Calendar of Racism and Resistance (7 – 21 November 2023)


Calendar of Racism and Resistance (7 – 21 November 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 November: Home Office data released to the Scottish government show that, over the last three years, more than 7,500 unaccompanied asylum-seeker children waited more than a year for an initial decision on their asylum application, with 57 waiting more than five years. (Guardian, 7 November 2023)  

8 November: Draft legislation adds India and Georgia to a list of safe countries as the Home Office claims their nationals are ‘not at obvious risk of persecution’, although the US Department of State reports significant human rights concerns in both countries. (Electronic Immigration Network, 9 November 2023)  

11 November: Dr Doseline Kiguru, an academic with a permanent post at Bristol university, is denied a visa for her six-year-old daughter in Kenya. A recent report by the Royal Society finds applications for academic visas from the global south are often rejected on arbitrary and subjective grounds. (Guardian, 11 November 2023)  

15 November: The Supreme Court unanimously upholds the appeal court ruling that the Rwanda policy is unlawful, as it presents a real risk of asylum seekers being sent back to the country from which they fled and subsequently persecuted. (Guardian, 15 November 2023) 

15 November: The prime minister declares that a new treaty will be enacted with Rwanda and emergency legislation introduced ‘confirming’ that Rwanda is safe for asylum seekers. The Bar Council says such a law would raise ‘profound and important questions about the respective roles of the courts and parliament’. (Guardian, 15 November 2023) 

15 November: The Migration Observatory publishes Deprivation and the No Recourse to Public Funds condition, which finds that 2.6 million people were subject to the condition at the end of 2022, with recent arrivals from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Iran most likely to be living in deprivation. (Migration Observatory, 15 November 2023) 

15 November: The Home Office admits it has no evidence to support former home secretary Suella Braverman’s claim that asylum seekers pretend to be gay to ‘game’ the asylum system. (Open Democracy, 15 November 2023) 

20 November: A campaign is launched in Italy to protest the ‘terrible delays’ in the regularisation amnesty implemented in 2020 for undocumented workers. In Rome and Milan, fewer that 60% of requests for regularisation have been examined. (InfoMigrants, 20 November 2023) 

Borders and internal controls 

9 November: A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the Department of Transport is criticised for failing to investigate ‘potential systemic failings’ by the UK authorities, who did not rescue a small boat in distress in the Channel in November 2021. The transport secretary announces an independent non-statutory inquiry into the subsequent drowning of 31 people. (Guardian, 9 November 2023)  

9 November: The state ombudsman in Greece launches an independent investigation into the coastguard for its handling of a tragedy in June in which hundreds of people trying to reach Europe died at sea. It is thought that up to 750 people were on board the boat, of which 104 were rescued and 78 bodies recovered, making it one of the worst disasters of its kind in the Mediterranean. (Ekathimerini, 10 November 2023) 

13 November: 201 people attempting to cross the Channel are rescued by the French coastguard near Calais. (InfoMigrants, 14 November 2023) 

13 November: The Italy-Albania agreement signed on 6 November, whereby migrants rescued by Italian ships are taken to Albania for asylum processing, raises human rights concerns and adds to the worrying trend of externalisation of asylum responsibility, say Spanish Socialist MEP Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, chair of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee, and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović. (Euractiv, 13 November 2023, Council of Europe, 13 November 2023) 

13 November: The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reports that so far in 2023, almost 2,200 migrants have died or gone missing in the central Mediterranean, while 13,611 have been intercepted and returned to Libya. Refugees in Libya posts videos sent by traffickers showing them torturing migrants to force their families to send money. (IOM on X/Twitter, 13 November 2023; Refugees in Libya, 16 November 2023) 

13 November: Some of the £40.4 million given by the British government to the French border police for stopping small boats embarking from the French coast was spent on policing the Franco-Italian border, while some was spent on microwaves, car vacuum cleaners, and riding boots, helmets and horse care for a horse brigade, a freedom of information request reveals. (Politico, 13 November 2023)  

16 November: The European Commission seeks new ‘anti-smuggling partnerships’ with Egypt and Tunisia before the end of 2023, despite clear evidence of abuse against migrants and refugees in both countries and racist violence endorsed by the Tunisian government. (Statewatch, 16 November 2023) 

Reception and detention 

7 November: Asylum seekers organise a protest against Home Office plans to move them 130 miles from Oxford to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset. (Oxford Mail, 10 November 2023)  

A group of adversaries protesting outside the Holiday Inn hotel. Credit: Asylum Welcome

7 November: Falkirk councillors criticise the Home Office’s ‘abhorrent underfunding’ of support for asylum seeking children as the council faces a shortfall of more than £400,000 for their care. (Daily Record, 7 November 2023) 

10 November: An FoI inquiry reveals that the immigration minister barred refugee charity Care4Calais from providing support and legal advice at the Napier barracks immigration accommodation centre on the ground that the organisation encourages asylum seekers to speak to the media and complain. (Guardian, 10 November 2023) 

10 November: In Lazio, Italy, a building housing asylum seekers is destroyed by an explosion, injuring 31 people, six of them seriously. Prosecutors investigate the yet unknown cause of the explosion. (InfoMigrants, 14 November 2023) 

16 November: Asylum seekers housed at RAF Wethersfield stage a protest about prison-like conditions and the ‘lack of medicine, blankets and clothing’. (BBC, 17 November 2023) 

16 November: North Yorkshire Council reveals online the addresses of Knaresborough properties where asylum seeking children are to be housed. (Your Harrogate, 16 November 2023) 

17 November: Three investigations are launched after a 37-year-old Albanian man dies in hospital after an attempted suicide at the Brook House immigration removal centre a week earlier, which sparked protests among Albanian and other detainees, along with the deportation of a second man who had attempted suicide. Human rights campaigners emphasise the fear that trafficked Albanians feel under threat of return. (Guardian, 18 November 2023) 

 17 November: 12 organisations working with asylum seekers in northern France warn of a ‘catastrophic situation’ for large numbers trying to survive in dire, dangerous insanitary conditions putting them at risk of death as they wait to try to cross the Channel with less emergency shelter provision than in previous years leaving many sleeping in the open, with no access to water and food distribution. (Guardian, 17 November 2023) 

18 November: As Pakistan launches a crackdown on refugees without visas, the MOD scrambles to relocate thousands of Afghan refugees who worked alongside British troops in Afghanistan (Operation Lazurite) to the UK, ‘dumping’ them across the country in military bases surrounded by barbed wire fences, where they are cannot leave and are left without information or support. (Independent, 18 November 2023) 

18 November: An outbreak of highly infectious scabies is reported to be affecting asylum seekers at the RAF Wethersfield accommodation centre. (Mirror, 18 November 2023) 

20 November: Annual statistics from the Department for Education show that young people seeking asylum are increasingly placed in unregulated accommodation, as charities criticise reforms to supported accommodation as insufficient and discriminatory as they do not require 16 and 17-year-olds to be offered ‘care’. (Community Care, 20 November 2023)  

Crimes of solidarity 

8 November: According to Sea Watch, a German draft law proposes to criminalise humanitarian rescue by removing the distinction between financial and humanitarian motives, leading rescuers to face up to five years’ imprisonment for their life-saving work. (Sea Watch, 8 November 2023) 

 15 November: Sea Watch International tweets that the Italian civil aviation authority has issued a warning about its aerial monitoring work in the Mediterranean, saying that the state has sole responsibility for rescue work, although international conventions make rescue a universal responsibility. (Sea Watch International on X/Twitter, 15 November 2023)  

15 November: Italian authorities detain SOS Méditerranée’s Ocean Viking for 20 days and issues a €3,000 fine for rescuing migrants in the Libyan Search and Rescue zone which stretches across most of the central Mediterranean. (SOS Mediterranee on X/Twitter, 16 November 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. 

10 November: The United Kingdom Constitution Monitoring Group, which comprises leading constitutional experts, says there is evidence that some UK politicians desire to wholly bypass democracy, citing the Illegal Migration Bill, the introduction of mandatory voter ID, and breaches of the ministerial code. (Byline Times, 10 November 2023) 

 13 November: Suella Braverman is sacked as home secretary over an article accusing the Met Police of bias over pro-Palestinian protests. (BBC News, 13 November 2023) 

Palestine Day of Action, London 2023. Credit: Institute of Race Relations

13 November: Hungarian rights campaigners fear that a prospective bill from Fidesz will create a new offence of threatening Hungary’s sovereignty. They warn that the new legislation could extend to political parties, media outlets and civil society organisations accused of operating under the influence of Washington and/or Brussels. (Guardian, 13 November 2023) 

14 November: The government appoints Esther McVey, MP for Tatton, as a minister without portfolio tasked with leading the government’s ‘anti-woke agenda’ and campaigning on ‘culture war issues’. (Left foot forward, 14 November 2023) 

14 November: Sacked home secretary Suella Braverman accuses the prime minister of betrayal over ‘key policy priorities’ she claimed he had agreed to in exchange for her support in his leadership campaign, including reducing migration, disapplying human rights law to ‘stop the boats’ and issuing statutory guidance to schools to protect biological sex. (Guardian, 14 November 2023) 

15 November: Suella Braverman says the prime minister’s proposals on Rwanda are ‘magical thinking’ and joins Conservative MPs demanding legislation which overrides human rights laws, as opposition members and peers vow to block emergency legislation. (Guardian, 15 November 2023; Guardian, 16 November 2023) 

19 November: Tory MP Bob Stewart stands down after being found guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence during a row with a Bahraini activist. (Guardian,19 November 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.  

8 November: The Political Network for Values (PNV), a far-right conservative think tank funded by the Hungarian government, is scheduled to host a ‘Transatlantic summit’ in New York on 16 November. The PNV is known to further Hungary’s ‘pro-family’, anti-immigrant policies, and has reached international influence by developing English language and Latin American networks. (SPL Center, 8 November 2023) 

8 November: Posters that warn the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and private landlords against providing accommodation for ‘illegal immigrants’ and the ‘excrement of other communities’ appear in Moygashal, Co Tyrone, and Rathcoole in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast. Moygashel posters state ‘it is not racist to protect your own community’. (Irish News, 8 November 2023; Belfast Telegraph, 6 November 2023) 

8 November: A 17-year-old boy from Nottingham, who had created Telegram groups to share terrorist material and spread white supremacist views, is sentenced to a high intensity referral order by Nottingham Crown Court after pleading guilty to four terrorist offences. (Counter Terrorism Police, 8 November 2023) 

 9 November: In Greece, 285 of 286 MPs vote to remove the immunity of 11 parliamentarians from the far-right Spartan party over their alleged links to neo-Nazi and Golden Dawn member Ilias Kasidiaris. (Ekathimerini, 9 November 2023) 

9 November: The European Parliament votes to remove the immunity of four Polish MEPs from the Law and Justice party (PiS) and Sovereign Poland party accused of inciting hatred against migrants. The MEPs were involved in a municipal election campaign in 2018 which depicted a fictional 2020 news report showing a crime wave caused by Muslim asylum seekers. (EU Observer, 9 November 2023) 

9 November: In the Netherlands, during his trial for publicly tearing up a copy of the Quran, Edwin Wagensveld, the leader of Dutch anti-Muslim group Pegida, tears up another copy of the Quran before shouting “f**k Islam” and leaving the courtroom. (Brussels Times, 9 November 2023) 

10 November: In Belgium, following a series of police raids targeting far-right extremists across Europe, two terror suspects are detained for preparing to commission terrorist acts. The two are suspected to be linked to ‘The Base’, a North American far-right group that seeks to connect individuals across the world in the pursuit of a white ethno-state. (Brussels Times, 14 November 2023; BBC News, 10 November 2023)    

16 November: A far-right extremist from Liverpool is jailed for five years for inciting racial hatred after an investigation found him to be a leading the “Creativity Movement”, a white supremacist group which seeks the ‘violent destruction and subjugation of people of colour, Black people and Jewish people’. (LBC, 16 November 2023) 

17 November: Former soldier William Howitt, who planned to burn down the left-wing Five Leaves bookshop in Nottingham, is found guilty of preparing a terrorist act. (BBC News, 17 November 2023)  

20 November: In Germany, police arrest an 18-year-old man who repeatedly threatened to kill others in pursuit of far-right political goals. Police seize arms, munitions, computers and phones in a search of his house. (Barron’s, 20 November 2023) 

POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

7 November: Former diplomatic protection and counter-terrorism Metropolitan police officer Michael Chadwell is convicted of sending grossly offensive racist messages, implying that ‘black people steal’, on a WhatsApp group for retired police officers. (Independent, 7 November 2023) 

8 November: Following a referral by the IOPC of a police sergeant for gross misconduct in connection with the 2021 death of Mohamud Hassan shortly after his release from Cardiff Bay police station, South Wales, a disciplinary panel finds no proof that force used during arrest contributed to his death. (IOPC, 8 November 2023) 

9 November: In Gwent, Wales, a police officer is sacked for gross misconduct after striking Ahman Kassim, who was in police custody, three times in the chest with his knee. (BBC News, 9 November 2023) 

9 November: Over the last three years, all 43 UK police forces are found to have reported victims of domestic abuse to the Home Office. The domestic violence commissioner writes to the home secretary to ask for reform to the system, which instils fear and stops people from coming forward. (Guardian, 9 November 2023) 

11 November: Christos Mihalopoulos, a 17-year-old Roma boy, dies of gunshot wounds following a police pursuit in Thebes, Greece. Police sources claim that a ‘suspicious’ car, carrying four young passengers, failed to stop when ordered, and that the fatal shot ‘went off’ after the boy tried to snatch an officer’s gun. (ERRC, 13 November 2023; Ekathimerini, 12 November 2023; Amnesty EU, 13 November 2023 ) 

13 November: Research published by the Runnymede Trust shows that Serious Violence Reduction Orders result in more searches of people from ethnic minority backgrounds, who experience poor mental and physical health as a result. The Home Office is accused of using ‘unreliable’ data to claim that ‘most’ of the public supported new stop and search powers that do not require grounds for suspicion. (Guardian, 13 November 2023; Open Democracy,  November 2023) 

14 November: INQUEST and Rianna Clearly criticise the Surrey senior coroner who, after earlier finding ‘multiple systemic failures’ caused the 2019 death of baby Aisha in a cell at HMP Bronzefield when teenager Rianna was left to give birth alone, announces that he will order no prevention of future deaths report, saying he is satisfied with changes made within the prison system. (Inquest, 14 November 2023; Channel 4 News, 14 November 2023) 

14 November: A previously unseen 2000 Met document contains conclusions that a senior police officer involved in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry was corrupt, prompting the family’s lawyer to call for an investigation into Ray Evans for alleged perjury. (Guardian, 14 November 2023) 

Image: Stephen Lawrence. Credit: Family Handout

15 November: HM Inspector of Prisons sends an urgent notification to the justice minister following an inspection of Bedford Prison reveals rat- and cockroach-infested cells, over-use of force and unprofessional behaviour by staff, racist incidents, and very high levels of violence and self-harm among prisoners. (HM Inspector of Prisons, 15 November 2023) 

19 November: A study published by IRR finds that the Home Office’s approach to tackling county lines drug operations is based on unproven assumptions and ‘racialised tropes’ that criminalise Black boys and young men. Young Black people are six times more likely than any other ethnicity to be included in county lines safeguarding classifications. (Observer, 19 November 2023)  

‘County lines’: racism, safeguarding and statecraft in Britain by Insa Koch, Lauren Wroe and Patrick Williams. Credit: Institute of Race Relations
21 November: A report on Children in Custody by HM Inspector of Prisons finds that fewer than half children in custody feel cared for, many sites are dominated by violence, and children from different backgrounds are still not treated fairly. 42 percent of children in custody are on remand, and 39 percent are in a site fifty miles or more from their home. (HM Inspector of Prisons, 21 November 2023)

DISCRIMINATION | EQUALITIES | HUMAN RIGHTS

18 November: The Observer reveals that 15 government departments are compiling secret files on social media activity of potential critics in order to block them from speaking in public. (Observer, 18 November 2023)  

EDUCATION 

16 November: French trade unions demand action from the education minister after  ‘Vigilant Parents’, an offshoot of Eric Zemmour’s Reconquête party that campaigns against ‘wokist, LGBT and pro-immigration propaganda’, targets schools and teachers for online harassment, distributes their addresses and organises rallies outside schools. (L’Humanité, 16 November 2023) 

19 November: The Observer reveals that universities pay millions to recruit international students annually, with one university spending £28 million on agents’ fees last year, as one-fifth of annual income from UK universities comes from international students. (Observer, 19 November 2023) 

HOUSING | POVERTY | WELFARE

12 November: Thousands of babies and toddlers are admitted to hospital in England each year with lung conditions attributable to mould and damp homes, says NHS associate medical director Andy Knox, as the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says the state of Britain’s housing is now ‘a crucial issue for child health’. (Guardian, 12 November 2023) 

14 November: The Joseph Rowntree Foundation cost-of-living crisis tracker finds that two million households have been forced to turn off their fridge or freezer to save money, with  four out of five households on universal credit going without food, turning off the heating, and not replacing worn-out clothing. (Guardian, 14 November 2023) 

16 November: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announces plans to crack down on benefits claimants who ‘refuse to engage’ with jobcentres or refuse job offers, making current sanctions permanent for those sanctioned for more than six months. (Guardian, 16 November 2023)  

19 November: Intelligence compiled by local authorities indicates that nearly 160,000 people are living in hidden, overcrowded and sometimes dangerous bedsit accommodation in unlicensed large houses in multiple occupation, with up to ten sharing a bathroom and little fire protection. (Guardian, 19 November 2023) 

21 November: The British Red Cross reports that Ukrainian refugee families are four times as likely to experience homelessness this winter as their British counterparts, with 6,220 families expected to have applied for homelessness support by the end of this financial year. (Guardian, 21 November 2023) 

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE 

8 November: Research by MIDDUS finds that three in five foreign doctors in the NHS face ‘racist microaggressions’ from patients, who wish not to be treated by them due to doubts about their training. 58% also encountered such behaviour from ‘colleagues’. (Guardian, 8 November 2023)  

9 November: Black babies are almost three times more likely to die than white babies according to figures on the National Child Mortality Database. Child mortality rates rose over the past year, as did the widening gap between rich and poor areas as well as white and Black or Asian communities. (Guardian, 9 November 2023) 

20 November: The NHS hands over a key role in patient data management to US surveillance technology firm Palantir, which will work with Accenture to operate the new ‘federated data platform’ for at least five years. Palantir is known for its work with intelligence and military agencies and its multibillionaire chair Peter Thiel, who was a keen supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign. (Guardian, 20 November 2023) 

EMPLOYMENT | EXPLOITATION | INDUSTRIAL ACTION

9 November: A group of workers employed in McDonald’s franchises across the UK launch legal action against the chain alleging bullying, racism and sexual harassment in the workplace. The national president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union reports receiving 1,000 complaints from sites all over the country. (Guardian, 14 November 2023) 

16 November: Media sources expose extreme levels of exploitation of foreign workers in the popular Finnish Lapland tourism sector, including long hours, low wages, random hiring and firing, overcrowded staff accommodation units and unsafe working conditions. Foreign workers are threatened with the revocation of residency permits or work visas if they make mistakes or attempt to leave their employer. (YLE News, November 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. 

8 November: A man from Croydon is found guilty of racially abusing Tottenham Hotspur footballer Son Heung-Min. He is sentenced to 60 hours of unpaid work, a £1,384 fine and a three-year football ban after the club and the Metropolitan police appealed the original punishment, which they believed to be too lenient. (Guardian, 8 November 2023) 

9 November: The chair of the Charity Commission says that the regulator may intervene if trustees reject or return donations because of ‘personal worldviews or preferences’. They need, he says, a significant justification for turning down money that could provide services for beneficiaries. (Guardian, 9 November 2023) 

14 November: Italian prime minister Georgia Meloni is set to open a Lord of the Rings exhibition at Rome’s National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary art. The exhibition is funded by Italy’s Culture ministry and is seen as an attempt by Meloni to shape the country’s cultural institutions around the novel, which is used by Italian neofascists as an example of the struggle between tradition and modernity. (Guardian, 14 November 2023)  

17 November: Cardiff City FC releases Jack Simpson after he admits to calling a teammate a “p**i” during the team’s pre-season tour in July 2023. Simpson admits breaching FA rules on the racial abuse of players and receives a £8,000 fine and six-game suspension. (Daily Mail, 17 November 2023) 

18 November: After Elon Musk agrees with a post claiming Jewish people stoke hatred against white people, media giants including Warner Brothers, Paramount, Disney, Apple and IBM announce a pause on all advertising on X (Twitter). (Guardian, 18 November 2023) 

19 November: The Mail on Sunday publishes the first ‘post-sacking’ interview with Suella Braverman, who is encouraged to ‘let rip’, alongside a piece by academic Matthew Goodwin that accuses ‘the woke Left and extreme Islamism’ of joining ‘forces to try to reshape society around values that are deeply divisive and un-British’. (Mail on Sunday, 19 November 2023) 

20 November: In Germany, support grows for a petition to save the Berlin memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe murdered under National Socialism as Deutsche Bahn pressures the Berlin senate to approve a new S-Bahn line directly under the site. (Save Sinti Roma Memorial, 20 November 2023) 

20 November: Rugby Union team Exeter Chiefs pass on CCTV footage to police after pundit and commentator Ugo Monye reported an incident in which a supporter ran towards him shouting racial slurs. (Guardian, 20 November 2023) 

RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT 

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

14 November:German police release figures show an increase in the number of attacks on migrants, asylum seekers and refugees since last year. There have been 1,515 in the first nine months of 2023, up from 1,371 in the whole of 2022. (InfoMigrants, 14 November 2023) 

17 November: In Villecresnes France, an elderly man who attacked a gardener, with a knife after shouting Islamophobic slurs  is charged with ‘voluntary attack with a weapon’ . (StreetPress, 20 November 2023)

The calendar was compiled by Sophie Chauhan with the help of  Graeme Atkinson, Margaret McAdam, Louis Ordish , Anne-Ysore Onana-Ateba and Joseph Maggs. Thanks also to ECRE, the Never Again Association and Stopwatch, 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. 


Feature image: Activists outside the Home Office on November 15, protesting the Rwanda plan and demanding an end to the ‘border regime’. Credit: Action Against Detention & 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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