Calendar of racism and resistance (29 January – 12 February 2020)

Calendar of racism and resistance (29 January – 12 February 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

4 February: Academics warn that the government’s message that the UK is ‘open to global talent’ is being undermined by aggressive and harsh treatment of colleagues seeking visas and settlement. (Guardian, 4 February 2020)

9 February: Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel are to lower the salary threshold for skilled migrants to come to the UK from £30,000 to £25,600, the BBC reports. (BBC, iNews, 9 February 2020)

Reception and detention

28 January: French police conduct another clearance of a migrant camp in Paris. The roughly 1,000 people living near the Porte d’Aubervilliers in northern Paris moved there after a previous clearance of Parisian camps two months ago. (Reuters, 30 January 2020)

29 January: Over 800 Tunisians are stuck in the Spanish enclave of Melilla in north Africa. They have been stuck in inhuman and humiliating conditions for more than 5 months. (Info Migrants, 29 January 2020)

31 January: As the Mount Trenchard direct provision centre in Foynes, Co Limerick closes after repeated complaints about living conditions, FOI requests reveal that at least €13 million in state funds had been spent on it. (Irish Times, 31 January 2020

4 February: Riot police reinforcements are sent to Lesvos following clashes between the security forces and around 2000 asylum-seekers, including mothers and babies who were caught up in the police’s use of tear gas as they protested against overcrowded conditions at the Moria camp, built for 3,000 but containing 20,000 refugees. UNHCR calls on Greece to urgently move thousands of refugees from Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos. (Ekathimerini, 3 February, Guardian, 4, 9 February 2020; Observer, 9 February 2020)

11 February: The European Court of Human Rights orders Hungary – for the 28th time – to stop starving asylum-seekers during their stay in transit zones. Responding to this case brought by the Helsinki Committee, where an Afghan man had to be given food from his pregnant wife and daughter’s portions to survive, the authorities say there is ‘no free lunch for illegal immigrants’. (Euronews, 11 February 2020)

12 February: The Supreme Court rules that the Home Office acted unlawfully in subjecting a migrant to a curfew enforced by electronic tagging, which amounted to false imprisonment. (Supreme Court, 12 February 2020)

Borders and internal controls
Picture of Mawda – anonymous Twitter

29 January: A police officer who opened fire on a van suspected of carrying migrant smugglers, killing a 2-year-old Iraqi Kurd, is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Donate to the family’s legal fees at the Justice for Mawda site here. (Brussels Times, 29 January, InfoMigrants, 31 January 2020)

31 January: The Greek government is criticised for its decision to build a 2.7-km long, 50-metre high floating barrier off Lesvos, extendable to ten miles, to keep migrants from landing there. (Guardian, 31 January 2020)

31 January: Four people are found locked inside a container left at the old train station on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, Greece, after a train company employee, hearing noises from the container, called the police. (Ekathimerini, 31 January 2020)

31 January: Greece increases its border guards at the Turkish border by 400 and installs 11 surveillance cameras along the river Evros. (Ekathimerini, 31 January 2020)

2 February: Eight people trapped in the back of an abandoned refrigerated truck in Geel, Antwerp call the emergency services and are freed. All are taken to hospital where two are treated for hypothermia.  (Brussels Times, 2 February 2020)

6 February: The International Day of Commemoration for people killed and missing on migration routes sees demonstrations across Europe and Africa. Established in 2014 after the deaths of 15 people in Ceuta, this year there are actions in Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Mali, Togo, Cameroon, UK, France and Germany. (Alarmphone, 6 February 2020)

4 February: Full inquests will be opened into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Essex in 2019, Essex county council confirms, following a letter to the Essex coroner from Inquest, Liberty and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, and families are to be provided with all necessary support to participate. (Guardian, 4 February 2020)

7 February: A record number of 102 people in one day are intercepted by UK Border Force while attempting to make the dangerous journey across the Channel on inflatable boats, despite Storm Ciara. (Guardian, 7 February 2020)


7 February: The Home Office admits to a mobile phone outage at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration removal centres since 13 January, preventing detainees from accessing legal advice to challenge removal. The department failed to take remedial action for 23 days, during which charter flights to Nigeria and Ghana and France left the UK, raising questions about whether deportees had effective rights to legal representation. (Independent, 7 February 2020)


7 February: A leaked copy of the Windrush Lessons Learned review recommends that the government should ‘consider ending all deportation of foreign national offenders where they arrived in the UK as children’, which would include several individuals known to have been scheduled for deportation to Jamaica on 11 February (see below). (BBC,  Independent, 7 February 2020)

10 February: MPs debate the Windrush compensation fund amid concerns that only £62,198 has been issued over the past 10 months from a pot expected to distribute up to £570m. So far just over 1,000 people have applied, and only 36 people compensated, although the Home Office believes that as many as 15,000 could be eligible for compensation. (Guardian, 6, 9 February 2020)

@JCWI_UK Twitter

10 February: Prior to a deportation charter flight to take 50 people to Jamaica on 11 February—the second since the Windrush scandal broke in 2018—hundreds of protesters shut down Whitehall, more than 170 MPs sign a letter to PM Boris Johnson, and MP David Lammy says the deportations, preceding the release of the long-awaited Windrush review, amount to ‘institutional racism’. (Metro, 6 February, Independent, 9 February, BBC, Guardian, 10 February 2020)

11 February: After a court ruling prevented the deportation of 25 people, the charter flight to Jamaica leaves with 17 deportees on board, with the prime minister scorning protests as ‘the Westminster bubble’ and proposing a review of the use of judicial review to challenge ministers’ decisions. (Guardian, 11 February 2020)

Criminalising solidarity

5 February: Greek law is amended to make it obligatory for all NGOs with an operational mandate encompassing migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to register with the authorities, informing them of their level of membership and number of employees. Deputy migration minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos accuses some NGOs of ‘behaving like bloodsuckers’ and cooperating with human traffickers, adding that ‘the dark roots of this interest networks must be brought to light’. (Are You Syrious, 5 February 2020)

6 February: Two foreign volunteers from NGO No Name Kitchen (NNK), Adalberto Parenti and Leonie Sofia Neumann, are ordered to leave Serbia following altercations on 25 January and 1 February with members of the nationalist organisation Sokoli (‘the hawks’), who according to NNK, destroyed migrants’ property in an abandoned factory they were living in in Šid, Grafosrem. The court accepted Sokoli’s claim that they were only cleaning the premises at the request of the municipality. (Courier des Balkans, 7 February 2020)

11 February: The Greek authorities say they are scrutinising 20 of the 425 NGOs working with refugees in Greece to see whether they have mismanaged funds, have connections with human trafficking networks, or have incited the recent protests in Lesvos.  (Ekathimerini, 11 February 2020)


30 January: Campaigners protest against the double punishment and double repression of five Muslim men who have been held in pre-trial detention for three months awaiting trial for public order offences arising from the Catalan independence struggle and now are threatened with expulsion to their countries of origin, the US and Morocco. (Barbary Figs, 30 January 2020)

5 February: In the context of the growing refusal to repatriate mothers and children from Syria, the Danish Citizenship Act is amended so that children born to a Danish parent who has unlawfully entered a ‘conflict zone’ will not acquire Danish citizenship by birth. (European Network on Statelessness, 6 February 2020)

7 February: Shamima Begum, who left the UK aged 15 to join Islamic State, loses the first stage of her appeal after a Tribunal upholds the government’s decision to strip of her UK citizenship on the grounds that she ‘is clearly a citizen of Bangladesh by descent’. Liberty says she has been left ‘effectively stateless’. (Guardian, 7 February 2020)


29 January:  Andre Ventura MP, a far-right parliamentarian of Chega (Enough) in Portugal, writes on Facebook that Joacine Katar Moreira, the country’s only black MP, should be  ‘sent back to her country of origin’ after Moreira introduces a bill calling for the return of art works from Portugal’s former colonies. (France 24, 29 January 2020)

4 February: Following projections that Greece’s population will shrink by a third in the next three decades, the hard-right New Democracy government in Greece introduces a €2000 ‘baby bonus’, as a matter of ‘national preservation’ according to a government minister. (Guardian, 4 February 2020)

6 February: The Conservative party rebukes Daniel Kawczynski, Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, for speaking at a National Conservatism conference in Rome addressed by far-right politicians including Marion Maréchal Le Pen, Viktor Orban, and representatives of Brothers of Italy and the Vox party in Spain. (Guardian, 6 February 2020)

8 February: Newly elected Thuringia state premier Thomas Kemmerich announces his resignation after furious protests across the country at the deal that the Free Democrats and Christian Democrats struck with the far-right Alternative for Germany to capture the state premiership. (Guardian, 6 February, Deutsche Welle, 8 February 2020)

10 February: Around thirty anti-immigration and far-right candidates make a dismal showing in the Irish general election, with the best result coming for former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty in Fingal, with 1.97 per cent of the vote, and National Party deputy leader James Reynolds with 1.74 per cent of the vote in Longford-Westmeath. (Irish Times, 10 February 2020)


29 January: More than one hundred people volunteer as the neighbourhood protection group Muhafiz (‘guardian’) is launched after Britain First distributed leaflets and visited mosques, taxi ranks and hotels to warn about grooming of young girls for sex. (Guardian, 29 January 2020)

4 February: Ipswich council takes down approximately 60 white supremacist posters, including signs saying ‘It’s OK to be white’, ‘reject white guilt’ and ‘beware of non-white rape gangs’. (Independent, 4 February 2020)

4 February:  Thierry Baudet, leader of the far-right Forum for Democracy, is investigated by Dutch police for a possible criminal offence after he falsely claimed that two close friends had been ‘seriously harassed by four Moroccans’ on a train journey. (Guardian, 4 February 2020)

6 February: In Lesvos, aid groups say that far-right groups armed with bats and helmets are organising night patrols, beating up migrants and aid workers, including an Afghan girl who was attacked in the fields of Moria and Kara Tepe. After Italian activist Nawal Soufi is ambushed and beaten, the police tell her that her presence is not wanted on the island.  (Are You Syrious, 6 February 2020)

7 February: As evangelical and other Christian leaders reject the stance of US evangelist Franklin Graham on immigration, poverty, gun control and Israel as irreconcilable with Christian teaching, and campaigners describe him as homophobic, Islamophobic and politically extreme, commercial venues across the UK cancel his bookings, effectively preventing his UK tour. (Guardian, 7 February 2020)


29 January: A report by Justice finds that diversity has stalled in the judiciary, with BAME judges representing only 7 percent and senior roles ‘still dominated by white, male, able-bodied and privately educated barristers’. (Justice, 29 January 2020)

30 January: Amid record levels of self-harm in prisons, five people have committed suicide in the past year at HMP Doncaster, which is badly overcrowded with little for prisoners to do, according to an inspection report by HM Inspector of Prisons. Another prisoner killed himself shortly after the inspection. (Guardian, HM Justice Inspectorate, 30 January 2020)

6 February: Three cadets at a police training college in Saxony, Germany, are suspended following allegations that they shouted Nazi slogans from an apartment window. (Deutsche Welle, 6 February 2020)

9 February: The Traveller Movement makes an official complaint after local licensees in Hertfordshire and Essex are warned by a police officer of ‘a very high risk of incidents’ if they hosted mourners from the Travelling community attending the funeral of a girl who died after being hit by a train. (Guardian, 9 February 2020)

11 February: The Metropolitan police is accused of defying the warnings of its own watchdogs after deploying live facial recognition technology at Stratford shopping mall in east London, a move justified by the Met as necessary because Stratford is a scene of ‘public space violence’ and that the police had community support to use ‘whatever tactic we can to deal with violence’. (Guardian, 11 February 2020)

Director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, shown protesting at Stratford over the Met’s deployment of Live Facial Recognition – Big Brother Watch ©

11 February: The government, responding to the knife attacks in Streatham by Sudesh Amman, introduces emergency legislation to prevent the automatic early release of those convicted of terrorism offences. Critics including Lord Carlile, former reviewer of terror legislation, say the law, operating retrospectively, might be illegal as well as requiring derogation from the European Human Rights Convention. (Sky News, 4 February 2020, Guardian, 4, 11 February 2020)


30 January: A tenfold increase in those identified as victims of modern slavery in London, and an increase of over 30 percent nationally, leads to calls for more resources for police and the London mayor’s office to investigate and provide support. (Guardian, 30 January 2020)

4 February: Research by the Health Foundation finds over a third of workers in Britain struggling in low-paid, precarious or unfulfilling jobs that risk damaging their health, with young adults, BAME and northern workers the most affected. (Guardian, 4 February 2020)

5 February: After an internal memo discussing the use of facial recognition for staff was leaked, the European Parliament insists it has no plans to introduce such a scheme. (Guardian, 5 February 2020)


@BristolSUBME Twitter

29 January: Stickers and posters stating ‘It’s okay to be white’ are spotted around the University of Bristol campus. (BBC, 31 January 2020)

3 February: A court in Germany rules against an attempt by authorities in Hamburg to forbid a 16-year-old schoolgirl from wearing a niqab during lessons, stating that she has ‘a right to unconditional protection of her freedom of belief’ and the law does not permit the authorities to impose bans. (The Local, 3 February 2020)

3 February: In the town of Thun, Switzerland, Göttibach primary school puts up a job advertisement promising new teachers that a perk of the job is ‘lower than average number of children with a migration background’. (The Local, 3 February 2020)

8 February: A Hackney pupil wins a payout of £8,500 after she was repeatedly sent home from school because she had an afro hairstyle. The settlement is obtained with the backing of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, citing race discrimination. (Independent, 8 February 2020)


3 February: Families react with anger as Phase 2 of the Grenfell Inquiry, which started on 27 January and is looking into the design, construction and refurbishment of the tower and authorities’ response to fire risks there, is adjourned after corporate witnesses demand protection from prosecution before giving evidence. (Guardian, 29 January, 6 February 2020)

7 February: Freedom of information requests by Friends, Families and Travellers reveal that only eight out of 68 local authorities in the South East of England have identified the land needed for Gypsies and Travellers in their area. (FFT press release, 7 February 2020)


27 January: MP Debbie Abrahams tells parliament about disabled 57-year-old Errol Graham who died of starvation in June 2018 months after his benefits were cut for failure to attend a fit-for-work test. His emaciated body was discovered by bailiffs who had come to evict him for non-payment of rent. (Guardian, 28 January 2020)

5 February: In an important precedent for the rest of Europe, a Dutch court rules that an automated surveillance system for detecting welfare fraud violates privacy rights. It uses calculation of risk to predict the likelihood of someone committing benefit fraud or breaking labour laws, and a coalition of trades unions, privacy and welfare rights groups argued that it disproportionately targeted poorer citizens without any concrete evidence of wrongdoing. (Guardian, 5 February 2020)

7 February: The UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty, highlighting the plight of Roma and migrants, says that Spain is abandoning people in poverty and failing to take social rights seriously despite its post-recession recovery. Conditions at a migrant settlement in Andalucía rivalled ‘the worst I have seen anywhere in the world,’ says Philip Alston.  (Guardian, 7 February 2020)

7 February: Families and campaigners demand a public inquiry after the National Audit Office finds at least 69 suicides possibly linked to problems with benefit claims in the past six years. (Guardian, 7 February 2020)


29 January: When the Muslim Council of Britain asks why it has received no response for nine months from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to its dossier on Islamophobia in the Conservative party, an EHRC spokesperson says it is awaiting the terms of reference of the Conservative party’s  ‘independent’ review into its handling of discrimination complaints. (Guardian, 29 January 2020)

11 February: At a meeting of the General Synod to address the Windrush scandal and racism  in the church, the  Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby admits that the church is ‘institutionally racist’, that the phrase ‘hostile environment is extraordinary and terrible,  that the church appointment system is in need of urgent reform,  and that he is  ‘personally sorry and ashamed’. (Guardian, 11 February 2020)


28 January: The Telegraph issues a formal apology for defamation and pays damages to Muslim scout leader Ahammed Hussain, admitting that he did not promote extremist or antisemitic views at Lewisham Islamic Centre as the newspaper had claimed in two January 2019 articles, with the claims subsequently repeated by The Times, Daily Mail and Daily Star. (Telegraph, 28 January 2020)

@MShapland Twitter

29 January: ITV presenter Alastair Stewart resigns after ‘multiple errors of judgment’ including using a Shakespeare quote including the phrase ‘angry ape’ to black Twitter user Martin Shapland, who is bombarded with racist abuse following Stewart’s resignation. Shapland says a private apology would have sufficed. (Guardian, 30 January 2020)

30 January: After a three-year battle, the Mail on Sunday agrees to pay damages of £180,000 to taxi licensing official Waj Iqbal, whom it falsely accused of acting as a ‘fixer’ for paedophiles in Rochdale. Iqbal says his life was ruined, leaving him out of work, prevented from seeing his children, in fear and on anti-depressants, and that he was picked on purely because of his race. (Guardian, 30 January 2020)

4 February: The BBC, Evening Standard and Getty Images apologise after mislabelling a series of photos of black female Labour MPs, Marsha de Cordova, Dawn Butler and Bell Ribeiro-Addy. (Guardian, 4 February 2020)



28 January: Surrey CC launches an African Caribbean Engagement Programme to increase the local black community’s participation in cricket, as Sport England shows English cricket is very white. (Guardian, 28 January 2020)

30 January: Home Office figures reveal a rise of over 50 percent in football-related racist incidents, with over 150 reported to police last season. (Guardian, 30 January 2020)

31 January: A Brighton and Hove Albion football fan who shouted racial abuse towards players during a match at the Amex Stadium is jailed for eight weeks. (Brighton and Hove Independent, 1 February 2020)

1 February: Football fans report that far-right stickers from EDL-linked groups like ‘Casuals United’ and ‘The Pie and Mash Squad’ are appearing at the Liverpool and Everton stadiums. (Liverpool Echo, 1 February 2020)

3 February: Rangers footballer Alfredo Morelos says he has been subject to racial abuse on and off the pitch since arriving in Scotland, including fans in the crowd throwing things at him and verbal abuse. (Daily Record, 3 February 2020)

5 February: Port Vale striker Tom Pope is charged with antisemitism by the FA for posting a tweet linking the Rothschilds to ‘every bank on the planet’. (Guardian, 5 February 2020)

6 February: Premier League clubs agree that anyone banned for violence or abuse from one club will be excluded from them all. (Reuters, 6 February 2020)

10 February: 27-year-old actor Thomas Turgoose condemns fans who shouted racist chants and sang ‘Tommy Robinson’ at a mosque on the way to a football match in Bradford on 8 February. (The Real EFL, 10 February 2020)

10 February: Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli is investigated by the FA for misconduct for a tweet mocking an Asian man and claiming he might be infected with coronavirus. (Guardian, 10 February 2020)


30 January: Following a campaign to reinstate ITN newsreader Alastair Stewart, it is revealed that Martin Shapland, who had reported him for his ‘angry ape’ tweet, has received a torrent of abuse and a death threat. (Guardian, Mirror, 30 January 2020)

30 January:  Hundreds of people attend a vigil after synagogue is vandalised with red paint on Holocaust Remembrance Day in Turku, Finland. In Tampere, the far-right Towards Freedom group burned an Israeli flag outside the railway station and read a message denying the Holocaust. (YLE, 30 January 2020, News Now Finland, 27 January 2020)

@SkyNews Twitter

31 January: A ‘Happy Brexit Day’ poster stating that ‘the Queens English is the spoken tongue here’, that people wanting to speak other languages should leave the country’, and finally we ‘have got our great country back’  is found stuck on fifteen doors of Winchester  Tower in Norwich and reported to police. (Observer, 1 February 2020)

31 January: A 24-year-old woman racially abuses security staff at Royal Blackburn Hospital who intervened when she was causing issues for medical staff. (Lancashire Telegraph, 31 January 2020)

31 January: An owner of a Chinese takeaway is racially abused in Barrow-in-Furness by two individuals on bikes who shout racist slurs and attempt to smash the windows of the shop. (NWE Mail, 3 February 2020)

1 February: A 32-year-old woman racially abuses a doorman, telling him ‘go back to his own country’ when he would not let her into a bar in Newcastle. (Stoke-on-Trent Live, 2 February 2020)

1 February: A 42-year-old woman is fined after pleading guilty to racially aggravated assault on a police officer in Newport. (South Wales Argus, 1 February 2020)

@NorfolkHC Twitter

2 February: Residents at Winchester Tower (see above) stage an anti-racist protest, and put up messages supporting tolerance across the estate, with one reading ‘Everyone is welcome here – except bigots’.  Police confirm that the original poster is being treated as a racially aggravated public order incident. (Guardian, 2 February, Eastern Daily Press, 3 February 2020)

3 February: Police release CCTV footage in an appeal to identify a woman after a member of staff was racially abused at a Newcastle Metro station in December. (Chronicle Live, 3 February 2020)

4 February: A 51-year-old Omagh man is charged with launching a racially motivated attack on his neighbours, causing a 22-year-old woman to jump out of a bedroom window with her three-year-old son to flee him. (Independent, Belfast Telegraph, 4 February 2020)

6 February: Antisemitic incidents in the UK reached a record high in 2019, according to the Community Security Trust, with an 82 percent rise in online antisemitic incidents. (Guardian, 6 February 2020)

10 February: An arrest warrant is issued for a 40-year-old man who acted in a racially aggravated manner and flashed people at Falkirk Police Station. (Falkirk Herald, 10 February 2020)

10 February: A 35-year-old man is found guilty of behaving in a threatening manner by making homophobic and racist remarks, uttering threats of violence and inducing children to knock on the door of a property in Prestonpans, Scotland, in May 2019. (East Lothian Courier, 10 February 2020)

10 February: A 53-year-old man in Wiltshire is sentenced to community service after racially abusing officers and stripping in the back of the police van, during an arrest in July 2019. (Gazette and Herald, 10 February 2020)

10 February: A 39-year-old woman in Dunfermline is charged with assaulting and racially abusing a taxi driver who refused to take her in December 2019 because she had no cash. (Dunfermline Press, 10 February 2020)


1 February: British Chinese say fears of the coronavirus are fuelling racism and hostility, including being told to wear masks and people openly moving away from them on trains. (Guardian, 1 February 2020)

4 February:  Su Chu Lu, a trader at Aberystwyth Market Hall, is told by three traders that she should leave the building and quarantine herself after returning from a holiday in Taiwan, due to coronavirus fears. Some traders hang ‘I support Su Chu Lu’ posters at the entrances to their stalls.  (BBC News, 3 February 2020)

4 February: In Leicester, two students aged 16 and 17 are abused and pelted with eggs in an attack linked to the coronavirus outbreak. (Leicester Mercury, 3 February 2020)

7 February: A Chinese student at Newcastle University reports they were ‘spat at’ in the street, another student was told to ‘go away’ when trying to enter a campus library. Both attribute this to coronavirus-fuelled racism. (Chronicle Live, 7 February 2020)

7 February: Leicestershire Police appeal for information after eggs were thrown at two teenage students in a racially aggravated assault on 3 February. The students were verbally abused, with the attackers stating that they had ‘brought the SARS virus into this country’. Their college principal says the attack was prompted by the coronavirus scare. (Leicester Mercury, 7 February 2020)

9 February: Chinese people in the UK report ‘shocking’ levels of racism after the coronavirus outbreak, including verbal and physical assaults on businesses and individuals on public transport, in schools, and online harassment. (Guardian, 9 February 2020)

10 February: Police step up patrols in Dundee city centre after a Chinese business was victim to multiple racist attacks on 4 and 6 February. (The Courier, 10 February 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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