Dear IRR News subscriber,
The twenty-fifth anniversary of the racist killing of Stephen Lawrence, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of Enoch Powell’s notorious ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, reminds us how close is the link between racism in politics and racism on the streets. In this week’s IRR News, Liz Fekete describes, in a speech given at a Round Table on Racism and Hate Crime held in the Houses of Parliament, the dangerous path taken by democratic governments which capitulate to or collude with far-right agendas, and the urgent need to build new ‘communities of resistance’ against pervasive structural racism which feeds racist violence and the march of the far Right across Europe.
The structural racism of the ‘hostile environment’ measures imposed in 2014 and 2016 revealed itself in the scandalous treatment of the so-called ‘Windrush generation’ of elderly, long-resident Commonwealth citizens threatened with deportation, refused life-saving medical treatment and forced into homelessness and destitution, which finally surged into public and political consciousness this week and resulted in public apologies from both the home secretary and the prime minister, as well as a promise of speedy redress. Our interview with Bethan Lant of Praxis, conducted before the government U-turn, explores the experiences of those affected, and the impact of hostile environment measures and legal aid cuts on one organisation trying to help them. And Frances Webber asks whether the proposed redress will extend to those with no right to stay whose protection against removal as overstayers was quietly removed in 2014, with no parliamentary debate.
The role of NHS medical staff under the hostile environment not only embraces immigration policing and status checks; it now involves policing of thoughts, reading material and religious and political affiliation too, under the government’s Prevent strategy. Sophia Siddiqui reviews a recent report by Warwick University which looks at the blurred line between safeguarding and surveillance and discusses the impact on NHS staff and on mental health patients in particular.
The IRR’s recent report Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity demonstrated how the criminalisation of rescue of migrants at sea is a frightening but logical extension of the hostile environment which excludes, deters and repels refugees and displaced people across Europe. Last week, IRR News attended a meeting in Berlin in support of Salam Aldeen, founder of search and rescue NGO Team Humanity, who faces trial in Lesbos next month on smuggling charges for his rescue work. Anya Edmond-Pettitt reports on his case.
Finally, our regular calendar of racism and resistance is available here.
IRR News Team