Calendar of Racism and Resistance (22 September – 10 October 2023)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (22 September – 10 October 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  

29 September: Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic establish a new task force, headed by Europol’s EMPACT program, to tackle ‘inhumane smuggling crime’ and ‘illegal immigration’. (Politico, 29 September 2023) 

2 October: Analysis of Home Office statistics in a Refugee Council report demonstrates that 74 per cent of people crossing the Channel in small boats in 2023 would be recognised as asylum seekers. (Guardian,2 October 2023) 

2 October: The EU data protection office launches an investigation into Frontex after it emerges that it shared personal data about NGO staff, gathered during interviews with migrants, with Europol on at least six occasions. The term ‘NGO’ appears in over 1,000 Frontex smuggling documents. (EU Observer, 2 October 2023) 

2 October: The police investigation into the explosion outside a Liverpool hospital in November 2021 finds that the perpetrator, who blew himself up with a homemade device, had poor mental health and was distraught that his asylum claim had been refused.  (Guardian, 2 October 2023) 

3 October: The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission takes legal action against the government’s Illegal Migration Act, arguing that it breaches Article 2 of the Windsor Agreement not to dilute the human rights provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. (BBC News,3 October 2023) 

4 October: The Home Office increases the cost of settlement and citizenship visas by 20 per cent; work, student and visitor visas rise in cost by 15 per cent; and the health surcharge is set to increase by 66 per cent at an unconfirmed date. (The Statesman, 4 October 2023) 

4 October: EU countries agree a ‘burden-sharing’ deal whereby ‘frontline’ states such as Italy will move asylum seekers swiftly to other member states; Poland and Hungary describe the deal as a ‘diktat’ and ‘rape’ respectively. (Guardian, 4 October 2023, Guardian, 6 October 2023) 

5 October: The Bevan Foundation’s Access to Justice report finds Wales has lost half of its immigration advice capacity as a firm responsible for 47 per cent of cases in Wales is forced to close its office in Cardiff and is unable to refer to other providers. (The Justice Gap, 5 October 2023) 

6 October: A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation urges the Scottish government to set out clear plans to mitigate ‘no recourse to public funds’ rules and end the UK government’s ‘destitution by design’ refugee policies. (Morning Star, 6 October 2023) 

Borders and internal controls 

27 September: In a parliamentary question, the German federal interior ministry concedes that maritime equipment gifted to the Tunisian coastguard has been used in crimes such as stealing the engines of migrants’ boats, putting refugees at risk of drowning. (Digit Site, 27 September 2023) 

 27 September: Germany ramps up border controls with Poland and the Czech Republic in response to increasing numbers of asylum seekers and in order to ‘put maximum pressure on smugglers and protect people’. The Bavarian premier calls for an annual upper limit of 200,000 asylum seeker entries. (Deutsche Welle, 27 September 2023) 

28 September: SOS Méditerranée wins the 2023 Right Livelihood award, known as the alternative Nobel Prize, for saving an estimated 40,000 migrants’ lives at sea. (Euronews, 28  September 2023) 

Credit: SOS MEDITERRANEE France

 29 September: According to UNICEF, between June and August, at least 990 migrants were shipwrecked in the central Mediterranean, with three times as many dying or disappearing this summer than in the same period in 2022. (Euronews, 29 September 2023) 

Reception and detention 

28 September: Flintshire council rejects Home Office plans to use Northop Hall Country House to accommodate asylum seekers. (BBC News, 28 September 2023) 

28 September: At least eight asylum seekers are on hunger strike at the Wethersfield accommodation centre in a protest against poor conditions. (BBC News,28 September 2023)  

28 September: After being granted refugee status, receiving seven days’ notice to leave Home Office hotels and being left without allowances, two men become homeless and begin to camp outside West Berkshire council offices. The British Red Cross estimates that 53,100 refugees will be at risk of homelessness and destitution this winter as the asylum backlog begins to clear and seven-day eviction notices are given. (BBC News, 28 September 2023; Independent, 5 October 2023)    

4 October: HM Inspectorate of Prisons finds 44 per cent of detainees at Yarls Wood detention centre have suicidal thoughts; 41 per cent of men and 23 per cent of women feel unsafe, while several are held for months despite being declared unfit for detention. Two staff members are found to have sexually harassed detainees. (Independent, 4 October 2023)  

5 October: Despite West Lindsey District Council issuing a stop notice and an enforcement notice to the Home Office to halt the conversion of RAF Scampton into an asylum centre and have the site restored to its previous condition, works continue. (BBC, 5 October 2023) 

Deportations 

27 September: A subject access request reveals that while processing his application to stay in the UK, the Home Office mistakenly confused Ranjit Singh with three other men with the same name and thus made illegitimate efforts to deport him. (Guardian,27 September 2023) 

8 October: Three international students at Coventry University face deportation for being unable to upload their final online assessments on time due to a technical glitch. (Guardian, 8 October 2023)  

Crimes of solidarity 

1 October: The home of refugee campaigner Tony Pierre is raided by immigration enforcement officers without a warrant. (Guardian,1 October 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. 

27 September: In the run-up to the Polish general election, the Never Again Association warns that Ukrainians are now seen by the Right as a threat to the Polish ‘mono-ethnic state’, and the hashtag ‘Stop the Ukrainisation of Poland’ is promoted by the Confederation Alliance. (Al Jazeera, 27 September 2023) 

27 September: In advance of the Slovakian general election, nationalist and nominally left-leaning candidate Robert Fico (Smer-SSD) promises to immediately impose migration controls at the border with Hungary and end military aid to Ukraine, with speculation that an alliance could be formed with Viktor Orbán. (Al Jazeera, 27 September 2023) 

29 September: Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson asks the military to assist in work against ‘criminal gangs’ after shootings and bombings are linked to the recruitment of teenagers in disadvantaged immigrant neighbourhoods, which he blames on the previous government’s ‘irresponsible’ migration and integration policies. (Euronews, 29 September 2023)  

1 October: In Slovakia, Robert Fico (Smer-SSD) wins the general election with 23.3 per cent of the vote and is expected to start coalition talks with the Hlas party and the far-right  Slovak National Party. The neo-Nazi Republika party fails to cross the five per cent parliamentary threshold. (Euronews, 1 October 2023) 

3 October: In the lead-up to regional elections in Bavaria, Germany, Jewish leaders warn that support for AfD is increasing, blaming it on a recent antisemitism scandal involving the economy minister, who presented himself as a victim of the ‘establishment’. (Euractiv, 3 October 2023) 

3 October: At the Conservative party conference, the home secretary increases her use of anti-immigrant rhetoric, saying the UK is facing a ‘hurricane’ and ‘surge’ of ‘millions’ of migrants whilst attacking the ‘dense net’ of human rights legislation and the ‘bleating’ third sector. (Independent, 4 October 2023)  

5 October: Polish opposition parties call for an investigation into illegal campaign financing after the Post Office distributes ‘Your Referendum Voice’, produced by the Independent Media Foundation, which in the past has been funded by the prime minister’s office. The tabloid-style pamphlet calls for a vote against ‘the invasion of illegal immigrants’. (Notes from Poland, 5 October 2023) 

5 October: In Germany, after the Bavarian AfD claims that its leader, Tino Chrupalla, was rushed to hospital after a ‘violent incident’ on the election campaign trail, the police issue a statement saying that there is no evidence that he was attacked. (Deutsche Welle, 5 October 2023) 

7 October: Research by Hope not Hate reveals that two thirds of Londoners find Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall’s social media activity racist and many think her unable to ‘fairly represent’ the city’s diverse population. (Guardian, 7 October 2023) 

8 October: Germany’s AfD makes landmark gains outside its traditional eastern strongholds, emerging in second place in Hesse (18.4 per cent) and third place (14.6 per cent) in Bavaria. (Politico, 8 October 2023) 

8 October: In an interview on the BBC programme Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Labour leader Keir Starmer says he will ‘axe’ the Rwanda policy if Labour wins power. (Independent, 8 October 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. 

27 September: In Germany police raid 26 apartments belonging to members of Artgemeinschaft, a neo-Nazi group known for their attempts to radicalise children. (Guardian, 27 September 2023)  

29 September: It emerges that the public prosecutor had warned that medical student Fouad L. was not a fit applicant for the Erasmus University hospital before he shot dead three people in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Far-right propaganda had been found on his phone, and comments about Jewish and Black people on 4Chan indicated his support for conspiracy theories and the far-right electoral party Forum for Democracy. (Guardian, 29 September 2023; Netherlands Times, 29 September 2023) 

30 September: Prominent figures on the far Right, including Patriotic Alternative leader Mark Collett and Britain First, praise home secretary Suella Braverman’s Washington DC speech in which she warned of the ‘existential challenge posed by illegal migrants.’ (Guardian, 30 September 2023) 

3 October: After local council members from the CDU and AfD block funding for a memorial at the former Nazi camp Stalag 326 in Bielefeld, Germany, the memorial board says it is ‘deeply affected and shocked’ by the decision. (Irish Times, 3 October 2023) 

7 October: A suspected homemade petrol bomb is discovered near the external fence at RAF Scampton, which is likely to become housing for asylum seekers. (Planet Radio, 7 October 2023) 

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

26 September: Ministers consider the use of Pava (pepper) spray to incapacitate children in young offenders’ institutions in England and Wales following demands from the prison officers’ union. When used in adult men’s prisons, the spray is seven times more likely to be used on Black than white prisoners. (Guardian, 26 September 2023) 

29 September: Human rights groups bring a class action suit against the French police’s use of racial profiling, calling for measures to end police identity stops and regulate the targeting of children. (Guardian, 29 September 2023)  

29 September: Home Office figures for police forces in England and Wales find that people self-identified or identified by police as Black were 5.5 times more likely to be subject to a stop-and-search last year, down from 6.2 in a similar period in 2021-22. (Liverpool World, 29 September 2023) 

30 September: CPS data released after a six-month pilot scheme monitoring racial bias in six regional areas reveals that more than half of those prosecuted under joint enterprise are from minority ethnic backgrounds (56 per cent), with Black people (30 per cent) appearing 16 times more likely be prosecuted. Prosecutions of children and young people also show racial bias. (Guardian, 30 September 2023) 

Joint enterprise, ‘gangs’ and racism: time to halt this continued injustice by Becky Clarke

6 October: After policing minister Chris Philp proposes integrating data from the passport office, the immigration and asylum biometrics system and other national databases with the police national database (PNC) for facial images, dozens of MPs and peers join 31 privacy, race and civil rights groups calling for an immediate stop to the use of live facial recognition. (Guardian, 2 October 2023, Guardian, 6 October 2023)  

7 October: The Met increases its patrols in parts of London after a video is widely circulated apparently showing people celebrating Hamas’ attack on Israel and waving Palestinian flags. Suella Braverman tells chief constables that waving a Palestinian flag or freedom chants, as well as expressing support for Hamas, may be illegal, as thousands gather in London to protest Israel’s siege of Gaza. (Guardian, 7 October 2023; Guardian, 8 October 2023; Guardian, 9 October 2023; Guardian, 10 October 2023) 

 9 October: Nearly 1,500 children were reportedly stopped and searched by Sussex police last year, accounting for 27 per cent of searches on all people. (The Argus, 9 October 2023) 

EDUCATION 

28 September: It is revealed that over the past seven academic years, the proportion of undergraduate students reportedly affected by poor mental health has risen from six to sixteen per cent, with women, LGBTQ+ students and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities most severely impacted. (Independent, 28 September 2023) 

30 September: The Department for Education is found to be keeping files monitoring the social media activity of experts critical of aspects of government education policy, information which has been used as a ground to cancel invitations for speakers at events. (Observer, 30 September 2023)  

3 October: Elliot Major, professor of social mobility, says that schools in England must challenge the unconscious bias against children from working-class backgrounds, who should be described as ‘under-resourced’ rather than ‘disadvantaged’. (Guardian, 3 October 2023)  

7 October: According to government data, 11,695 children aged 5 and under were excluded from school in 2021-22. Children in some deprived areas arrive at school not potty-trained and unable to talk properly as a legacy of the Covid lockdown. A lack of early support for struggling families and undiagnosed special educational needs means a larger number of young children cannot cope in the classroom. (Guardian, 7 October 2023)  

9 October: Arif Ahmed, the former Cambridge professor and proclaimed ‘free speech tsar,’ says his role is not to conduct ‘culture wars’ at universities but to ensure debates ‘can be conducted in a vigorous and free way’. (Guardian, 9 October 2023)

HOUSING | POVERTY | WELFARE

5 October: The Home Builders Federation finds that, based on OECD figures, England is now ‘the most difficult place to find a home in the developed world’, with renters paying more than 40 per cent of disposable income on housing. (Guardian, 5 October 2023)

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

28 September: A report from the NHS Race and Health Observatory into inequalities in mental health care for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities calls for healthcare providers and local authorities to consider structural barriers to services, as suicide rates among this group stand at seven times the national average. (NHS Race and Health Observatory, 28 September 2023) 

2 October: Dozens of Greenlandic women who were fitted with a contraceptive coil in the late 1960s without their knowledge or consent are to sue the Danish state. (Guardian, 2 October 2023)

EMPLOYMENT | EXPLOITATION | INDUSTRIAL ACTION

29 September: After more than 200 migrants were discovered working as unpaid labour in appalling conditions during the recent grape harvest in Champagne, France, several investigations are launched into human trafficking. Prefectural orders close down substandard accommodation for Ukrainian, Malian, Mauritanian and Senegalese grape-pickers. (Le Monde, 29 September 2023)

1 October: Three years after Leicester’s garment factories faced international scrutiny, hundreds of garment workers, the majority of whom are South Asian women, gather in Spinney Hill Park to protest job cuts and deteriorating conditions amid factory closures. (LeicestershireLive, 2 October 2023)

2 October: As union leaders warn of the failure of employment law to protect workers from automated forms of exploitation and discrimination, a survey shows that one in five UK employees believe they have been monitored by an employer. (Guardian, 2 October 2023)

2 October: A senior staff member sues the EHRC for alleged racial discrimination and unfair dismissal, claiming that she was punished for ‘doing her job’ by speaking up about race. She cites evidence of structural and institutional racism in health and social care and accuses the EHRC of being a politicised agent of the Conservative government. (Guardian, 1 October 2023; Guardian, 4 October 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.

27 September: A spokesperson for the UN’s human rights office criticises the French government’s decision not to allow French Olympic athletes to compete in headscarves. (Guardian, 27 September 2023)

29 September: Ofcom says its impartiality rules do not prevent GB News from broadcasting an interview of Suella Braverman by Conservative MP Lee Anderson. (Guardian, 28 September 2023)

29 September: The Mail on Sunday agrees to correct an article by Suella Braverman published in April, in which she wrote that ‘the perpetrators of group-based child sexual exploitation’ were ‘“almost all British-Pakistani”’, following a ruling by press regulator Ipso that the claim was misleading. (Press Gazette, 29 September 2023)

29 September: Ahead of state elections in Bavaria and Hesse, Germany, billionaire Elon Musk attacks the government’s handling of ‘illegal migration’ and tweets in support of the far right: ‘Let’s hope the AfD wins the elections to stop this European suicide’. (Reuters, 29 September 2023)

4 October: Pascal Praud, the famous right-wing commentator who hosts a daily debate show on CNews, suggests that the spread of bed bugs in Paris is due to the poor hygiene standards of immigrants entering France. (EuroNews, 4 October 2023)

5 October: Ronald McGregor, a club official for Greenock Cricket Club, is fined £400 and handed a lifetime ban on attending Cricket Scotland matches after pleading guilty to racially abusing umpire Majid Haq. (BBC News, 5 October 2023)

7 October: Fiona Bruce, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Question Time’, apologises to an audience member for identifying him on air as ‘the black guy’ as opposed to describing him in terms of his clothing. (Guardian, 7 October 2023)

7 October: A Millwall fan is arrested in connection with the racist abuse of a Hull City player during a match between the clubs at Millwall’s home ground. (Guardian, 7 October, 2023

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

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

1 October: A woman is charged with the murder of Hubert Brown, a vulnerable 61-year-old Black man believed to be of Jamaican heritage who was stabbed in St Paul’s, Bristol. Police treat it as a ‘race hate crime’. (Independent, 1 October 2023, Independent, 2 October 2023)

5 October: A police officer is referred to the IOPC after Southall Black Sisters criticise the response to a racist assault against Executive Director Selma Taha, who was verbally abused and bitten while with friends on the London Underground. (Southall Black Sisters, 5 October 2023)

5 October: A Home Office report on recorded hate crime in England and Wales in 2022 reveals that hate crimes against transgender people increased by 11 per cent, racially motivated hate crime fell slightly and religiously motivated hate crime rose slightly. Overall, recorded hate crime was down by 6 per cent on the previous year. (Guardian, 5 October 2023)

9 October: Governments in Europe including France, Germany, Spain and the UK bolster security as Jewish groups warn of antisemitic rhetoric online following Hamas’ attacks. (Guardian, 9 October 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. 


Feature image: Thousands gather in London to protest Israel’s siege of Gaza in support of Palestinians on Monday 10th October. Credit: Palestine Solidarity Campaign


The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.