Calendar of Racism and Resistance (6 – 20 June 2023)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (6 – 20 June 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

7 June: The Lithuanian Constitutional Court rules unconstitutional the extrajudicial detention of asylum seekers, as authorised by a 2021 law allowing for automatic detention. (InfoMigrants, 9 June 2023)

8 June: The Home Office announces that in July it will ‘pause’ the controversial two-tier asylum system, the keystone of last year’s Nationality and Borders Act, whereby asylum seekers are treated according to whether they arrived by ‘regular’ or ‘irregular’ means. (EIN, 8 June 2023)  

8 June: EU member states reach a deal on compulsory allocation of asylum seekers, with a cash alternative of €20,000 per person. Six states led by Poland and Hungary oppose the deal, with Poland saying it would not pay. The deal also gives states more detention and removal powers.  (RFI, 9 June 2023; Guardian, 8 June 2023)

9 June: An Open Democracy investigation on safe and legal routes for refugees reveals waits of up to 13 years after being accepted for resettlement by UNHCR, leading in one case to the death of an Iraqi toddler in Turkey through lack of the specialist medical treatment he needed. (Open Democracy, 9 June 2023)

11 June: The Joint Committee on Human Rights reports that the Illegal Migration Bill is illegal. (Free Movement, 11 June 2023; Joint Committee on Human Rights, 11 June 2023)

14 June: An open letter from the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit describes the assertion that Albania is safe as ‘fundamentally flawed’, calling for support for the House of Lords amendment to remove Albania from the Illegal Migrations Bill’s safe list. (Electronic Immigration Network, 14 June 2023)

19 June: Civil servants in the Home Office transformation directorate, responsible for reform of immigration procedures after the Windrush crisis, are told their work will terminate on 1 July as the home secretary believes it is ‘time to move on.’ (Guardian, 19 June 2023) 

Borders and internal controls

7 June: A Freedom of Information request reveals that the UK government diverted £3 million from the development assistance budget and gave it to the Turkish border police, also providing training, to prevent migrants from reaching the UK. (Guardian, 7 June 2023) 

8 June: The appeal trial of the ‘#Paros3’ begins in Syros, Greece. The three men steered a boat of more than 80 displaced people from Turkey to Greece in exchange for a cheaper fare in December 2021, and were arrested and charged with smuggling on arrival. In June 2022 they were sentenced to 439 years collectively and have served 1.5 years. (Borderline Europe, 31 May 2023)

8 June: A contentious plan is rescinded and disciplinary measures instigated after Immigration police in Irún, Spain were told they would be rewarded with days off based on the number of migrants they manage to detain over weekends on the border with France. (Euronews, 8 June 2023)

9 June: Heavily armed Italian special forces were launched by helicopter to board a Turkish-flagged cargo ship where migrant stowaways, InfoMigrants reports, on the basis of faulty information that the ship had been hijacked by a group of armed migrants. (InfoMigrants, 12 June 2023)

9 June: Spanish civil guards investigate the deaths of two migrants whose bodies are found on the beach of Adra, Almeria, after 137 displaced people on board a boat were forced to swim to the Spanish shore. (InfoMigrants, 12 June 2023; U.S. News, 9 June 2023) 

15 June: As mass demonstrations against government hypocrisy take place in Greece, international law experts, active and former Coast Guard officials, and the Watch the Med- Alarm Phone create a timeline detailing the capsizing of the trawler in the southern Peloponnese and alleging a failure to render assistance after an initial SOS call. (Solomon, 15 June 2023; Alarm Phone, 14 June 2023)

15 June: Solomon reveals that out of €800 million allocated to Greek authorities for border surveillance and migration deterrence in 2021-2027, only €600,000 (0.07%) is earmarked for Search and Rescue. (Solomon, 15 June 2023)

15 June: In a series of nationally coordinated workplace raids, Home Office enforcement teams arrest 12 individuals in Birmingham on suspicion of breaching student visa conditions. (BBC News, 16 June 2023)

16 June: Nine Egyptian men are accused of forming a criminal organisation for the illegal entry of migrants, causing a shipwreck and endangering lives in connection with the drownings in the southern Peloponnese, Greece. (Keep Talking Greece, 16 June 2023)

18 June: With 500 still missing, new details emerge suggesting that women and children were forced to travel in the hold of the trawler that sank in Greece, and that Pakistani nationals were condemned to the most dangerous part of the trawler. No women or children are thought to be among the survivors. (Guardian, 18 June 2023) 

A protest outside Frontex offices in Athens.
Protesters outside Frontex’s offices in Athens following the shipwreck on 14 June. Credit: Tuğba Tırpan.

20 June: To coincide with Refugee Week, United for Intercultural Action publishes its updated list of 52,760 deaths caused by Fortress Europe from 1993 to June 2023. (United for Intercultural Action, 20 June 2023)

Reception and detention

5 June: In Greece, social workers call for a reversal in legislation that sees unaccompanied young migrants with disabilities, currently housed in hostels that provide holistic care, expelled once they turn 18. (Are You Syrious, 6 June 2023)

10 June: The government launches a £150-million fund for local authorities to help Ukrainians move into their own homes, while Afghan refugees face eviction from hotels with no further accommodation. (Guardian, 10 June 2023; Observer, 11 June 2023; Northern Echo, 9 June 2023)  

13 June: In the Court of Appeal, Braintree district council contests a High Court decision granting the Home Office use of the former RAF Wethersfield base as accommodation for 1,700 asylum seekers on the basis that use of the base does not constitute an ‘emergency’ and requires planning permission. (Essex Live, 13 June 2023)

14 June: Following legal advice that a challenge to the siting of an asylum accommodation barge in Portland Port is likely to fail, Dorset council discontinues legal action. (Dorset Council, 14 June 2023)

15 June: The government awards a £1.6 billion, 2-year contract to Corporate Travel Management, an Australian travel firm, to cover the cost of three asylum accommodation vessels, including the barge to be based in Portland harbour. (Independent, 15 June 2023)

16 June: Students and staff from the University of Oxford demonstrate against reopening Campsfield House immigration removal centre, contending that detention has ‘immediate and long-term negative consequences on people’s medical and mental health’. (BBC News, 17 June 2023)

17 June: Health professionals raise concerns about the rising numbers of children living in Home Office catered hotels diagnosed with malnutrition and becoming dangerously thin, with parents found to be rummaging through bins to feed their children. (Guardian, 17 June 2023)

Deportations

6 June: A Frontex report obtained by Statewatch reveals that the EU border agency helped deport 25,000 people in 2022. (Statewatch, 6 June 2023) 

8 June: Ahead of NATO membership talks with Ankara, Sweden’s Supreme Court approves the extradition of a 35-year-old Kurdish man who is said to be a member of the People’s Democratic Party (HDK) and supporter of the PKK and has lived in Sweden since 2018. (Deutsche Welle, 8 June 2023)

14 June: The US accepts the resettlement application of an Afghan pilot who fought against the Taliban alongside British and US forces after his application to the UK’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Programme application is rejected and he faces deportation to Rwanda. (Independent, 14 June 2023)

Crimes of solidarity

14 June: Three activists accused of causing ‘public nuisance’ for blocking Brook House immigration removal centre to prevent the forced removal of detainees to Jamaica are acquitted by a jury at Lewes Crown Court. (Guardian, 14 June 2023; Guardian, 16 June 2023)

Activists celebrate the acquittal of the Brook House 3 outside Lewes Crown Court. Credit: Stop Deportations

16 June: In Lampedusa, Italy, authorities seize the German rescue ship Aurora on the grounds that the Sea-Watch crew violated a government decree demanding that rescuers go immediately to the port assigned them after an operation. (InfoMigrants, 16 June 2023)

ELECTORAL POLITICS | GOVERNMENT POLICY

As anti-migrant, anti-equalities, anti-abortion, misogynistic and anti-LGBTQI rhetoric in electoral campaigning are increasingly interlinked, we reflect this in the coverage below which also includes information on the influence of the Christian Right as well as the religious Right generally.

6 June: It emerges that three Conservative MPs, Sir Edward Leigh, Sir Christopher Chope and Ian Liddell-Grainger, attended a European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance conference in Budapest hosted by the Hungarian prime minister and with far-right European parties in attendance. (Guardian, 6 June 2023)

6 June: After the Italian far-right government indicates it will criminalise LGBTQ+ couples who seek surrogacy abroad, Francesco Rocca, mayor of Lazio, withdraws support for Rome’s Pride parade on the groups it is ‘aimed at promoting illegal conduct, with specific reference to surrogacy’. (Guardian, 6 June 2023)

6 June: Research by the European Legal Support Centre, citing examples in Germany, Austria and the UK, finds the EU’s adoption of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism has led to anti-Palestinian racism; widespread restrictions on the rights of assembly and freedom of expression, wrongly conflating antisemitism with criticism of Israel. (Al Jazeera, 6 June 2023)

6 June: In the Czech Republic, far-right, ultra-right and xenophobic parties join forces to form ‘Let’s Leave the EU and NATO’, claiming that a new platform is necessary to defend sovereignty and stop the forced imposition of ‘progressive ideology’. (Romea, 6 June 2023)

8 June: After a knife attack in Annecy, France leaves two adults and four young children seriously injured, politicians from the Républicains, Rassemblement National and Reconquête parties linked the profile of the attacker, a Syrian Christian refugee whose naturalisation request had been refused in Sweden, to the government’s migration policies. (Le Monde, 9 June 2023)

9 June: During a session of the EU Justice and Home Affairs council, the Polish government opposes EU directives on the safety of LGBT people. The EU is ‘privileging homosexuals’ and allowing rights of Christians and other groups to be violated, it claims. An EU directive on combating violence against women is opposed as its use of the term ‘gender’ ‘would criminalise people who question that there are 50 or 200 genders’. (Notes from Poland, 9 June 2023)

11 June: The Romanian foreign ministry says it has recalled Dragos Viorel Tigau, its envoy to Kenya, after he allegedly compared a monkey with Africans while attending a UN meeting in Nairobi. (Al Jazeera, 11 June 2023)

11 June: A FOI reveals that immigration minister Jenrick’s claim in November that 20% of asylum seeking ‘children’ are adults was false, with only 1% found to be adults. (Guardian, 11 June 2023)

12 June: With a general election pending, the Polish government welcomes Facebook’s decision to lift its ban on the far-right party Confederation, which was suspended last year for hate speech and spreading Covid misinformation, as a win against censorship. (Notes from Poland, 12 June 2023)

12 June: In Greece, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis says that if his party decisively wins the next election, he will merge the Labour and Welfare Ministries into a single Family Ministry to deal with the demographic crisis, with critics warning of a Greek version of the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’. (Keep Talking Greece, 12 June 2023)

14 June: The centre-right Partido Popular forms a regional coalition government with the far-right Vox party to rule the Valencia region and agree to strike similar coalitions in several major Spanish cities should they emerge victorious in the upcoming general election. (Euractiv, 14 June 2023; Guardian, 18 June 2023)

14 June: The Greek government declares three days of mourning and suspends electioneering after at least 78 people drown, with hundreds more missing, after an overcrowded fishing vessel reportedly sailing from Libya to Italy capsizes off the southern Peloponnese. (Guardian, 15 June 2023).

16 June: The far-right Finns Party becomes a junior party in the coalition government led by the conservative National Coalition Party and announced in Finland after 11 weeks of negotiations. (Helsinki Times, 16 June 2023) 

19 June: The Polish parliament passes a resolution opposing the mandatory solidarity mechanism recently approved by the Council of the EU, with PiS chair Jaroslaw Kaczynski announcing that the Law & Justice party will launch a referendum on the issue that could coincide with the general election. (Balkan Insight, 19 June 2023; Euractiv, 12 June 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.

6 June: In Germany, police arrest Peter S, who ‘nurtured an ideology formed by Nazi and racist beliefs,’ in connection with the arson attack on an asylum hostel in Saarlouis in 1991 that killed a Ghanaian man and injured two others. (Al Arabiya News, 6 June 2023)

8 June: StreetPress publishes images and information on neo-Nazis who take to the streets in Annecy, France, demanding death for immigrants, after the knife attack by a Syrian Christian refugee. (StreetPress, 8 June 2023)

9 June: After the Greek Supreme Court rules that jailed far-right former Golden Dawn politician Ilias Kasidiaris, cannot participate in the 25 June elections as an independent candidate because of serious criminal convictions, he announces his support for the far-right party Spartiates (Spartans). (Balkan Insight, 9 June 2023)

10 June: Anti-racists demonstrate in support of refugees and against far-right activists who have targeted Stradey Park Hotel in Llanelli, south Wales, after the Home Office announces plans to accommodate 200 refugees there.(Morning Star, 10 June 2023)

10 June: Fascists ambush a trans activist and reportedly carry out attacks on two immigrants, during the annual Pride march in Athens, Greece, which this year attracted huge support. (Greek City Times, 12 June 2023)

11 June: Patriotic Alternative supporters, chanting ‘child groomers’, protest against a Drag Queen Story Hour event at the Wyvern theatre, Swindon. (Daily Mail, 11 June 2023)

12 June: Richard Osborne, a white supremacist from Solihull, is jailed for almost four years for stirring up racial hatred and hatred over sexual orientation by sharing extremist content on the VK social media platform and possession of an illegal shotgun. (BBC News, 12 June 2023)

14 June: A counter-protest is held after far-right Polish activists and politicians, including members of the Confederation party, hold a ‘freedom picnic’ at a Polish Social Centre in Bury, Greater Manchester. (Vice, 14 June 2023)

17 June: Around 200 counter-protesters oppose a far-right Highland Division march against refugees in Elgin, Scotland. (Daily Record, 17 June 2023)

19 June: In Paris, France, the trial opens of four men accused of being part of a neo-Nazi private online discussion forum ‘Operation WaffenKraft’ and plotting terrorist attacks, including on mosques and Jewish targets in 2017 and 2018. Among the accused is a former volunteer deputy gendarme from Grenoble and the son of an army colonel. (Guardian, 19 June 2023)

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

7 June: The Crown Prosecution Service in Merseyside becomes the first in the country to successfully apply to the courts to impose Serious Violence Reduction Orders on two people being sentenced for knife crime. Merseyside is one of four police force areas piloting the scene over the next two years. (CPS, 8 June 2023)

9 June: The head of the police inspectorate in England and Wales, Andy Cooke, says that ‘public trust in the police’ is ‘hanging by a thread’ and demands new legislation to make it a legal requirement for forces to follow HMICFRS recommendations rather than the current system of voluntary compliance. (Guardian, 9 June 2023)

10 June: Ministry of Justice data obtained by the Guardian and Liberty Investigates reveals that in 2022 black defendants were imprisoned on average for 70% longer than white counterparts on remand, although they were more likely to be acquitted, and defendants of all minority ethnic backgrounds spent considerably longer on remand. (Guardian, 10 June 2023)

12 June: In Switzerland, six police officers appear in court charged with the 2018 homicide through negligence of Mike Ben Peter, a 39-year-old Nigerian man who died after being pepper-sprayed and held face down, handcuffed, on his stomach during a drugs stop in Lausanne in 2018. (Deutsche Welle, 12 June 2023) 

12 June: Migrants Organise, BiD and Privacy International launch a campaign against 24/7 electronic monitoring of migrants with a parody Capita Surveillance advert, ‘We proudly profit from the Hostile Environment’, alongside an open letter for all to sign urging Capita not to renew its Ministry of Justice electronic monitoring contract. (Migrants Organise, 12 June 2023)

Capita parody by Migrants Organise. Text: Learn how we're expanding racialised surveillance!
Capita Surveillance parody advert by Migrants Organise, BiD and Privacy International. 

14 June: The IOPC and the Directorate of Professional Standards launch an investigation after a man is found dead on train tracks after a car chase with police in Streatham, south London; no other details of the victim are provided. (Sky News, 14 June 2023)

14 June: Liberty challenges as ‘unlawful’ the Home Secretary’s use of secondary legislation to create a new public order definition of ‘serious disruption’, granting police more discretion to restrict or stop protests and arrest anyone either taking part or encouraging others to do so. (Open Democracy, 14 June 2023)

15 June: Internal training documents used by the French national police and gendarmerie reveal that, despite the risk of injury and death, officers are trained to use the Cougar grenade launcher dangerously, in breach of its design standards and within a problematic legal framework. (Le Monde, 15 June 2023)

15 June: In Rotterdam, the Netherlands, there is an outcry after a police officer who was fined for using the N-word during an arrest is appointed to a leadership role in a police unit specialising in immigration and residency rights. The appointment is rescinded. (Dutch News, 15 June 2023)

19 June: In a statement to all police forces in England and Wales, the home secretary calls on police to ‘ramp up’ the use of stop and search to stop crime and save lives, adding that that young black men are disproportionately affected by knife crime. (Guardian, 19 June 2023)

ANTI-TERRORISM AND NATIONAL SECURITY

6 June: A 17-year-old appears in court charged with offences under the Terrorism Act and racially and homophobically aggravated criminal damage to various sites across south Wales, including a mural in Port Talbot that celebrates the region’s Caribbean community. (Wales Online, 6 June 2023)

8 June: According to Home Office statistics, although Islamist terrorist offenders and suspects still comprise the largest number of prisoners, a record 65 people convicted of far-right terrorist offences are in prison. (Evening Standard, 8 June 2023)

DISCRIMINATION | EQUALITIES | HUMAN RIGHTS

7 June: In a report to commemorate 75 years since Windrush, British Future reveal that two-thirds of Black and Asian respondents face discrimination on a daily basis in the UK. (Metro, 7 June 2023)

EDUCATION

9 June: Greater Manchester Police launches an investigation into Saddleworth School following allegations of monkey chants, KKK songs and Nazi salutes being directed at Black and Asian students. Antisemitic comments were also reportedly made toward a teacher. (Oldham Times, 9 June 2023)

HOUSING | POVERTY | WELFARE

13 June: Three families seeking asylum in the UK launch a legal challenge to the Home Office’s recent decision to allow private landlords to lease properties to asylum seekers for two years without obtaining an HMO licence or meeting its requisite standards. (Guardian, 13 June 2023) 

13 June: Big Brother Watch urges Hackney Foodbank to stop using Face Donate, an app which asks users to submit face scans before doing their shopping, across its five London distribution hubs. They voice concerns about the collection of biometric data, profiling of claimants and biases in facial recognition technology. (Guardian, 13 June 2023)

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

19 June: Leading medical bodies call for a meeting with the home secretary and health secretary in light of the Illegal Migration Bill, warning that detaining children places them at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts and ‘unimaginable levels of harm’. (Guardian, 19 June 2023)

EMPLOYMENT | EXPLOITATION | INDUSTRIAL ACTION

8 June: Roughly 40 security guards at University College London face losing their jobs, while others will see their hours cut and wages lost in a restructuring scheme proposed by outsourcing firm Bidvest Noonan. This follows strike action taken last year to demand union recognition and for the highly racialised workforce to be brought back in-house. (Guardian, 8 June 2023)

11 June: Nurses recruited from India to fill 400 vacancies at Cambian children’s services are left in debt and suffering from ill mental health after being left months without pay, they say. Though workers said their contracts, secured through Harley Medical Services Ltd, did not live up to promise, their visas are tied exclusively to their employer. (Guardian, 11 June 2023)

13 June: Over 140 low-paid migrant cleaners, concierges and care workers employed across nine London sites commence three days of strike action with United Voices of the World. (openDemocracy, 13 June 2023; Progressive International, 13 June 2023)

15 June: In Belgium, Ghent is identified by the West Flanders labour auditor as a hub for labour exploitation and severe abuse of eastern European migrant workers, particularly Bulgarians. (Brussels Times, 15 June 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.

9 June: Writer Sathnam Sanghera says he has practically stopped doing public events in the UK due to a backlash against his work on the British Empire. Sanghera suggests the UK ‘culture wars’ could result in US-style book-banning, as has happened in the state of Florida. (Guardian, 9 June 2023)

9 June: Welsh rapper Sage Todz, whose work highlights racism in Wales, is told that he cannot perform at the National Eisteddfod as his songs contain English lyrics. (BBC News, 9 June 2023) 

12 June: The ECB criticises former Yorkshire Cricket chairman Colin Graves after he refers to racist incidents within the club as ‘banter’. (Guardian, 12 June 2023)

14 June: Migrants Organise receives an apology and substantial damages after negotiations with News UK Broadcasting Ltd concerning allegations of ‘fraud and terrorism’ made on Talk TV and Twitter by presenter Mike Graham in June 2022. (Migrants Organise, 14 June 2023)

The calendar was compiled by Sophie Chauhan  with the help of the IRR News team,  Graeme Atkinson, Margaret McAdam, Louis Ordish and Joseph Maggs. Thanks also to ECRE, the Never Again Association and Stopwatch, whose regular updates on asylum, migration, far Right, racial violence, and policing issues are an invaluable source of information. Find these stories and all others since 2014 on our searchable database, the Register of Racism and Resistance.


Feature: Activists celebrate the acquittal of the Brook House 3 outside Lewes Crown Court Credit: Stop Deportations.


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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