Calendar of Racism and Resistance (15 – 29 August 2023)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (15 – 29 August 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 

20 August: Freedom of Information data reveals that since January 2021, 3,545 migrant patients have been told they must pay upfront charges totalling £7.1m for NHS treatment. As a result, 905 patients could not proceed with necessary treatment. (Guardian, 20 August 2023)

20 August: Campaigners denounce Tory government ministers for failing to appoint commissioners of two independent watchdogs to defend rape and trafficking victims. (Guardian, 20 August 2023) 

24 August: Currently, more than 175,000 people await an initial decision on their asylum application. (Left Foot Forward, 24 August 2023)

24 August: The Charity Commission criticises Care4Calais for administrative misconduct but rules that it was within the law in bringing proceedings against the government’s Rwanda proposal. (Guardian, 25 August 2023)

28 August: The Home Office is considering tagging asylum seekers who arrive in the UK by ‘unauthorised’ means, as the home secretary says ‘we will do whatever it takes’ to proceed with the Rwanda plan. (Guardian, 28 August 2023) 

From GPS tagging to facial recognition watches, expanding the surveillance of migrants in the UK by Monish Bhatia & Lucie Audibert
Borders and internal controls

15 August: A report by the Helen Bamber Foundation finds that despite being recognised as victims of trafficking via the National Referral Mechanism, only 364 foreign national adults out of 5,578 and 21 children out of 5,266 were granted leave to remain in 2022-23, and most for a short period of time. (Electronic Immigration Network, 15 August 2023) 

18 August: According to the Serbestiyet newsite, at least 15 asylum seekers lost their lives in July and August trying to cross through Bulgaria, including Feyyaz Haşim from Idlib, Syria, who reportedly died after being given a drug by smugglers aimed at bolstering his stamina on the long trek through forests. (Stockholm Centre for Freedom, 17 August 2023)

24 August: In northern Greece, three men who forced migrants into a trailer and uploaded a video on social media accusing them of starting wildfires in the Evros region are arrested for kidnapping and illegally detaining 13 migrants as well as racially motivated crimes. The 13 victims, of Syrian and Pakistani origin, are also charged with charged with arson and illegal entry. (Keep Talking Greece, 24 August 2023)

25 August: A body, likely that of a twentieth migrant victim of the wildfires, is found in the forest of Dadia in Evros, north-eastern Greece. Although the Greek fire department confirms that the fires were sparked by lightning and were not man-made, undeterred vigilante groups organise ‘bounty-hunting’ missions at borders. (Keep Talking Greece, 25 August 2023;  Middle Eastern Eye, 25 August 2023) 

Reception and detention

15 August: The Management & Training Corporation, owned by a US private prison provider, receives an extension to its contract to provide services to the Manston reception facility, where asylum seekers faced dire conditions and may have been subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment. (Guardian, 15 August 2023)

15 August: A Home Office policy change could see applicants granted refugee status and survivors of trafficking granted leave to remain facing eviction from Home Office accommodation after 7 days of receiving a ‘notice to quit.’ Meanwhile, 305 Afghan refugees are told they must leave hotel accommodation by August 31 or be evicted and labelled ‘trespassers’. (Guardian, 15 August 2023; Daily Record, 16 August 2023)

17 August: The Planning Inspectorate overturn Rugby Borough council’s decision, granting permission for the Signature Hotel Group Ltd to site forty temporary cabins on the car park of the Dunchurch Park hotel to accommodate 100 asylum seekers. (Warwickshire World, 17 August 2023)  

17 August: As part of a £1.1 million contract, Laing O’Rourke is to conduct site surveys at the Manston processing centre, a disused prison in Bexhill-on-Sea and the Yarlswood Immigration Removal centre, where the Home Office plans to spend £306 million building immigration detention centres for 1,000 asylum seekers. (Isle of Thanet News, 17 August 2023; Independent, 21 August 2023)

A solidarity march and family friendly protest held on Portland, Dorset on Saturday 13th May 2023. Credit: Stephan and Helen Jones, Flickr

21 August: A report by the Independent Monitoring Board raises significant concerns over rules at short-term holding facilities, where the confiscation of detained migrants’ prescribed medication can endanger lives. (Guardian, 22 August 2023)

22 August: FOI requests reveal that the Home Office considered using a visa waiver scheme for ‘foreign’ workers who may be needed if there were to be an outbreak of an infectious condition on the Bibby Stockholm barge. (Guardian, 22 August 2023)

23 August: A report from the Independent Monitoring Board on Gatwick Immigration Removal Centre claims that 11 detainees, advised of imminent deportation to Rwanda, staged a hunger strike, and that restraint belts were used on detainees experiencing fear and distress. Concerns are raised about the timing of notices, which make it difficult for detainees to access lawyers. (Guardian, 23 August 2023)

25 August: In a letter to the home secretary, 39 asylum seekers briefly held on the Bibby Stockholm describe the barge as ‘unsafe, frightening and isolated …. a terrifying residence,’ where one attempted suicide, and others say they are too traumatised to return. (Guardian, 25 August 2023)

27 August: Following ‘cursory and arbitrary’ age assessments, unaccompanied child asylum seekers are held in HMP Elmley, an adult prison in Kent where foreign nationals are held with sex offenders. Data confirms that hundreds of children are being wrongly treated as adults by the Home Office. (Guardian, 27 August 2023)

27 August: The Fire Brigades Union issue a deadline for the home secretary to respond to their legal letter which outlines ‘serious fire and operational safety concerns’ over the Bibby Stockholm barge, and asks no-one be returned to the barge until concerns are addressed. (Guardian, 27 August 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 August: The Finnish prime minister promises to rescind a law requiring local authorities to provide free basic healthcare for paperless migrants in order to create a ‘hostile environment’. Helsinki and other local authorities saying they will continue the policy. (Euronews, 14 August 2023)

25 August: After a gang rape in Sicily, Italy, Matteo Salvini, a far-right minister in the coalition government, calls for the introduction of forced chemical castration for child molesters and rapists. (Euronews, 25 August 2023) 

25 August: In response to a string of public desecrations of the Quran, the Danish government introduces legislation that would make it illegal to desecrate a holy book. (Euronews, August 2023) 

25 August: The Croatian president threatens to round up 100 Greek nationals in retaliation for Greece’s treatment of Croatian ‘football fans’ arrested after the killing of Michalis Katsousis in Athens, who he claims were treated as ‘prisoners of war’ and were not far-right supporters of Dinamo Zagreb known as ‘Bad Blue Boys’.  (Euronews, 25 August 2023)

29 August: The Cabinet  Office warns all governments not to use racist language following a media investigation that reports the use of offensive slurs, including the N-word,  in Department for Works and Pension guidance, immigration tribunal decisions and on the Foreign Office and government websites. (Independent, 29 August 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 August: Calls are made for the Conservatives to launch an internal investigation into the Welsh secretary over ‘unacceptable’ and ‘racist’ comments against the Traveller community in a leaflet telling voters ‘Gypsy and Traveller site coming to your area soon!’ and asking them: ’Would you like to see a Traveller site next to your house?’ (Guardian, 15 August 2023)

16 August: Data from the German interior ministry indicates a three-fold increase in far-right demonstrations in the first six months of 2023, featuring 100 marches compared to 35 over the same period in 2022, with many directed against refugee housing or immigration policies in general. (Deutsche Welle, 16 August 2023)

18 August: A copy of the Quran is torn up and trampled on by far-right Pegida protesters outside the Turkish Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands. (Arab News, 18 August 2023)

25 August: Axel Springer Investigations reveals that a network of young neo-Nazis are setting up terrorist cells, like the Feuerkrieg Division, from the west coast of the US to Western Europe and the Baltic States, sharing Nazi propaganda and death lists, and encouraging armed attacks. (Times of Malta, 25 August 2023)

28 August: Far-right violence follows an anti-migrant protest in Chlorakas, Cyprus, with migrants, their homes and businesses attacked. The far-right Elam group blames migrants for the violence, calling for mass arrests of those who ‘do not respect the hospitality of our country’. Police say claims that they were slow to act are unfair. (Cyprus Mail, 28 August 2023; Cyprus Mail, 28 August 2023)

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

16 August: Robert Lewis, one of six former Met police officers charged with sending grossly offensive racist messages on a WhatsApp group, is dismissed from his Home Office post for gross misconduct. (Independent, 16 August 2023)

16 August: Data released by Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner records a 240% increase in stop and search during 2022/23, of which 71 per cent were conducted under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Sixteen per cent of drug related stops led to arrests.  (Cambrian News, 16 August 2023)

17 August: The family of Muszunye Mircea Vişa (known as Vişinel), a 33-year-old Romani man who died in police custody in Arad, Romania on 14 July, file a criminal complaint against two police officers who allegedly beat him so badly he went into cardiac arrest. (ERRC, 17 August 2023)

18 August: After paramedics in Diusburg, Germany ask police to assist them taking a 56-year-old man to a psychiatric hospital, the man, who has not been identified, is first tasered and then shot dead by police who claim that he attacked them with a knife. (Tellerreport, 18 August 2023) 

18 August: Open Democracy and Liberty Investigates reveal that the government’s biometrics watchdog has repeatedly queried with police the unlawful storing of sensitive data on former suspects never charged with a crime; the use of the Immigration and Asylum Biometrics System to run immigration checks for no good reason; and the unlawful holding of almost 300,000 fingerprint records on a counter-terrorism database. (Open Democracy, 28 August 2023)

Fingerprints. Credit: Scribbletaylor, Flickr

20 August: An investigation based on FOI requests to police forces, not all of which responded, uncovers at least 45 cases since 2015 where disturbing images were taken by police officers and shared on messaging services such as WhatsApp. (Open Democracy, 20 August 2023)

23 August: South Yorkshire police refer themselves to the Information Commissioner’s Office after body-worn video footage recorded by its officers over a period of nearly three years is lost from its computer systems. (Times & Star, 23 August 2023)

23 August: The Portuguese Attorney General launches an investigation into the far-right Chega party leader André Ventura for spreading false news on social networks, using graphics similar to those of the media. (Portugal News, 23 August 2023)

EDUCATION

18 August: A survey carried out by researchers from Kings College and Aarhus University finds widespread ‘ambivalence’ among scholars about the Prevent counter-terrorism programme, with older lecturers less likely to report students potentially at risk of radicalisation. (THE, 18 August 2023)

29 August: BBC’s File on Four programme reports that hundreds of the most vulnerable children, especially those excluded from school, are being targeted by drug gangs. (Guardian, 29 August 2023) 

29 August: According to new research, pupils in parts of England are likely never to be taught by someone of the same ethnic backgrounds, affecting exclusions, expectations and aspirations of pupils. This reflects the lower acceptance rate of ‘ethnic applicants’ into teacher training. (Guardian, 29 August 2023)

28 August:  Concerns are voiced about the spread of Orbán  style populism after it emerges that a  Hungarian cultural centre in London could be opening a branch of the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC), a private university funded in the UK through a deal with the Roger Scruton Legacy Foundation. (Guardian, August 2023)

29 August: The French education minister announces a ban on girls in state schools from wearing abayas on the grounds that the abaya is ‘a religious gesture, aimed at testing the resistance of the republic toward the secular sanctuary that school must be’. (Guardian, 29 August 2023)

HOUSING | POVERTY | WELFARE

22 August: A survey from housing charity Shelter finds that one third of private renters had to borrow money to pay rent in the last month. (Independent, 22 August 2023)

23 August: Inside Housing FOI requests reveal that 29 London councils sent 1,693 homeless households to accommodation outside London between March 2022 and February 2022 (7.8% of all temporary accommodation placements), uprooting them from their home towns and social networks. Black and minority ethnic families are disproportionately affected. (Inside Housing, 23 August 2023; Guardian, 28 August 2023)

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

25 August: Coventry MP Taiwo Owatemi requests a statutory inquiry into the lack of follow up on South Asian women fed radioactive chapatis in the 1960s, without informed consent, so as to measure iron absorption. (Guardian, 25 August 2023)

29 August: The senior coroner for East London concludes that the death of Sultana Choudhury in December 2022 at Whipps Cross Hospital was the result of failings that constitute neglect. She had been persuaded to undergo a voluntary kidney biopsy for research purposes, but a renal bleed was not identified. (Doughty Street Chambers, 29 August 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.

19 August: The family of British nineteenth-century prime minister William Gladstone, travel to Guyana to apologise for his role in slavery and make reparations to fund research. (Guardian, 19 August 2023)

21 August: Italian general Roberto Vannacci, head of the paratroopers brigade, is removed from his military post after self-publishing ‘The World Upside Down’, which contained racist and homophobic comments and is number one of Amazon Italy’s bestsellers. (Euronews, 21 August 2023)

22 August: The Tory mayoral candidate for London, Susan Hall, is criticised for calling the Notting Hill Carnival ‘dangerous’ and saying that there is a ‘problem with crime’ in the Black community. (Guardian, 22 August 2023)

22 August: Liverpool under-16s players walk off the pitch during a match against Juventus after an opponent racially abused one of their players. (Guardian, 22 August 2023)

25 August: In Italy journalist Luigi Furini is taken off air after using racist language against footballer Romelu Lukaku. (Football Italia, 25 August 2023)

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

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

16 August: In Berlin, Germany, two Holocaust memorials, including one dedicated to LGBTQ+ people persecuted under the Nazi regime, are targeted by unidentified arsonists. Media report an antisemitic note was retrieved at one memorial. (Euronews, 16 August 2023)

18 August: Abdullah Qureshi is detained in a secure medical facility after being found guilty of three counts of racially and religiously motivated attacks in August 2021 against members of the Jewish community in Stamford Hill, Hackney.  (London World, 18 August 2023)

23 August:  In Greece, one person is detained in connection with a video posted on social media claiming that undocumented migrants were responsible for wildfires that broke out near the town of Alexandroupoli, northern Greece. The video included an image of a group of migrants and refugees in Evros facing threats and locked in a trailer. (Ekathimerini, 23 August 2023; Guardian, 24 August 2023)

25 August: 55 Greek NGOs issue a statement warning of rising hostility in Greece, as far-right groups accuse migrants of sparking wildfires, and citizen-volunteer militia engage in ‘illegal acts’.  (AA, 25 August 2023)

26 August: Local residents rally in support of the Muslim community after three Nazi flags are placed outside the Belfast Iqraa mosque in Ashley Park, West Belfast. (Belfast Media, 23 August 2023; Belfast Telegraph, 26 August 2023)

28 August: A town councillor in Baden-Baden, Germany, is fined after it was found he had scribbled swastikas on two cars with Ukrainian licence plates. No information is available as to the councillor’s identity or the party represented.  (Deutsche Welle, 28 August 2023)

The calendar was compiled by Sophie Chauhan with the help of Graeme Atkinson, Margaret McAdam, Louis Ordishand 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


Feature image: March – Stand Up to Racism March Portland. Credit: Stephen and Helen Jones, 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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