Resisting state violence & the hostile environment

Resisting state violence & the hostile environment

Fortnightly Bulletin

Written by: IRR News Team

16 – 30 April 2024

As our calendar of racism and resistance shows, within days of the passage of the Safety of Rwanda Act, which received Royal Assent last week, and days before local elections in England, the Home Office began detaining asylum seekers as they arrived for routine immigration bail appointments and rounding them up nationwide in immigration raids, as if they were public enemies – which the government tries to pretend they are – and protesters against the Act, demonstrating outside immigration centres are being arrested too. No wonder increasing numbers of terrified asylum seekers are fleeing from Britain to Ireland, whose supreme court has ruled that since the Rwanda deal, the UK is no longer a safe country to which asylum seekers can be returned. Now, as the Irish government seeks its own emergency legislation to allow the return of asylum seekers here, Rishi Sunak is saying his government will not take them back. The passage of the Act exemplifies the government’s ditching of all considerations of decency, legality and international relations in its rush to salvage a few votes. As the UN’s refugee and human rights chiefs point out, the Act is an abdication of responsibility for refugees which sets a ‘worrying’ global precedent.

As we have become painfully aware in recent months, migrants and asylum seekers are not the only groups subjected to hostile environment policies, which are now being directed at the Palestinian diaspora in Europe, whose very identity and existence is being erased and criminalised in an attempt to force them out of public life. Those demanding, whether on the streets or at universities, an end to the Israel-Palestine war and justice for Palestinians, are subjected to aggressive restrictions and other hostile measures. While sit-ins at the Sciences Po university and the Sorbonne in Paris have come under attack from university authorities, police, and reportedly the prime minister, it is Berlin where unparallelled force has been used to break up Free Palestine events such as the Palestine Congress and the Occupy Against Occupation camp outside parliament. Meanwhile, the case of internationally renowned feminist and legal expert Dr Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, a Palestinian-Israeli professor who has been detained in Israel, illustrates the interaction between the hostile environment for those without citizenship, and the hostile environment against Palestinians. Queen Mary’s University of London, where Dr Shalhoub-Kevorkian is global chair of law, has failed to condemn her arrest. Over 250 academics at QMUL have signed an open letter calling on the university authorities to do more to support her.

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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