Calendar of racism and resistance (27 November – 12 December 2019)


Calendar of racism and resistance (27 November – 12 December 2019)

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

ASYLUM, MIGRATION, CITIZENSHIP

Asylum and migrant rights

28 November: The Paris Administrative Court orders the agency in charge of immigration and integration (Ofii) to resume negotiations to make phone calls to immigration services are free of charge. The phone call is a compulsory step in the French asylum application process, which is currently out of reach for some due to the cost of calls. (InfoMigrants, 28 November 2019)

3 December: The Public Law Project (PLP) finds that nine in ten initial decisions by the Home Office on EU settlement scheme applications are overturned following successful appeals. The PLP says the Home Office must get every decision right and may have to improve communications to ensure EU citizens apply with correct information. (Guardian, 3 December 2019)

4 December: The Nuffield Trust warns that, with one-quarter of NHS staff born abroad, restrictions on EU nationals and tighter migration policies will exacerbate the NHS staffing shortage and impact on care. (Nuffield Trust, 4 December 2019)

7 December: An elderly woman from Azerbaijan has had ‘urgent’ NHS cancer treatment delayed for months after she was unable to pay a £150,000 upfront charge, despite NHS rules dictating that ‘urgent’ care should be provided to chargeable patients even if they cannot pay upfront. The chair of the BMA Medical Ethics Committee calls for charging and other regulations to be suspended pending ‘a full independent review into their impact on individual and public health and whether they are even fit for purpose’. (Guardian, 7 December 2019)

Reception and detention

29 November: The Irish government announces that 27 asylum seekers will be moved from emergency accommodation into family apartments in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim. Community representatives had originally protested the lack of consultation, but issues have now been resolved. (RTE, 29 November 2019)

29 November: A wheelchair-bound amputee in his 40s in Vial camp, Chios is refused an ambulance by police officers when he feels unwell, and is forced to take a taxi to hospital, where he later dies. He leaves behind a wife and six children. (AYS, 30 November 2019)

29 November: Moroccan authorities continue the illegal detention of 100 men in Arekmane detention centre, held since their arrest in violent raids on the camps and houses hosting refugees in the Nador region on 25 November. According to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), the men are awaiting deportation to their country of origin. (AYS, 30 November 2019)

together we push ©

30 November: In Copenhagen, hundreds of activists demonstrate, calling for the closure of four detention and deportation centres. (Are You Syrious, 30 November 2019)

4 December: A 27-year-old woman dies at the Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos after a fire broke out in a container housing a family of five Afghans. (Ekathimerini, 5 December 2019)

5 December: Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, an aide to Pope Francis, urges Catholic churches across Europe to open their doors to refugees after bringing 33 people to Rome from overcrowded, squalid camps on Lesbos, saying that ‘animals live better in Europe’. (Guardian, 5 December 2019)

6 December: The High Court orders the Home Office to pay £100,000 in damages to a mentally ill Iranian man who was unlawfully held in immigration detention for a total of 838 days, during which time he received no treatment for his bipolar affective disorder and PTSD, but was segregated to ‘manage’ his disturbed behaviour. The man was released after a volunteer from an immigration detainee support group intervened. (Independent, 6 December 2019)

6 December: Bosnian police clear more than 600 people from a camp in Bihac, where asylum seekers had been on hunger strike against inhumane conditions. The authorities, who prohibited journalists witnessing the transfer, say the camp will be closed down within a week and migrants transferred to a barracks in Blazuj, close to Sarajevo. (AnsaMed, 8 December 2019, Deutsche Welle, 6 December 2019)

9 December: A report by Irish migrant rights group Doras Luimní on the privately managed Mount Trenchard direct provision centre in County Limerick calls for its immediate closure, citing serious concerns for the health, safety and wellbeing of residents. (Irish Examiner, 9 December 2019)

10 December: A coroner in north-eastern Greece says that six migrants, four men and two women all under 30, have died of hypothermia near the border with Turkey. Their nationalities are not known, though the two women appeared to be African. (Ekathimerini, 10 December 2019)

The Libyan crisis

28 November: The UN is accused of trying to starve out 400 refugees, including 100 minors, at the Abu Salim detention centre, in Tripoli. The Guardian receives internal documents showing that the UNHCR plans to ‘phase out’ food catering for 600 more refugees. (Guardian, 28 November 2019)

Borders and internal controls

26 November: The Mobile Info Team publish their latest report on illegal pushbacks and evidence of human rights abuses at the Greece/Turkey border. (Mobile Info Team, 26 November 2019)

28 November: A man is shot by Croatian police officers in the Tuhobic mountain border region. The shot injures his shoulder, for which he undergoes surgery in Rejeka hospital. (AYS, 29 November 2019)

29 November: 135 MPs sign a pledge not to use the Home Office’s immigration reporting hotline after a Freedom of Information request by RightsInfo reveals that the number of reports made by MPs to immigration officials has almost doubled over the past two years. Labour’s Preet Kaur Gill says the duty of an MP is ‘first and foremost to represent and assist constituents regardless of immigration status’. (iNews, 29 November 2019)

5 December: The Civil Aviation Authority confirms that drones, flying 1200ft above sea level, will begin searching a large area of the English Channel to monitor migrant boats attempting to reach the south-east of England. The Home Office declines to say who will be operating and providing the drones. (BBC News, 5 December 2019)

5 December: A Russian man is arrested for constructing a fake ‘border post’ at the Russian/Finnish border and charging thousands of euros for people to cross. At least four of the people who were duped have now been detained and served notices to leave the Russian Federation. (Helsinki Times, 5 December 2019

Criminalising solidarity

3 December: Oslo’s former bishop, Gunnar Stalsett, faces jail for employing an Eritrean woman who was denied asylum in Norway. She cannot be deported, but may not legally work, one of over 3,000 people in this situation in Norway. Stalsett defends his actions as ‘civil disobedience’. He will appear in court on 19 December. (Are you Syrious, 3 December 2019)

Deportations

5 December: The Guardian reports that two Nigerian university students, due to return to Lagos after taking part to an international table-tennis competition in Zagreb, Croatia, were arrested by police in November while taking a walk in the capital and deported to Bosnia-Herzegovina where they ended up in a refugee camp. (Guardian, 5 December 2019)

Citizenship

26 November: The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) brings a high court case against the Home Office, arguing that the fee for children to register as British citizens is unlawfully high, and effectively removes many children’s right to citizenship. The PRCBC says the outcome could affect tens of thousands of people in the UK. (Guardian, 26 November 2019)

30 November: The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross criticises Britain’s policy of stripping citizenship from people held in Syria after the fall of Isis, and says Britain should consider repatriating children held with their mothers in overcrowded refugee camps. (iNews, 30 November 2019)

8 December: Human rights groups accuse the Foreign Office of being prepared to hand over British former Isis fighters to the Assad regime, which would be ‘effectively sentencing them to torture, disappearance or summary execution’ according to Reprieve director Maya Foa. (Observer, 8 December 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS – UK

28 November: Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott says the Conservative party is taking a ‘dog-whistle anti-migrant’ position after work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey claims that continued free movement would cost the taxpayer over £4 billion in extra benefit costs over the next ten years. ‘The government’s own Migration Advisory Committee has stated categorically that EU citizens pay more in taxes than they get in benefits,’ says Christine Jardine, the Lib Dems’ home affairs spokeswoman. (Independent, 28 November 2019)

28 November: The Scottish Nationalist Party withdraws its candidate for Kircaldy and Cowdenbeath, and Scottish Labour its candidate for Falkirk, over allegations of antisemitism against both candidates. (The Scotsman,  Guardian, 28 November 2019)

29 November: Green party co-leader Jonathan Bartley is accused of ‘Muslim-bashing’ after he tells BBC Radio Five Live that personally he supports the banning of halal slaughter. (Birmingham Mail, 29 November 2019)

6 December: James Toon, a former deputy mayor of East Staffordshire, resigns from the Conservative party after writing on Facebook that Diane Abbott is ‘giving away free bananas’. (Derby Telegraph, 6 December 2019)

6 December: The Guardian reveals that at least four cabinet ministers have been campaigning in key marginals for Tory candidates accused of Islamophobia. (Guardian, 6 December 2019)

7 December 2019: Calls are made for the suspension of the Conservative election candidates for Hastings, Ashfield, and St Helens South and Whiston, for sharing anti-Semitic content on Facebook about George Soros as well as other instances of anti-Semitism. (Guardian, 7 December 2019)

9 December: Prime minister Boris Johnson is condemned by the 3million campaign for EU citizens after telling Sky News that migrants from Europe have treated the UK like ‘their own’ country for too long. (Guardian, 9 December 2019)

ELECTORAL POLITICS – EUROPE

1 December: In Giessen, Germany, a judge rules that a National Democratic Party (NPD) election campaign poster, blocked by the mayor of Ranstadt in European parliament elections, and reading ‘Stop the invasion: Migration kills’, is a partly accurate description of the reality of ‘historical movements of people’ and therefore does not incite racial hatred. (Deutsche Welle in English, 1 December 2019)

1 December: Around 20,000 people demonstrate in Braunschswieg, as the far-right electoral Alternative for Germany party opens a two-day conference to elect a new leadership. (Deutsche Welle in English, 1 December 2019)

ANTI-FASCISM AND FAR RIGHT

28 November: Following a two-year investigation, Italian police in sixteen towns, from Sicily to the Alps, swoop on nineteen properties, seizing Nazi paraphernalia and weapons including automatic rifles and swords, claiming to have disrupted a plot to form a new Nazi party by extremists with links to Combat 18 in the UK. (Independent, Daily Mail, 28 November 2019)

28 November: In the first ever demonstration organised by Slovak Roma living in the UK, Roma backed by Unite Against Fascism demonstrate outside the Shakespeare pub in the Barbican, where neo-nazis from the ‘Our Slovakia People’s Party’ are meeting. (Morning Star, 28 November 2019)

26 November: Polish prosecutors are criticised for a politically motivated decision after dropping criminal charges against far-right activists who strung up on makeshift gallows photos of Polish MEPs whose liberal views they disagreed with. (Associated Press, 26 November 2019)

30 November: Italy’s youth-driven ‘Sardine Movement’ organises rallies across Italy to protest the politics of Salvini and the nationalist League Party, with 40,000 people gathering in Florence alone. (The Local, 1 December 2019)

1 December: The Bild am Sonntag newspaper reports that an officer in the elite German Special Forces Command unit is suspected of involvement in right-wing extremism. Two former officers are accused of giving the Hitler salute at a private party hosted by the officer, with a total of twenty soldiers now under investigation. (Deutsche Welle in English, 1 December 2019

3 December: Elliott Richards-Good, a 20-year-old Cardiff University student linked to the System Resistance Network, is jailed for sixteen months after admitting eleven offences including stirring up racial hatred and daubing Nazi, racist and homophobic graffiti around Cardiff. (Birmingham Mail, 3 December 2019)

5 December: Far-right terror suspect Andrew Dymock, an alleged member of the System Resistance Network and Sonnenkrieg, appears at Westminster magistrates court and pleads not guilty to twelve terror offices including encouraging attacks online, after his arrest in Bath on 4 December. (Independent, 5 December 2019, BBC News, 6 December 2019)

6 December: Finnish anti-fascists attempt to block a neo-Nazi Soldiers of Odin parade in Helsinki on  Independence Day. Police had already prohibited the neo-Nazi Towards Freedom group (Kohti Vapuatta!), an offshoot of the banned Nordic Resistance Movement, from parading. (Helsinki Times, 6 December 2019)

Far-right concert poster – Madrid

9 December: Anti-fascists in Madrid terminate their relationship with the Sala Caracol after it hosts a Nazi concert despite their pleas to cancel the booking. The owners of the concert hall, which is normally a venue for the left and Latin American groups, say they were duped. (El Pais, 9 December 2019)

POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

30 November: A thousand people take to the streets of Marseilles to remember Zineb Redouane, a woman in her 80s who died after being hit by a police tear gas grenade while watching a protest from the balcony of her fourth floor apartment, on 2 December 2018. (Le Figaro, 30 November 2019)

30 November: Following the London Bridge attack in which three people, including the attacker, died, Boris Johnson promises hardline reforms including mandatory 14-year prison sentences and an end to automatic early release for terrorists and extremist offenders. The Ministry of Justice announces a review of the licence conditions of some 70 terrorists released since 2000. (Observer, 30 November 2019)

2 December: Dave Merritt, father of Jack Merritt, the Cambridge University ‘Learning Together’ coordinator who died in the London Bridge attack, says that his son would be horrified if his death were used to ‘perpetuate an agenda of hate’ where the focus was not on ‘rehabilitation’ but ‘revenge’. (Guardian, 2 December 2019)

5 December: Head of the Scottish Police Authority Susan Deacon resigns, citing a lack of accountability in the force and calling for a ‘better separation between the police service and those who oversee it’. (The Scotsman, 5 December 2019)

5 December: Research organisation Forensic Architecture creates a virtual model of the scene where Mark Duggan was shot dead by police in Tottenham in 2011 which, it argues, proves that the conclusion reached by the official IPPC investigation and the inquest, that Duggan had a gun in his hand and threw it away, was incorrect. (Guardian, 5 December 2019)

5 December: The Court of Appeal overturns the convictions of the Oval Four, four African-Caribbean men arrested in 1972 at Oval tube station, accused of ‘nicking handbags’, beaten in the cells and convicted of theft and assault on the word of a corrupt police officer who was later imprisoned for theft. The Lord Chief Justice regrets the delay in clearing the men’s names. (Guardian, 5 December 2019)

6 December: The High Court overturns a decision of the Police Appeal Tribunal which ruled that although an off-duty police officer’s racist abuse in a restaurant amounted to gross misconduct, she should not be dismissed. The court held the decision unlawful and irrational; the only reasonable outcome after such a finding was dismissal. (UK Human Rights Blog, 9 December 2019)

7 December: Simon Cornwall, the architect of the government programme for reintegrating convicted terrorists, says that the ‘dumbing down’ of rehabilitation, involving a shift from partnerships with community groups and human relationships to a securitised view, is behind the London Bridge attack, and criticises the political response to the attack. (Observer, 7 December 2019)

10 December: A petition is launched to support a priest in Warsaw, Szymon Niemiec, and two of his colleagues, after the chief prosecutor’s office launches charges against them for offending religious feeling by offering ecumenical services to Warsaw’s LGBTQI community prior to the city’s annual Equality march. The priest has been forced to attend a psychiatric examination. (Change.UK, 10 December 2019)

10 December: The Met police decides to fast-track the sacking for gross misconduct of Superintendent Robyn Williams, one of the most senior African-Caribbean officers in Britain, before her appeal against conviction for innocent possession of a child abuse video. The Met’s branch of the Black Police Association earlier said her treatment is an example of institutional racism in the police. (Guardian, 26 November, 10 December 2019)

11 December: Inquest criticises the uncritical ‘natural causes’ verdict returned at the Liverpool coroner’s court on the death of Mzee Shemar Mohammed-Daley, who was 18 years old when he died after being restrained and arrested in July 2016 by security staff and Merseyside police at Liverpool One shopping complex on 13 July 2016.  (Inquest press release, 11 December 2019)

NATIONAL SECURITY

2 December: The High Court grants permission for a legal challenge to the government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into the security services’ alleged complicity in torture and abduction after 9/11. (Reprieve, 2 December 2019)

HOUSING

27 November: Homelessness charities in Glasgow warn that the city faces a ‘homeless crisis’ of asylum seekers this winter as Serco, which runs housing for asylum seekers in Glasgow, begins its planned 20 lock-change evictions weekly of refused asylum claimants. A night shelter worker says up to 150 asylum seekers at a time are ‘making survival decisions, perhaps being forced to sell sex or labour for accommodation, or sofa surfing’. (Guardian, 27 November 2019)

2 December: Denmark’s Ministry of Transport and Housing issues an update of its ‘ghetto list’ of neighbourhoods. The 28 areas listed is one fewer than the previous list, with three neighbourhoods no longer meeting the criteria due to an increase in the average income, a fall in criminal behaviour and a fall in the proportion of ‘non-Western’ people. (The Local, 2 December 2019) 

10 December: A landlord in Germany is forced to pay €1000 in compensation, after he placed an ad for his apartment that would only be leased to ‘Germans’. (The Local, 10 December 2019)

EDUCATION

26 November: The Guardian reports that university staff are resisting Home Office-imposed passport checks and are calling on universities to resist the hostile environment in higher education. (Guardian, 26 November 2019)

27 November: Students at the University of Liverpool hold protests after management claims it is ‘unlawful’ for students to join picket lines of striking UCU teaching staff and that international students would ‘risk jeopardising their visa’ by doing so. Nine external examiners in the school of law resign their roles in protest, accusing Liverpool of misrepresenting the law regarding support for official pickets and of ‘weaponising’ the UK immigration system against visa-holding students. (Guardian, 27, 29 November 2019; iNews, 30 November 2019)

DISCRIMINATION

1 December: The Bavarian constitutional court rules that part of Bavaria’s integration law, which requires migrants to respect the ‘leading’ local culture, violates its constitution. The integration law requires all children in daycare centres to ‘learn central elements of Christian Western culture’. (Deutsche Welle in English, 1 December 2019)

MEDIA AND CULTURE

17 November: Protests against Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in the Netherlands are organised in 18 cities. Counter-protests in Eindhoven and Rotterdam, organised by right-wing supporters, involved dressing up and handing out sweets and political party stickers to children. Elsewhere anti-racists are met with eggs, bananas and some Hitler salutes. (Al Jazeera, 27 November 2019)

25 November: George the Poet reveals that he was offered an MBE but turned it down because of the ‘pure evil’ perpetrated by the British empire. (Guardian, 25 November 2019)

6 December: The Sun fails to apologise after publishing, at the height of the general election campaign, an ‘exclusive story’ and map of Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged left-wing extremist contacts, which linked to information from the anti-Semitic website Millenium Report and the far-right Aryan Unity. The story was subsequently removed. (Guardian, 9 December 2019)

10 December: Artists renew their calls for the LD50 art gallery in Dalston, east London to be shut down, saying the gallery is ‘responsible for one of the most extensive neo-Nazi cultural programs to appear in London in the last decade’. (Insider Financial, 10 December 2019)

SPORT

26 November: Mario Balotelli, who formerly played with Manchester City and Liverpool and now plays for Italy’s Brescia, where he has been the target of racist chants, is the subject of racist comments by the team’s chairman Massimo Cellino. (Sportsnet, 26 November 2019)

5 December: Former Manchester United players Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku, who now play for Roma and Internazionale, condemn the Corriere dello Sport for its headline ‘Black Friday’ ahead of a match between the two teams. The newspaper defends the headline as ‘taking pride in diversity’. (Guardian, 5 December 2019)

7 December: Racist abuse halts a League 2 match between Forest Green and Scunthorpe, with Forest Green saying it will investigate and if necessary issue a lifetime ban to the perpetrator. (BBC News, 8 December 2019)

7 December: A 41-year-old man is arrested and later released on bail over racist abuse against Manchester United players which was caught on video camera during a derby match. A player subject to the abuse was also struck by a lighter thrown from the crowd. The Football Association said it would investigate the incident, while the Premier League said it ‘will not tolerate discrimination in any form’. (BBC News, 9 December 2019)

8 December: Speaking on Sky Sports the day after racist abuse is directed at Manchester United players during a match, football pundit Gary Neville says prime minister Boris Johnson’s anti-immigration rhetoric is fuelling racism, which he says has ‘got worse’ over the past three years. (iNews, 8 December 2019)

10 December: Liverpool FC backs calls by human rights groups for investigations into the deaths of migrant workers constructing Qatar’s football stadium among other deaths, before flying its team there for Fifa’s Club World Cup. (Guardian, 10 December 2019)

10 December: A 13-year-old Burnley supporter is ejected from Tottenham Hotspur stadium and is being investigated for an alleged racist gesture towards Spurs’ Son Heung-min at a premier league match. (Independent, 10 December 2019)

VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

2 December: A report by researchers at the University of Limerick says Ireland is failing to meet its obligations regarding hate crime. It criticises the government for failing to implement recommendations of the UN Committee against Racial Discrimination, for not having clear figures on convictions for incitement to racial hatred, for not clarifying that racial profiling is against the law and for not making available official data on racial profiling. (thejournal.ie, 2 December 2019)

2 December: Figures released by Police Scotland show that the number of racially aggravated hate crimes has dropped to 49 this year from 70 in 2014-15. The statistics are welcomed by the charity Show Racism the Red Card, which however raises concerns that some incidents continue to go unreported. (The Courier, 2 December 2019)

2 December: A spokesperson for Jewish neighbourhood watch group Shomrin criticises the Metropolitan police for its slow response to an assault on a rabbi in Stamford Hill, east London, where the assailants shouted ‘kill Jews’ as they punched him, leaving him bleeding and dazed. (Guardian, 2 December 2019)

2 December: A 20-year-old man from Chigwell is jailed after admitting to harassing and stalking Jewish women because of their religion, and for religiously aggravated robbery of a Jewish man. (Campaign Against Antisemitism, 2 December 2019)

4 December: Over a hundred graves are defaced with swastikas in the Jewish Cemetery near Strasbourg, eastern France. (The Local, 4 December 2019)

4 December: A grenade that is thrown over the wall at a centre for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in north-east Madrid is detonated by police, who evacuate the centre. The leader of the far-right Vox party has consistently blamed its residents for insecurity in the Hortaleza neighbourhood. (Guardian, 4 December 2019)

5 December: A 51-year-old woman in Aberdeen is fined £280 for a racist verbal attack on a woman and man in a laundrette, in which she referred to the woman as a ‘gypsy’, a ‘traveller’ and ‘Irish’. (Evening Express, 5 December 2019)

5 December:  Truro Crown Court jails a man with housing and addiction problems for a variety of attacks on the public, including a racially aggravated assault in which he launched a tirade against a man at Penzance railway station whom he told to go back to Africa and the cotton fields before spitting in his face. (Cornwall Live, 5 December 2019)

8 December: A woman in Sheffield is arrested and later released with a caution following a racially motivated violent attack on a 14-year-old school girl who was wearing a hijab and travelling home from school on the bus. During the attack the woman attempted to strangle the girl with the hijab. (Mirror, 8 December 2019)

10 December: Letters threatening bomb attacks and demanding cash are sent to offices in East Lancashire, signed by a man claiming to be a member of a far-right organisation. One letter sent to Ifthakhar Sawar, a sub-postmaster in Accrington, is addressed to the ‘terrorist postmaster’.  (Asian Image, 10 December 2019)

 

This calendar was compiled by the IRR News team with the help of Laura Wormington and Graeme Atkinson.

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