Calendar of Racism and Resistance (6 – 20 December 2022)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (6 – 20 December 2022)

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

6 December: It is revealed that Home Office delays in processing visa renewals leave an estimated 60,000 people in limbo every year, without evidence of their rights and unable to access jobs, housing, benefits, healthcare or travel. (New Statesman, 6 December 2022) 

10 December: The PCS union, representing Home Office and Border Force workers, writes to home secretary Suella Braverman saying that the government’s ‘hostile environment’ and anti-refugee policies make their jobs ‘deeply unpalatable’ and calling for ‘safe passage’ visas for refugees. (Guardian, 11 December 2022)

13 December 2022: Prime minister Rishi Sunak sets out a five-point plan to criminalise Channel-crossing asylum seekers, house them in old institutional accommodation and deny them the right to stay. The plans include a deal with Albania to aid removals, restarting removals to Rwanda and resuming ‘hostile environment’ measures. (Guardian, 13 December 2022; Independent, 14 December 2022)

13 December: UNHCR responds to UK government proposals to limit asylum to those arriving via legal routes, ‘today’s proposals go against the basic principles of international solidarity and responsibility-sharing upon which the 1951 Refugee Convention was founded’. (UNHCR, 13 December 2022)

13 December: As an administrative court rules that Mongolian nurse Anudari Boldbaatar’s legal rights were violated, calls are made for the Finnish immigration service (Migri), which had wrongly accused her of presenting fraudulent documents, to be abolished, due to an operational culture that makes it impossible to address labour shortages. (Helsinki Times, 13 December 2022)

14 December: At least four migrants, one a teenager, perish in the freezing waters of the English Channel, as 43 including 8 children are rescued by fishermen and Ramsgate and Rye RNLI. (Morning Star, 14 December 2022; Guardian, 14 December 2022; Independent, 15 December 2022)

Borders and internal controls

6 December: A Wired report shows how flaws and lack of safeguards in the Home Office’s ‘digital by default’ systems leave thousands with no way of proving their right to be in the UK, to work or to rent property, with no accountability mechanisms. (Wired, 6 December 2022) 

8 December: The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) documents an ‘unprecedented rise in violence’ against refugees in 15 countries along the EU’s borders, with ‘gruesome deterrence’ including beatings and sexual assaults, and 16,000 illegal pushbacks in 2021 and 2022, as increased attempts to suppress and criminalise humanitarian activists force BVMN out of Greece. (Guardian, 8 December 2022)

8 December: Lighthouse Reports publishes ‘Europe’s Black Sites’, revealing evidence of informal, clandestine detention centres in shipping containers, petrol stations and overcrowded prison and police vans along EU borders, specifically Bulgaria, Hungary and Croatia, where migrants and refugees are held and tortured before being illegally pushed back. The report claims the practice is partially EU-funded, and occurs in plain sight of Frontex officers. (Lighthouse Reports, 8 December 2022)

8 December: Home secretary Suella Braverman agrees a new working arrangement for UK Border Force officers with Frontex, in a meeting with her counterparts in the Calais Group which follows an earlier deal to embed British officers in French control rooms and French officers in UK centres. (Telegraph, 8 December 2022)

An Abolish Frontex placard at a demo in Germany
An ‘Abolish Frontex’ placard at a protest in Germany. Credit: Leif Hinrichsen

10 December: Journalist Dahaba Ali Hussen, a Dutch citizen of Somali origin, who has lived in the UK for 19 years and has EU settled status, has her passport confiscated and is temporarily denied entry, with no explanation. She has previously campaigned for the3million. (Guardian, 10 December 2022)

10 December: An Egyptian national becomes the third migrant to lose a leg to frostbite at the Lithuania/Belarus border (Euronews, 10 December 2022)

11 December: Over 500 refugees rescued from the Mediterranean by SAR ships Geo Berents (MSF) and Humanity 1 (SOS Humanity) disembark in Italian ports Salerno and Bari, two days after Banksy’s Louis Michel disembarks 33 refugees in Lampedusa, despite Italian PM Giorgia Meloni’s hardline stance on migrant boats. (Morning Star, 12 December 2022)

12 December: Data obtained by JCWI shows that between May 2020 and June 2022, police and Border Force officials conducted 13,000 immigration raids across the UK, with several thousand taking place during Covid-19 lockdowns, including in care homes at a time when many facilities across the country were overrun with the virus. (New Statesman, 12 December 2022) 

19 December: A BIRN investigation finds that since the EU put pressure on third countries and international airlines to limit flights to Belarus, migrants are travelling via a new ‘Eastern Land Route’, taking them by air to Moscow, then by land to the Belarusian-Polish border. (Balkan Insight, 19 December 2022) 

Reception and detention

11 December: Healthcare professionals and clinicians tell the Independent that ‘appalling’ health care for the 37,000+ asylum seekers in Home Office hotels mean torture victims’ wounds go untreated for years, children have mouth abscesses and pregnant women cannot access maternity services.  (Independent, 11 December 2022)

12 December: The mother of 31-year-old Hussein Habeeb Ahmed, who recently died after being held in the notorious Manston short-term holding facility, asks for her son’s body to be repatriated to Iraq. (ITN News, 12 December 2022)

15 December: The government extends the maximum period of detention at short-term holding facilities like Manston from 24 hours to 96 hours. (Mirror, 15 December 2022)

Deportation

7 December: Roy Harrison, a vulnerable man caught up in the Windrush scandal who came to the UK as a six-year-old, has his indefinite leave to remain restored after a ten-year fight against deportation during which he lost everything including his home and business, forcing him to live in a bin shed. (Guardian, 7 December 2022)

14 December: A private member’s bill supported by former home secretary Priti Patel, to deport migrants regardless of court rulings, the Asylum Seekers (Removal to Safe Countries) Bill, is defeated by 188 to 69 votes. (Mirror, 14 December 2022) 

15 December: British Medical Association president Martin McKee says the government’s threat to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda damages their physical and mental health and is ‘unconscionable on medical, ethical and humanitarian grounds’, urging medical professionals to speak out and demand the government scrap it. (British Medical Journal, 15 December 2022)

19 December: The High Court rules that the government plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is legal, whilst determining that the home secretary must give proper consideration to all cases on an individual basis. Applications for permission to appeal will be heard on 16 January. (Guardian, 19 December 2022; Independent, 19 December 2022)

Protesters holding placards outside the High Court during the judicial review hearing of the Rwanda policy
A protest outside the High Court during the Rwanda policy hearing. Credit: Steve Eason, Flickr.

19 December: The Swedish Supreme Court blocks the extradition to Turkey of exiled journalist Bulent Kenes, saying that obstacles to his extradition include his refugee status and the fact that some of the accusations against him are not crimes in Sweden. (Deutsche Welle, 19 December 2022)

Crimes of solidarity

10 December: An appeals court in Lesvos, Greece, overturns the conviction of Afghan refugee Akif Rasuli, who had served two years of a fifty-year sentence for ‘facilitating illegal entry’. Another Afghan refugee, Amir Zahiri, has his sentence reduced to eight years and is expected soon to walk free. (Guardian, 10 December 2022)

12 December: In Cyprus, KISA condemns the prosecution of its director Doros Polykarpou who was, it says, insulted and attacked in March by a prison guard during a visit to the Pourara reception centre, and later again at a police station, but now finds himself charged with illegal entry to the camp, assault and attack on two security guards. (KISA, email communication, 12 December 2022)

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.

8 December: The Labour party says it will bring in a ‘fast-track’ asylum processing system for asylum seekers from Albania and other countries designated as ‘safe’, to clear the backlog in asylum claims. (Times, 8 December 2022)

8 December: The Council of Europe commissioner for human rights criticises the UK’s policing, public order and asylum legislation and concludes that the government has an ‘increasingly antagonist attitude towards human rights that is weakening instead of strengthening protections for the public’. (Guardian, 8 December 2022)

13 December: Charities named in the Conservative Way Forward group report Defunding Politically Motivated Campaigns, which claims that £7billion could be saved by defunding all equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives and government-funded charities publicly disagreeing with government policy, hit back at the report’s ‘factual inaccuracies’ and ‘misrepresentation’. (Third Sector, 13 December 2022; Third Sector, 14 December 2022)

15 December: Even though the Sweden Democrats are not part of the coalition government, their deputy leader Henrik Vinge jointly hosts, with the migration minister, a press conference on revoking residence and works permits, particularly for students from Pakistan. (Euroactiv, 16 December 2022)

19 December: Bahraini human rights activist Sayed Alwadaei complains to the Conservative party after Bob Stewart MP told him to ‘go back to Bahrain’, when Alwadaei accused him of accepting ‘lavish’ hospitality from the Bahraini authorities, at a reception picketed by Alwadaei’s group, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. (Guardian, 19 December 2022) 

20 December: The European Court of Human Rights upholds the French courts’ conviction for hate speech of former presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, deeming his comments in 2016 about Muslims discriminatory, so that his conviction did not violate his right to freedom of expression. (Deutsche Welle, 20 December 2022)

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.

7 December: In Verona, Italy, police detain 13 far-right activists after Moroccan soccer fans celebrating Morocco’s qualification for the World Cup quarter-finals are attacked by men dressed in black with their faces covered. (Reuters, 7 December 2022, La Tribuna de Treviso, 7 December 2022)

7 December: As a result of the largest investigation in Germany’s post-war history into a planned coup, linked to Citizens of the Reich and QAnon conspiracists, police raid 137 sites, including the barracks of the KSK special forces unit in Calw. An aristocrat, several former members of the military and a serving judge, Birgit Malsack-Winkemann (formerly an AfD MP) are among the 25 people arrested. (Guardian, 7 December 2022; Guardian, 7 December 2022; Deutsche Welle, 7 December 2022)

8 December: The number of arrests linked to a far-right plot to overthrow the German government rises to 52, with further raids and arrests anticipated. (Guardian, 8 December 2022)

13 December: The German parliament holds three special committee sessions into the plot to overthrow the government, with hearings revealing that suspects planned to set up 280 armed units across the country tasked with arresting and executing people after a coup. (Deutsche Welle, 13 December 2022)

14 December: Amongst those arrested in Paris in clashes following France’s World Cup semi-final victory over Morocco are 38 far-right activists, linked to Groupe Union Défense, Zouaves, Génération Identitaire and Bastion Social, suspected of conspiracy to commit violence and possession of banned weapons. (Guardian, 15 December 2022, Le Monde, 16 December 2022) 

14 December: A 15-year-old boy from Buckinghamshire is charged with ‘extreme right-wing’ terror offences after the bomb squad raids his home in Princes Risborough. (Bucks Free Press, 14 December 2022)

15 December: In Finland, the openly racist and fascist Sinimusta Liike (Blue and Black) party, which says it will fight the next general election, is emerging as an umbrella organisation for the far Right, incorporating the Finns Party’s former youth movement, Soldiers of Odin and the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement. (Helsinki Times, 15 December 2022)

20 December: At an end-of-year press conference, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warns that the greatest terrorism threat in the West ‘comes from the extreme right, neo-Nazis and white supremacy’. (Al Jazeera, 20 December 2022)

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

8 December: The mother of two boys aged 13 and 15, who were arrested by British Transport Police at Shortlands Station after one failed to produce an Oyster card on his way to school, says they were treated with disproportionate force because of the colour of their skin. (Guardian, 8 December 2022)

8 December: West Yorkshire’s deputy mayor, who has responsibility for policing and crime, says that there is a lack of consistency in the police’s handling of hate crimes. More than 11,000 hate crimes were reported last year, with a 39 percent increase in reported transphobic incidents. (BBC News, 8 December 2022)

8 December: As angry Roma and protesters clash with police in Greece over the police shooting of 16-year-old Romany Kostas Fragoulis riot police reinforce their presence in Roma camps in Attica and Thessaloniki, with raids carried out in Aspropyrgos, Menidi, Zefiri and Ano Liosia. (Ekathimerini, 10 December 2022)

9 December: Two previously convicted police officers from the Met and the Civil Nuclear constabulary are sacked, and four former officers are told they would have been sacked, for sharing racist homophobic and misogynist messages in the ‘Bottles and Stoppers’ WhatsApp group. (Guardian, 9 December 2022)

12 December: Following an intervention by the Scottish Information Commissioner, Police Scotland reveal that people from minority ethnic backgrounds are up to 20 times more likely to be stopped under counterterrorism powers, with 1,371 passengers intercepted at Scottish ports and airports during peak travel months from 2016 to 2021. (Times, 12 December 2022)

13 December: Kostas Fragoulis, the Romany teenager left in a critical condition after being shot in the head following a police chase, dies in hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece. The Roma Federation of Central and Western Macedonia calls for ‘justice’ for the killing. (BBC News, 13 December 2022)

13 December: Metropolitan police officer Michael Harding appears in court accused of charges arising from an Operation Trident-linked incident in May 2018 when a police car rammed into Dean Martin as he was getting out of a taxi in Belgravia, leaving him with a broken back. (Evening Standard,  13 December 2022)

13 December: A thematic report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, The experiences of adult black male prisoners and black prison staff, finds overt and more subtle racism and stereotyping by white staff and prisoners affecting both black prisoners and prison staff. Most white prison staff refuse to recognise or accept the findings. (Independent, 13 December 2022)

14 December: In Spain, Melisa Domínguez, leader of Hogar Social Madrid, is acquitted of hate crimes linked to a 2016 protest outside a mosque. The judge rules that the far-right group had gone there ‘to protest against radical Islam’ after attacks in Brussels, and sees no evidence it ‘provoked’ Islamophobic comments on social media. (Euroweekly News, 14 December 2022)

15 December: A National Police Chiefs’ Council survey finds that half of black British police officers and staff suffer racial incidents from colleagues. (Guardian, 15 December 2022)

15 December: The IOPC launches an investigation into the death of Sali Byberi, 29, who was tasered by police in Braintree, Essex, on 21 November. (Independent, 15 December 2022)

16 December: An independent panel in Avon and Somerset criticises the police’s escalation of an incident on board a bus in Bedminster, Bristol in December 2020 during which a black mother travelling with her toddler was PAVA-sprayed and arrested after a minor dispute about a ticket. (Bristol Post, 16 December 2022) 

19 December: As a second person dies of injuries sustained during a deadly crush outside the O2 Academy Brixton four days ago, concertgoers dispute the official narrative of chaos caused by a ticketless mob storming the venue, further alleging that security guards endangered life by kettling fans in a confined space outside the Asake gig. The Metropolitan police launch an investigation. (Guardian, 18 December; Guardian, 19 December 2022) 

EDUCATION

7 December: Qirjako Qirko, Albania’s ambassador to the UK, tells the Home Affairs Select Committee that Albanian children in UK schools are being bullied as a result of a ‘campaign of discrimination’ against Albanians over the ‘Calais crisis’. (Mirror, 7 December 2022)

7 December: The House of Lords votes to scrap the controversial ‘statutory tort’ (clause 4) of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, saying it would lead to ‘endless litigation’ and further reduce the freedom of speech it was designed to protect.  (THE, 8 December 2022)

8 December: Prior to its third reading in the Lords, the government announces the scrapping of the Schools Bill, but promises to prioritise elements of the bill which would have given ministers sweeping and unprecedented powers over the operation of academies. (Guardian, 8 December 2022)

15 December: After the Office for Students publishes a report on free speech in English universities recommending regulation of teaching and curriculum content, the Russell Group of universities says that ‘regulatory action needs to be taken on the basis of accurate data rather than partial analysis or inflammatory stories’. (THE, 15 December 2022)

20 December: Bestselling Albanian author Professor Lea Ypi and other scholars speak out against the UK visa system preventing them seeing their loved ones, as Unis Resist Border Controls steps up its campaign for University of Warwick postgraduate student Riham Sheble, who has terminal cancer but whose mother has been denied a visa to travel from Egypt. (THE, 20 December 2022)

HOUSING | POVERTY | WELFARE

15 December: The chair of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing quits after an investigation found it had left hundreds of tenants exposed to harmful damp for nearly two years following the death of Awaab Ishak from respiratory failure in his mould-infested home. (Guardian, 15 December 2022)

EMPLOYMENT | EXPLOITATION | INDUSTRIAL ACTION

9 December: Workers at Birmingham charity the Asylum Support and Immigration Resource Team (ASIRT) plan strike action for 21 December against management plans to dissolve the charity, ending essential services to migrant, asylum and undocumented communities in the city. (Morning Star, 9 December 2022)

Striking ASIRT workers and UVW members in Birmingham. Credit: UVW Union

13 December: JCWI and LAWRS publish ‘Safety for Migrant Workers’, explaining the necessity for a firewall between labour exploitation regulators, the police and the Home Office, to protect those complaining of exploitation from risks of deportation. (JCWI, 13 December 2022)

14 December: Following a review into the culture of racism, misogyny and bullying in the London Fire Brigade, the chief fire inspector places the organisation into special measures, entailing an enhanced level of monitoring. (Guardian, 14 December 2022)

15 December: In Cyprus, around 200 delivery drivers employed by the Wolt company, mostly foreign students, asylum seekers and refugees, take strike action across Nicosia and Limassol, saying they are exploited due to their immigration status, with Wolt blaming the problem on contractors. (Cyprus Mail, 15 December 2022)

15 December: A study carried out by Reframing Race, involving nearly 20,000 participants in England and Scotland, finds that pointing to discriminatory hiring practices is the most effective way to highlight racism. Researchers report that the 2019 Oxford report on race-based inequalities in hiring was more likely than other anti-racist arguments to make audiences agree that an individual’s abilities are not determined by their race. (Eastern Eye, 15 December 2022) 

CULTURE | MEDIA | SPORT

See also anti-fascism and far Right for World Cup-related far-right violence. 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.

6 December: The Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall, south London, rescinds an invitation to Alison Chabloz, who has convictions for antisemitism, to talk at a meeting on cancel culture. (MyLondon, 6 December 2022) 

7 December: Italian journalists covering issues of racism and fascism say that since the election of the new far-right government, intimidation of journalists by fascists is now comparable to that by the mafia. After the prime minister threatened to sue Rula Jebreal, she was subjected to hordes of social media trolls, death and rape threats. (Intercept, 7 December 2022)

8 December: In Germany, children’s TV channel KiKa fires its first black host, Matondo Castlo, after he attended the pro-Palestinian Farkha festival in August. (Haaretz8 December 2022)

13 December: In Germany, a TV host for Welt is facing criticism for drawing false and racist comparisons between Moroccan football players’ religious gestures and a salute used by Islamic State. (Middle East Eye, 13 December 2022)

18 December: Three black French footballers, Aurelien Tchouameni, Kingsley Coman and Randal Kolo Muani, all receive racist online abuse after France’s penalty shootout defeat to Argentina in the World Cup final. (Mirror, 19 December 2022)

18 December: Human Rights Watch criticises FIFA and the Qatari authorities for failing to take the opportunity presented by International Migrants Day, on the last day of the World Cup, to remedy abuses, including unexplained deaths, that migrant workers suffered over the last 12 years to make the tournament possible. (Human Rights Watch, press release, 16 December 2022)

19 December: Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw and a deputy leader of Civic Platform, submits a bill to abolish Polish public broadcaster TVP Info, seen by the opposition as a ‘propaganda’ outlet for the ruling Law and Justice party, and used during Trzaskowski’s presidential bid to portray him as working on behalf of a ‘foreign lobby’ linked to George Soros, and of seeking to ‘fulfil Jewish demands’. (Notes from Poland, 19 December 2022)

19 December: Dutch PM Mark Rutte formally apologises on behalf of the Dutch state for its historical role in slavery, and for consequences that he acknowledges continue into the present day. With criticism of the lack of consultation surrounding the apology, Rutte promises to send representatives to Suriname and the Caribbean islands that remain part of the kingdom of the Netherlands. (Al Jazeera, 19 December 2022)

19 December: Danish TV channel TV2 apologises after anchor Soren Lippert compares an image of Moroccan football players hugging their mothers during the World Cup to monkeys embracing. (Middle East Eye, 19 December 2022) 

20 December: The French Football Federation files a complaint against the authors of racist tweets targeting French players after their loss to Argentina in the World Cup Final. (CNN, 20 December 2022; L’Équipe, 20 December 2022)

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

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

7 December: Southampton magistrates convict a 46-year-old Totton woman of making racially aggravated threats in Southampton in July, and order her to pay £50 compensation, a £207 fine and £168 in court charges. (New Milton Advertiser & Lymington Times, 7 December 2022)

8 December: Five teenage boys are found guilty of a series of racially aggravated crimes committed across Cambridge in August and September 2021, including theft, robbery, criminal damage and assault, with one victim requiring surgery for a broken nose. Cambridge Crown Court issues 12-month Youth Referral Orders to the four 15-17-year-olds and sentences the 18-year-old to a year in jail. (Fenland Citizen, 14 December 2022)

8 December: A 12-year-old boy suffers injuries to his abdomen and knees following a suspected racially aggravated attack in Bristol in which he is kicked and falls to the ground, causing his turban to fall off. (ITV News, 15 December 2022)

9 December: A 27-year-old Plumstead man is sent to prison for 13 months for racially abusing and assaulting four stewards at an England vs Switzerland football match at Wembley on 26 March and then attacking his arresting officers. He was convicted of racially aggravated common assault and assaulting emergency workers at Harrow Crown Court. (Metropolitan Police, 9 December 2022) 

9 December: Worshippers at a Stockport mosque find a pig’s head on the roof as they leave the building after a service. Greater Manchester Police are treating the incident as a hate crime. (BBC News, 12 December 2022) 

10 December: Domestic violence charity Sistah Space, which faced a barrage of abuse after its founder Ngozi Fulani spoke out against her racist treatment at a Buckingham Palace reception, says that due to safety concerns for staff and service users it has temporarily had to halt its work. (Guardian, 10 December 2022)

14 December: A 30-year-old man is found guilty of murdering a 44-year-old homeless man in a racially aggravated attack in Northampton in June 2021. The perpetrator racially abused his Polish victim Robert Jadecki, before stamping, kicking and punching him to death. Northampton Crown Court sentences him to 27 years in jail. (Northampton Chronicle, 16 December 2022)

14 December: A 27-year-old woman is convicted of racially aggravated assault and criminal damage, possession of illegal drugs, and disorderly behaviour following four incidents that took place in Lurgan between April and September. Craigavon Magistrates Court sentences her to six months in jail. (Northern Ireland World, 16 December 2022)

The calendar was compiled with the help of Graeme Atkinson, Sira Thiam, Sophie Chauhan, Louis Ordish, Margaret McAdam 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.


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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