Calendar of racism and resistance (15-29 January 2020)

Calendar of racism and resistance (15-29 January 2020)


Written by: IRR News Team

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe


Asylum and migration rights

14 January: Twenty-six sans-papiers (undocumented) workers from former French colonies, working for Chronopost, a subsidiary of the French postal service, claim victory as they are all given temporary work permits⁠—the result of a seven-month strike and a camp-out at the Chronopost warehouse. (Verso, 23 January 2020; Press release)

16 January: Nearly a million EU citizens in the UK have not yet applied for settled status, leaving their status insecure post-Brexit, Home Office figures reveal. (Guardian, 16 January 2020)

17 January: A Sudanese asylum seeker who was wrongly deported from the UK in October 2018 and remained in hiding for 14 months due to fears for his safety is returned to the UK in an ‘almost unprecedented’ U-turn decision by the Home Office. (Guardian, 17 January 2020)

20 January: People fleeing immediate danger due to the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, the UN Human Rights Committee rules. The ruling is non-binding but indicates that countries they may be breaching human rights if they return an asylum seeker to a country facing climate-related danger. (BBC, 20 January 2020)

22 January: Opposition MPs and campaigners condemn the government after the House of Commons overturns Lords’ amendments to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill which seeks to preserve the rights of lone child refugees to join family members in the UK. (Guardian, 22 January 2020)

27 January: Prime minister Boris Johnson dismisses the SNP proposal for Scotland to issue visas to migrants within hours of the policy paper’s publication. (The Herald, 27 January 2020)

Reception and detention

16 January: The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) says the ‘prison-like’ regime at Denmark’s Ellebæk and Nykøbing Falster detention centres are amongst the worst in Europe, and threatens legal action in the European Human Rights Court. The use of disciplinary solitary confinement for extended periods of time and the fact that detainees are  ‘sometimes placed entirely naked in an observation room’ are amongst issues raised in a new report (ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 16 January 2020)

17 January: Protests erupt after a 20-year-old man from Yemen is stabbed to death during a row at the overcrowded Moria refugee camp, on the Greek island of Lesvos. (Ekathimerini, 17 January 2020, The National Herald, 17 January 2020)

18 January: Georgian migrant Vakhtang Enukidze, 38, dies in Gradisca d’Isonzo repatriation centre in Gorizia, northern Italy, the 29th migrant to die in Italian deportation centres since 1998. Witnesses say he was beaten by eight or ten police officers, and a homicide investigation is launched. (AYS, 18, 20 January, InfoMigrants, 24 January 2020)

21 January: A 28-year-old Somali man who had been living in a Parisian tent camp for a few months is found dead in his tent. Neighbours call the Doctors of the World team, who attempt to resuscitate the man, but in vain.  (InfoMigrants, 21 January 2020)

22 January: Officials on the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos organise a day of action against the islands’ overcrowded refugee camps, with businesses shutting down and thousands of protesters gathering on the sea fronts, chanting ‘We want our islands back’. (Deutsche Welle, 22 January, Guardian, 24 January 2020)

24 January: Médecins Sans Frontières in Greece says the New Democracy government, which since summer 2019 has denied undocumented migrants access to the public health system, is ‘deliberately depriving’ 140 minors at the Moria refugee camp in Lesvos of adequate medical care for chronic, complex and life-threatening diseases. (Guardian, 24 January 2020)

24 January: A witness to the incident that led to the death of Vakhtang Enukidze (see above) in the detention centre in Gorizia, Italy, is abruptly deported even though he had lived in Italy for 24 years, leading to fears of a cover-up. (Are you Syrious, 24 January 2020)

24 January:  Are You Syrious publish a statement issued by an estimated 42 detainees, the majority of whom are Muslim, at the Oissel centre, near Rouen, France, in which they explain that they have started a hunger strike against police violence, racism and the use of solidarity confinement. (Are You Syrious, 24 January 2020)

Libyan crisis

21 January: It emerges that Adal Debretsion, a 16-year-old boy from Eritrea, died on 12 January at the Sabaa detention centre in Tripoli, Libya, from an unknown illness and a lack of medical care. (Guardian, 21 January 2020)

Crimes of solidarity and church sanctuary

13 January: Police enter the Evangelical Free Church in Gelsenkirchen-Buer, in the German province of North Rhine-Westphalia, breaking church sanctuary to arrest an asylum-seeker from Afghanistan, who is deported to Denmark under the Dublin regulations on the same day, prompting fears of a chain deportation to Afghanistan. (ECRE Weekly Newsletter, 23 January 2020)

17 January: The Italian Supreme Court rejects the prosecutor’s appeal against the dismissal of charges against Carola Rackete, captain of Sea Watch 3, who it says should never have been arrested for bringing refugees to port in June 2019 after a two-week standoff. (AYS, 17 January 2020)


19 January: In Italy, as local elections loom, thousands of people attend a rally in Bologna organised by the Sardines movement in opposition to the electoral campaign of the far-right League party in Emilia-Romagna. (Guardian, 21 January 2020)

20 January: The Norwegian governing coalition collapses after the extreme-right Progress party pulls out over a cabinet decision to repatriate a woman suspected of belonging to Islamic State from Syria so one of her five young children could receive medical treatment(Guardian, 20 January 2020)

20 January: The far-right Vox party in Spain’s south-eastern region of Murcia says it will not support the budget, thereby bringing down the regional government, unless it introduces its ‘parental pin’ educational policy, whereby parents can withdraw their children from school workshops on issues such as homophobia and sex education or that run counter to their ‘moral leanings’ or ‘ideological convictions’. (El Pais, 20 January 2020)

27 January: The far-right alliance that includes the League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia fails to win local elections in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna. In the southern region of Calabria, however, the far-right coalition wins, with over 50 per cent of the vote. (Guardian, 27 January 2020)


17 January: In Germany, five men and one woman, who in 2015 took part in violent protests outside a refugee accommodation facility in Heidenau, Saxony and planned further attacks on foreigners,  are convicted of membership of the far-Right Free Comrades of Dresden and sentenced to jail terms between 34 months and six years. (Deutsche Welle, 17 January 2020)

17 January: Nazi memorabilia and a photograph of himself making a nazi salute, were found in the home of James Healy, one of the men found guilty of a homophobic assault last August on Guardian journalist Owen Jones, who was also targeted for his ‘left-wing’ views. (Guardian, 16, 17 January 2020)

19 January: Deutsche Welle journalist Thomas Jacobi is attacked in Athens by neo-nazis while  attempting to cover a Golden Dawn rally in Athens. The Foreign Press Association of Greece says that ‘the existence of organized hit squads at the fringes of rallies aiming to intimidate journalists that are not of their liking can’t be tolerated’, as the police’s woeful response to this, the second attack on Jacobi in a year, is widely condemned. (Vice, 20 January 2020)

20 January: In Greece, two shop-owners and four police officers are charged with fatal body harm over the severe beating of queer activist Zak Kostopoulos in September 2018, leading to his death. One of the shop-owners is linked by campaigning groups to the extreme Right.(Keep Talking Greece, 20 January 2020)

22 January: As Combat 18, which describes itself as ‘Adolf Hitler’s task force’, is officially proscribed in Germany, police carry out raids against members in Hesse, Thuringia, North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Rhineland-Palatinate. (Deutsche Welle, 23 January 2020, Berlin Spectator, 23 January 2020)

23 January: The director of the museum at the former Buchenwald concentration camp in eastern Germany says that neo-nazis are taking part in ‘targeted and pre-planned disruptions of tours’ as the far Right smuggle themselves into groups to question facts and deny the Holocaust. (The Local, 23 January 2020)

Image: @hulllive Twitter

24 January: Local authority workers in Hull are to receive training in recognising white supremacist propaganda after stickers are plastered across the city saying ‘It’s OK to be white’ and ‘Western civilization is white civilization’ by an online group known as the ‘Hundred-Handers’. (Hull Daily Mail, 24 January 2020)

24 January:  Extra police patrols are deployed in Rotherham after Britain First handed out leaflets about ‘grooming gangs’ at two mosques as well as taxi ranks in the town.  (Rotherham Advertiser, HallamFM, 24 January 2020)

26 January: The German military counter-intelligence service says it is investigating 550 soldiers suspected of right-wing extremism, with cases particularly concentrated amongst the elite Special Forces Command (KSK) unit. (Deutsche Welle, 26 January 2020)

27 January: On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet army, survivors speak at a commemoration event at the camp’s gate, warning the world against indifference and urging people to stand up for democracy and human rights. (Guardian, 27 January 2020)


17 January: Black musician Soweto Kinch says he was not allowed into a first-class train carriage despite carrying the right ticket. (Guardian, 17 January 2020)

21 January: In a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeal upholds the High Court’s decision to prohibit Bromley Council from issuing an injunction against ‘persons unknown’ stopping on public land in the Borough. The ruling, which cites contraventions of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Equality Act, has implications for other local authorities and undermines the government’s attempts to criminalise trespass. (Garden Court Chambers press release, 21 January 2020)

23 January: Indigenous Sami reindeer herders win a 30-year battle to restore their hunting and fishing rights across ancestral lands in Sweden. (Guardian, 23 January 2020)

24 January: The Rev. Andrew Moughton-Mumby puts forward a motion for the Church of England’s General Synod in February calling on the church to apologise for and stamp out its institutional racism. (Guardian, 24 January 2020)


15 January: Research commissioned by the Sentencing Council reveals that BAME drug offenders are more likely to be sent to prison, and to receive longer sentences, than white offenders. (Guardian, 15 January 2020)

16 January: The public prosecutor and the Police Department investigate a complaint by a Rouen police officer of racist abuse from a dozen colleagues, who allegedly have a WhatsApp group where they exchange racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic messages. (Paris Normandie, 17 January, AJ+ Francais, 20 January 2020)

16 January: New data from the Ministry of Justice shows that cautions or convictions in England and Wales for knife or offensive weapon offences are at their highest level since 2009. Over the same period (2009-2019), the likelihood of offenders receiving an immediate custodial sentence has risen. (Guardian, 16 January 2020)

18 January: A Gilets Jaunes march ends with violent police officers forcing protestors to the ground, handcuffing and beating them. (Twitter, 18 January 2020)

19 January: Campaigners demand that HMP Full Sutton’s Close Supervision Centre provides more protection from racist attacks on prisoner Kevan Thakrar, who was stabbed four times by another prisoner on 23 December 2019. They claim Thakrar has not received proper medical attention since the attack and remains in the same prison as his attacker. (The Canary, 19 January 2020)

20 January: French anti-racist activist Rokhaya Diallo talks on LCI to remind the French public that police brutality is not a new phenomenon, especially for the country’s ethnic minority communities. (LCI, 20 January 2020)

21 January: A new report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons finds that children aged 15-18 in Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) across England and Wales are being held in solitary confinement, with some let out of their cells for just fifteen minutes a day. BAME children are overrepresented in YOIs. Read the report here. (Guardian, 21 January 2020)

22 January: Inquest publishes a report, Deaths in prison: A national scandal, which analyses the findings from 61 prison inquests in England and Wales in 2018 and 2019, pinpointing, amongst other things, serious failings in mental and physical health care. (Inquest press release, 22 January 2020)

24 January: Retired Judge Lord Bracadale is appointed to head a public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh, and whether race played a part in his death in police custody in Scotland after being restrained by up to nine police officers using CS spray, pepper spray and batons. (Daily Record, 24 January 2020)

24 January: Big Brother Watch criticises the Metropolitan police’s announcement that, despite expert evidence doubting its accuracy, it is rolling out live facial-recognition (LFR) technology across the capital, saying it represents ‘an enormous expansion of the surveillance state and a serious threat to civil liberties’.  (Morning Star, 24 January 2020)

27 January: The Prison Reform Trust issues a report which shows that the government’s hardline sentencing policy fails to deliver public safety or rehabilitation. (Guardian, 27 January 2020)

27 January: As the Police Foundation issues a report showing BAME communities shun a career in policing because of racism, police chiefs admit a failure to recruit BAME officers two decades after the Macpherson findings on institutional racism in the force. (Guardian, 27 January 2020)


17 January: Stop the War, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Extinction Rebellion (XR), Greenpeace, anti-racist, anti-fascist groups and groups surveilling the police are listed as extremist on a counter-terrorism policing document distributed to public sector workers as part of Prevent anti-extremism briefings and leaked to the Guardian. (Guardian, 17 January 2020)

26 January: A Home Office funded study into tackling radicalisation among young people finds that Home Office policies are ‘madness’ and completely counter-productive. (Observer, 26 January 2020)

27 January: It emerges that the Counter-Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) document (see above) was sent to, amongst others, several government departments, NHS England, Ofsted, the prison and probation service, twenty local authorities and five police forces, before it was withdrawn by CTPSE, which now claims it was an ‘error of judgment’.  (Guardian, 27 January 2020)


22 January: Residents of high-rise blocks near Grenfell Tower complain that their homes are wet, cold and mouldy because of the failure of Kensington and Chelsea to replace the insulation cladding which the council removed after the Grenfell fire. (Guardian, 22 January 2020)

25 January: Benita Mehra, a key member of the Grenfell Tower public inquiry phase 2 panel appointed by PM Boris Johnson, resigns after survivors and the bereaved threaten a boycott over her links to the company that made combustible cladding. (Guardian, 25 January 2020)


19 January: Millionaire businessman Julian Richer launches the ZeroHours Justice campaign, which aims to stamp out zero-hours contracts through strategic litigation and ‘naming and shaming’ abusive employers. (Guardian, 19 January 2020)

24 January: Andrew Bridgen MP alleges in parliament that up to 10,000 garment workers in factories in Leicester supplying the UK’s fast fashion industry are paid as little as £3 an hour and may therefore be trapped in conditions of modern slavery. (Guardian, 24 January 2020)


27 January: The BBC apologises after News at Ten uses footage of LeBron James in its coverage of the death of black basketball star Kobe Bryant. Social media users had taken to Twitter to attack the BBC for failing to see the difference between two black sportsmen. (BBC News, 27 January 2020)


17 January: The children’s commissioner announces she is researching schools’ use of isolation booths for ‘disruptive’ pupils, sometimes for minor uniform breaches, which the Centre for Mental Health charity warns may damage young people’s mental health. The booths are seen as the ‘gateway to exclusion’, disproportionately affecting Black and Gypsy/ Traveller children. (Guardian, 17 January 2020)

18 January:  A poll conducted by the National Association of Schoolmasters / Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) shows that 54 per cent of black and minority ethnic teachers have experienced actions that are racially demeaning in the past year, with over a third thinking that the problem has worsened. (NASUWT, 18 January, Independent, 20 January 2020)

20 January: Disciplinary proceedings begin against a member of staff at a South Gloucestershire school who allegedly made a racist comment comparing the colour of a pupil’s skin to ‘disgusting burnt toast’. (Bristol Live, 20 January 2020)

26 January: An Islamic independent girls’ school in Aston launches a legal action against Ofsted, claiming that its ‘inadequate’ rating solely because a 25-year-old leaflet about a 1994 Islamic conference was found in the school library indicated a negative attitude towards independent faith schools. (Guardian, 26 January 2020)


21 January: A study by the Centre for Progressive Policy finds that the poorest third of mature, working-age adults have worse health in the 21st century than people of the same age born a century ago. (Guardian, 21 January 2020)

21 January: The Resolution Foundation finds that the average low-income family in the UK’s most deprived areas is likely to be worse off under universal credit. (Guardian, 21 January)

23 January: StepChange, the UK’s largest debt charity, reports that flagship Conservative policy universal credit is fuelling debt problems among low-income claimants, forcing many into destitution and driving others to loan sharks to get cash for basics such as food, clothes and heating. (Guardian, 23 January)


14 January: Police investigate a racially abusive tweet directed at Mansfield defender Mal Benning. (Sky Sports, 14 January 2020)

17 January:  Brussels MP Els Rochette criticises the police for ordering fans of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise to withdraw anti-fascist banners during Union’s game with OHL on 11 January. Police say the ban was due to ‘provocation’, to which the MP retorts ‘Are we to understand that a banner inciting violence or bearing a swastika is to be treated in the same way as this anti-fascist message?’ (Brussels Times, 17 January 2020)

17 January: Supporters’ groups attached to Hamburg’s St Pauli football club, known for its anti-racist, anti-fascist tradition, are listed on a UK counter-terrorism police document presented in public sector briefings last summer. (Stoke Sentinel, 17 January 2020)

20 January: A Football Association charge of using racist language against Stevenage FC coach Mark Sampson is found ‘not proven’ after an investigation. Sampson was accused in September 2019 of saying ‘you can’t have a black Nigerian centre back, you can’t rely on them.’ (The Comet, 20 January 2020)

24 January: British football marks Holocaust Memorial Day with an anti-racism video which is shown at weekend fixtures and features top footballers urging fans to ‘stand together’ against racism and anti-Semitism.  (Guardian, 24 January 2020)

25 January: Four Cardiff city fans, aged between 15 and 24, are arrested for allegedly chanting racial abuse during an FA cup tie against Reading. (Berkshire Live, 26 January 2020)

26 January: Sport England publishes a report, Sport for all? finding BAME communities are excluded from participation in many sports, and launches a campaign for greater inclusion. (Guardian, 26 January 2020)

28 January: The Spanish first division club Espanyol announces it will ban 12 supporters for subjecting footballer Inaki Williams to racist abuse during a match against Athletic Bilbao. (Guardian, 28 January 2020)


Image: @really_rural1 Twitter (image has since been deleted from site)

14 January: Twitter users call out ‘Really Rural’ after he invites his followers to join him on Marlborough High Street at 23.00 on 31 January for a Brexit party, adding we ‘might even beat up a foreigner’ (Twitter, 14 January 2020)

14 January: A postman is caught on CCTV using racist language as he waits for an elderly man to answer the door in Manchester. Royal Mail says it will launch an immediate investigation. (Manchester Evening News, 17 January 2020)

15 January: A 22-year-old man pleads guilty to racially aggravated offences, two counts of assaulting police officers and possession of cannabis after shouting abuse and causing damage outside a family’s home in Newcastle. (Hexham Courant, 15 January 2020)

Image: Twitter

15 January: Germany’s only black MP, Karamba Diaby (SPD) reports finding bullet holes in the windows of his constituency office in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. (Deutsche Welle, 16 January 2020). 

16 January: Cumbria Police reveal new figures showing that since 2013, 74 religiously motivated hate crimes were recorded, with the biggest spike in 2017, when 34 were recorded. (NWE Mail, 16 January 2020)

16 January: Police appeal for information after a couple and a child were racially abused by a man in Chesterfield town centre, Derbyshire on 9 January. (Derbyshire Times, 16 January 2020)

17 January: A 39-year-old man is charged with racially abusing and assaulting a 55-year-old man in the Blairhill area of Fife on Boxing Day. (The Courier, 17 January 2020)

18 January: Benefits investigator Natalie Green is dismissed after calling Asian police officers ‘DC Chapati’, ‘PC Poppadom’ and ‘JF’ (Johnny Foreigner). (The Mirror, 18 January 2020)

18 January: Police seek two men after an incident of racist abuse and assault in Dundee on 15 January. (The Courier, 18 January 2020)

21 January: A 30-year-old man is arrested following a report of racially aggravated assault at a pub in Birkenhead (Merseyside Police, 21 January 2020)

21 January: An investigation is launched after an incident, described as racially aggravated, occurs outside Morrison’s supermarket in Carlisle. (ITV News, 21 January 2020)

22 January: An investigation is launched following the religiously aggravated abuse and assault of a women wearing a hijab, whilst she was with her daughter and granddaughter in a Tesco carpark in Bournemouth. (Somerset Live, 22 January 2020)

24 January: The words ‘Juden Hier’ (Jews Here) and a Star of David are daubed on the door of the home of the son of Holocaust survivor, in the northwestern Italian town of Mondovi. The son of resistance fighter Lidia Rolfi had just published an article in the local newspaper to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. (Reuters, 24 January 2020)

25 January: Two shopkeepers from Edinburgh’s Niddrie district are ambushed in a car park by a gang of  around twenty teenage thugs armed with crowbars and kitchen knives, and shouting “P*** b*******” and ‘Why did you come to this country?’ The brothers say they have been subjected to violence for the last two months,  reporting it to the police every day. (Daily Record, 25 January 2020)

26 January: Anti-Semitic graffiti including swastikas, white power slogans and symbols depicting the Star of David, are found daubed on local shops in Greenwich and Blackheath, London. (This is local London, 26 January 2020)

27 January: A 37-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated harassment following the racial abuse and assault of a police officer in Brighton. (Police Professional, 27 January 2020)

27 January: At Glasgow Sheriff court, a 24-year-old woman admits to a racially aggravated assault on a taxi driver in Glasgow in September 2019. (Glasgow Live, 27 January 2020)

28 January: Two teenage boys are arrested and charged following the racial abuse and assault on two men, aged 39 and 49, whilst they were working in a shop in Edinburgh. (Edinburgh Live, 28 January 2020)


The calendar was compiled with the help of Laura Wormington, Aisha Rana-Deshmukh, Graeme Atkinson and Ifhat Shaheen-Smith.

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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