Calendar of Racism and Resistance (1 – 15 December 2021)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (1 – 15 December 2021)

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 | BORDERS | CITIZENSHIP

Asylum and migrant rights

3 December: Irish NGOs welcome a government announcement that a 6-month regularisation scheme beginning in January 2022 will provide a pathway to legal status for those awaiting an asylum decision for at least two years as well as for undocumented workers. (ECRE Newsletter, 10 December 2021) 

4 December: At a refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece, Pope Francis calls for ‘us to stop this shipwreck of civilisation’, referencing the indifference and self-interest that ‘condemns to death those on the fringes’. (Euronews, 5 December 2021)

7 December: As a whistleblower tells the Foreign Affairs Committee that fewer than 5 percent of Afghans who contacted the British Embassy in Kabul in fear for their lives were evacuated, with thousands of emails unread, a leaked letter suggests that the prime minister was involved in helping to evacuate 170 cats and dogs. (Guardian, 7 December; Guardian, 7 December 2021)

12 December: It is revealed that the Home Office Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, announced in August, has not yet been launched, as the government is starving it of funds. (Observer, 12 December 2021)

13 December: In a landmark impeachment trial in Denmark, former immigration minister Inger Stoejberg is found guilty of illegally separating young asylum-seeking couples in 2016 and jailed for 60 days. Stoejberg claimed her policy was aimed at combating child marriage. (BBC News, 13 December 2021)

Borders and internal controls

29 November: The PCS union, representing Border Force officials, joins refugee charity Care4Calais in a legal challenge to the government’s pushback policy, demanding publication of the policy and its legal justification. The union also threatens industrial action to disrupt implementation of the policy. (Left Foot Forward, 29 November 2021)

29 November: An investigation reveals that the EU pays for almost every aspect of Libya’s deterrent migration infrastructure, including the speedboats that fire on rafts and the detention regime that the UN says is involved in ‘state-sponsored crimes against humanity’. (NBC, 29 November 2021)

30 November: The organisations Watch the Channel and Calais Migrant Solidarity conclude from the testimony of two survivors of the 24 November boat sinking that claimed 27 lives, that a lack of cooperation between the authorities and the failure to intervene after being alerted to a boat in distress, led directly to the tragedy. (Calais Migrant Solidarity, 30 November; Guardian, 1 December 2021)

30 November: Amendments are passed to Polish law to create ‘designated no-access zones’ at the border, for all except those who live, work or study there. The head of the border guards is given authority to grant selected journalists access for a limited time. (Independent, 30 November 2021)

1 December: The Greek National Transparency Agency investigates the claim of an Italian citizen Afghan interpreter for Frontex, that a border guard, mistaking him for an asylum seeker, assaulted him and illegally forced him, alongside other migrants, across the Evros river into Turkish territory. (New York Times, 1 December 2021)

8 December: The remains of a man and a Nigerian passport are found in a forest near Olchowka village on the Polish side of the border with Belarus. (Euronews, 8 December 2021)

9 December: Citing migrant smuggling, the European Commission publishes a plan for better police cooperation, which would allow national police to chase suspects into other EU states and shoot them, if necessary, as well as the sharing of biometric data like facial imagery.  (EU Observer, 9 December 2021)

11 December: In Istria, on the border between Croatia and Slovenia, the body of a 10-year-old girl whose family attempted to cross into the country is retrieved from the Dragonja river. Her mother is rescued. (Index.hu, 11 December 2021)

13 December: Refugees crossing the Channel claim that when they contact the UK coastguard for help in British waters they are told to seek help from the French rescue services, a claim denied by the coastguard. (Guardian, 13 December 2021)

14 December: An appeal hearing begins for refugees imprisoned for assisting illegal entry after steering boats across the Channel, who argue that their convictions breach CPS guidance saying they should not be prosecuted. (Observer, 12 December 2021)

Reception and detention

7 December: A whistleblower guard who worked at the controversial G4S-run immigration detention centre Brook House tells the public inquiry into abuses there that staff were radicalised into being racist through a ‘toxic’ culture. (Guardian, 7 December 2021)

8 December: The High Court grants a local resident and volunteer with asylum seekers at Napier barracks permission to challenge the Home Office decision, taken without consultation and avoiding planning controls, to continue using the barracks to house asylum seekers for a further five years. (DPG news, 8 December 2021) 

9 December: The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Immigration Detention issues a report calling on the government to end the ‘dehumanising’ quasi-detention of people seeking asylum. (APPG on Immigration Detention, 9 December 2021)

10 December: Forty-five days after finding refuge in a tunnel between Paris’s 19th and 93rd arrondisements, around 230 migrants, including families with children and around 100 unaccompanied minors, are evacuated to accommodation centres in Ile-de-France and the southwest of France.  (StreetPress, 3 December; InfoMigrants, 12 December 2021)

11 December: Local people stage a demonstration outside the Pournara Irregular Migrants’ Reception Centre in Cyprus and call on the authorities to limit the number of people temporarily housed there to 600 and prohibit their movement in the community while improving living conditions. (in-cyprus, 11 December 2021)

13 December: Two asylum seekers issue a High Court claim against the Home Office and asylum accommodation provider Mears over alleged failures leading to the multiple stabbings at a Glasgow hotel in June 2020 by a mentally ill asylum seeker who was then shot dead by police. (Guardian, 13 December 2021) 

Deportations

29 November: The EU border agency Frontex deported over 8,000 non-EU nationals in the first six months of 2021, a record number, with many flights lacking a human rights monitor as required under EU law. (Guardian, 29 November 2021)

Crimes of solidarity

5 December: French migrant solidarity group Utopia 56 denounces as ‘perverse’ the trial of former employee Lauree Pichot, accused of making an ‘insulting noise’ while in a police cell (she was singing and was not asked to stop) following her arrest at an action to support migrants during the pandemic in April 2020 in Grand-Synthe, Dunkirk, France. (BFMTV.com, 5 December 2021)

Citizenship

14 December: A petition to Parliament against the Nationality Bill’s provisions allowing ministers to revoke the citizenship of dual-national Britons without notice, affecting mainly ethnic minorities, attracts over a quarter of a million signatures, meaning the clause must be debated, while another on change.org attracts over 150,000. (Parliament.UK, 14 December 2021) 

ELECTORAL POLITICS | GOVERNMENT POLICY

3-4 December: Marine Le Pen, in Poland for a meeting of extreme-right leaders from 10 EU countries, is flanked by military personnel as she lays a wreath at the memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and memorials to Poles killed by Soviet Union troops during the second world war. (Euronews, 3 December 2021; ABC News, 3 December 2021)

5 December: In France, an investigation is launched into violence at Éric Zemmour’s first electoral rally for the newly-formed Reconquête (Reconquest) party in Villepinte, Seine-Saint-Denis, during which members of SOS-Racisme and journalists were allegedly attacked by his supporters. See also Anti-fascism below. (Guardian, 5 December 2021; The Local, 8 December 2021)

13 December: The Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee urges the government to stop the passage of the Elections Bill, concerned that the requirement for voter ID will ‘introduce a barrier preventing some people from exercising their vote’, particularly disabled, trans, non-binary and BME groups. (BBC News, 13 December 2021)

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

See also Counter-terrorism and National Security for information on far-right terrorist connections 

4 December: Britain First sends thousands of hate emails, purporting to be from ‘concerned citizens’, to the RNLI which vows to continue rescuing people at sea ‘without judgement or preference’. (Independent, 4 December 2021)

5 December: In Finland, five followers of the white supremacist ideology of ‘accelerationism’, linked to mass shootings in the US, are arrested in the southwestern municipality of Kankaanpaa on suspicion of planning a bomb and gun attack. (Deutsche Welle, 5 December 2021)

5, 8 December: In Germany, the far-right Free Saxons organise an anti-Covid restrictions torchlit procession ending at the home of Saxony’s health minister. Several days later, the right-wing extremism branch of the anti-terrorist police announces an investigation into an anti-vax assassination plot against Saxony’s state premier Michael Kretschmer. (Deutsche Welle, 6 December 2021; Deutsche Welle, 8 December 2021)

6 December: In Helsinki, Finland, the far Right and anti-fascists hold rival rallies on the 100th anniversary of the country’s independence. The neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement takes part because the ban against it has not yet been implemented. (Reuters, 6 December 2021)

6 December: An investigation by StreetPress suggests that Les Zouaves Paris, a small combat-group of neo-Nazis and other militants, were behind the attack on SOS Racisme activists at the Zemmour rally in Villepinte, France. See also Electoral Politics. (StreetPress, 6 December 2021) 

10 December: In Pieria, northern Greece, ten people from the self-styled ‘Guardians of the Constitution’, linked to the far-right nationalist Artemis Sorras, are arrested for kidnapping a school principal whom they handcuffed and drove to a police station, claiming he was ‘torturing children by obliging them to wear masks’. (Keep Talking Greece, 10 December 2021)

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

30 November: The family of Lamont Roper, who drowned in the River Lea, Tottenham, following a police pursuit on 7 October 2020, express disappointment that the inquest did not shed more light on what happened but relieved it made clear he fell and did not jump and that the jury criticised the police’s very inadequate rescue procedures. (Inquest Media Release, 2 December 2021)

1 December: Following an ombudsman report that the force’s handling of BLM protests in Belfast and Derry in June 2020 were unfair and discriminatory, the chief constable of the Police Service Northern Ireland apologises for its handling of the protests. (Independent, 1 December 2021)

6 December: The Independent Office for Police Conduct launches an investigation into the way the British Transport Police investigated the death of student Romello McCook in Plymouth. His family say his death was ‘written off as an accident’ after his body was found on railway tracks in September 2018. (BBC News, 6 December 2021)

6 December: Former Met officers Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis are sentenced to two years and nine months for misconduct in public office related to the taking and sharing of photos of the murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry. (Guardian, 6 December 2021)

6 December: A jury finds that Gavin Brown, 29, with mental health issues, who died on 20 April 2019 after being restrained, including with a choke hold, by members of the public and a security guard outside a Manchester pub, was unlawfully killed. The CPS decided last year not to bring charges. (Inquest Media Release, 7 December 2021)

7 December: A court in Portugal rejects the sentencing appeal of three border police whose actions led to the death of Ukrainian visitor Ihor Homenuk at Lisbon airport in 2020. One sentence was increased to equate with the nine years handed down to the two other men. (Portugal Resident, 7 December 2021)

7 December: Britain’s military must embrace the country’s racial, gender and religious diversity after a string of controversies and scandals, the new head of the armed forces, Adm Tony Radakin, says in a speech to the Rusi thinktank. (Guardian, 7 December 2021)

COUNTER-TERRORISM AND NATIONAL SECURITY

9 December: Home Office figures reveal a record number of children arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences, mostly in relation to far-right ideology, with other figures showing that the number of white people arrested as terror suspects is now double that of people from an Asian background.  (Guardian, 9 December 2021)

DISCRIMINATION | EQUALITIES | HUMAN RIGHTS

14 December: Justice secretary Dominic Raab announces a consultation on proposals to reform the Human Rights Act, to strengthen free speech, reduce the role of the European Court of Human Rights and remove protections from foreign offenders. (Guardian, 14 December 2021; Evening Standard, 14 December 2021)

HOUSING

7 December: In a statement to the Grenfell Inquiry’s last stage, which will examine central government’s responsibility for the June 2017 fire which claimed 72 lives, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities apologised for system failures, errors and missed opportunities behind the tragedy. (Guardian, 7 December 2021)

EDUCATION

1 December: The Education Policy Institute accuses the government of neglecting unaccompanied refugee children, with research showing that they are more likely to be excluded than their peers, and have an attainment gap similar to children with SEN or severe disabilities, lagging three years behind peers. (Independent, 1 December 2021)

5 December: Durham University launches an investigation after students walk out of an event hosting guest speaker Rod Liddle, associate editor of The Spectator, on the grounds of his ‘transphobic and racist’ views. The college principal, who branded the students ‘pathetic’ for walking out, apologises. (Northern Echo, 5 December 2021; Palatinate, 6 December 2021; Pink News, 6 December 2021)

10 December: A Byline Times investigation finds that a grouping of academics based at Cambridge University with an interest in race science, and believed to have been involved in developing the government’s Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, is supported by US tech billionaire Peter Thiel. (Byline Times, 10 December 2021)

11 December: Analysis by The Association of Modern Universities UK of the Department of Education’s plan to introduce a higher GCSE threshold for university entry suggests that 48% of disadvantaged students would become ineligible for a student loan, with students from the north of England particularly badly hit. (Guardian, 11 December 2021)

13 DecemberAn independent review uncovers evidence of structural racism at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, finding that the institution’s colonial legacy continues to have a negative impact on students and staff of colour, who are more likely to be on short-term and fixed-term contracts than their white peers. (Guardian, 13 December 2021) 

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Door Sign, stone relief
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Credit: Tom Morris, Wikimedia Commons.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

8 December: Algorithm Watch publishes ‘Tracing the Tracers’, warning that the plethora of automated decision-making systems implemented under the guise of public health during the pandemic amounts to an ‘unprecedented social experiment in health surveillance’. (Al Jazeera, 8 December 2021)

CULTURE | MEDIA | SPORT

While we cannot cover all incidents of racist abuse on sportspersons or their responses, we provide a summary of the most important incidents. For more information follow Kick it Out.

1 December Human Rights Watch urges the Greek prime minister to cancel an amendment to the criminal code which bans the sharing of ‘false information’ ‘capable of causing concern or fear to the public or undermining public confidence in the national economy, the country’s defence capacity or public health’. (Al Jazeera, 1 December 2021)

3 December: Yorkshire County Cricket Club sacks its entire coaching staff along with Director of Cricket Martin Moxon in the wake of the racism scandal at the club. (Guardian, 3 December 2021)

7 December: Following a report by the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 commit to no longer using the acronym ‘BAME’ and will instead use more specific terms to describe ethnicity. (BBC News, 7 December 2021)

8 December: Sport Scotland commissions an independent investigation into allegations of racism in Scottish cricket. (BBC Sport, 8 December 2021)

10 December: Artist Banksy announces he will design t-shirts for sale to support the four people standing trial accused of criminal damage for toppling the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol last year. (Guardian, 11 December 2021)

The Edward Colston statue currently on display in the M Shed museum, Bristol. Credit: ian262, Flickr.

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

29 November: A bus driver in Watford is subjected to a racially aggravated assault. (Planet Radio, 6 December 2021) 

1 December: A bus carrying Jewish teenagers celebrating Hannukah is spat at and banged on by a gang in London’s Oxford Street shouting abuse. (ITV News, 1 December 2021)

2 December: A racially aggravated assault leaves a delivery driver with a fractured wrist and hand in Cleethorpes, northwest Lincolnshire. (The Lincolnite, 8 December 2021) 

7 December: In an animated video (to maintain anonymity) a family describes the many years of racist abuse they faced from neighbours in the south of England, which forced them to move from their home, schools and jobs. (BBC News, 7 December 2021)

8 December: In Spain, four locations in Castrillo Mota de Judíos are daubed with antisemitic graffiti including ‘Jews Out’ and ‘the mayor’s sold out to the killer Jew’. In 2015, the town hall successfully petitioned to change the village’s name as it reflected Spain’s medieval persecution of Jews. (Guardian, 8 December 2021)

10 December: A mural is unveiled in Bristol in memory of Kamil Ahmed, a disabled asylum seeker who was murdered in 2016 at his sheltered accommodation by another resident who had racially abused him for years. (Bristol Post, 10 December 2021)

The calendar was compiled with the help of Annabelle Woghiren, Graeme Atkinson, Lou Khalfaoui and Joseph Maggs. Thanks also to the ECRE, whose weekly bulletin on asylum and migration issues is an invaluable source of information.


Headline image: Banner outside the first day of the ‘Colston 4’ trial in Bristol. Credit: Damien Gayle


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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