Calendar of Racism and Resistance (12 – 26 September 2023)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (12 – 26 September 2023)

News

Written by: IRR News Team


 

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe. Find these stories and all others since 2014 on our searchable database, the Register of Racism and Resistance.

ASYLUM | MIGRATION | BORDERS | CITIZENSHIP

Asylum and migrant rights  

13 September:  Following a year of court proceedings, a judge rules that an unaccompanied Afghan male migrant, ruled to be 25 or older by the Home Office using ‘dubious online evidence’, and 21 by Croydon council, is in fact 16 years old and has been traumatised by the experience. (The National, 13 September 2023) 

14 September: The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health declares that the government’s use of ‘inaccurate’ x-rays in age-assessing child asylum seekers is unethical, also raising concerns that a refusal to undergo a biological assessment will be held against the child’s asylum application. (Electronic Immigration Network, 14 September 2023)  

17 September: Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper says that a Labour government will seek to reunite child migrants in Europe with family members in the UK and look at implementing a similar scheme to the Dublin Convention. (inews, 17 September 2023) 

18 September: The three-year term of independent chief inspector of borders and immigration David Neal will not be renewed, it is revealed, as Home Office officials found him ‘excessively critical’ of their work, particularly  in a 2022 report which found the treatment of migrants in Kent ‘unacceptable’. (Open Democracy, 18 September 2023) 

19 September: The dedicated team responsible for implementing the recommendations of the ‘Windrush Lessons Learned Review’ to transform the culture of the Home Office in the wake of the 2018 scandal, is disbanded. (BBC News, 19 September 2023) 

24 September: Italian defence minister Guido Crosetto criticises a German parliamentary financial support programme for civilian sea rescue and land projects in the Mediterranean. (Reuters, 24 September 2023) 

Borders and internal controls

12 September: A voice recording emerges in which a Blue Horizon crew member accused of pushing a passenger from a ferry loading ramp to his death in Piraeus, Greece, is heard saying ‘I thought he was Black, Pakistani’. (Ekathimerini, 12 September 2023) 

14 September: In talks at The Hague with Europol officials and others, Labour leader Keir Starmer suggests that a Labour government will work more closely with the EU to secure borders and create safe routes for some asylum seekers in a quid pro quo to return those crossing the Channel to the UK. (Guardian, 14 September 2023)  

20 September: Frontex says it is doubling the hours of its surveillance aircraft in the central Mediterranean in response to the increase in arrivals on Lampedusa, and providing the Italian authorities with satellite imagery of critical departure points in Tunisia. (Schengen Visa Info, 23 September 2023) 

20 September: In Malta, a European arrest warrant for Abdul Kader, one of the ‘El Hiblu 3’, is authorised after he failed to appear in court and it was discovered he has not been seen for at least six weeks. (Times of Malta, 20 September 2023) 

22 September: Italy makes a payment of €127 million to Tunisia, of which €42 million is the first instalment of €105 million agreed in July to stem irregular migration from Africa to the EU. (Al Jazeera, 22 September 2023) 

26 September: In Blériot, France, a 24-year-old Eritrean woman is found dead on the beach following a night of attempted Channel crossings. An investigation into the cause of death has been launched but it is suspected that she drowned in one such attempt. (France Bleu, 26 September 2023) 

Reception and detention

13 September: Freedom of information requests reveal an ‘attempted mass suicide’ during a protest at Harmondsworth detention centre in March following the death of Colombian detainee Frank Ospina. A total of 24 self-harm incidents are reported despite medical records failing to assess anyone as at risk. (Open Democracy, 13 September 2023)

Photo of Frank Ospina
Image: Frank Ospina Credit: Family Photo

14 September: Labour leader Keir Starmer promises that a Labour government will cease the use of barges, hotels and military sites to house asylum seekers. (Guardian, 14 September 2023)

14 September: A Human Rights Watch and Just Fair report outlines serious shortcomings in housing and social support for asylum seekers, which violate their rights to housing, food, health, education, social security and impede their access to asylum. (Electronic Immigration Network, 14 September 2023) 

14 September: Family members of Colombian migrant Frank Ospina, who died at Harmondsworth detention centre in March, tell a BBC/ Liberty/ Medical Justice investigation that his mental health deteriorated when he was detained and he begged to be sent home before his death. (BBC News, 14 September 2023) 

14 September: A fire escape is installed on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland harbour following concerns raised about fire safety, as the Home Office prepares to reopen the barge as asylum accommodation. (Independent, 14 September 2023)  

17 September: The High Court hears that Kent County Council is to receive £9.75 million from the Home Office to accommodate lone child asylum seekers, as Every Child Protected Against Trafficking tells the hearing children were still housed in hotels. (BBC News, 17 September 2023) 

19 September: The public inquiry into historical abuse at Brook House immigration removal centre reveals a ‘toxic culture’ among Home Office contractors G4S and Serco and serious safeguarding concerns. Failings included the use of racist language, excessive force, dangerous restraint techniques and violations of rights. 33 recommendations are made, including restricting detention to a maximum of 28 days. (Guardian, 19 September 2023; Guardian, 19 September 2023) 

19 September: The Italian government announces new measures to extend the maximum length of immigration detention from three to twelve months and to create more detention centres in isolated areas, in response to large-scale arrivals on Lampedusa. (Al Jazeera, 19 September 2023) 

20 September: The Austrian interior minister, backed by the federal states, endorses mandatory community service for asylum seekers as a condition for receiving welfare benefits. (European Conservative, 22 September 2023) 

20 September: LGBTQ+ asylum seeker Rima al-Badi takes her own life, after several previous attempts, at the asylum hotel where she has lived for over a year while awaiting her initial Home Office interview. (Middle East Eye, 20 September 2023) 

21 September: Open Democracy reveals that the Home Office has stopped providing food for Afghan refugees stuck in hotels, leaving cash-strapped local councils to find the money to feed at least 500 refugees. (Open Democracy, 21 September 2023) 

23 September: In Italy, an official decree is published obliging failed asylum claimants to pay a €4,937 bond to avoid being detained during their appeal process. (Times of Malta, 23 September 2023)  

24 September: Following reports that the Chichester Park Hotel in Chichester, Sussex, will be used to accommodate asylum seekers, a petition attracts 2,000 signatures and a protest is held outside the hotel. West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council say they were not involved in the decision-making. (Sussex Press, 24 September 2023) 

Deportation 

14 September: Labour pledges to speed up deportations with ‘Nightingale courts’, fast-track decision-making and a new Home Office returns unit with 1,000 staff, to deport more failed asylum seekers if the party gains power. (inews, 14 September 2023) 

Crimes of solidarity 

25 September: Human Rights Watch says the arrest in Poland of Ewa, a 48-year-old humanitarian worker helping refugees at the Belarus border, represents a new low. She is charged with heading a criminal group organising illegal crossings and placed in pre-trial detention as the justice minister issues statements suggesting she is guilty. (Human Rights Watch, 25 September 2023) 

ELECTORAL POLITICS | GOVERNMENT POLICY

As anti-migrant, anti-equalities, anti-abortion, misogynistic and anti-LGBTQI rhetoric in electoral campaigning are increasingly interlinked, we reflect this in the coverage below which also includes information on the influence of the Christian Right as well as the religious Right generally. 

12 September: It is revealed that nine people identified in a leaked report as making complaints about antisemitism have dropped their case against the Labour Party for failure to protect their data and privacy rights. (Guardian, 12 September 2023)  

13 September: The Electoral Commission warns that laws restricting allowable photo-ID documents for voters could affect hundreds of thousands of people at the next general election, especially poorer people, the disabled and those from a minority ethnic background. (Guardian, 13 September 2023) 

14 September: Leaked documents reveal that Suella Braverman plans strict vetting by senior managers of diversity training for Home Office staff, promised in the wake of the Windrush scandal, after right-wing critics suggest it may reflect ‘woke’ culture and include critical race theory. (Guardian, 14 September 2023)   

15 September: According to Hope Not Hate, Susan Hall, Tory candidate for London mayor, has ‘liked’ tweets praising Enoch Powell and seemingly endorsed Islamophobic abuse of rival Sadiq Khan. (Guardian, 15 September 2023) 

15 September: In the run-up to the Polish general election, reports emerge that Polish consulates in Africa and Asia issued up to 25,000 visas in exchange for bribes of several thousand dollars each. (Reuters, 15 September 2023) 

16 September: As thousands of migrants arrive in Lampedusa, French prime minister Macron says Europe has a ‘duty’ to show ‘solidarity’ with Italy, as far-right French leader Marine Le Pen says France is at risk of ‘submersion’. (Le Monde, 16 September 2023) 

19 September: Diane Abbott, MP, who was suspended from the Labour party in April following a letter to the Observer about hierarchies of racism (for which she apologised), says that the investigation into her alleged ‘racism’ is not being carried out by the whips’ office, as is usual, but directly by Labour party HQ. (Guardian, 19 September 2023) 

20 September: Pre-empting the pope’s denunciation of the ‘fanatism of indifference’ shown towards refugee shipwrecks at a giant mass in Marseilles, France, Reconquête! party leaders and far-right Catholics say the pope’s ‘political approach’ to migration would lead to the ‘suicide of Europe through immigration’ (Le Monde, 23 September 2023; Le Monde, 20 September 2023) 

21 September: A pan-European study reveals that 32 per cent of Europeans now vote for populist far-right or far-left parties as compared with 12 per cent in the early 1990s, with the far Right attracting over half the anti-establishment votes and holding the most rapidly increasing share. (Guardian, 21 September 2023)  

22 September: The EU’s most senior diplomat Josep Borrell says migration could ‘dissolve’ the EU because of ‘deep cultural differences’ between countries. (Guardian, 22 September 2023)  

24 September: Kicking off the conservative VVD’s national election campaign in the Netherlands, Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, a former child refugee who now leads the party, calls for reduced immigration and says the party should not rule out an alliance with the far-right PVV. (Guardian, 24 September 2023) 

24 September: After being barred from Holocaust memorial events for declaring that Germany should abandon its ‘guilt culture’, the AfD’s Jorg Prophet is defeated in the second round of mayoral elections in Nordhausen, Thuringia, despite being a clear favourite and scoring 45.1 per cent of the vote. (Guardian, 15 September 2023; Deutsche Welle, 24 September 2023) 

25 September: In elections for the French Senate, the far-right Rassemblement National wins three seats, including one in the greater Paris region. (Le Monde, 25 September 2023)  

26 September: Home secretary Suella Braverman tells a right-wing US think tank that people facing anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and any asylum seeker travelling through a safe country, should not be granted refugee status. (BBC News, 26 September 2023) 

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT 

12 September: A former president of the German Fire Brigades Association claims 10,000 far-right extremists have infiltrated volunteer fire departments. Alternative for Germany is behind much of the infiltration as incidents of racist slurs and Nazi symbolism proliferate. (Fair Observer, 12 September 2023) 

17 September: Unite Against Fascism criticises Suella Braverman after a report by Searchlight magazine reveals that Isabel Peralta, a Spanish neo-Nazi who is banned from entering Germany, entered the UK to speak at an event organised by Heritage and Destiny, a known neo-Nazi organisation. (The London Economic, 17 September 2023) 

 19 September: In Germany, the neo-Nazi group Hammerskins is outlawed after 30 years of organising far-right concerts in the country. (BBC News, 19 September 2023)  

 21 September: 200 protestors outside Ireland’s legislature in Dublin erect a ‘mock gallows’ with pictures of politicians and display anti-immigration, anti-transgender and Covid conspiracy messages. People Before Profit warn of Ireland’s growing far-right populist movement. (Guardian, 21 September 2023; Independent, 21 September 2023) 

 22 September: The manager of the Samlesbury Hotel near Preston states that the venue unknowingly hosted a far-right event organised by Heritage and Destiny, who booked the space under the pretence that it was a gathering for veterans. (Lancashire Live, 22 September 2023) 

 25 September: In Germany, a report by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation indicates that far-right extremism is on the rise, with one in twelve Germans subscribing to some form of far-right ideology. (Euro News, 25 September 2023) 

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

See also EDUCATION.

11 September: Twenty months after the death of 28-year-old Theo Sanha at the Fresnes prison, Val-de-Marne, France on 11 January 2022, the Paris public prosecutor opens an investigation into neglect and manslaughter. (Agence France-Presse, 14 September 2023) 

13 September: The man who fell to his death from a balcony in Peckham, south London, after being tasered by the Metropolitan police on 12 April 2023 is formally identified as Zodoq Obatolah. The inquest into his death opens. (London Live, 13 September 2023) 

14 September: Following an investigation into the case of Child Q and other strip searches, including at Walworth and Bethnal Green police stations, the IOPC calls for a substantial review of policing powers to strip-search children, to improve safeguarding and prioritise the welfare of minors. Officers involved in the Child Q case will face gross misconduct hearings alleging race and gender discrimination. (IOPC, 14 September 2023; Guardian, 14 September 2023) 

16 September: An Observer analysis of coroners’ reports finds that prison understaffing and workload issues have been flagged in at least nine inquests into deaths in custody since 2021. (Observer, 16 September 2023) 

 19 September: Scotland Yard reveals 201 officers are suspended and a further 860 are on restricted duties, adding it will take ‘two or more years to root out those who are corrupting policing’. 100 officers have been dismissed for gross misconduct in the last 12 months, a 66% increase on historical averages, and the number of reports from the public has doubled. (Guardian, 12 September 2023) 

 20 September: In a new report, JUSTICE says that ASBOS are highly discriminatory and are imposed inappropriately on racialised communities, as well as those experiencing homelessness and mental health issues. Most orders imposed under the Knife Crime Prevention Order pilot have been on young Black men and boys. (Justice, 20 September 2023) 

 21 September: At a meeting with the Sussex police and crime commissioner, a senior police officer reports that Black people are 8.8 times more likely to be stopped and searched in the county. (BBC News, 21 September 2023) 

 21 September: The largest ever study of care experience reveals that 33 per cent of care-experienced children, as compared with 4 per cent of those not in care, end up with a conviction or caution in the youth justice system. The figure for Black Caribbean young people was 30 per cent, 46 per cent for Irish Travellers and 50 per cent for Gypsy/Roma young people. (Guardian, 21 September 2023)   

 23 September: An investigation reveals a 330 per cent increase in 2022 in the number of facial recognition searches matching suspects from CCTV, mobile phone, dashcam or doorbell footage against the Police National Database (PND), which holds images of arrested individuals, some of whom were never charged or later cleared of a criminal offence. (Inews, 23 September 2023) 

 23 September: Tens of thousands of people demonstrate across France against police violence and the refusal to comply with laws. The police misconduct inspectorate says 38 people died after contact with police in 2022; of the 22 cases in which people were shot dead, 13 involved refusal to comply with a police order. (France 24, 23 September 2023) 

 24 September: Following the decision to charge armed officer NX121 with murder over the death of Chris Kaba, dozens of Met police firearms officer refuse to go on patrols and the SAS is asked to provide counter-terrorism support. The Met police commissioner welcomes the home secretary’s emergency review of armed policing, saying it should ‘focus on the threshold for investigating police use of force and involvement in pursuits’. (Guardian, 24 September 2023; Guardian, 25 September 2023) 

Protesters in central London with banners saying Justice for Chris Kaba. On the left there is a London red bus.
The Justice for Chris Kaba march in London. Credit: Steve Eason, Flickr.

COUNTER-TERRORISM AND NATIONAL SECURITY 

14 September: An 18-year-old from Wiltshire who admitted to an interest in Nazism is convicted on six charges, including the possession of the Terrorist Handbook and the sharing of instructions for the use of items that could be used to perform acts of terrorism. (BBC News, 14 September 2023)    

 15 September: In Belgium, seven men, including one presumed dead, are sentenced to prison terms ranging from ten years to life after a jury finds them guilty of the 2016 Brussels bombings that killed 32 people. The jury decides against revoking the Belgian nationality of five men, contrary to requests from the federal prosecutor’s office. (New York Times, 15 September 2023)   

DISCRIMINATION | EQUALITIES | HUMAN RIGHTS

 18 September: Research by the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma reveals 621 incidents of discrimination and racism over the past year. Most relate to prejudice and ‘verbal stereotyping’, particularly by public officials, though 17 racist attacks are also recorded. Roma from Ukraine are disproportionally affected by discrimination. (Euronews, 18 September 2023) 

EDUCATION 

13 September: A highly critical inquiry into the Office of Students by the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee finds a ‘distant and combative’ approach to relations with universities, and that ‘ministerial and media attitudes’ are too often translated ‘directly into regulatory demands’. (THE, 13 September 2023) 

13 September: The coalition Who’s Losing Learning? estimates that over 3,000 pupils, mostly from poor backgrounds, are being excluded from school each day in England. Black Caribbean children are 1.5 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers, dual heritage white and Black Caribbean 1.7 times more likely and Roma, Gypsy and Traveller children 3.2 times more likely. (Guardian, 13 September 2023)  

13 September: A report from the European Legal Support Centre and the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies reveals that of 40 cases of alleged antisemitism brought against students, academics, unions and societies in UK universities according to the IHRA definition 38 were rejected, concluding that the use of the definition stifles academic freedom and is not fit for purpose. (Guardian, 13 September 2023) 

14 September: Research by the Higher Education Policy Institute finds that more than a quarter of UK universities are operating food banks as students face a ‘cost-of-learning crisis’. (THE, 14 September 2023) 

21 September: Fair Trials reveals that 107 Bristol primary and secondary schools are using the Bristol City Council and Avon and Somerset Police ‘Think Family Education’ app to monitor primary and secondary students and their families; share details of student and family contact with police, child protection, and welfare services; and collect data on children who speak English as an additional language. (Fair Trials, 21 September 2023) 

HOUSING | POVERTY | WELFARE

19 September: A number of England’s biggest social housing landlords, including L&Q, Southwark Council and A2Dominion Group, which let out 142,000 low-cost homes, have failed to act on 18 of 43 ‘complaints handling failure orders’ issued by housing ombudsman. The stakes of inattention to tenants’ complaints are highlighted by the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire and the 2020 death of 2-year-old Awaab Ishak. (Guardian, 19 September 2023)  

25 September: A report from the Kerslake Commission concludes that the government will fail to meet its target to end rough sleeping by next year as ‘chronic and unresolved’ issues in the housing system persist. Non-UK nationals are named as the group most threatened by housing insecurity and face increased risk under the Illegal Migration Act. (Independent, 25 September 2023) 

EMPLOYMENT | EXPLOITATION | INDUSTRIAL ACTION

26 September: The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development reports a rise in workers taking sick leave in the past year, with rates hitting a ten-year high. Research respondents cited stress, the cost-of-living crisis, Covid and long Covid as major causes of absence from the workplace. (Guardian, 26 September 2023)  

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. 

13 September: The Romanian Football Federation condemns ultras belonging to the far-right group United Under the Tricoloured Flag after they held banners with the messages ‘Kosovo is Serbia’ and ‘Bessarabia [Moldova] is Romania’ during a UEFA Euros qualifying match between Romania and Kosovo. (Balkan Insight, 13 September 2023)  

17 September: Guidance from the Charity Commission says charities should not hold back from engaging in political activity and emotive issues such as race and immigration on social media, so long as they are in line with their mission, have the backing of trustees and act within the law. (Guardian, 17 September 2023) 

17 September: In Spain, footballer Salim El-Jebari is targeted with racist insults and gestures by Real Madrid supporters during a match between youth sides Real Madrid Castilla and Atletico de Madrid B. (Mundo Deportivo, 17 September 2023)  

20 September: According to research by the New Economics Foundation, deprived communities and those which are most ‘ethnically diverse’ have access to the fewest local  footpaths and public rights of way in England and Wales. (Guardian, 20 September 2023) 

21 September: French newspaper Libération denounces state intimidation of three of its journalists summoned by the Lille judicial police following a series of articles on the death of a young man from Roubaix, killed by a policeman from the anti-crime squad (BAC). (Le Monde, 23 September 2023) 

21 September: The British Social Attitudes survey reveals a more liberal country than 40 years ago on matters relating to same-sex relationships and abortion, but attitudes to transgender people remain ambivalent and uncertain. (Guardian, 21 September 2023) 

22 September: Leading cartoonists create a ‘Welcome to Britain’ colouring book for newly arrived children, to be distributed by refugee support groups, following Robert Jenrick’s order to paint over ‘too welcoming’ child-friendly murals at a migrants’ reception centre. (Guardian, 22 September 2023) 

 23 September: Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, the Presse-Papiers collective and Prenons la 1 mobilise across France to protest the misuse of anti-terrorist laws to arrest Disclose journalist Ariane Lavrilleux, whose reporting exposes the excesses of French-Egyptian anti-terrorist collaboration, linked to the alleged deaths of numerous civilians. (Disclose, 23 September 2023; Le Monde, 23 September 2023) 

23 September: In Poland the prize-winning film ‘Green Border’, which critiques the Polish government’s attitude to refugees and features a Syrian family at the Belarus-Poland border in 2021, is virulently attacked by government ministers. (Guardian, 23 September 2023)   

24 September: In Ireland, a video showing a Black girl not being awarded a medal at a gymnastics ceremony in March 2022 goes viral. The girl’s mother states that she has taken the matter to the Gymnastics Ethics foundation after Gymnastics Ireland failed to publicly apologise for the incident. (BBC News, 24 September 2023) 

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT 

For details of court judgements on racially motivated and other hate crimes, see also POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. 

18 September: A shop selling Mediterranean and Asian groceries in the Donegall Road area of Belfast is targeted for arson in what police confirm is a racially motivated hate crime and the fourth attack on the premises in a fortnight, with racist graffiti spray-painted in a previous incident. (Belfast News, 18 September 2023) 

21 September: During protests outside Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland, racist abuse is hurled at passers-by and two women have plastic bags of urine thrown at them. The Gardai launch an investigation and increase protection for ministers who have been threatened. (Guardian, 21 September 2023) 

 The calendar was compiled by Sophie Chauhan with the help of  Graeme Atkinson, Margaret McAdam, Louis Ordish , Anne-Ysore Onana-Ateba and Joseph Maggs. Thanks also to ECRE, the Never Again Association and Stopwatch, whose regular updates on asylum, migration, far Right, racial violence, employment and policing issues are an invaluable source of information. Find these stories and all others since 2014 on our searchable database, the Register of Racism and Resistance. 


Featured image: Young asylum seekers from Gulf countries organise a vigil outside the Home Office in London in tribute to Rima al-Badi, on 15 September 2023 . Credit: Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants


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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