Calendar of Racism and Resistance (28 February – 14 March 2023)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (28 February – 14 March 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

28 February: The House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs committee criticises government policies on family migration as complex and inconsistent, with delays and deterrent financial requirements and fees forcing families to live apart. (Guardian, 28 February 2023)

2 March: Maya Esslemont, director of After Exploitation, calls for an urgent investigation into the disappearance of 566 suspected or confirmed victims of trafficking from the UK and abroad, after being referred to the national referral mechanism between 2020 and 2022. (Guardian, 2 March 2023)

2 March: A new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, Praxis and Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit calls for the ‘punishing, exploitative’ 10-year route to settlement, affecting 170,000 people, to be capped to 5 years to reduce hardship and insecurity. (Morning Star, 2 March 2023)

7 March: As it emerges that Afghan citizens are now the largest group of small boat refugees, the government introduces the Illegal Migration Bill to ban those arriving in the UK in small boats from claiming asylum or ever obtaining British citizenship, and imposing a duty on the home secretary to remove them. (Independent, 7 March 2023) 

8 March: Women for Refugee Women publish See us, believe us, stand with us, describing the additional challenges LBTQ women and non-binary people face seeking asylum, including routine disbelief and demands to ‘prove’ their sexuality. (Women for Refugee Women, 8 March 2023) 

Borders and internal controls

1 March: German sea rescue organisations issue a statement accusing the government of hindering their mission through prohibitive costs and higher standards of safety outlined in a proposed new Ship Safety Ordinance (Deutsche Welle, 1 March 2023)  

2 March: Italian prosecutors begin investigating why the coastguard failed to prevent the deadly shipwreck on the Calabrian coast on 25 February, which killed at least 68 migrants. (France 24, 2 March 2023)  

5 March: Over 2,500 victims of serious crime including victims of child sexual abuse, trafficking, slavery and domestic violence were reported to immigration enforcement by police between 2020 and 2022, Home Office documents reveal. (Guardian, 5 March 2023)

6 March: Since MSF pulled out citing concerns about migrant welfare, and AI described policy at the Latvia-Belarus border as akin to ‘torture’, the Latvian border has emerged as a ‘no man’s land’ where up to three people could be dying each month, according to one migration researcher. (Euronews, 6 March 2023)

6 March: An investigation by El País and Solomon reveals that over the past six years, border guards in Greece robbed refugees and asylum seekers of €2 million. (El País, 6 March 2023)

6 March: A Greek court sentences Egyptian fisherman H Elfallah to 280 years for human smuggling, after the man, a migrant crossing from Libya with his son, helped steer the dilapidated boat in exchange for a reduction in the cost of the voyage. (Euronews, 8 March 2023)

8 March: The appeal of four of the Moria 6 against their conviction on charges of arson arising out of the 2020 Moria fires, scheduled for 6 March, is postponed for a year by the court in Myteline, Lesvos, Greece, thwarting defence plans to present new evidence, with the defendants remaining in prison. (Legal Centre Lesvos press release, 9 March 2023)  

10 March: France and the UK agree a package to stop small-boat channel crossings, whereby the UK will contribute £478m (€541m) over three years, funding a detention centre and doubling the number of personnel deployed to northern France. (Guardian, 10 March 2023) 

Reception and detention

2 March: La Cimade says ‘human rights are systematically violated’ in France’s administrative detention centres where undocumented migrants including children were found to be illegally detained in over half the cases in which the charity intervened in January. (Le Monde, 2 March 2023)

8 March: Foreign secretary James Cleverly criticises Home Office plans to house 1,500 asylum seekers at a ‘remote’ and inaccessible former RAF base in his north Essex constituency, which is claimed to have a high risk of containing undetonated explosives, likely ground contamination and a risk of asbestos and leaking tanks. (Guardian, 8 March 2023, Express, 10 March 2023)

9 March: A report by the Dutch Education Inspectorate criticises family shelters for rejected asylum seekers for providing an ‘unsafe environment’ for children who have few opportunities to develop. (Netherlands Times, 9 March 2023)

11 March: In Brussels, Belgium, some 60 displaced people are issued with an eviction notice for the building they have squatted since their evacuation from their tents a few weeks ago, with no further or satisfactory rehousing measures for around 50 of them. (Brussels Times, 11 March 2023)

ELECTORAL POLITICS | GOVERNMENT POLICY

2 March: After a week of protests and many arrests, the Norwegian government apologises to the Sami community for the construction of huge wind turbines on the Fosen peninsula that violated reindeer herders’ human rights. (News in English, 2 March 2023)

5 March: In the Estonian general election, the far-right EKRE party, which campaigned to stop accepting refugees from the Ukraine and demanded cuts to immigration to protect Estonian workers, gains 16.1% of the vote (17 seats, down 2), and is the second-largest party in parliament. (Guardian, 5 March 2023, Guardian, 6 March 2023)

6 March: As Conservative deputy chair Lee Anderson says he sympathises with anti-asylum protesters, over a dozen trades unions issue a statement accusing the government of complicity in the far-right attacks on asylum hostels and pledging their solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers. (BBC, 6 March 2023; Left Foot Forward, 6 March 2023)

9 March: The Polish education minister says the rise in attempted suicides amongst young people is due to ‘brainwashing’ by LGBT, neo-liberal and neo-Marxist ideologies’ and the answer is more people attending church and helping young people better distinguish between good and evil. (Notes from Poland, 9 March 2023)

9 March: Demonstrators shout ‘Shame’ and throw soft toys as the Italian cabinet arrives in Cutro, Calabria, the location of a recent deadly shipwreck, for a special meeting dedicated to new measures on migration. Later, the prime minister announces she will ‘combat the slavery of the Third Millenium’ through a new crime of ‘people smuggling resulting in death or serious injury’ punishable by up to 30 years in prison. (El Pais, 9 March 2023, ANSA, 9 March 2023)

9 March: European far-right parties and leaders such as Alternative for Germany, the League and Eric Zemmour heap praise on the British illegal migration bill. (Guardian, 9 March 2023)

9 March: Home Office civil servants demand an apology from home secretary Suella Braverman after an email in her name accuses them of being part of an ‘activist blob’ which, along with leftwing lawyers and the Labour party, blocks her anti-migrant legislation. (Guardian, 9 March 2023) 

11 March: In the Hague, Netherlands, PVV leader Geert Wilders tells a Farmers Defence Force and Samen voor Nederland demonstration that the government’s nitrogen policy and forced buyout of farmers is ‘an excuse to drive farmers away and cram a country with thousands of homes for asylum seekers’. (Netherlands Times, 11 March 2023)

11 March: Humza Yousaf, a candidate for leadership of the Scottish National Party, admits that he had to speak to the police after facing racist abuse both on social media and in person. (Independent, 11 March 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.

2 March: Attacks on asylum hostels and reception centres in Germany, including physical violence to staff and residents, increased in 2022 for the first time in seven years, to 121, from 70 the previous year, according to interior ministry figures. Most were reportedly carried out by the far Right. (InfoMigrants, 2 March 2023)

3 March: In Germany, Andreas S, a member of the far-right Citizens of the Reich movement, is charged with violations of firearms laws after a large arsenal of weapons was seized from his home in Munich. (Deutsche Welle, 3 March 2023)

3 March: In Bangor, Co. Down, Ireland, far-right protesters demonstrate outside a hotel housing asylum seekers. (Twitter, 3 March 2023)

4 March: In Florence, Italy, 20,000 people march in support of students at the Michelangiolo high school assaulted by members of the Azione Studentesca group. The education minister reprimands the principal of a neighbouring school, Annalisa Savino, for an open letter warning of the dangers of fascism. (VNY, 4 March 2023, Italy24, 4 March 2023)

10 March: Matthew Patterson from Kettering, who collected Nazi memorabilia and posted racist tweets about Black Lives Matter, is given a suspended sentence after being found guilty of collecting information for terrorist purposes. (Northants Live, 10 March 2023)

11 March: An anti-refugee march in Dublin, Ireland, blocks the road on one of the biggest public transport routes in the capital. (Irish Independent, 11 March 2023)

11 March: In Greece, the DiEM25 party describes an assault in a restaurant in central Athens on former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis as a ‘brazen fascist attack’, with Varoufakis describing his assailants, who broke his nose, as ‘thugs on hire’. (Politico, 11 March 2023)

10 March: After Turning Point UK announce a protest against a non-existent drag storytime event at The Great Exhibition pub in East Dulwich, south London, a counter protest involving local people and LGBT+ activists is organised. (BBC News, 10 March 2023)

Counter-protesters outside The Great Exhibition pub in South-East London

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Cases of police racism and sexism – and the way they are dealt with – are often linked, and as a reflection of this, this section includes information on police misogyny.

6 March: Following the conclusion of criminal proceedings against former Met police officer Wayne Couzens, the Independent Office for Police Conduct publishes the Operation Argens investigation report which details actions taken against a WhatsApp group involving Couzens and six other police officers sharing racist, homophobic and other harmful content. (IOPC, press release, 6 March 2023)

7 March: Research by ‘Missing People’ shows that cases of missing Black and Asian people are less likely to be resolved by police than those involving white people, and that people of colour are less likely to be flagged as being at risk because of their mental health or risk of child sexual exploitation. (Guardian, 7 March 2023)

8 March: A Metropolitan police officer is given a final written warning for a ‘degrading’ strip search of a woman in Lewisham, south London in May 2020. (News Shopper, 8 March 2023)

11 March: Black trainee solicitor Eldred Taylor-Camara reveals that in October he was stopped by five British Transport police officers for ‘looking suspicious’ on his way to visit a client at HMP Lewes, East Sussex. Police claim he fitted the description of a drug dealer. (Independent, 11 March 2023)

12 March: In Greece, 4 police officers responsible for guarding and transferring detainees  are arrested, accused of beating and torturing a detainee, believed to be either a migrant or a foreigner. (Ekathimerini, 12 March 2023)

13 March: In Belgium, the trial of eighteen members of an elite university fraternity allegedly implicated in the death of black student Sanda Dia reconvenes after an 18-month adjournment. (Guardian, 13 March 2023)

14 March: A police report from 1983 reveals that  Special Branch spied on elected members of the Greater London Council whose efforts to improve police accountability were deemed ‘subversive’, as  well as groups such as Inquest and the Institute of Race Relations. (Morning Star, 14 March 2023)

HUMAN RIGHTS AND DISCRIMINATION

28 February: Bond, the network of international development organisations, launches Anti-racism and decolonising, mapping systemic racism across the field and suggesting ‘steps for decolonising’ it. (Bond, 28 February 2023)

7 March: The day before the UN Economic, Social and Cultural Rights committee begins its periodic review of the state of rights in the UK, a letter by over 60 rights groups warns of the alarming erosion of universal human rights there. (Open Democracy, 7 March 2023)

EDUCATION

13 March: Academics, students and NGOs address an open letter to KU Leuven urging the university to scrap a debate on migration involving the Vlaams Belang’s Filip Dewinter, on the ground that his support for the great replacement conspiracy theory normalises racism. (Brussels Times, 13 March 2023)

HOUSING | POVERTY | WELFARE

1 March: New data from the Food Foundation shows that the number of UK children in food poverty has nearly doubled in the last year to almost 4 million, strengthening the demand for an expansion in free school meals. (Food Foundation, 1 March 2023)

7 March: A new report by Save the Children reveals that every fourth child, almost 200 million children in the EU, are at risk of poverty, with children from migrant backgrounds, refugees, asylum-seekers, undocumented and unaccompanied children amongst the hardest hit. (Deutsche Welle, 7 March 2023)

9 March: Research by Shelter finds that over a third of children from the almost 100,000 households placed in temporary housing have missed more than a month of school due to the disruption caused by being placed miles away from their original home. (Guardian, 9 March 2023) 

13 March: A Citizens Advice briefing on the racialised impacts of the cost of living crisis reveals that ‘people of colour’ are more likely to access emergency support than white people; and that both Black and Asian groups are more likely to seek debt support. (Citizens Advice, 13 March 2023)

EMPLOYMENT | EXPLOITATION | INDUSTRIAL ACTION

1 March: The hearing begins of a claim of indirect discrimination in subcontracting practices, brought by 80 Black, brown and migrant cleaning staff against Great Ormond Street Hospital, which marks the first time an NHS Trust faces a court case based on claims of institutional racism. (Freedom, 2 March 2023) 

4 March: Vodafone’s outsourced migrant worker cleaners, organised by the Independent Workers of Great Britain, mount a protest outside the company’s Oxford Street store demanding fair pay and sick pay. (Freedom, 7 March 2023)

IWBG cleaners branch protest outside Vodafone, shutting down the store. Credit: IWBG Cleaners

6 March: MPs and peers in the Joint Human Rights Committee call on the government to withdraw anti-strike legislation which it warns breaches free association rights. (Guardian, 6 March 2023)

7 March: The TUC, the Equality Trust, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and Runnymede Trust issue a joint statement warning that the government’s proposed Strikes Bill represents ‘a huge step backwards for tackling racism at work in Britain’ and will disproportionately impact BME workers, who are overrepresented in the sectors affected by the legislation. (TUC, 7 March 2023) 

8 March: A Race Audit Report commissioned by Woolwich-based charity Metro reveals that the organisation’s BME employees face disproportionate workloads and racial harassment at work. (853, 29 March 2023) 

9 March: The Equality and Human Rights Commission criticises the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill for failing to meet the UK’s human rights and anti-discrimination obligations. (Politics.co.uk, 9 March 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.

28 February: Wroxham FC members report crowd members shouting racist and homophobic abuse at players during a Norfolk Senior Cup match against AFC Emneth in Wisbech. (Norwich Evening News, 28 February 2023)

3 March: A new Statewatch analysis shows how increasingly restrictive EU migration policy impacts on freedom of the press and access to information, with journalists and NGOs vilified, fined, arrested and sometimes prosecuted for documenting states’ malpractices against migrants. (Statewatch, 3 March 2023)

Image: Top Secret sign Credit: Vs Heidelberg Photos

7 March: In Norway, the president of the Sami parliament is amongst Sami and environmental activists subjected on social media to ridicule, harassment and death threats, after demonstrating against wind turbines on Sami ancestral land. We will ‘gut’ the demonstrators alongside their reindeer, one message read. (News in English, 7 March 2023)

10 March: BBC Match of the Day presenter and former England footballer Gary Lineker is suspended for commenting that the Illegal Migration Bill is ‘immeasurably cruel … directed at the most vulnerable people in language not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s’. (Guardian, 10 March 2023, Guardian, 8 March 2023)

8 March: Ngozi Fulani temporarily steps down as CEO of Sistah Space following abuse she and the charity received as a result of an incident involving a  Buckingham Palace aide last November. (Independent, 8 March 2023)

10 March: The Spanish football league files a seventh complaint with authorities after Vinicius Junior was racially abused in a match between Real Madrid and Real Betis. (Independent, 10 March 2023) 

11 March: The BBC puts out a shortened Match of the Day with no commentary or interviews following a solidarity boycott by presenters and some footballers, as support for Lineker’s stance increases. (Liverpool Echo, 11 March 2023, Observer, 12 March 2023)

13 March: Gary Lineker is reinstated in the face of the huge public backlash against his suspension, as the BBC apologises and says it will review its ‘confusing’ social media policy for freelancers. (Reuters, 13 March 2023) 

14 March: 24-year-old Antonio Neill from Blyth is banned from every English football stadium for three years for racially abusing Brentford’s Ivan Toney on social media, the first ban under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, by Newcastle magistrates. (Guardian, 14 March 2023) 

14 March: Maggie Alphonsi is appointed to the independent review of racist, sexist, and homophobic culture within the Welsh Rugby Union. (Independent, 14 March 2023) 

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

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

3 March: In Scotland, a 68-year-old woman is convicted of racially abusing an Asian woman in July 2022. Elgin Sheriff Court places her under court supervision for one year. (The Northern Scot, 3 March 2023)

3 March: Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle faces a five-day suspension from Parliament following an investigation into abusive and racially inappropriate comments made at the Commons bar on 31 January and 1 February 2022. He is already suspended from the Labour Party. (Morning Star, 3 March 2023)

3 March: Police arrest a 32-year-old man on suspicion of common assault and racially aggravated public order offence after he intervened in an altercation involving another man at a bus stop in Brighton. (The Argus, 5 March 2023)

3 March: A 40-year-old man from Winsford is convicted of threatening one police officer and racially abusing another on 2 September 2022. Chester Magistrates’ Court sentences him to eight weeks in prison and orders him to pay a £154 surcharge upon his release. (The Standard, 7 March 2023) 

5 March: A man in his 30s is racially abused and assaulted by an unknown male aggressor in a Blandford pub. (Dorset Echo, 5 March 2023) 

6 March: A 30-year-old Bradford woman is found guilty of racially aggravated harassment after abusing a police officer on 6 February 2022. Keighley Magistrates’ Court orders her to pay a total of £379 in fines and charges. (Telegraph & Argus, 18 March 2023)

6 March: Tameside magistrates impose a community order requiring 20 days of rehabilitation activity and £280 in total charges on a 38-year-old woman for a racially aggravated assault on a man in Oldham committed on 26 May 2021. (The Oldham Times, 12 March 2023) 

10 March: In Cyprus, a video released on social media shows students at the Leivadia school in Larnaca hurling racist insults, throwing schoolbags and a chair at a Congolese student, 14, as a teacher nonchalantly walks by. The education ministry investigates. (Cyprus Mail, 10 March 2023)

11 March: A 19-year-old man is charged with two public order offences, drunkenness at a sports ground and breach of a Football Banning Order after allegedly shouting racist and homophobic abuse at a Gillingham-Exeter City match at Priestfield Stadium on 23 August 2022. (Kent Online, 11 March 2023) 

12 March: Two women from Gateshead are found guilty of punching and stamping on a woman’s head in Newcastle on 30 January, with one also facing racially-aggravated assault charges. Newcastle Magistrates’ Court sentences both perpetrators to 16 weeks in jail. (Chronicle Live, 12 March 2023) 

13 March: A 24-year-old man is convicted of racially abusing staff at an Inverness newsagent’s on 3 January. Inverness Sheriff Court places him under supervision for one year and orders him to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work. (Inverness Courier, 13 March 2023) 

13 March: A 44-year-old man is convicted of racially aggravated assault after punching and directing racist comments at a pizza delivery worker on 14 August 2022. Teesside Magistrates’ Court orders him to pay a £733 fine and £428 in court charges. (Teesside Live, 14 March 2023) 

13 March: An unidentified man commits a racially aggravated public order offence in an ASDA shop in Stanley. (The Northern Echo, 17 March 2023)

14 March: Suffolk Police announce that an arson attack committed on 1 January, in which a car was set alight in Bungay and a racist letter was sent to the victim’s family, is being treated as a hate crime. (Eastern Daily Press, 14 March 2023)

The calendar was compiled with the help of Graeme Atkinson, Margaret McAdam, Sophie Chauhan, Louis Ordish and Joseph Maggs. Thanks also to ECRE, the Never Again Association, Stopwatch and The Week in Work, 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.


Image: Protest against the government’s anti-refugee bill outside parliament. Credit: JCWI


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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