Calendar of racism and resistance (21 December 2018 – 8 January 2019)

Calendar of racism and resistance (21 December 2018 – 8 January 2019)


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 migrant rights

20 December: Amnesty International (Netherlands) apologises for producing a magazine cover featuring an image of a woman reclining on lifejackets, admitting that the image ‘trivialised the suffering and trauma refugees have experienced fleeing their homes, particularly women’. (Guardian, 20 December 2018)

4 January: Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini says that those who help ‘illegal migrants’ ‘hate Italians and will answer to the Law and History’ and calls on the mayors of Florence, Palermo and Naples to resign for refusing to implement his anti-migrant decree and, in the case of the Naples mayor, for offering to rescue the 32 refugees stranded on the shores of Malta (see below). (Euractiv, 4 January 2019)

4 January: Over 100 individuals and migrant support groups working in the Balkans, many of whom experienced war in the 1990s, call on the EU to halt the politics of closed borders and the disregard of migrants’ rights, which lead to the spread of violence, fascism and war, and urge citizens to resist, and to demand that governments live up to obligations to respect human dignity. (Are You Syrious, 4 January 2019)


30 December: As home secretary Sajid Javid declares that 100 people attempting the Channel crossing since Christmas Day amounts to a ‘major incident’, his shadow Diane Abbott accuses the government of ‘exploiting the issue’ and whipping up fear as a way of ‘frightening people’ into voting for its Brexit deal. (Guardian, 31 December 2018)

2 January: Javid claims that migrants attempting to enter the UK from France via the Channel are not ‘genuine asylum seekers’, and threatens that asylum will be denied them to deter others, provoking condemnation by lawyers who point out such a threat is illegal and in breach of the Refugee Convention. (Guardian, 2 January 2019)

3 January: Following Javid’s request for military assistance to patrol the English border, the Royal Navy vessel HMS Mersey is deployed in the Channel to intercept migrants attempting to enter the UK from France. (Guardian, 3 January 2019)

4 January: The Nord and Pas-de-Calais regions of France introduce an ‘action plan’ to counter migration via the English Channel, which will boost security at Boulogne-sur-Mer and Calais ports and increase surveillance at northern coastal points. (The Local, 4 January 2019)

4 January: The Mediterranea collective accuses European ministers of reaching a ‘new record of shame’ after 32 people rescued off the coast of Malta on 22 December remain stranded at sea 14 days later, with the Maltese government allowing the boat to shelter in its shores but not to land. (The Local, 4 January 2019)

6 January: Anti-racist campaigners in Kent organise a vigil in the town’s harbour to welcome refugees. (Independent, 7 January 2019)

Reception and detention

20 December: The inquest into the death of 35-year-old Polish man Michal Netyks in HM Prison Altcourse, Liverpool in December 2017, returns a verdict of suicide, aggravated by the threat of deportation. Senior coroner André Rebello criticises the Home Office and calls for an investigation after it provided partially redacted notes which indicated that senior management had deleted records relating to Netyks’ death. (Guardian, 21 December 2018)

21 December: The Danish parliament approves a plan to hold ‘foreign criminals’ who have completed their sentences but cannot be deported, on an island close to Copenhagen which is used by scientists to research contagious diseases and experiment on animals. (Guardian, 21 December 2018)

A protest calling for the closure of Yarl's Wood detention centre on 12 March 2016. © Nilüfer Erdem
A protest calling for the closure of Yarl’s Wood detention centre on 12 March 2016. © Nilüfer Erdem

26 December: A Guardian investigation, using figures obtained through freedom of information requests, reveals that ambulances are being called to immigration detention centres across England up to ten times a week to deal with suicide attempts, self-harm, overdoses and other problems. As data was only obtained from around half of all detention centres, the figure is potentially an underestimate. (Guardian, 26 December 2018)

4 January: A video emerges showing a five-year-old Syrian refugee at the Sjælsmark Departure Centre at the Zealand facility in Denmark being refused broccoli and potatoes, told that this type of food is only given to smaller children whose teeth have not come through, and offered a banana and salad instead. (The Local, 4 January 2019)

7 January: Forty refugees in the Diavata camp in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, form a barricade to protest the desperate winter living conditions, with a truck driver and a refugee injured when a driver attempts to break through the barricade. (Ekathimerini, 7 January 2019)

8 January: A 24-year-old man from Cameroon is found dead at the Moria refugee camp in Lesvos. Those who knew him say he died as a result of exposure to the extreme cold and that since the end of December, electricity at Moria only works sporadically, and persistent power cuts have rendered heating units useless. (Lesvos Solidarity, 8 January 2019)

Immigration Enforcement

6 January: The Court of Appeal upholds the legality of Operation Nexus, the partnership between the police and the Home Office for the purpose of immigration enforcement, in an appeal brought by the AIRE centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe). (Free Movement, 6 January 2019))


25, 26 December: Home Office attempts to schedule deportations for Christmas Day and Boxing Day are thwarted by successful campaigns in support of Otis Bolamu, a 38-year-old asylum seeker from the DRC, who remains in detention at Brook House, Gatwick, and a 29-year-old trafficking victim detained at Yarl’s Wood. (Guardian, 23, 27 December 2018)

29 December: Nigerian airline Max Air threatens to end its business in the UK after one of its pilots, Captain Adam Dilli Ibrahim, is arrested by immigration officials as a suspected stowaway and threatened with deportation. (Independent, 29 December 2018)

Crimes of solidarity

20 December: Swedish journalist Fredrik Önnevall, his cameraman and his interpreter lose their appeal against a people-smuggling verdict, but the sentence is reduced, with the court accepting that their motive for helping a young refugee boy enter Sweden was humanitarian. (The Local, 20 December 2018)

Stansted 15

8 January: Lawyers for the Stansted 15 accuse the attorney general and the Crown Prosecution Service of abuse of power as well as failure to fully disclose documents as they launch an appeal against their convictions on a terror-related charge on the grounds that the judge was biased in his summing up, that he should have allowed the jury to consider the defence of necessity, and that he got the law wrong about what the offence actually constitutes. (Guardian, 8 January 2019)


2 January: An investigation finds that many of the 82 victims of forced marriage, including four young British women imprisoned and tortured at a ‘correctional religious school’ in Somalia, have been charged by the Foreign Office for their repatriation and related costs. (Guardian, 2 January 2019)


21 December: An independent panel clears Conservative MP Boris Johnson of breaking the Conservative party code of conduct when he suggested, in a Daily Telegraph column, that women wearing the burqa looked like letter boxes or bank robbers. (Guardian, 21 December 2018)

4 January: Poland’s newly-appointed deputy prime minister, Adam Andruszkiewicz, a former leader of the extreme-right All Poland Youth, describes mounting criticism of the numerous statements he has made against migrants and gays as a ‘scandalous witch hunt’. (Miami Herald, 4 January 2019)

5 January: Romford Tory MP Andrew Rosindell denies a report in The Times that he was part of the ‘Free Tommy’ Facebook group supporting Tommy Robinson when he was in prison for contempt of court. (Daily Mail, 5 January 2019)


20 December: A ‘Boycott Toblerone’ hashtag spreads on social media as the far-right Alternative for Germany claims that the fact that the chocolate company’s Bern factory became halal-certified in early 2018 is proof of the ‘Islamization of Europe’. (, 20 December 2018)

26 December: A neo-Nazi member of Blood and Honour dies when he is hit by a car in the melée which breaks out when ultra supporters of Inter Milan attempt to attack a minibus taking Napoli supporters to a Boxing Day fixture in Milan. (See also Sport below). (Guardian, 27 December 2018)

30 December: Glasgow University and Glasgow Caledonian University issue statements confirming that they have removed ‘illegal’ Generation Identity Scotland recruitment posters that appeared on campus promising to combat ‘ethnomasochistic tendencies’ of students and stand up for ‘patriots’. (The Scottish Sun, 30 December 2018)

3 January: The neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany is believed to be behind the anti-migrant neighbourhood defence groups which sprang up in Amberg, Bavaria, after a group of teenage migrants were arrested at the end of December following a drunken street rampage involving random assaults. (Sputnik News, 3 January 2019)

7 January: Mark Brown, 31, the former leader of the National Front in Northern Ireland, is convicted of a racist attack on a taxi driver in Co. Antrim, with sentencing adjourned until February. (Belfast Telegraph, 8 January 2019)

7 January: Two L’Espresso journalists covering the commemoration at Rome’s Verano cemetery of the killing of far-right activists in 1978, are attacked by Giuliano Castellino, the head of Forza Nuova Rome, and members of the far-right Avanguardia Nazionale. (The Local, 8 January 2019)

8 January: MPs write to the head of the Metropolitan police, demanding more security outside parliament after Conservative MP Anna Soubry is targeted for the second time by pro-Brexit protesters, some of whom, including prominent activist James Goddard, have links to the far Right. Political commentator Owen Jones is also targeted by the so-called gilets jaunes. (Guardian, 8 January 2019)

8 January: The Bremen leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany is seriously injured in an attack that the police are treating as ‘politically motivated’. The AfD says the media and politicians who have stoked up hated against the AfD ‘on a daily basis’ are to blame. (Guardian, 8 January 2019)


December: JENGbA relaunches a political campaign to change the law on joint enterprise after the Court of Appeal refuses three appeals referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission despite the Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that the joint enterprise test was wrongly convicting innocent people. Sign the petition here. (JENGbA Newsletter, Christmas 2018)

22 December: The Mayor of London’s review of the gangs matrix finds that, while the database is necessary to cut violent crime in London, the representation of young black males on the matrix is disproportionate to their likelihood of criminality or victimisation. (Guardian, 22 December 2018)

3 January: The Derby Telegraph reports on the case of international charity worker Ahmed Ali, who says he has been stopped by West Midlands police at Birmingham airport fifty times, the latest incident occurring when he passed through the disabled check-in area to support his grandmother who is in a wheelchair. (Derby Telegraph, 3 January 2019)

8 January: The family of Kingsley Burrell, who died in Birmingham under police restraint in 2011, reschedule a protest march after receiving information that a group of rogue police officers planned to disrupt it. The officers are supporters of PC Paul Adey, who was found guilty of gross misconduct in relation to Burrell’s death and sacked last month. (Morning Star, 8 January 2019)


21 December: The new head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (BfV) announces a plan to expand the capacity of the department monitoring far-right extremism by 50 per cent, suggesting that more than half of Germany’s far-right extremists are ‘violence-oriented’. (WMC5Action News, 21 December 2018)


27 December: Research by the Resolution Foundation on the ethnicity pay gap finds that black and minority ethnic employees are losing out on £3.2bn a year in wages compared with white colleagues, with the gap rising to 17 per cent, or £3.90 an hour, for black male graduates. (Guardian, 27 December 2018)

31 December: Following allegations in November 2018 of bullying, harassment and racism in Hackney council, no councillors turn up to a union meeting ahead of an investigation into the claims. (Hackney Gazette, 31 December 2018)

3 January: Belgian prison teacher Luk Vervaet, who was barred from the country’s prisons for unspecified ‘reasons of national security’ in August 2009, thereby losing his livelihood, is awarded €8,825 damages by the Brussels court of appeal for the manner of his exclusion, but loses his claim for loss of livelihood, the court ruling that the action was reasonable to protect national security. (Le Vif, 3 January 2019)


29 December: Freedom of information data obtained by the Guardian reveals that under local authority ‘reconnection’ policies, 6,810 one-way tickets for travel for rough sleepers were purchased by 83 councils in England and Wales since 2015, with local authorities in the Greater London area buying 4,159 tickets, more than a third of which were for journeys outside the UK, most commonly to destinations in eastern Europe. (Guardian, 29 December 2018)

8 January: Following six years of campaigning by refugee support groups, giant security company G4S loses the asylum housing contract with the Home Office to Serco and Mears. (Telegraph, 8 January 2019)


20 December: Royal Colleges representing over 70,000 doctors call on the government to suspend NHS charges for those without settled status, which they say have a direct impact on individuals’ health, potentially affect public health and damage the doctor-patient relationship and the morale of health professionals. (Guardian, 20 December 2018)


26 December: At an Inter Milan-Napoli fixture, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is subjected to monkey chants for the entire match and then sent off, leading the club manager to criticise the referee’s handling of the game, adding that in future he would consider taking all his players off the pitch, even if it means losing the match. (Guardian, 26 December 2018)

29 December: In a joint statement, European football governing body UEFA and players’ union FIFPros say that the three-step anti-racism protocol was not followed during the Inter Milan-Napoli match, which should have been suspended because of the repeated racist abuse of Koulibaly. (Agence France Presse, 29 December 2018)

8 January: Police appeal for information on a group of twenty Chelsea fans who allegedly sexually assaulted women and engaged in racist chanting on a train from London Paddington to Worcester on 22 December. (Guardian, 8 January 2019)


28 December: People of BAME heritage are invited to contribute to creative writing workshops held across Sussex, organised with Writing My Legacy, with the aim of producing an anthology about living in the UK. (Shoreham Herald, 28 December 2018)

2 January: Independent publishers Knights Of are fundraising to fill a permanent space in Brixton with children’s books featuring BAME lead characters, in a campaign launched to address the lack of BAME representation in children’s books. (Voice, 2 January 2019)


19 December: It is revealed that earlier this year, Oxford professor Nigel Biggar hosted an invitation-only conference on the legacy of colonialism based on Bruce Giley’s article ‘The case for colonialism’, which argues that colonial rule can be legitimate. (Telegraph, 19 December 2019)



23 December: Police appeal for information after a Muslim woman was racially abused by another woman on a bus in the Ruddington area in Nottingham. (Nottingham Post, 23 December 2018)

26 December: A 20-year-old student at Cardiff University is subject to racist abuse at a Marks & Spencer, and calls for stores to improve their way of dealing with such incidents. (Wales online, 26 December 2018)

Attacks on people

22 December: A mother and child flee to safety in a neighbour’s house after their Co. Armagh home was targeted by teenagers in what police have called a hate crime that was ‘simply because of their race and nationality’. (The Irish News 22 December 2018)

28 December: A 28-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated assault and a 25-year-old woman is arrested on suspicion of inflicting grievous bodily harm following an attack on a taxi driver in Shoreham that left him with facial injuries and bruising to the body. (The Argus, 28 December 2018)

1 January: A man is charged with multiple counts of attempted murder after injuring at least five people, some seriously, when he drove his car into crowds celebrating New Year in the German cities of Bottrop and Essen. Police say the motive for the attack was xenophobia and those injured include a Syrian family, a 4-year-old boy and his mother from Afghanistan, a 10-year-old Syrian girl and a 34-year-old German national of Turkish heritage. (Deutsche Welle, 1 January 2019)

4 January: Police appeal for information and release images of a man wanted in connection with a racist attack on a shopper in a Boots in Eastgate, Bristol on 24 December. (Bristol Post, 4 January 2019)

7 January: A gang force their way into a house in Co. Antrim and assault the five Romanian men living there with baseball bats in an incident the police are investigating as a possible hate crime. (Belfast Telegraph, 7 January 2019)

Attacks on property

26 December: Swastikas are daubed on children’s climbing equipment in Pontcanna Fields, Cardiff. (Wales Online, 27 December 2018)

2 January: A swastika is daubed on a wall of Dublin Hebrew Congregation synagogue, Ireland’s oldest active synagogue. (Jewish News, 6 January 2019)


26 December: A Freedom of Information request reveals that 9,407 hate crimes were reported across the rail network between 2015 and the end of May 2018, with fewer than 25 per cent prosecuted. The London Underground network accounted for 30 per cent of all incidents. Religiously motivated hate crimes are rising, with 287 incidents reported last year, and 130 faith-motivated crimes in the first five months of 2018. (Guardian, 26 December 2018)

Thanks to Joseph Maggs and Ifhat Shaheen-Smith for helping to compile this calendar. Thanks also to Graeme Atkinson for assisting in the compilation of the anti-fascism and the far Right section. 

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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