Calendar of racism and resistance (6 – 20 December)

Calendar of racism and resistance (6 – 20 December)


Written by: IRR News Team

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


Crimes of solidarity

10 December: Fifteen activists who blocked the takeoff of an immigration removal charter flight in 2017 are found guilty of endangering the safety of Stansted airport, a terrorism offence for which they could be jailed for life. (Guardian, 10 December 2018)

11 December: Protests in support of the Stansted 15 take place outside the Home Office in London and Brighton, Sheffield and Glasgow. (Right to Remain, 11 December 2018)

12 December: In Brussels, the trial ends of twelve people who provided shelter for refugees and migrants in their homes and were accused of human trafficking. While the court acquitted Anouk Van Gestel, Myriam Berghe and two others, accepting that they had acted on humanitarian grounds, the other defendants received suspended sentences. (The Brussels Times, 13 December 2018)

13 December: The group known as the ‘The Briançon 7’, which includes people from France, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy who were charged after helping twenty refugees cross the Alps in April 2018, are convicted for assisting people to enter France illicitly in an organised manner and given suspended sentences ranging from four to six months. (France 24, 16 December 2018)

18 December: In Athens, Spanish activist and unionist Lola Gutierrez is convicted of people smuggling and receives a 17-month sentence, suspended in recognition of her humanitarian motive in trying to help a refugee child leave Greece in 2016. (20minutos, 18 December 2018)

18 December: Unis Resist Border Controls and other groups across over eighteen cities in the UK mark International Migrants Day by holding protests, demos and actions in solidarity with the Stansted 15 and all migrants struggling against the hostile environment. (The Overtake, 18 December 2018)

Asylum and migrant rights

5 December: The Lancet and University College London publish the results of a two-year research project that shows that myths about migrants being responsible for spreading disease and burdening health services inform hostile environment policies, with the BNP distorting Public Health England figures on TB to spread ‘fear stories along the lines of migrants are spreading these bugs’. (Guardian, 5 December 2018)

7 December: Médecins Sans Frontières confirms that it has been forced to terminate the operations of its search and rescue ship Aquarius due to a ‘smear campaign’ by European governments.  (Guardian, 7 December 2018)

7 December: The UK government temporarily suspends its tier 1 investor visa, (or ‘golden visa’ scheme) over fears of financial corruption. New rules will be introduced next year requiring more thorough audits of an applicant’s assets before they are allowed to settle. (Guardian, 7 December 2018)

10 December: Leaders from 164 countries agree to the UN’s non-binding Global Pact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in Marrakech, Morocco.  (Al Jazeera, 10 December 2018)

12 December: The Independent reports that at least seven Zimbabwean nationals living in the UK were ordered to attend Home Office meetings, during which they were interviewed by Zimbabwean government representatives, believed to be part of an agreement between the UK and Zimbabwe for the ‘repatriation’ of 2,500 failed asylum seekers. (Independent, 12 December 2018)

16 December: In Rome, thousands of people, donning French-style yellow vests, take to the streets to protest against Italy’s new anti-migrant laws which will, according to the collective Project Rights, create an ‘endless stream of people forced into hiding’. (Deutsche Welle, 16 December 2018)

16 December: UK Government-funded projects designed to remedy the aftermath of the Iraq War, including a scheme to train Iraqi civil servants in UK universities and a research project into gender-based displacement in Iraqi Kurdistan, are being hindered by visa restrictions related to the hostile environment. (Guardian, 16 December 2018)

19 December: Home secretary Sajid Javid unveils an immigration white paper setting out the government’s post-Brexit proposals to control migration. (BBC News, 19 December 2018)


8 December: The Home Office confirms that the police and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsmen are investigating the death of a 51-year-old Algerian man at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre. (Independent, 8 December 2018)

8 December: Hundreds of people respond to a call from ‘These Walls Must Fall’ and march through Bristol city centre condemning the existence of immigration detention centres and calling on Bristol city council to pass a motion to do the same.  (Bristol Post, 8 December 2018)

 12 December: Women for Refugee Women is concerned at the number of vulnerable Chinese women, many of whom have been trafficked, being detained without access to medical help or legal representation. The number of Chinese women in detention has more than doubled since September 2016. (Guardian, 12 December 2018)


6 December: The High Court rules that the Home Office unlawfully removed a 17-year-old Afghan child to Germany even though he was living with relatives in the UK. The boy, said to be a victim of torture, was given only one working day’s notice before his deportation. (The Independent, 6 December 2018)

11 December: NHS England reveals that it has lost contact with around 100 newly-qualified GPs who come from outside the European Union, and who may have been deported last summer because of their precarious visa status. (The Pulse Today, 11 December 2018)

12 December: The Home Office is trying to remove two children with physical and mental disabilities from the UK to Pakistan, where their father is originally from, but which they have never visited, potentially violating local authorities’ statutory duty to protect the welfare of children and breaking other UK and international laws. (Guardian, 12 December 2018)


10 December: The Bishop of Caltagirone, Sicily, says the church will host migrants forced out of the Mineo reception centre; and in the province of Crotone, the regional director of the Catholic charity Caritas, provides accommodation for a Nigerian family with a six-month-old baby. The Vatican’s secretary of state reaffirms its instruction for churches to assist all migrants. (Guardian, 10 December 2018)

Immigration enforcement

16 December: Southall Black Sisters and Liberty lodge the first ever ‘super-complaint’ against the police for referring victims and witnesses of crime to state immigration authorities, as exposed in a report earlier this month by Liberty. Read Liberty’s report here. (Winsworth and Middlewich Guardian, 16 December 2018)


18 December: Human Rights Watch publishes footage of injuries sustained by migrants in Greece and accuses the police of operating a ‘pushback’ policy at the country’s land border with Turkey in the north-eastern Evros region. Masked men wearing uniforms with no identifiable insignia have participated in beatings of migrants and refugees, it alleges. (Guardian, 18 December 2018)

Citizenship rights

5 December: A report by the National Audit office, ‘Handling of the Windrush Scandal’, criticises the Home Office for ‘its lack of curiosity’ around the Commonwealth citizens from non-Caribbean countries who may have been wrongfully detained or removed. (Guardian, 5 December 2018)

16 December: In Denmark, as part of its notorious ‘ghetto package’ that was approved by parliament in early December, a new law is passed making day-care mandatory for all children over the age of one in forty-three neighbourhoods on the ‘ghetto list’ as of July 2019. (The Local, 16 December 2018)

European Court of Human Rights

12 December: The European Court of Human rules that the Slovakian criminal justice system failed to treat the murder of three Romani family members in Hurbanovo, Slovakia in 2012 by an off-duty policeman as racially motivated,  awarding €50,000 in damages to the two surviving family members.(European Roma Rights Centre, 12 December 2018)


5 December: Using international mortality estimates from ninety-two countries, new research (see asylum and migrant rights above) shows that: migrants most often have better health than the general population; the risk of transmitting TB to their host countries is low; yet states do little to assure their health and safety, ensuring they are treated as ‘disposable’ and remain vulnerable to ‘3D jobs: dirty, dangerous and demeaning’.  (Guardian, 5 December 2018)


8 December: The German Institute for Human Rights publishes a report documenting ‘grievous exploitation’ of foreign workers, including EU citizens, mostly working in construction, meat processing, transportation, nursing and cleaning sectors where they are paid far below the minimum wage, forced to work unpaid overtime and live in inhumane housing conditions without access to legal support. (Deutsche Welle, 5 December 2018)


7 December: University of Cambridge professors and academics from around the world sign a letter criticising the appointment of Noah Carl, a social scientist whose work focuses on ‘academically discredited lines of inquiry’ involving race and genetics, to a prestigious research fellowship at St Edmund’s College. (Guardian, 7 December 2018)

14 December: A University of Exeter law society, founded in 1965, is disbanded following an internal investigation into racist messages shared in a WhatsApp group earlier this year in March. (BBC News, 14 December 2018)


9 December: Kick it Out call on football leaders to take a more proactive approach to dealing with racism in sport after Manchester City player Raheem Sterling is subjected to racist abuse at a fixture with Chelsea, and Motherwell player Christian Mbulu is racially abused during a Hearts fixture. Sterling accuses some sections of the media of fuelling racism against young black footballers, citing a MailOnline story about Tosin Adarabioyo. (Guardian, 9 December 2018)

10 December: The Sun uses its leader column to insist that its reporting on footballer Raheem Stirling has ‘nothing to do with skin colour’ and warns critics to ‘engage their brains’ before making accusations. David Kidd, chief sports reporter for The Sun, writes a column expressing his ‘unease’ with aspects of the Stirling coverage, warning that football journalism is not a diverse industry. (Guardian, 11 December 2018)

10 December: Chelsea Football Club suspends four people from attending matches pending further investigation into allegations of racial abuse directed against Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling. (Guardian, 10 December 2018)

15 December: Images posted on social media show football fans travelling to a Europa League tie in Budapest holding a Chelsea Headhunters flag featuring a Nazi symbol, an SS death’s head insignia and the Loyalist slogan ‘no surrender’. UEFA is investigating anti-semitic chanting by Chelsea fans at the same fixture. (Guardian, 14, 15 December 2018).

17 December: Three Chelsea supporters are spoken to by police after officers received reports of anti-semitic chanting on a train carrying fans returning from the club’s game in Brighton. Unless an official complaint is made police say that they cannot investigate. (Guardian, 17 December 2018)

17 December Police are investigating allegations that players in Chelsea’s youth system were the victims of a ‘racist bullying culture’ by members of staff in the 1980s and 1990s. (Guardian, 17 December 2018)


5 December: The National Centre for Combatting Organized Crime in the Czech Republic  describes ‘major threats’ facing the country including ‘uncontrolled numbers of people practicing Islam entering the country’, a ‘lax migration policy with regard to Vietnamese nationals’, ‘sham marriages’ amongst Turkish nationals and a ‘growing Chinese influence’. (Radio Praha in English, 5 December 2018)

6 December: The Guardian highlights Metropolitan police/ data showing that tasers, stun guns and ground and limb restraints are disproportionately used on black people. Forty per cent of incidents where the Met police used stun guns were against black people, with Inquest recording eighteen deaths since 2004 when a stun gun was used. (Guardian, 6 December 2018).

7 December: Police in England and Wales adopt a new policy, ‘Information Exchange Regarding Victims of Crime with No Leave to Remain’, ostensibly to stop the automatic passing of information about suspected ‘illegal immigrants who are victims of crime to immigration enforcement’. (Guardian, 7 December 2018)

9 December: A freedom of information request by Justice and Prisons reveals that in a pilot project in four jails, the authorities have contravened official guidance by using a pepper spray (intended only for use on violent prisoners) to ensure compliance in non-violent incidents. The effects of Pava incapacitant spray are described as ‘unbearable, like your skin peeling off’. (Guardian, 10 December 2018)

12 December: Over one year after the Angiolini review on deaths in police custody, the government publishes Death in Custody: a progress report. Download it here.

13 December: An inquest jury rules that the death of 39-year-old Natasha Chin in 2016 in Sodexo-run HMP Bronzefield, Surrey, was caused by neglect and a lack of basic healthcare. (Guardian, 13 December)

 14 December: Statistics compiled and released for the first time by the Home Office reveal the disproportionate use of force by police against black people. 12 per cent of such incidents involved black people, who constitute only 3.3 per cent of the population of England and Wales. (Independent, 14 December)

17 December The Metropolitan Police begin trialling facial recognition software in London’s West End around Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. (Independent, 17 December 2018)

18 December:  A BBC documentary shows video evidence of the behaviour of police officers restraining Sehku Bayoh, who died in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 2015, that allegedly contradicts the official police account of the incident. Watch the documentary here. (Guardian, 18 December)

18 December: The family of 29-year-old student Kingsley Burrell, who died in police custody in Birmingham in 2011, renew calls for a public inquiry after PC Adey of West Midlands police is found guilty of gross misconduct for lying about the events leading to the death, as well as failing in his duty of care. Two other police officers were cleared. (Guardian, 18 December 2018)


5 December: The Albanian foreign ministry calls on its Greek counterpart to explicitly condemn the killings of four Albanians in one month in Greece and to take measures to ‘stop the hate language that followed the events’, particularly citing the anti-Albanian rhetoric of the far-right Golden Dawn. The Greek government dismisses the Albanian concerns and describe the murders as criminal cases that are not connected to hate. (Balkan Insight, 5 December 2018)

6 December: Following a BBC investigation into the neo-Nazi Sonnenkrieg Division, anti-terrorist police carry out coordinated raids on the homes of three males, including a juvenile, in London, Bath and Portsmouth. An online gaming server to glorify violence, racism and misogyny, including calling for white women who date non-white men to be killed, had been exposed by the BBC. (BBC News, 5 December, Independent 6 December 2018)

6 December: Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, the Labour candidate for South Thanet, Kent, reports that a ‘For Race and Nation’ sticker bearing the National Front logo was stuck on her home. (KentLive, 6 December 2018)

9 December: Anti-racists vastly outnumber the 3,000 people who attended a far-right ‘Brexit betrayal’ rally which started in Whitehall and was called by Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, and Ukip.  (Guardian, 9 December 2018)

11 December: The Berlin branch of Alternative for Germany in Berlin (using the twitter hashtag ‘yes to white men’) celebrates the run-up to Christmas with an advent calendar honouring the contributions of white men who face ‘rampant discrimination’ in society as a result of ‘gender campaign that has long gone off the rails’. (Deutsche Welle, 11 December 2018)

11 December: In Bari, southern Italy, police close down the offices of the neo-fascist Casapound as part of an investigation into an attack on an anti-racist, anti-fascist demonstration in September. Seven anti-fascists are also under investigation. (ANSA, 11 December 2018).

14 December: Home Office figures for the year to March 2018 show that referrals to Prevent over concerns about far-right activity have risen by a third and that 44 per cent of referrals to the Channel scheme relate to far-right extremism. (Guardian, 14 December 2014)

16 December: On the first anniversary of the formation of Austria’s coalition government, at least 17,000 people (50,000 according to the organisers) protest in Vienna against the presence of the far-right Freedom Party in the coalition and its anti-migrant policies including welfare cuts aimed at immigrants. (The Local, 16 December 2018)

16 December: Belgian police use water cannon and tear gas to disperse a far-right demonstration against the UN global migration pact, addressed by Vlaams Belang politician Filip Dewinter, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. (Business Insider, 16 December 2018)

15 December: Spanish police arrest three men who they believe were running Gab, one of the most influential neo-Nazi websites, with a network of more than 50,000 subscribers. (Jerusalem Post, 16 December 2018)

 17 December: Five German police officers are investigated for organising a neo-Nazi cell within the Frankfurt police, accessing confidential data on Turkish-German lawyer, Seda Basay-Yildiz, and using it to send  a fax to her home address  purportedly from ‘NSU 2.0’ in which they threatened to ‘slaughter’ her 2-year-old child. (Guardian, 17 December 2018)

18 December: After a seven-week trial, six people are found guilty of membership of the banned far-right organisation National Action and are sentenced to jail terms ranging from five years to six years and six months. (Telegraph, 18 December 2018)


11 December: In the Swiss canton of Aargau, dominated by the extreme-right Swiss People’s Party, a municipal secretary is suspended after he posts abusive messages about refugees and immigrants on Facebook. (The Local, 11 December 2018)

9 December: The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) creates a parliamentary crisis in Belgium after quitting the coalition government over the prime minister’s support for the UN Global Compact on Migration, forcing Charles Michel to form a minority administration that might not last. (Guardian, 9 December 2018)


17 December The UK Home Affairs Select Committee warns in a report that local authorities may renege on their voluntary commitments to the ‘dispersal’ policy of housing asylum seekers because of a lack of support from central government and their belief that asylum seekers are being disproportionately distributed to their areas. (Guardian, 17 December 2018)

18 December: Legal proceedings begin in the High Court against the Home Office policy of the ‘Right to Rent’ scheme introduced in 2014, that forces landlords to evict or reject people they believe are in the country illegally, in a case brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the Residential Landlords’ Association, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Liberty. (Guardian, 18 December 2018)


Abuse and harassment

3 December: Police appeal for information after a man racially abused and threatened staff with an axe at a kebab shop in Hastings. (Sussex Express, 3 December 2018)

4 December: A teenager is evicted from his flat after he racially abused a refugee family from the Middle East, before throwing rocks at the windows of the family home and damaging the children’s bikes, in Ormsgill, Cumbria. (The Mail, 4 December 2018)

5 December: The Equality and Human Rights Commission launches an inquiry into racial harassment at universities. (Guardian, 5 December 2018)

11 December: Police appeal for information after a video posted on social media shows a man racially abusing passengers on a train from London to Leeds, before shouting ‘I’m with Tommy Robinson’. It is alleged that he was part of a group returning from a pro-Brexit demonstration. (Metro, 11 December 2018)

15 December: Police appeal for information after a woman was racially abused and had eggs thrown at her from a car driven by two men in Colchester, Essex. (Daily Gazette, 15 December 2018)

Attacks on people

3 December: Police appeal for information after a woman was racially abused by a woman before being physically assaulted by another woman who was walking her dog in York. (The Press, 3 December 2018)

5 December: Police appeal for information after a man racially abused, punched, headbutted and threatened to harm the family of the owner of shop in Bamber Bridge, Lancashire. (Leyland Guardian, 5 December 2018)

6 December: Police appeal for information after two men and one woman were racially abused, punched and assaulted by two men whilst walking in Canterbury city centre. (KentOnline, 6 December 2018)

Attacks on religious centres

12 December:  Manchester police say that they are treating a ‘truly disgusting’ arson attack on the Al-Falah Masjid Islamic Centre in Cheetham Hill as a hate crime. A group of males were seen running from the scene of the attack on 9 December. (Manchester Evening News, 12 December 2018)

Charges and convictions

7 December: In the Netherlands, a 44-year-old man named in court as Vincent T is jailed for three years for planning to carry out terrorist attacks on Muslims as well as a plot to attack the politician Sylvana Simons. Counter-terrorism units had monitored a Facebook group he founded where he attempted to recruit members and purchase weapons. (Dutch News, 7 December 2018)

14 December: At Bolton Crown Court, 29-year-old Dale Hart is found guilty of affray and the racially aggravated assault of a 15-year-old boy and his 39-year-old mother, both refugees who arrived in the UK on the UN’s Gateway Protection Programme, but escapes a prison sentence as the judge rules that the attack was not initially ‘racially motivated’. (Manchester Evening News, 14 December 2018)


6 December: The Fakenham & Wells Times reveals that 149 of Norfolk’s schools, academies and education settings reported incidents of prejudice, including racism, in the 2017-2018 school year, which is almost a 50 per cent increase in the number of institutions filing reports compared with the previous year. The number of overall incidents slightly fell, from 378 to 335 in 2017-2018. (The Fakenham & Wells Times, 6 December 2018)


Thanks to Rajesh Bhattacherjee, Jamie Wates and Joseph Maggs  for helping compile this calendar. Thanks also to Graeme Atkinson for assisting in the compilation of the anti-fascism and the far Right section. 

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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