A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.
Asylum and migration
6 April: A new immigration skills charge comes into force, requiring employers to pay a £1,000 annual levy for hiring certain skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area. It is feared the charge could take ‘desperately needed money’ from the NHS for years, due to the service’s reliance on foreign staff. (Guardian, 6 April 2017)
6 April: 27-year-old Syrian refugee Ali Aamer dies in an Athens hospital from extensive burns, a week after setting himself on fire in the Vial detention centre on Chios. (Aljazeera, 8 April 2017)
7 April: An administrative court in Hanover, Germany rules the deportation of refugees back to Bulgaria illegal due to the inhuman and life-threatening treatment they receive there. (Neues Deutschland, 7 April 2017)
9 April: More than five times as many asylum seekers live in the poorest third of the country as in the richest third, according to a Guardian analysis, which prompts politicians to call for a complete overhaul of the dispersal system. (Guardian, 9 April 2017)
9 April: French police, both national and CRS, wearing bullet proof vests, prevent food distribution to refugees near Calais, in breach of the ruling of the Lille administrative court, perform identity checks on the refugees apparently on racial lines, and arrest an Italian volunteer who cannot provide identification, according to a refugee solidarity group. (Passeurs d’hospitalites, 9 April 2017)
9 April: A pro-Brexit group backed by more than 20 Conservative MPs calls for net migration to be cut to 50,000 a year, with work visas limited to those earning at least £35,000 a year, a plan criticised by opponents as likely to damage the economy and harm the NHS. (Guardian, 9 April 2017)
9 April: A 43-year-old man dies in the Verne immigration removal centre in Portland, Dorset. The Home Office announces that ‘a full independent investigation will be conducted by the prisons and probation ombudsman’. (Guardian, 10 April 2017)
10 April: The Prisma reports on the twenty-nine deaths that have taken place in immigration detention in the UK since 1989. (Prisma, 10 April 2017)
10 April: A fire destroys a Dunkirk refugee camp where roughly 1,500 refugees were staying. Tents and wooden shelters were burned as well as identity documents of many of the camp’s inhabitants. (Independent, 11 April 2017)
10 April: The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes statistics on: ‘International student migration research update: Apr 2017’, view them here.
12 April: The ONS publishes statistics on: ‘International immigration and the labour market, UK: 2016’, view them here.
12 April: Immigration is particularly important to keep Britain’s health service, public administration, and wholesale, retail and hospitality trades going, with more than 1.5 million migrants working in these sectors, according to a new official analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). (Guardian, 12 April 2017)
12 April: As the law approving container camps for refugees at the Hungarian-Serbian border comes into effect, some 400 Hungarian Catholics and Protestants sign an online petition calling on Church leaders to follow the gospel rather than the state in the way they respond to refugees. (Christian Today, 12 April 2017).
12 April: The Italian parliament approves a decree-law to speed up asylum cases by abolishing oral appeal hearings and removing second-tier appeals, while hugely increasing detention capacity and putting ‘voluntary’ unpaid community work for asylum seekers on a statutory basis. (AYS, 15 April 2017)
13 April: Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish group rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean, accuses Frontex of plotting to ‘discredit [their] actions and erode [their] donors’ trust’ after Frontex officials claimed last December that refugee aid organisations collude with traffickers to bring refugees to Italy ‘like taxis’, causing Italian police to begin an informal investigation into rescue charities’ funding. (The Local, 13 April 2017)
13 April: Residents in Maldon, Essex, raise £7,000 in a week through the Maldon Refugee Support Group and Maldon Churches Together, to help find a home for a family fleeing Syria. (Braintree & Witham Times, 13 April 2017)
13 April: The Danish government orders a 70-year-old Afghan woman with advanced senile dementia, who has suffered a number of strokes, to report at the Sandholm asylum centre for deportation back to Afghanistan after refusing her asylum claim. Her daughter, who lives in Denmark, says she would not survive for two days there. (The Local, 13 April 2017)
13 April: Lacuna magazine publishes its latest issue on ‘Migration’, view it here.
15 April: The Czech Republic’s interior minister, Milan Chovanec, says that his government does not intend to accept any more refugees regardless of the penalties it may incur. The country has accepted only 12 refugees from its EU quota of 1,600. (RT, 15 April 2017)
16 April: It is revealed that migrants are wrongly being denied urgent medical treatment, including for cancer and serious heart conditions, after new identity checks are introduced for foreign patients. (Independent, 16 April 2017)
18 April: New research finds that unaccompanied child refugees in Greece and other parts of northern Europe are being forced to sell their bodies in order to pay smugglers. (Guardian, 18 April 2017)
18 April: The justice ministry announces a new fast-track appeal system for detained asylum seekers and foreign offenders, nearly two years after the courts condemned the old fast-track appeals regime as systematically unfair. (BBC News, 18 April 2017)
Violence and harassment
7 April: The Network for Recording of Violent Incidents (set up by UNHCR and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights) finds a decrease in overall incidents of hate crime in Greece in 2016, but a sharp increase in serious racially-motivated incidents, reflecting the ‘new reality of the way locals approach refugees and other groups’. Download the full report here.
8 April: An eight-year-old girl in Scotland, who witnessed her puppy being attacked and her aunt assaulted in a racist attack in February, has since suffered nightmares about ‘bad men’, according to her family. (Daily Record, 8 April 2017)
8 April: Police investigate claims that a group of teenage schoolgirls attacked a Polish woman in Birmingham city centre on 4 April, mocking her English and knocking her down after she asked to pass with her two grandchildren. (ITV News, 8 April 2017)
8 April: Several hundred people attend a demonstration in Croydon in solidarity with Reker Ahmed, an asylum seeker who was left with life-threatening injuries after being attacked by a crowd of people. (Canary, 8 April 2017)
8 April: A man is found unconscious with serious injuries in Epsom, reportedly after being racially abused and beaten by a group of men in an attack which the police are treating as a possible hate crime. (Epsom Guardian, 10 April 2017)
10 April: A woman in Liverpool is given a 20-month prison sentence after punching and biting a taxi driver in 2015, and calling him an ‘Egyptian c***’ while her mother filmed the attack. The victim suffered nerve damage. (Liverpool Echo, 11 April 2017)
11 April: Three people, including a 13-year-old girl, are found guilty of a ‘brutal’ racist attack against two Muslim women in Eltham. The girl attacked the women before enlisting the help of the adults, in an assault which resulted in one attacker being jailed for three years and four months. (This is Local London, 12 April 2017)
12 April: A Polish mother is forced to abandon her Antrim home with her baby girl after a racist attack in which a brick was lobbed through a window and landed in the child’s cot. (Belfast Telegraph, 12 April 2017)
13 April: A County Down family has their car set alight outside their home, days after a woman living at the house is assaulted. Police are treating both attacks as racially motivated. (Irish News, 15 April 2017)
15 April: A Norwich taxi firm claims that every foreign driver on its books has reported being racially abused and that the problem is at its worst in 34 years. (EDP, 15 April 2017)
16 April: Two Latvian men are assaulted, suffering facial fractures in a racist attack by a group of men in Coalisland, Northern Ireland. (Tyrone Times, 18 April 2017)
Policing and criminal justice
11 April: A person who died in the custody of Thames Valley police on 2 April 2017 is named as 43-year-old Leroy Junior Medford. (Get Reading, 11 April 2017)
11 April: Harmit Bahra, a former police officer awarded £200,000 damages for race discrimination at an employment tribunal in 2014, criticises the Independent Police Complaints Commission for the time it has taken to investigate the fifteen Bedfordshire police officers allegedly involved for gross misconduct. (BBC News, 11 April 2017)
12 April: It is revealed that Thames Valley police officer Andrew Mottau will face a misconduct hearing over allegations that he repeatedly racially abused a black female colleague in August and September last year, including placing a black toy monkey on her desk and saying: ‘When the black monkey sings it is your turn to make the tea.’ (Bracknell News, 12 April 2017)
12 April: Video footage emerges of West Midlands police forcing Muslim children to the ground at gunpoint during a house raid. The mobile phone footage shows armed officers storming a property before leading the youngsters out and forcing them to lie face down on the floor. (5 Pillars, 12 April 2017)
19 April: The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture is highly critical of the lack of protection for prisoners in its periodic report on the UK’s prisons and detention facilities, which also criticises the indefinite detention of immigration prisoners. Read the: Report to the Government of the United Kingdom on the visit to the United Kingdom carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 30 March to 12 April 2016, here.
5 April: Far-right vigilante group Soldiers of Odin film primary schoolchildren in the school yard in Vallingby, Sweden, and put up propaganda stickers after footage from broadcaster TV4 seemed to show gendered segregation. The school says that the children were not intentionally segregated. (The Local, 6 April 2017)
8 April: Saffiyah Khan is widely lauded for staring down an EDL supporter at a rally in Birmingham attended by about 100 EDL supporters. The young woman, who stepped in after a woman in a hijab was abused, later explains ‘I don’t like seeing people getting ganged up on in my town’. (Birmingham Mail, 9 April 2017)
8 April: The venue where Marine Le Pen is due to hold a campaign rally in Ajaccio, Corsica, is evacuated after protesters break into the hall and clash with the FN’s security guards, who fire tear gas. A dozen people are arrested, and the FN blames ‘left-wing militia’. (Reuters, 8 April 2017)
9 April: A parliamentary question reveals that German military counter-intelligence is currently investigating 275 suspected right-wing extremist offences amongst the military, including giving the Nazi salute and making racist comments online. (Deutsche Welle, 9 April 2017)
9 April: Marine Le Pen denies French responsibility for the ‘Vel D’Hiv’, the Nazi-ordered round-up and deportation of more than 13,000 Jews from a Paris cycling track in 1942. (The Local, 10 April 2017)
11 April: Le Pen announces that should she win the presidency she will immediately close France’s borders by suspending the country’s membership of the Schengen border-free zone, and will negotiate a partial dismantling of the EU within six months, failing which she will organise a ‘Frexit’ referendum. (The Local, 12 April 2017)
13 April: The website and Twitter accounts of Britain First’s leaders are hacked and replaced with a message threatening to bomb a planned march on 3 June. (Independent, 13 April 2017)
14 April: In a telephone call to a French press agency, a group calling itself Fight Xenophobia claims responsibility for an arson attack on the FN headquarters in central Paris that causes minor damage. (Guardian, 14 April 2017)
7 April: Neill Graham, a Conservative council candidate in Paisley, denies being a member or supporter of the BNP despite his name being found on a leaked mailing list. (Herald, 7 April 2017)
13 April: Switzerland’s highest court upholds racial discrimination convictions against SVP officials who approved campaign advertisements to limit immigration which suggested that people from Kosovo are violent criminals. The argument that Kosovars are not a racial or ethnic group is rejected by the court. (Reuters, 13 April 2017)
13 April: Romanians living in Italy say they fear a 2008-style wave of xenophobia after the deputy leader of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the Five Star Movement’s Luigi di Maio, posted on Facebook that ‘Italy has imported 40 percent of Romania’s criminals’. (Balkan Insight, 13 April 2017)
Trump and Europe
12 April: The executive director of the Anne Frank Center calls for Sean Spicer to be fired after his comments that Hitler ‘didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons’ on his ‘own people’. (CNN, 12 April 2017)
13 April: A bus driver in Lower Saxony, Germany, is investigated for an administrative offence for repeatedly refusing to allow a pregnant woman on to the bus because she is wears a niqab. The bus company admits its driver breached local regulations and the police state that he could face a fine of up to 10,000 euros. (The Local, 13 April 2017)
15 April: Everton FC bans the Sun for its ‘appalling and indefensible’ comments on footballer Ross Barkley and the people of Liverpool, the day after the paper suspends former editor Kelvin MacKenzie and Merseyside police investigate whether a race hate crime has been committed, over an article in which he compared Barkley, whose grandfather is Nigerian, to a gorilla. MacKenzie also wrote that men with similar ‘pay packets’ to Barkley in Liverpool were ‘drug dealers’, and alongside his column was an image of the player’s eyes superimposed on a gorilla’s face. (Guardian, BBC News, 15 April 2017)
14 April: A study commissioned by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) finds that 60 per cent of BAME teachers are thinking of leaving the profession because of the difficulties they encounter. (BuzzFeed, 14 April 2017)
17 April: At its annual conference, the NUT passes a motion condemning the Department of Education’s collection of nationality and birthplace data from schoolchildren for its national pupil database, and urging parents to withhold the information. (Guardian, 17 April 2017)
14 April: Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth publishes a report: Forcing homeless families out of London: London councils ending homeless duties with private rented accommodation, download it here.
17 April: A petition is launched against a Brighton and Hove Council policy of approving public space protection orders (PSPOs) which campaigners say will be used against homeless people and Travellers and incite racial hatred. (The Argus, 17 April 2017)