accuses the Home Office of a dereliction of duty for its failure to monitor the human impact of the hostile environment. The committee’s report highlights the department’s ‘lack of urgency’ in response to the Windrush scandal, citing the eight months it took to set up a hardship fund and the continued delay of a compensation scheme. (Guardian, 6 March)  

6 March: The supreme court overturns a previous ruling that a Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker organised his own torture in order to improve his chances of receiving asylum in the UK. The landmark judgement says that the Home Office and immigration tribunal judges should follow international standards on torture cases by giving more weight to expert medical evidence. (Guardian, 6 March 2019)  

 6 March: In an out-of-court settlement with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the Home Office agrees that its caseworkers will not refuse settled status to EU nationals who are ‘economically inactive’, in part-time work, lacking private health insurance, or who have previously been served a removal notice. (Guardian, 6 March 2019) 

 7 March: The Home Office freezes immigration and nationality fees for 2019. However, fees remain high, having rocketed since being introduced in 2003, leading to recent calls by the Royal British Legion to scrap them because Commonwealth veterans are struggling to pay to remain in the UK after being discharged. (Childrens Legal Centre;  Guardian, 8 March 2019) 

 19 March: A rescue ship run  by a collective of Mediterranean aid groups and associations rescues 50 people on a rubber boat off the coast of Libya, prompting fears of a showdown with the Italian government as interior minister Matteo Salvini declares the operation ‘detrimental to the order and security of the Italian state’. (Guardian, 19 March 2019)  

 19 March: The Home Office confirms that it is ‘able to access and examine data’ from the micro-chipped prepaid Aspen debit cards given to asylum seekers, and that 186 people had their support removed last year as a result of such monitoring. (The Times, 19 March 2019) 

BORDERS

6 March: After a dispute with Viktor Orbán’s government about the EU’s ability to control immigration, the European Commission declares the ‘migrant crisis’ over, citing the 89 percent reduction in  Mediterranean crossings last year. This is the result of the near closure of the Libyan route by the Libyan coastguard, funded by the EU and Italy (to the tune of Euros90million). Only 262 seaborne migrants reached Italy in the first two months of 2019, compared with more than 13,000 during the same period in 2017.  (Guardian, 6 March 2019; Wall Street Journal, 10 March 2019) 

©Camilla Macciani

12 March: Students, lecturers and activists stage a ‘Blood on your hands’ protest as Italy’s former interior minister Marco Martini, responsible for the Memorandum of Understanding with Libya and the Italian Code of Conduct which criminalised SAR-NGOs, gives a lecture at the LSE on ‘the situation of the Mediterranean Sea, migration, and security’. (Repubblica.it, 13 March 2019) 

13 March: Amnesty International publishes Pushed to the Edge: Violence and abuse against refugees and migrants along the Balkans Route. It accuses European governments, which fund Croatian police, of complicity with its vicious assaults as well as the practice of collective expulsions whereby thousands of asylum seekers are left trapped in two small Bosnian towns near the Croatian border, where a humanitarian crisis looms. (Amnesty International, 13 March 2019) Read the report here

IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT

6 March: In the largest eviction yet in Italy, 1,000 paramilitary police officers force 1,500 people out of a refugee camp at San Ferdinando, Calabria, demolishing the shanty town in a matter of hours. (Guardian, 6 March 2019)  

15 March: Activists from Anti Raids Network successfully blockade the entrance to Eaton House, Hounslow, one of the Home Office’s four immigration enforcement centres in London, where UK Border Agency officers plan and leave for their operations and where migrants are compelled to report on a regular basis. (Morning Star, 15 March 2019) 

RECEPTION AND DETENTION

18 March: The Ferret reveals that Scottish police are investigating an ‘IT incident’ that occurred in late January at Dungavel immigration removal centre in South Lanarkshire, resulting in continuing problems with the facility’s computer system. The migrant solidarity group Unity Centre says that detainees have been left feeling ‘isolated’ and ‘legally in the dark’. (The Ferret, 18 March 2019) 

19 March: During an inquest into the killing of Tarek Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi man, by an Iraqi man, Zana Assad Yusif, in Colnbrook immigration removal centre in December 2016, a senior Home Office official apologises several times for institutional failures that led to Chowdhury’s death. (Guardian, 11 March 2019; Guardian, 19 March 2019)  

CITIZENSHIP

10 March: Following reports that Shamima Begum’s baby died soon after she was stripped of British citizenship, details emerge of two more women from the UK, currently living in Syrian refugee camps, whose citizenship was stripped by Amber Rudd in August 2018. (Guardian, 9 March 2019; BBC News, 10 March 2019)  

12 March: Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says he will allow Lisa Smith, an Irish woman detained on suspicion of association with Islamic State, to return to Ireland with her two-year-old child to face justice, saying that to render her stateless would not be the ‘compassionate’ thing to do. (Guardian, 12 March 2019) 

15 March: France repatriates five orphaned children of French jihadists from camps in north-east Syria. One of the camps at Al-Hawl, where Shamima Begum’s newborn son died, is described by the British government as too dangerous to visit. Kurdish officials agreed to the repatriation as soon as Paris lodged a request. (Guardian, 15 March 2019) 

DEPORTATIONS

14 March: In a case brought by charity Medical Justice, the High Court suspends the Home Office’s ‘removal window’ policy, which allows the UK Border Agency to deport migrants at any time without warning during a three-month period. (Medical Justice, 14 March 2019; Mirror, 14 March 2019)  

CRIMES OF SOLIDARITY

11 March: A Moroccan court drops a human trafficking investigation into the activities of a Spanish human rights activist whose Walking Borders NGO saved lives by passing on the locations of people crossing the Mediterranean to the Spanish coast-guard for rescue. (Guardian, 11 March 2019) 

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR-RIGHT

5 March: Journalist Mike Stuchbery, known for writing about the contemporary far-right, complains to the police after Tommy Robinson appears outside his home. Stuchbery was involved in organising the crowdfunding of legal fees for Syrian schoolboy Jamal’s libel action against Robinson, which was delivered to the latter’s home the previous Sunday. (Guardian, 5 March 2019) 

5 March: A Tommy Robinson supporter and convicted rapist is handed a 28-day custodial sentence for posting threatening comments about Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Facebook, including a desire to see him ‘hung, drawn and quartered’. (Independent, 5 March 2019) 

10 March: Germany’s Military Counterintelligence Service admits it has underreported the figure of soldiers removed from the military for right-wing extremism. They reported that just four soldiers in 2018 and six in 2017 were removed from service on these grounds, and are currently investigating around 450 suspected cases of right-wing extremism in the military. (Independent, 10 March 2019)  

13 March: In the US media outlet Unicorn Riot release more than 770,000 messages from chat servers associated with Identity Evropa, which show links between the Alternative Right and white supremacists in the US and also with the Sweden-based Red Ice TV, which has more than 230,000 followers. (High Plains Reader, 13 March 2019)  

14 March: Berlin state prosecutors begin investigating over 100 threatening letters apparently sent by neo-Nazis to German politicians, lawyers and other notable figures. The letters were signed the letters by the ‘National-Socialist Offensive, ‘NSU 2.0’ and other suggestive names. (BBC News, 14 March 2019) 

ELECTORAL POLITICS

5 March: The Conservative Party suspends 14 party members for posting allegedly Islamophobic comments on social media, many of them on a facebook group supporting Jacob Rees-Mogg. Eleven other individuals were profiled but are not believed to be members. (Guardian, 5 March 2019)  

6 March: Spain’s far-right Vox party suspends José Antonio Ortiz Cambray, a party leader in Lleida, after he is arrested on suspicion of sex offences against at least one person at a centre for the disabled. (El Pais, 6 March 2019) 

6-7 March: Two East Staffordshire Conservative councillors resign after it was revealed that they liked a cartoon on Facebook depicting a mock beheading of Sadiq Khan, though the council finds neither of them guilty of wrongdoing. In the Kent borough of Swale, a leading Conservative councillor is suspended for retweeting an image describing far-right figurehead Tommy Robinson as a ‘patriot’. (BBC News, 6 March 2019; Independent, 7 March 2019)  

7 March: The Equality and Human Rights Commission launches an investigation into antisemitism within the Labour Party. If the regulator finds evidence that equalities legislation has been breached, a full inquiry may be launched. (Guardian, 7 March 2019) 

7 March: Work and Pensions secretary Amber Rudd is criticised for referring to Diane Abbott as a ‘coloured woman’ in a BBC Radio 2 interview about women and online harassment. (New Statesman, 7 March 2019)  

11 March: Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas invites the anti-immigrant ethno-nationalist Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) to coalition talks, as his Centre party looks to form a new governing coalition following deadlocked parliamentary elections. (Reuters, 11 March 2019) 

14 March: In the run-up to the general election, Spain’s opposition conservative Popular Party (PP) proposes a so-called ‘law to support maternity’ that would temporarily safeguard undocumented migrant women against deportation for the duration of their pregnancy if they agree to give up their child to adoptionAfter birth, however, they will be as vulnerable to deportation as before. El Pais, 14 March 2019) 

17 March: After proposing the building of a mosque to attract immigrants and reverse local population decline, Mark Collins, a representative of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats on the Kramfors municipal council, is threatened with expulsion by his party’s central leadership. (Telegraph, 17 March 2019) 

17 March: Alternative for Germany MP Anton Friesen and other AfD politicians set up a party platform called ‘New Germans’ for those they consider to be both migrants and ‘German patriots’, and who believe in the ‘complete de-Islamization of Germany’. (Telegraph, 17 March 2019) 

POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

9 March: The Met reveals that it has placed restrictions on police officers’ leave in March and April, to ensure their availability in the event of disorder in the build up to and aftermath of Brexit on March 29. (Sky News, 9 March 2019) 

9 March: Three Met police officers are found guilty of gross misconduct for their handling of events that led to the killing of Linah Kezah by her abusive ex-partner in east London in 2013. The officers are said to have failed to recognise the gravity of the threat to Kezah, who was regularly in contact with the police. None of the officers has been dismissed. (Guardian, 9 March 2019) 

11 March: West Midlands Police call in the Independent Office of Police Conduct to investigate the events of a viral video clip showing a group of police officers violently restraining an apparently Muslim man. The force reveals the incident took place on 25 February, after a doctor called the police during a mental health assessment at a patient’s home.  (Independent, 10 March 2019; Birmingham Mail, 11 March 2019).  

11 March: Police forces across England and Wales launch a new phase of Operation Sceptre, first introduced in July 2015, a nationwide scheme that uses emergency stop and search powers, surrender bins and weapons sweeps to tackle high rates of knife crime. (Sky News, 11 March 2019)  

12 March: Using data obtained from the Home Office in freedom of information requests, a report by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) shows that 51 percent of children who are shot by stun guns in England are from BAME backgrounds, as well as 34 percent of children bound by spit hoods. For London, the figures are even higher, reaching 70 and 72 percent respectively, with black children highly over-represented. (Guardian, 12 March 2019)  

14 March: A disciplinary panel rules that policeman Marcus Tyson will be dismissed without notice after he was found to have directed racist language towards Kurdish activists at a British Kurdish People’s Assembly in August 2016. (ANF News15 March 2019) 

15 March: A black man named as Trevor Smith is shot dead by armed police in Lee Bank, Birmingham just before 5am, in what the police are calling an ‘intelligence-led operation’. The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating. Friends of Smith have since launched a funeral fund appeal, and are demanding an autopsy. (Birmingham Mail, 15 March 2019; Birmingham Mail, 19 March 2019) 

16 March: Munich police announce that thirteen police officers from the Support Commando unit (USK) are suspended and under investigation for sharing anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist content over social messaging services. (Deutsche Welle, 16 March 2019).  

18 March: The inquest into the death of Annabella Landsberg opens. The 42-year-old Zimbabwean refugee died in a segregation cell in HMP Peterborough in December 2017.  The inquest will explore, among other things, the use of restraint by prison officers and the management of her health conditions, including diabetes. (Inquest, 18 March 2019) 

COUNTER-TERRORISM

7 March: Mehdi Nemmouche, a French citizen returning from fighting in Syria, is found guilty of the  terrorist  and anti-Semitic murder of four people at a Jewish museum in May 2014. (Guardian, 8 March 2019) 

7 March: Official Home Office figures for 2018 show that of 43 percent of the 273 people arrested on suspicion of terror-related activity were of ‘white ethnic appearance’, a rise of 9 percent on 2017. (Metro, 7 March 2019) 

9 March: 33-year-old Pawel Golaszewski faces six counts under the Terrorism Act after a police investigation into his far-right activity led to his arrest in Leeds. (Independent, 9 March 2019)  

9 March: In a case brought by a Muslim author who was labelled an extremist by the government, the court of appeal rules that Prevent guidance on inviting controversial speakers to universities violates freedom of speech. (Guardian, 8 March 2019) 

HEALTH

14 March: A group of paediatricians publish a co-authored journal article arguing that hostile environment policies introduced in 2014 prevent the estimated 120,000 undocumented migrant children living in the UK from accessing NHS care, in violation of the UK’s United Nations commitments. (Guardian, 14 March 2019) 

DISCRIMINATION

(Credit: Daniel Renwick)

(Credit: Daniel Renwick)

10 March: In its assessment of the state’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire, the Equality and Human Rights Commission finds that the best interests of children affected by the disaster were neglected, breaching international obligations. The report highlights inadequate mental health and education support, as well as discriminatory practices among immigration officials. (Guardian, 10 March 2019) 

14 March: A petition signed by over 5000 people opposing plans by Kirklees Council to build a new ‘travellers’ site’ in Birstall, West Yorkshire, is denounced as racist anti-gypsyism by law-student Brigitta Balogh, who hopes to become the UK’s first Roma barrister. (Batley News, 14 March 2019) 

EDUCATION

9 March: A campaign is started to prevent the deportation of Bamide Chika Agbakuribe, a blind international student at the University of Dundee, which cancelled his student status because of an alleged failure to meet academic requirements. Bamide lives in Dundee with his wife and four children, and is billed for deportation on 26 March 2019. (The Courier, 9 March 2019) 

12 March: Goldsmiths University students occupy Deptford town hall after the university allegedly failed to respond adequately to a student whose student election campaign posters were defaced with racist graffiti. The students are demanding ‘an institution-wide strategic plan’ on institutional racism at their university, which has a 40% BAME student population. (Guardian, 20 March 2019)

15 March: Far-right group Generation Identity target a Theology and Religious Studies academic from the University of Glasgow, putting up posters around campus with the slogan ‘your lecturers support your replacement.’ The act is allegedly in response to the lecturer’s social media activity. (Glasgow Live, 15 March 2019) 

20 March: Student activists at King’s College London are barred from entering their university during a visit by the Queen, allegedly because they are considered a ‘security threat’. The targeted students, most of them BAME, are involved in campus campaigns including KCL Justice for Cleaners and KCL Action Palestine.  (The Times, March 20 2019; Middle East Eye, 20 March 2019) 

MEDIA AND CULTURE

7 March: Police in Brunnen, Switzerland begin an investigation after a video of surfaces showing a group wearing KKK costumes during the town’s annual celebrations. (Independent, 8 March 2019)

14 March: Leading right-wing Polish newspaper The Tylko Polska (Only Poland) publishes a front page story ‘How to recognise a Jew’, listing, among others, anthropological features, expressions, and character traits. (Newsweek, 14 March 2019)  

15 March: The BBC faces criticism for airing a conversation between one of its reporters and the leader of the British branch of far-right identitarian group Generation Identity in a discussion about the Christchurch massacre.  (i News, 15 March 2019) 

SPORT

9 March: The commercial manager of the fourth league German football club Chemnitzer FC  resigns following criticism of his decision to allow supporters  to stage a pre-game tribute  to the recently deceased leading local neo-nazi, Thomas Haller who founded the ‘HooNaRa’ (Hooligans-Nazis-Racists) group in the 1990s and took part in the racially motivated riots in Chemnitz in 2018. (Deutsche Welle, 10 March 2019) 

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

4 March: In The Hague, the As Soennah mosque is defaced with a banner reading ‘Prophet Muhammed a child fucker’ and a mannequin meant to show the Prophet having sex with a baby is  left on the premises. Pegida claim responsibility. (Netherlands Times, 4 March 2019)  

7 March: According to the victims support group RAA Sachsen, racist and far-right crimes, including assault, arson and the murder of a gay man, have risen sharply in the east German state of Saxony, with 481 victims last year. (France24.com, 7 March 2019)  

8 March: A video goes viral on Twitter and Instagram showing an unidentified young white man on the Northern Line taunting a black passenger with monkey movements and noises. (Metro, 10 March 2019) 

11 March: In the context of the rise of the Vox party, there have been three serious incidents in Catalonia   where racists targeted unaccompanied young refugees. In one incident, 25 young Spaniards, wearing hoods and with their faces covered, broke into a shelter where 35 unaccompanied foreign minors were living and attacked the children with rocks ‘bigger than their heads’. (El Pais, 12 March 2019; Independent, 17 March 2019) 

11 March: Student Giulia Viola Pacilla, files a defamation case in Italy against almost 300 people for online hate.  She became a target after interior minister Matteo Salvini posted a photograph on social media of her at an anti-racism demo with the sign ‘Better to be a do-gooder and a whore than a fascist and Salvinist’. One message stated that ‘a gang of horny illegal immigrants’ could be arranged for her. (Guardian, 11 March 2019) 

13 March: Five young men, aged 14 to 21, are arrested after a mob of around 100 people, some chanting ‘Geert Wilders’, surround the home of a Dutch Moroccan family and force their way in, injuring the mother and her two children, in the former fishing village of of Urk. (DutchNews.nl, 13 March 2019) 

More Christchurch-related violence and harassment documented here.

 

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

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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