Calendar of racism and resistance (8-22 April 2021)

Calendar of racism and resistance (8-22 April 2021)


Written by: IRR News Team


A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.


Asylum and migrant rights

7 April: An inquest into the suicide of 19-year-old Eritrean refugee Mulubrhane Medhane Kfleyosus in 2019, the fourth suicide in his friendship group in 16 months, concludes authorities failed to take into account the seriousness of his mental illness following the trauma of the journey, the loss of his friends and his social isolation when he was moved from London to Milton Keynes on turning 18. (Guardian, 7 April 2021)

14 April: It is revealed that the Danish government has revoked or refused to renew the residence permits of nearly 200 Syrian refugees, saying it is safe to return and detaining some, although deportations to Syria cannot take place at present. It is the first European country to do so. (Guardian, 14 April 2021)

Borders and internal controls

5 April: Two Italian photojournalists travelling with a group of Afghanis across the border into France, are arrested and detained, accused of being smugglers, despite showing their press passes and the lack of indication of a border crossing. (InfoMigrants, 8 April 2021)

7 April: A Wired/ Privacy International investigation reveals that the Home Office’ Data Services & Analytic Unit has the ethnicity, immigration status, criminal record, nationality and biometrics data on 650 million people, from over 30 mostly secret data providers, for use in status checking and watch lists. It awarded data processing and matching contracts worth £20 million in 2020. (Wired, 7 April 2021)

7 April: The European Commission calls for an urgent investigation into allegations that Croatian police operating close to the Bosnian border threatened a female Afghan asylum seeker at knifepoint, forced her to strip naked and sexually abused her. (Guardian,  7 April 2021)

8 April: The Home Office refuses post-Brexit immigration status to a 27-year-old Dutch-Somali journalist who has lived in Britain since she was ten, saying there is ‘no evidence’ she lives in the UK. (Independent, 9 April 2021)

9 April: An investigation by the Italian public broadcaster Rai News with the newspaper Domani and the Guardian finds that as well as wiretapping journalists, prosecutors in Trapani, Sicily, secretly recorded hundreds of conversations between human rights lawyers and their clients, including the Eritrean priest Mossie Zerai, in cases relating to migrant rescue boats. (Guardian, 9 April 2021)

11 April: The Libyan authorities release the subject of an international arrest warrant, named by the UN and the International Court of Justice as a notorious trafficker, and member of the Libyan coastguard, who formed part of a 2017 delegation to Italy on controlling migration organised by IOM and funded by the EU. (La Stampa, 11 April 2021)

11 April: In Sardinia, Italy, a judge rules that the coastguard can no longer detain the search and rescue ship Alan Kurdi pending litigation in November, since its operator, NGO Sea Eye, faces ‘severe financial damage’ by the impounding of its vessel in October 2020 after its crew saved 133 lives. (Sea Eye press release, 11 April 2021)

14 April: In Portugal, the announcement that the Border Service (SEF) has been dismantled and its responsibilities transferred to police forces and a new Asylum and Foreigners Service, is scorned by migrant support groups, who say that that police forces, such as the PSP which will oversee Lisbon airport, have a track record of racist abuse and aggression. (Reuters, 14 April 2021)

16 April: The Italian authorities knew the Libyan authorities were unwilling or incapable of rescuing migrant boats even as they pursued NGO search and rescue boats, the Rai News/Domani investigation reveals, as recordings by the Trapani prosecutor show the Libyan coastguard commander responding to news of ten dinghies in distress by saying ‘It’s a day off’, leaving many to die. (Guardian, 16 April 2021) 

17 April: The Home Office has stopped recording the number of Windrush victims who have died before receiving compensation, it is revealed, in a change from previous practice. (Independent, 17 April 2021)

18 April: In Italy, a Sicilian judge rules that former interior minister Matteo Salvini must face trial for dereliction of duty and kidnapping over a 2019 incident in which he refused to let the migrant rescue ship Open Arms dock in Lampedusa with its 147 rescued passengers. (Guardian, 18 April 2021)

The Open Arms migrant search and rescue ship docked in Syracuse harbour, Sicily.
The Open Arms ship in Syracuse harbour, Sicily, in 2019. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Octagon.

19 April: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals that the Home Office uses a potentially discriminatory algorithm to spot ‘sham marriages’ involving non-EEA nationals without settled status, involving ‘risk criteria’ which it refuses to disclose. (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 19 April 2021)

Reception and detention

6 April: In France, Calais police evict over 300 people living in temporary shelters, seizing at least 126 tents, 170 tarpaulins and 77 blankets. No alternative provision was made for the people evicted, despite freezing night temperatures. Eight solidarity and aid organisations condemn the move. (InfoMigrants, 13 April 2021)

9 April: Dozens of asylum seekers are moved to the controversial Napier barracks in Kent, despite ongoing litigation over its suitability and legality, and the return there of a man in mental health crisis, at 24 hours’ notice, was only prevented by charities’ intervention. (Independent, 12 April 2021)

14 April:  The Upper Tribunal finds the home secretary breached rights to life in deporting witnesses to deaths in immigration centres and otherwise failing to ensure such deaths are properly investigated. (Guardian, 14 April 2021)

14 April: In a legal challenge to Napier barracks by six asylum seekers, the High Court hears evidence that a fire brigade inspection found ‘serious and significant’ fire risks there two months before the blaze there in January. (Guardian, 14 April 2021)

15 April: The full report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) reveals ‘fundamental failures’ of leadership, planning and safeguarding at Penally and Napier barracks, with suicidal asylum seekers remaining for weeks in breach of policy. (ITV NewsIndependent, 16 April 2021)

Asylum seekers currently held inside Napier Barracks staged a peaceful protest outside the entrance to the barracks with banners and signs to demonstrate about the poor conditions they are subjected to inside the holding centre on the 12th of January 2021, Folkestone Kent. Over 400 asylum seekers are being kept at Napier Barracks in unsuitable, cold accommodation, they are experiencing mental health issues as well as being vulnerable to health conditions including COVID-19.
Asylum seekers peacefully protesting outside Napier barracks on 12 January 2021. Credit: Andy Aitchison.

18 April: The journalists’ collective Lost in Europe reports that over 18,000 migrant children have gone missing from state care in European countries between 2018 and 2021, leading to fears that many are subject to criminal exploitation. (Lost in Europe; Tagesschau, 18 April 2021)

19 April: The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the Home Office is putting vulnerable asylum seekers and trafficking survivors at risk of suicide by detaining them, urging it to allow potential detainees with a mental illness to remain in the community to access treatment. (Independent, 19 April 2021)

Criminalising solidarity

14 April: A dozen migrant and human rights organisations launch a campaign for solidarity activist Helena Maleno, who was subjected to unsuccessful criminal investigations by Spanish and Moroccan authorities for her work with migrants, after she reveals that in January she was violently deported from Morocco, her home for 20 years, separating her from her young daughter, on her return from Spain. (El Diario, 12 April; Caminando Fronteras, 15 April 2021)


12 April: In Reykjavik, Iceland, 50 people, including many refugees, gather in front of the Parliament building in the second protest this month against the resumption of deportations to Greece, fearing rampant coronavirus and inhumane treatment in the camps there. (Grapevine, 13 April 2021) 


7 April: A body found in Epping Forest is identified as the missing 19-year-old black student Richard Okorogheye, whose mother had criticised the police for ‘doing nothing’ when she first approached them. (Guardian, 8 April 2021)

9 April: The Metropolitan Police Federation calls on the government to stop people sharing footage of incidents involving police by tackling the social media platforms carrying them. MPF leader Ken Marsh says it is time to end ‘trial by social media’. (The Canary, 14 April 2021)

11 April: In Portugal, police say they opened fire on a street party which broke coronavirus regulations in Cova da Moura, a Cape-Verdean shanty town in Lisbon, after a gun was fired at them. No one was injured. (Público, 11 April 2021)

12 April: In what the judge says is a clear case of racial profiling and abuse of power, Metropolitan police officer Charlie Harrison is convicted of grievous bodily harm and jailed for 27 months for a violent attack on a black father in front of his teenage sons, as the three returned from visiting his partner’s grave, in east London in December 2018. (Guardian, 13 April 2021)

14 April: Journalists covering demonstrations in western Europe increasingly face violence from police as well as from protesters and far-right groups, say Reporters without Borders (RSF) in a report on attacks on journalism and free speech across Europe. (Guardian, 14 April 2021)

14 April: Bristol Defendant Solidarity reveals that at least 62 people were injured by police violence in Bristol during the ‘Kill the Bill’ protests between 21 and 26 March. The tally includes 7 injuries that required hospital treatment and 22 head injuries. (NETPOL, 14 April 2020)

15 April: The French parliament passes the Security Bill, massively increasing police powers. A controversial clause which would have made it illegal to publish images of police officers is modified following protests and criticism, but anyone helping to identify a police officer with ‘obvious’ harmful intent risks five years in prison and a €75,000 fine. (Al Jazeera, 15 April 2021)

18 April: Cambridgeshire police office Chris Tyler is found guilty of gross misconduct and sacked for using a racial slur towards a British Pakistani colleague and colluding with a colleague to deny it. (BBC News, 18 April 2021)


13 April: Labour calls on the Conservative candidate in the London mayoral elections to disassociate itself from ‘far-right’ and ‘underhand’ ads placed by the Fair Tax Campaign attacking its candidate, incumbent Sadiq Khan. (Guardian, 13 April 2021)

13 April: Robin Simcox, recently appointed as lead commissioner at the Commission for Countering Extremism, has ties with far-right networks promoting anti-Semitism, racism, white nationalism and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, according to a Byline Times investigation. (Byline Times, 13 April 2021)

20 April: Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch defends the CRED Report and attacks critics, amid allegations that Downing Street rewrote it and further condemnation, including from organisations listed as stakeholders, trades unions, who say it insults workers, and United Nations human rights experts, who say it attempts to normalise white supremacy. (Observer, 11 April; Guardian, 12 April; Observer, 18 April; Guardian, 19 April; Huffington Post, 20 April 2021) 

20 April: Following an attack by the Times newspaper on race equalities thinktank the Runnymede Trust, more than a dozen Tory MPs write to the Charity Commission accusing the Trust of pursuing a political agenda in its response to the CRED report, and demanding an investigation. (Guardian, 20 April 2021) 


9 April: Manchester Crown Court finds white supremacist Tony Eckersley guilty of racially aggravated harassment for sending MP Jess Phillips over 300 racist and misogynistic emails over nine months, and sentences him to 28 months in prison. (Guardian, 9 April 2021)

9 April: In Spain, a young anti-fascist arrested during a protest against the far-right Vox party claims he was beaten up during the 48 hours he was held in police custody. Photographs of his injuries are made public. (Publico, 9 April 2021)

13 April: The trial opens in Stuttgart, Germany of 12 ‘openly nazi’ members of Gruppe S, accused of possessing offensive weapons and planning a series of terror attacks on asylum seekers, Muslims, Jews and politicians. (Guardian, 13 April 2021)

13 April: The Union of Journalists in Germany documents 43 attacks on journalists during just one radical right rally in Leipzig. Reporters without Borders reiterates the claim of a rise in attacks, saying the radical right is using anti-lockdown rallies as a cover for neo-nazi activities. (CounterPunch, 13 April 2021)

14 April: Six months after the Golden Dawn trial ends in Greece, it is revealed that MEP Ioannis Lagos is still in Brussels, avoiding jail by claiming diplomatic immunity, and second-in-command Christos Pappas, sentenced to 13 years, has disappeared, amid allegations that the Greek security services and the Orthodox Church are sheltering him. (Vice, 14 April 2021)

16 April: National Action sympathiser Tobias Powell, from Bognor Regis, is convicted of behaviour intending to stir up racial hatred in relation to tweets calling for a ‘civil war’ to ‘stop the ethnic suicide of white people’. (Daily Mail, 16 April 2021)

17 April: In Denmark, Generation Identity issues posters telling refugees to ‘return home to sunny Syria’ and launch a sick competition promising the ‘lucky Syrian’ winner a ‘ticket to the home country, free of charge’. (Alaraby, 17 April 2021)

18 April: In Spain, a police raid uncovers an illegal factory in Tenerife using 3D printers to make weapons for a suspected far-right group. (Morning Star, 18 April 2021)


14 April: The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) advises ministers that a requirement for Covid-status certificates for access to services, jobs and events may constitute unlawful indirect discrimination. (Guardian, 14 April 2021)

20 April: The Dutch national statistics agency says it will no longer use the terms ‘western’ and ‘non-western’ to describe immigrants following criticism of Utrecht University’s planned ‘cultural diversity barometer’ to divide staff into Dutch, ‘western’ and ‘non-western’, condemned as ‘colonial’. (Dutch News, 20 April 2021)


7 April: Following their research into the level of discrimination faced by black nurses because of their hairstyles, nursing academics at Middlesex University London urge the NHS to stamp out ‘hair racism’ and scrap dress code policies which prohibit black hairstyles. (Nursing Times, 7 April 2021)

11 April: A Guardian analysis reveals that the current Black youth unemployment rate of 40 percent – three times higher than white workers of the same age – is similar to the rate at the time of the 1981 Brixton ‘riots’. (Guardian, 11 April 2021)

14 April: Uber is ordered to reinstate five London drivers sacked by automated decision-making including profiling which falsely accused them of fraudulent activity, while giving them no opportunity to clear themselves, resulting in their losing private hire licences. (Guardian, 14 April 2021) 

16 April: Research from the TUC finds that workers on zero-hours contracts and other insecure jobs are twice as likely to have died of Covid-19 as those in more secure occupations, with women, disabled people and BME workers more likely to be in precarious roles. (Guardian, 16 April 2021)

19 April: The Church of England’s former race adviser says C of E clergy and staff who complained about racism were paid off to keep quiet about it and in some cases threatened with loss of livelihood by superiors. (Guardian, 19 April 2021)  


13 April: A panel established by the charity Birthrights leads a national inquiry into racial injustice in UK maternity care and investigate the experiences of discrimination shared by parents, before a parliamentary debate on the large racial disparity in maternal mortality in British hospitals. (Guardian, 13 April 2021)

18 April: Birmingham Council establishes a multi-agency taskforce to investigate why families from a Pakistani background are suffering an infant mortality rate nearly twice the national average. Black African and Afro-Caribbean populations are also overrepresented in baby deaths. (Guardian, 18 April 2021)


19 April: Residents told the council three months before the Grenfell fire that people might die in a blaze, but were ignored, treated as ‘sub-citizens’, threatened, lied to, bullied and harassed when they raised safety issues, and disabled tenants were placed on high floors and given no fire evacuation plans, the Grenfell inquiry hears. (Guardian, 19 April; Guardian, 20 April 2021)

Justice for Grenfell graffiti on a brick wall.
Justice for Grenfell graffiti. Credit: Daniel Renwick.


15 April: Abolitionist Futures publishes ‘What’s wrong with Secure Schools’, outlining measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will allow charities to operate prisons for young people for the first time in England and Wales. (Abolitionist Futures, 15 April 2021)

16 April: Following a letter to parents of children at Pimlico Academy from the chair of the Future Academies Trust warning that further protests over allegations of racial discrimination would jeopardise students’ education, the head orders children involved in the protest and their parents to attend a disciplinary meeting on the first day of term. (Guardian, 14 April; Guardian, 16 April 2021)


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.

14 April: Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela is banned for 10 matches by UEFA after he is found guilty of racist behaviour towards Rangers’ Glen Kamara in a Europa League match in March 2021. (Guardian, 14 April 2021)

14 April: The government vetoes the reappointment of two women, including one of only two women of colour, to broadcaster Channel 4’s board, against recommendations from the board and broadcast regulator Ofcom. (Guardian, 14 April 2021)

15 April: The Rowntree Society publishes a report revealing the roots in slavery and colonialism of the wealth behind the York confectionery company and the charitable foundations it set up, beginning a process of ‘restorative justice’ tackling racism and inequality in the charity sector. (EachOther, 15 April 2021)


This is not a definitive listing but contains a selection of the more serious reported incidents.

6 April: Merseyside Police appeal for witnesses following a racially aggravated assault in a park in Kirkby on 3 March, where a man was spat at by a 30-year-old woman and punched and kicked by two men. (Merseyside Police, 6 April 2021)

9 April: Police launch an appeal for information after a 26-year-old man was racially attacked, sustaining facial injuries, in the car park of a West Lothian restaurant on 3 April. (Edinburgh Live, 9 April 2021)

9 April: A boy and girl both aged 15, and allegedly part of a group of 30 youths displaying antisocial behaviour in Burnley on 5 April, are arrested in relation to an incident of assault and racial abuse that took place on the same day. (Lancashire Telegraph, 10 April 2021)

11 April: Rennes city mosque in France is defaced with graffiti days before Ramadan, after the Senate voted in favour of banning girls under 18 from wearing the hijab in public in part of the ‘anti-separatism’ bill. (Al Jazeera, 12 April 2021)

13 April: A 49-year-old man is charged with racially abusing the West Brom footballer Romaine Sawyers online. (Guardian, 13 April 2021)

15 April: Two security guards are charged with racially/religiously aggravated common assault by beating following an incident at Manchester University in November 2020. (This is Lancashire, 15 April 2021) 

15 April: Ten gravestones in the Jewish plot of Belfast City Cemetery are vandalised in an incident being investigated by police as a hate crime. (Belfast Telegraph, 17 April 2021)

19 April: A Polish family with three young children in Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough plan to relocate after being racially abused by a group of young people who also smashed up their car. The family say they live under constant fear and stress due to regular abuse, including having their front window smashed and their bins set on fire last year. (Gazette Live, 19 April 2021)

The calendar was compiled with the help of Tania Bedi, Graeme Atkinson, Lou Khalfaoui, Jess Pandian, Inês Silva, Yewande Oyekan and Joseph Maggs.

Headline image: Asylum seekers peacefully protesting outside Napier barracks on 12 January 2021. Credit: Andy Aitchison

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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