Calendar of racism & resistance (9 – 22 January 2019)

Calendar of racism & resistance (9 – 22 January 2019)


Written by: Institute of Race Relations

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


Asylum and migrant rights

17 January: The High Court gives permission for a legal challenge to the immigration exemption from the Data Protection Act which prevents migrants seeing Home Office files on them. (Guardian, 17 January 2019)

21 January: The German health ministry launches a €1-million study into the use of   ultrasound to establish the age of unaccompanied minors, despite the fact that radiation treatment is not accurate and can harm the body. (Deutsche Welle, 22 January 2019)


9 January: The 49 people rescued at sea by the NGO vessels Sea Watch 3 and Albrecht Penck are finally granted permission to disembark in Malta following a promise by eight European states to receive them. UNHCR calls the nearly three-week delay in landing the refugees ‘unacceptable’. (UNHCR, 9 January 2019)

11 January: Two organisations working with unaccompanied minors in Calais report that between June and December 2018, they dealt with 53 medical emergencies. Twenty-eight were caused by living conditions at Calais, with nine suspected cases of tuberculosis. In ten cases children required immediate medical assistance because of police violence. (Deutsche Welle, 12 January 2019)

29 January: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees calls for impediments to NGO search and rescue missions to be lifted after an estimated 170 people are reported either dead or missing in two separate shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. (UNHCR press release, 12 January 2019)

Reception and detention

9 January: An asylum-seeking single mother from Armenia is revealed to be travelling up to one hundred miles each month from her accommodation in Stoke-on-Trent to Dallas Court in Salford, for compulsory reporting with the Home Office so as not to lose her allowance after the local immigration office closed last autumn.  (Independent, 9 January 2019).

9 January: Oxfam’s new report, Vulnerable and Abandoned, details abuses at the Moria camp, Lesbos, including mothers with newborn children sleeping in tents, children being detained, and neglect of torture survivors. Download the report here. (Guardian, 9 January 2019)

14 January:  Bail for Immigration Detainees reveals that 83 per cent of immigration detainees in the UK, many of whom lack any legal representation, are unable to access basic online resources on immigration law because the detention centres block relevant web pages. (Free Movement, 14 January)

18 January: The High Court awards £90,000 in aggravated damages to a Polish couple who were detained unlawfully for 154 days after being seized while sleeping rough in March 2017. (Independent, 18 January 2019)

18 January: The High Court allows the Home Office’s appeal that it is not unlawful to detain a British citizen, after an 8-month-old baby was detained for a fortnight along with his mother. The Home Office argued that detention was not the same as removal, and that so long as the baby’s immigration status was unknown detention was justified. (Free Movement, 18 January 2019)

21 January: Plans for asylum-seeker accommodation in Castlemilk, Glasgow, meet with objections from local residents, including over crime and the capacity of public services. The company responsible suggests asylum-seeker residents be under a 10pm curfew. (Evening Times, 21 January 2019)

21 January: The Home Office tracks where and how asylum seekers spend the state-issued Aspen cards holding their financial support, campaigners reveal. (Right to Remain, 21 January 2019)


9 January: The twentieth German deportation flight to Afghanistan since 2016, and the first of 2019, takes place, with 36 Afghans flown back to Kabul. The Bavarian Refugee Council describes the forced return of a convert to Christianity as a ‘death sentence’. (Info Migrants, 9 January 2019)

11 January: Congolese asylum seeker Otis Bolamu, seized in an immigration raid on 19 December but saved from deportation by a grassroots campaign, is released from detention. (Guardian, 11 January 2019)

21 January: Namibian asylum seeker Isabel Katjiparatijivi, detained in Dungavel House Immigration Removal Centre since 8 January, is released after the Home Office postpones the deportation order it previously claimed did not exist.  (The National, 22 January 2019)

Crimes of solidarity

15 January: As the Barcelona port authority blocks Spanish search and rescue ship Proactiva Open Arms from sailing, the charity says  ‘cowardly politicians’ are preventing them from saving lives. (The Local, 15 January 2019)


15 January: As the Home Office updates its guidance on how the ‘good character’ requirement should be applied to children seeking to register as British citizens, campaigners call for the requirement to be scrapped. (Guardian, 15 January 2019)

21 January: As part of her revised Brexit strategy, Theresa May announces that the planned fee for EU nationals living in the UK to apply for settled status – £65 for over-16s, £32.50 for those younger – will be waived. (Guardian, 21 January 2019)

22 January: In preparation for a potential no-deal Brexit, UK embassies in several EU member states are advising UK nationals to exchange their UK driving licence for the equivalent in their country of residence. (Guardian, 22 January 2019)


11 January: André Poggenburg, the Saxony-Anhalt regional leader of Alternative for Germany, resigns to form Aufbruch der deutschen Patrioten (Awakening of German Patriots). (Guardian, 11 January 2019)

14 January: The trial of an Exeter man arrested in possession of white supremacist materials and charged with encouraging terrorism, starts at the Old Bailey.  (Huffington Post, 14 January 2019)

16 January: Germany’s domestic intelligence agency says that while it has insufficient evidence to place Alternative for Germany under state surveillance, specific elements including its youth wing, Young Alternative (JA), politician, Bjorn Höcke (linked to the ‘alt Right’) and his followers, often referred to as the Wing (der Flügel), will be monitored. (Deutsche Welle, 16 January 2019)

16 January: In Vienna, in a protest coinciding with the first year of the Conservative far-right coalition government, at least 17,000 march against fascism, highlighting the welfare cuts and anti-immigration measures introduced. (The Local, 16 January 2019)

17 January: After YouTube removes an advert by Britain First for breaching its rules on the promotion of hatred, intolerance and discrimination, a spokesperson for the far-right organisation accuses it of ‘politically motivated censorship’. (Guardian, 17 January 2019)

17 January: Following complaints, YouTube disables adverts on Tommy Robinson’s Youtube account on the grounds that he is breaching its advertising policy and violating guidelines on ‘hate speech or content that promotes or incites violence’. (Daily Mirror, 17 January 2019)

17 January: Coordinated police raids across eight German states lead to the seizure of more than one hundred weapons belonging to members of the so-called National Socialist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Deutschland. (Newsweek, 17 January 2019)

17 January: Oxford University Student Union is condemned by Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds for inviting ‘racist after racist’ after it emerged that Marion Marechal Le Pen is due to speak at a members-only meeting next week. (Oxford Mail, 17 January 2019)

21 January: Solicitors for a bullied Huddersfield Syrian schoolboy launch a legal action against Facebook for giving ‘special status’ to Tommy Robinson whereby he was protected from the normal rules of moderation. Robinson peddled false and defamatory lies about the schoolboy on Facebook, claiming he had attacked three English schoolgirls and a boy. (see violence and harassment section below). (Guardian, 21 January 2019)


10 January: Police in the Swiss city of Schaffhausen defend their decision to fine a Muslim man for causing a public nuisance by using the words ‘Allahu akbar’ in public in a ‘loud and clear’ manner. The man maintains he was merely expressing delight at spotting a friend. He decided to speak out about the incident to the press after hearing of an alleged incident in December when a border guard punched a young man who also had said ‘Allahu akbar’. (The Local, 10 January 2019)

15 January: HM Inspectorate of Prisons and Constabularies publishes a report, based on unannounced visits to fifteen custody suites across London, which finds a high number of strip searches are being carried out by the Metropolitan police, and that BAME suspects are disproportionately targeted. Read the report here. (Independent, 16 January 2019)

17 January: Home secretary Sajid Javid approves revised rules on police conferring, rejecting both a complete ban on the practice and the mandatory separation of officers after a serious incident such as a shooting or a death in custody. (Guardian, 17 January 2019)

19 January: The Metropolitan police’s second ethnic pay audit shows that the gap between white officers and their black and Asian colleagues has widened over the last year. (Guardian, 19 January 2019)

Sean Rigg
Sean Rigg

21 January: Five Metropolitan police officers, facing a disciplinary hearing relating to the death of Sean Rigg in police custody in 2008, deny charges of misconduct. An inquest jury in 2012 concluded that police actions during Rigg’s arrest and detention contributed to his death. (Guardian, 21 January 2019)


14 January: A court in Italy finds far-right League MP Roberto Calderoli guilty of defamation aggravated by racial hatred for likening black MP Cécile Kyenge in 2013 to an orangutan, and sentences him to 18 months in prison, though it is likely his sentence will be suspended on appeal. (Guardian, 15 January 2019)

15 January: After the murder of Pawel Adamowicz, Warsaw’s new mayor, follows an earlier lead by the city of Wroclaw and introduces a programme against hate speech. (European Council on Foreign Relations, 17 January 2019)

17 January: A district court finds two leaders of the Swiss People’s Party youth wing in Bern guilty of racial discrimination towards the country’s Sinti and Roma populations.  During last year’s cantonal elections, a Facebook cartoon attacking a regional government plan to create camping sites for ‘travellers’ used racial stereotypes and the text ‘We say no to transit places for foreign gypsies’. (The Local, 15 January 2019)


18 January: Researchers at the Centre for Social Investigation at Nuffield College find that non-white minority ethnic applicants have to send 80 per cent more applications to get a positive response from an employer than a white person of British origin, and that discrimination against black Britons and those of South Asian origin – particularly Pakistanis – is unchanged over almost 50 years. (Guardian, 18 January 2019)


17 January: Research reveals ‘shocking’ labour market discrimination against BAME job applicants, at levels unchanged since the late 1960s. (Guardian, 17 January 2019)

17 January: Belgian prison teacher Luk Vervaet rejects the judgment offering reduced compensation for his sacking for national security reasons, saying he will fight on for the prisoners he is barred from visiting. (Luk Vervaet blogspot, 17 January 2019)

21 January: Over 100 outsourced cleaners, security guards and other support staff at the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), mainly migrant workers, start a 48-hour strike to demand the London living wage of £10.55 an hour and better hours and working conditions. (Huffington Post, 22 January 2019)


14 January: The All-Ireland Traveller Health Study finds that the suicide rate in the Traveller community is six times higher than the general population, increasing to seven times higher when focused on Traveller men. Eleven per cent of all Traveller deaths can be attributed to suicide. (, 14 January 2019)

17 January: Data from the workforce race quality standard report of NHS England reveals that the number of BME staff reporting discrimination has increased from 13.6 per cent in 2015, to 15 per cent in 2016. (National Health Executive, 17 January 2019)

21 January: European governments must do more to ensure that migrants get better access to health care, says the World Health Organisation, which singles out Germany and Hungary for only guaranteeing emergency care to asylum seekers and stresses the cumulative impact on health of lengthy asylum processes. (The Local, 21 January 2019)


9 January: Italian police investigate AS Roma ultras after anti-Semitic stickers reading ‘Lazio, Napoli and Israel, same colours, same flags. S**t’ were displayed in the north of Rome where Lazio fans were gathering.  (The Local, 9 January 2019)

15 January: UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings against Chelsea FC over allegations that the club’s supporters engaged in racist chanting during an away fixture in Budapest. If found guilty, Stamford Bridge could be closed during one of the club’s Europa League fixtures. (Guardian, 15 January 2019)


15 January: The Independent Press Standards Organisation announces that new guidance for reporting on Islam and Muslims to be published later this year will help journalists cover a ‘sensitive area’ without impinging on the ‘right to criticise, challenge or stimulate debate’. HoldTheFrontPage, 15 January 2019)

15 January: In a bid to promote the conscious use of language that does not discriminate, mislead or violate democratic principles, a committee selects ‘anti-deportation industry’  (Anti-Abschiebe-Industrie), used as part of a right-wing smear campaign against human rights activists, as the non-word of 2018. (Deutsche Welle, 15 January 2019)

18 January: The day after her appearance on BBC’s Question Time, Diane Abbott accuses the show of legitimising racism, claiming that before and during the show she was mocked, jeered and interrupted more than other panellists. (Guardian, 18 January 2019)


13 January: The Department for Education (DfE) has revoked parents’ right to retract information on pupils’ nationality and place of birth from the schools census, and continues to pass other pupil data to the Home Office for immigration enforcement, it is revealed. (Guardian, 13 January 2019)

18 January: Birmingham University comes under fire for issuing guidelines requiring non-EU academics to record their attendance each day by completing a time card which would be checked weekly. (Guardian, 18 January 2019)


Attacks on people

16 January: Thousands gather in cities across Poland to pay tribute to Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdańsk, who was stabbed to death during a charity event. Adamowicz was a hate figure for the far Right for his defence of migrants, refugee and LGBT rights, and his death is believed to be linked to growing social intolerance in Poland. (Guardian, 16 January 2019).

Abuse and harassment 

10 January: In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, darts champion Deta Hedman reveals the racial abuse she has suffered, including an email which started ‘Go kill yourself’. (Guardian, 10 January 2019)

11 January: A man is filmed in a Brixton McDonalds ranting about women and immigrants and declaring that ‘civilisation was created by white men’.  (Metro, 12 January 2019)

17 January: Bristol police step up security at the council chamber as they investigate racially aggravated harassment and death threats made to mayor Marvin Rees and deputy mayor Asher Craig. In one incident, the words ‘Marvin must die’ were sprayed outside Rees’ home. (Guardian, 17 January 2019)

21 January: The bullied Huddersfield Syrian schoolboy Jamal, reports continued harassment including people hanging outside his house, videoing him on their phones and calling him a ‘little rat’ if he goes outside. (Guardian, 21 January 2019)

Charges and convictions

10 January: A 17-year-old boy is arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence at a Tottenham vs Chelsea FA fixture. (Evening Standard, 10 January 2019)

11 January: Prosecutors secure a retrial after a jury clears Billy Charlton, who spoke alongside Tommy Robinson, on one count of inciting racial hatred at rallies in Sunderland, but fails to reach a verdict on another five counts. (Sunderland and Echo News, 7 December 2018, 11 January 2019)

14 January: A 57-year-old man is convicted of racially aggravated violence at Leicester Crown Court for a road rage incident in August 2017 in which he shouted racist abuse at two men and hurled a spanner at their van, causing damage to the vehicle. (Leicester Mercury, 14 January 2019)



Thanks to Joseph Maggs and Ifhat Shaheen-Smith for helping to 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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