Calendar of Racism and Resistance (14 – 28 March 2023)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (14 – 28 March 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

15 March: Justice secretary Dominic Raab tells the House of Lords Justice Committee that the government cannot rule out leaving the European Convention on Human Rights if Strasbourg judges challenge Illegal Migration Bill proposals to bar anyone arriving in the UK through unauthorised means from claiming asylum. (Telegraph, 15 March 2023)

15 March: Over 300 experts in migration from mainly British universities sign an open letter saying the Illegal Migration Bill is neither evidence based, workable nor legal under human rights conventions. (Independent, 15 March 2023)

15 March: The British Association of Social Workers urges members not to join the Home Office’s National Age Assessment Board, which takes over from local authorities age assessments of unaccompanied young asylum seekers. (Guardian, 15 March 2023)

18 March: The Ministry of Defence apologises to applicants to the Afghan relocation and assistance policy scheme following an Independent investigation revealing applicants being told that birth and marriage certificates must be in English and stamped by the Taliban. (Independent, 18 March 2023)

20 March: A coalition of groups, including AI and Defence for Children, says that unless the Dutch government investigates human rights violations linked to the EU-Turkey asylum deal, pointing to the role Netherlands played in concluding and implementing the deal as president of the Council of the European Union, it will take legal action. (Netherlands Times, 20 March 2023)

22 March: Calculations by the Refugee Council, from an analysis of government data, estimate that approximately 200,000 asylum seekers including 40,000 children will be detained or become destitute if the illegal migration bill becomes law. (Guardian, 22 March 2023)

Refugees welcome placard held up at an anti-racism protest 18th MArch, London.
An anti-racism protest in London, 18 March. Credit: Steve Eason, Flickr.

23 March: Child protection measures in Spain brought against migrant women and their children are criticised when the daughter of a Colombian was placed in a juvenile detention centre after her mother, who had no other means of support, went out to work. A court recently awarded compensation to a Bulgarian mother and her twin daughters in a similar case. (El Pais, 23 March 2023)

27 March: Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovíc urges MPs and peers to vote against the Illegal Migration Bill, saying it is incompatible with the UK’s fundamental human rights obligations. (Guardian, 27 March 2023)

28 March: The International Organization for Migration issues a statement expressing its ‘deep concern’ over the impact of the Illegal Migration Bill on victims of modern slavery (but is silent on the right to asylum). (IOM, 28 March 2023)

Borders and internal controls

20 March: The EU says it is ready to re-start training the Libyan coastguard, under the renewed EUNAVFOR MED IRINI operation, when Libya is ready to take it up. (EuroActiv, 20 March 2023)

21 March: The construction of an EU-funded detention centre in Bosnia, supported by the IOM, raises concerns among NGOs that migrants and refugees will be repatriated before reaching the EU. (Balkan Insight, 21 March 2023)

21 March: Research by the Association of Human Rights in Andalusia, Spain reveals that 40% (5,000 deaths) of those who lost their life on their migratory journey to Spain since 2003, died during a three-year period between 2020 to 2022, with 70% of those deaths en route to the Canary Islands. (Olive Press, 21 March 2023)

22 March: A report by Belgian NGO 11.11.11 reveals that over 200,000 illegal pushbacks took place at the EU’s external borders in 2022, over 600 a day, indicating ‘systemic pushbacks as part of EU border management’. (EurActiv, 23 March 2023)

23 March: The EU Commission announces a pot of €600 million for member states to strengthen EU external border controls, with particular focus on the Bulgaria-Türkiye border. (Schengen Visa Info, 23 March 2023)

25 March: Libyan coastguard fire over rescue boats and crew during a rescue attempt, intercepting the migrants’ boat and subsequently pulling back 80 people to Libya, according to search and rescue charities SOS Méditerranée and Sea-Watch. (InfoMigrants, 27 March 2023)

26 March: Amid a crackdown by Tunisian authorities, supported by the EU and Italy, on sub-Saharan undocumented migrants, at least 29 people die in two shipwrecks off the coast. In the past four days, five boats have sunk, leaving at least 67 missing, while the Tunisian coastguard have stopped 80 boats heading for Italy and detained over 3,000 people. (Guardian, 26 March 2023)

27 March: A UN investigation again finds torture, sexual slavery, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on migrants by Libyan security forces, particularly the EU-funded coastguard. (Deutsche Welle, 27 March 2023)

Reception and detention

17 March: A huge fire breaks out at the Porte d’Ulysse refugee reception centre in Brussels, Belgium, leaving 200 refugees spending the night at a nearby stadium and needing rehousing. No casualties are reported. (Brussels Times, 18 March 2023)

19 March: The Scottish children’s commissioner’s office and Scottish Child Law Centre call on local authorities to perform their obligations as disputes over housing responsibility with the Home Office leave refugee and migrant children homeless and destitute. (National, 19 March 2023)

23 March: A new Refugee Action report, Hostile Accommodation, describes the racialised segregation and de facto detention of asylum seekers, whose complaints of poor conditions are met with threats of removal to Rwanda, and the exponential growth in profits for asylum accommodation providers. (Guardian, 23 March 2023)

24 March: A high court judge rejects a legal challenge by Afghan refugees to their short-notice removal to new temporary accommodation hundreds of miles away, disrupting their children’s education, saying the duty to safeguard and promote children’s welfare does not apply. (ITV News, 25 March 2023)  

Deportations

14 March: The Danish Immigration Service declares ‘safe’ two further areas of Syria that are under government control, indicating that Syrian refugees from those areas may lose temporary residence rights, while reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch find no area in Syria safe. (InfoMigrants, 14 March 2023)

14 March: Hundreds of schoolchildren organise a vigil at Cardinal Newman school, Brighton in support of a 16-year-old Sudanese schoolgirl facing deportation, who must now commute to classes from dispersal accommodation in Tower Hamlets, London. (The Argus, 17 March 2023)

14 March: A court of appeal judge grants a group of ten asylum seekers from conflict zones permission to appeal against the high court ruling upholding their threatened deportation to Rwanda. (Guardian, 14 March 2023)

19 March: Richard Wallace, a British man wrongly deported to Jamaica, then accused of falsely using his own passport to return and imprisoned for 2 years, until DNA tests proved his identity, launches legal action against the Home Office. (Guardian, 19 March 2023)

20 March: The government’s flagship Rwanda deportations policy is threatened as the US State Department condemns conditions in Rwanda’s detention centres as ‘harsh to life-threatening’ in its annual human rights report. (Guardian, 21 March 2023)

26 March: The new head of Human Rights Watch says the UK’s Rwanda deportation plan would ‘completely erode’ the UK’s standing on the world stage. (Guardian, 26 March 2023) 

Crimes of solidarity

17 March: SOAS Detainee Support launches a fundraiser campaign to support the legal defence of three protesters facing charges as a result of a direct action at Brook House to delay a charter flight due to deport up to fifty people to Jamaica in November 2021. (GoFundMe, 17 March 2023)

Citizenship

22 March: The Danish supreme court overrules a 2020 immigration ministry decision to revoke the citizenship of a Danish-Iranian woman who travelled to Syria in support of Islamic State, but in a similar case in a lower court a decision to revoke the citizenship of twin sisters of Somali heritage is approved. (The Local, 22 March 2023)

23 March: The Swedish intelligence service calls on the government to approve new guidelines which would allow them to extend screening of individuals with dual citizenship or links to other countries when they apply for security sensitive jobs. (Sveriges Radio, 23 March 2023)

24 March: The daughter of human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a dual Danish-Bahraini national jailed in Bahrain, accuses the Danish government of ignoring his demands they secure his release from prison on medical grounds. (Guardian, 24 March 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.

14 March: Claudio Anastasio, a government appointee of a company that manages software systems for Italy’s welfare and statistics agencies, resigns after it is revealed that he sent an internal email quoting from an infamous Mussolini speech. (Reuters, 14 March 2023)

15 March: After the Welsh government announces that anti-racism and hate crime training will be offered to private residential landlords and agents in Wales, the Conservative opposition say they should concentrate on building new homes rather than ‘virtue signalling’. (BBC News, 15 March 2023)

16 March: In provincial elections in the Netherlands, the Farmer-Citizen Movement (Boerburger Beweging (BBB), favoured by Le Pen and Donald Trump, wins 15 members in the Senate and 19% of the vote, also finishing first in five of the twelve provincial assemblies. The far-right Forum for Democracy’s share of the vote plunges from 15% to 3%. (Guardian, 16 March; CNN, 19 March 2023)

16 March: In a St Patrick’s Day address, the Irish President Michael D Higgins condemns racism, forced migration and modern-day slavery as a ‘poisonous xenophobia’ and urges people to do more to support Ukrainian refugees. (Irish Examiner, 16 March 2023)

18 March: Senior lawyer Martin Forde KC, previously commissioned to investigate the Labour party’s culture, says that no one in the party has engaged with him to discuss his findings, and under its current leadership the party has failed to respond to the report’s conclusion that anti-black racism and Islamophobia are not taken as seriously as antisemitism. (Guardian, 18 March 2023)

18 March: Journalists from organisations perceived to be critical of government immigration policies are prevented from accompanying the home secretary on her first visit to Rwanda to discuss the Rwandan deal. (Guardian, 18 March 2023)

18 March: As the home secretary visits Rwanda, an addendum to the partnership agreement allows for the removal of ‘anyone who enters the UK irregularly without entry clearance via a safe third country’. A Rwandan government spokesperson says the country is ‘ready to absorb the thousands that will come from the UK’. (Electronic Immigration Network, 20 March 2023)

20 March: Security minister Tom Tugendhat describes one of the UK’s leading Shia mosques, the Islamic Centre of England, which is funded by the Iranian government, as a ‘vile threat’ to the UK. (Middle East Monitor, 23 March 2023)

20 March: Following elections in January in Lower Austria, the conservative ÖVP party enter talks with the far-right FPÖ with the view to forming a coalition government. (Euractiv, 20 March 2023)

21 March: The anti-immigration Finns Party emerges as the top party in an election poll aimed to give young people an experience of voting organised by the Finnish National Youth Council. (YLE, March 2023)

23 March: Poland’s deputy justice minister defends Mariusz Dzierżawski, the head of Foundation Pro-Right to Life, after his conviction for hate speech against homosexuals. The ruling is a ‘scandalous’ case of ‘repression against opponents of LGBT ideology, says Marcin Romanowski. (Notes from Poland, 23 March 2023)

23 March: The Labour party is criticised after it tells 19 local councillors in Leicester, the majority from BME backgrounds, that they have been deselected by the party’s national committee. (Guardian, 23 March 2023)

23 March: In his Port Vale FC speech focussing on violent crime, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer claims the life of a family in his constituency has been blighted ‘as every night cannabis smoke creeps in from the street outside into their children’s bedroom’. He promises to bring in new Respect anti-social behaviour orders and fixed penalty notices. (Labour party, 23 March 2023)

ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT

With anti-migrant, anti-Muslim, anti-equalities, anti-abortion, misogynistic and anti-LGBTQI activities increasingly interlinking, we now incorporate information on the Christian Right as well as the religious Right generally.

15 March: Scottish security guard James Farrell becomes the first member of the far-right Oaken Hearth Telegram chat group to be sentenced under the Terrorism Act for sharing extreme racist content and instructions on how to build a DIY replica sub-machine pistol. (Glasgow Live, 15 March 2023)

18 March: Media reveal that the Clean and Pure Soap firm is run from the Isle of Skye by Claire Ellis, the Scottish admin officer for Patriotic Alternative. (Scottish Sun, 18 March 2023)

20 March: The security minister confirms that Rasmus Paludan, leader of the far-right Danish political party Stram Kurs, who had wanted to publicly burn a copy of the Qur’an in Wakefield during Ramadan, has been banned from entering the UK. (Guardian, 20 March 2023)

22 March: In the southern German town of Reutlingen, a police officer is shot and wounded during raids targeting 20 premises linked to the Citizens of the Reich movement, including several members of the security services. One man is detained on suspicion of several counts of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm. (Guardian, 22 March 2023) 

22 March: After the arrest of a 30-year-old man in Häme, south-west Finland, the security services say an investigation has been launched into a case of suspected training to commit a terrorist offence linked to extreme-right ideology and that the investigation has deterred potential threats to life or safety. (YLE, 22 March 2023)

25 March: In Llantwit Major, Wales, Patriotic Alternative members protest over the transformation of an old primary school into temporary accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, and far-right mobilisations at the Grove House Hotel, Wallasey, in Swansea, Cardiff, Manchester and Wakefield are vastly outnumbered. In south-east London, hundreds turn out in a counter-protest at Turning Point UK’s Drag Queen Storytelling protest at the Honor Oak pub. (ITV News, 25 March 2023; Socialist Worker,  25 March 2023)

Police separating far-right protesters and pro-LBGTQ+ counter-protesters outside the Honor Oak pub in South London.
Police and protesters outside Honor Oak in South London on 25 March. Credit: Steve Eason, Flickr.

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Cases of police racism and sexism – and the way they are dealt with – are often linked, and as a reflection of this, this section includes information on police misogyny.

17 March: West Mercia PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith is found guilty of gross misconduct in using excessive force against Dalian Atkinson, who died in police custody in 2016. She will continue to work as a police officer. (INQUEST, press release, 17 March 2023)

21 March: Baroness Casey’s report finds institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia rife in the Met and concludes that the force can ‘no longer presume that it has the permission of the people of London to police them’. Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley accepts the factual finding of ‘systemic failings’, but not that these failings are ‘institutional’, a term he deems political. (Guardian, 21 March 2023)

24 March: The family of Anugrah Abraham, a student police officer in West Yorkshire who committed suicide, call on the IOPC to carry out an independent investigation, claiming he faced discrimination, bullying and a lack of support during a placement at Halifax police station. (Guardian, 24 March 2023)

25 March: An Observer investigation finds that police forces in England and Wales are deleting outcomes of misconduct cases from their websites after 28 days, in contravention of legal obligations. (Observer, 25 March 2023)

26 March: Black children are 11 times more likely to be strip-searched in England and Wales than white children, according to an analysis of a Children Commissioner’s report. Between 2018 and 2022, there were at least 2,847 pre-arrest recorded child strip-searches, 38% involving black children. Police did not follow the rules in more than half the cases, and in half of all searches nothing was found. Appropriate adults were not present in 52% of cases. (Guardian, 26 March 2023)

EDUCATION

15 March: A male primary school teacher from Leicester is banned from teaching for at least two years by the Teaching Regulation Agency after being convicted of drunkenly hurling racist and homophobic abuse at police officers on the eve of his wedding in July 2021. (Leicestershire Live, 15 March 2023)

18 March: A growing number of refugee children are being prevented from sitting exams including GCSEs because of being ‘shunted from hotel to hotel’ around the country and unable to find new school places. (Observer, 18 March 2023)

HOUSING | POVERTY | WELFARE

15 March: Analysis of census data finds that black people are almost three times more likely to live in social housing than their white counterparts. (Guardian, 15 March 2023)

28 March: Following an investigation into the death of 2-year-old Awaab Ishak, England’s housing ombudsman says that Rochdale Boroughwide Housing tenants were judged ‘by staff members’ who believed mould was ‘acceptable in refugees’ homes’ and whose ‘prejudices’ and ‘lazy assumptions’ towards refugees and asylum seekers were ‘wholly unacceptable’ and a form of ‘othering’. (Guardian, 28 March 2023)

28 March: Up to 9,000 Afghan refugees who have been stuck in hotels for 18 months will be made homeless if they reject the first offer of housing, as the government seeks to clear the hotels by the end of the year, the veterans’ affairs minister tells parliament. (Guardian, 28 March 2023)

EMPLOYMENT | EXPLOITATION | INDUSTRIAL ACTION

15 March: Following an investigation in which BME staff reported incidents of blackface at staff parties and offensive ‘jokes’ about migrant languages and cultures, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust expresses concern that a ‘historic and institutional culture of racism may exist’ in its workplaces. (Lynn News, 15 March 2023) 

20 March: For the first time, the General Medical Council (GMC) will include questions about doctors’ experiences of discrimination in its national training survey to better understand the pressures faced by trainees and those training them. (General Medical Council, 20 March 2023)

21 March: The TUC warns that the Strikes Bill and Retained EU Law Bill currently moving through parliament will expose BME workers in health and transport sectors to further discrimination, by making unfair dismissal easier and threatening workplace rights. (FE News, 21 March 2023)

24 March: Following a legal action brought by the FNV trade union, the Dutch Supreme Court rules that Deliveroo drivers are employees and not self-employed. Deliveroo has already left the Netherlands, but the ruling has implications for Über and temp agency Temper which also face legal challenges. (Dutch News, 24 March 2023) 

24 March: It is revealed that more than two-thirds of Muslims live in areas of high unemployment, and Muslims have the highest rate of unemployment of religious groups, analysis of Office of National Statistics figures show. (Guardian, 24 March 2023)

26 March: Worker surveillance, which is becoming increasingly common, is disproportionately used on women, non-unionised and black workers, an IPPR report finds. (Guardian, 26 March 2023)

27 March: A survey of workers with long Covid finds high levels of shockingly poor treatment from employers, including bullying, harassment, discrimination, disciplinary action and dismissal. (TUC, 27 March 2023)

27 March: A 2022 investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and VICE World News uncovers widespread bullying and abuse of migrant workers on British farms, nurseries and packhouses. (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 27 March 2023)   

28 March: A report by the Ethical Journalism Network, Structural racism in UK’s newsrooms, describes the commonplace racism faced by black journalists, comprising 0.2% of employees, within the British journalism industry, which is 94% white. One respondent said the newsroom ‘is like apartheid’. (Independent, 28 March 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.

16 March: Martin Forde KC, author of Labour’s racism report, reveals that the BBC asked him to amend his report, which described segments of the Panorama programme ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ as ‘entirely misleading’, a request he refused. (Middle East Eye, 16 March 2023) 

21 March: The Home Office decides not to award £150,000 in grants to Windrush community organisations because of disagreements over funding groups who retweeted comments critical of the Home Office. (Guardian, 21 March 2023)

27 March: Four members of Cricket Scotland’s anti-racism and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion advisory group resign due to the lack of progress made in response to the report into institutional racism within Cricket Scotland released last year. (Guardian, 27 March 2023) 

27 March: Doreen Lawrence, who is suing the Daily Mail’s parent company Associated Newspapers for breach of privacy, says the Mail betrayed her, professing to support her while carrying out the illegal interception of her voicemails and tapping her phone to generate exclusive headlines, exploiting her son’s murder for profit. (Independent, 27 March 2023) 

28 March: The Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian, issues an apology for the role its founder played in the slave trade and announces a £10m reparations programme. (Guardian, 28 March 2023)

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

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

14 March: A 48-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of shouting racist and misogynistic abuse at a Black teenage boy and two white teenage girls outside Southampton Central shopping centre. (Daily Echo14 March 2023)

16 March: A 44-year-old man is convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence after racially abusing his neighbour and banging and spitting on his door in Newcastle on 16 June 2022. Newcastle Crown Court jails him for six months and issues a five-year restraining order. (Chronicle Live, 16 March 2023) 

18 MarchSouth Tyneside magistrates order a 21-year-old man to pay £50 in compensation and a £225 fine for racial abuse of a police officer whom he told to ‘get out of this country’ while in custody at Southwick police station. (Sunderland Echo, 4 April 2023)

19 March: A 25-year-old man is found guilty of property destruction and racially aggravated abuse after shouting racist slurs, breaking a window and throwing stones at the owner of an Indian takeaway in Keith on 2 September 2022. Elgin Sheriff Court will issue his sentence next month. (Press & Journal, 19 March 2023) 

19 March: In Paris, France, the Argentine ambassador, rugby players and other dignitaries join the family of former Argentinian rugby player Federíco Martín Aramburú to mark the first anniversary of his killing by far-right militants, one of whom was connected to the Grupo Unión Defensa (GUD) and is now in custody with another suspect pending trial. (News Rebeat, 19 March 2023)

20 March: After a car is vandalised belonging to a member of the Belfast Asian Women’s Academy, whose family has been the victim of repeated racist harassment, the BAWA criticises the police’s treatment of the family. (Belfast Media, 20 March 2023)

20 March: A 49-year-old man is convicted of racially motivated harassment and breaching a suspended sentence order after racially abusing a Latvian woman on 18 March 2022 outside his home in Colchester. Chelmsford Crown Court sentences him to 13 weeks in jail. (Gazette News, 20 March 2023) 

20 March: On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association publish the ‘Brown Book’  a 300 page documentation of incidents of racism and homophobia in  Poland in 2020-2023, including Covid-19 attacks on people of Asian origin and  anti-Ukranian conspiracy theories. (Nigdy Wiecej, 20 March 2023)

22 March: Manchester Crown Court sentences a 33-year-old man to 15 months prison suspended for two years, 200 hours of unpaid work, 60 days of rehabilitation and a five-year restraining order following his conviction for punching and racially abusing a man in Bolton, leaving him with a broken jaw. (Manchester Evening News, 22 March 2023)

22 March: Two Nepalese sisters are racially abused by a group of unidentified young people outside a Primark shop in Maidstone. (Kent Online, 22 March 2023)

24 March: Police launch a CCTV appeal to identify two men who racially abused and threatened to kill a woman on the tube between Finsbury Park and Kings Cross on 21 February. (My London, 24 March 2023)

24 March: Police appeal for witnesses after a woman was racially abused on the street in Whitehaven on 11 February. (News & Star, 24 March 2023)

25 March: A group of young teenagers physically and racially abuse staff and commit acts of vandalism in a McDonald’s restaurant in Glasgow’s Southside. (Glasgow Evening Times, 29 March 2023)

27 March: A 42-year-old woman is convicted of racially aggravated harassment after racially abusing a social worker on 14 September 2022. A 33-year-old man facing the same charges for his involvement in the offence awaits trial in May. (Teesside Live, 27 March 2023)

27 March: A 36-year-old man is found guilty of shouting racial abuse outside his home on 13 January. Southampton Magistrates Court jails him for 14 weeks. (New Milton Advertiser & Lymington Times, 27 March 2023)

The calendar was compiled with the help of Graeme Atkinson, Sophie Chauhan, Margaret McAdam, Louis Ordish, Kimia Talebi and Joseph Maggs. Thanks also to ECRE, the Never Again Association, Stopwatch and The Week in Work, 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.


Feature image: Anti-Fascist protest outside Honor Oak in South London on 25 March. Credit: Steve Eason, Flickr.


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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