Institute of Race Relations News
A Southall resident describes the community activities in Southall Resists 40, remembering the death of anti-fascist Blair Peach in 1979 and the historic opposition to racism and fascism in Southall.
23 April is mainly seen as England’s national St George’s Day. But, that day also stands out as a moment in British history when nationalist sentiment was supplemented with state racism and police brutality of the deadliest kind. Tuesday 23 April 2019 will mark forty years since the murder of teacher and anti-racist activist, Blair Peach. Peach’s death in 1979 was a consequence of a ruthless display of police violence against Southall’s predominantly South Asian community, with whom Peach was protesting in solidarity against the National Front’s unwanted and provocative presence in the town. It is with a commitment to honouring this salient milestone in British anti-racism, as well as remembering Southall’s wider history of grassroots anti-racist resilience, that Southall Resists 40 (SR40) was formed.
SR40 is a coordinating group comprised of local residents, organisations, activists and artists. Underpinning the project is the collective view that remembering the aggressive policing of Southall’s black and Asian community, and of the wider contingent of anti-fascist protesters, in April 1979 is imperative, not least because Peach’s murder remains ‘unfinished business’ – no police officer was held to account for it. SR40 also represents a collective effort to relate the pivotal moment of 1979 to Southall’s broader history of racist violence and anti-racist resistance, which includes the racially-motivated murder of Gurdip S. Chaggar in 1976, and the community’s successful efforts to defend the town from fascist intruders in 1981. The project also recognises the significance of Southall’s anti-racist history for ongoing struggles against state racism and far-right fascism. That is, SR40 remembers not for the sake of remembering, but rather to draw inspiration from the past for the anti-racist challenges facing us today.
SR40 in practice
In practical terms, SR40 serves as a hub for various projects to work together, support one another and use creativity as a political tool for learning about past anti-racist struggles to mobilise in the present. Some initiatives already underway include the Southall Rising Arts Project, to make the monumental events of 1976, 1979 and 1981 a point of sustained classroom discussion — decolonising the curriculum in action. The project has involved community members working with local primary and secondary schools throughout the year, with students learning about the struggles of Southall’s black and Asian working-class community through art and creative writing. Some of the artwork is, appropriately, on display at the Southall Town Hall. Complementing this, the history walks initiative traces the gradual development of Southall into a proud symbol of multicultural conviviality, while also covering sites like the Dominion Centre, where racist violence and community fightbacks underpinning that development took place.
Upcoming events that will recall Southall’s past anti-racist struggles, while also organising for the present, include ‘An Evening of Culture and Resistance’ on Friday 12 April 2019, which will involve poetry, music and film; a plaque ceremony and vigil in honour of Blair Peach and Gurdip S. Chaggar on Tuesday 23 April 2019; a procession on Saturday 27 April 2019; and a symposium on fighting fascism on the following day at Birkbeck, University of London. Each initiative is special in its own way and makes a unique contribution to the collective endeavour of acknowledging not only Southall’s anti-racist past, but also how it speaks to the now.
Hopefully, the momentum generated from these grassroots projects can be built upon beyond April 2019. The community victory that put paid to the far Right ever stepping foot in the town again, is a proud legacy to remember in radical history, but SR40 suggests how that tradition can be carried forward beyond Southall too.
Blair Peach memorial march following his death on 28th April 1979. Protesters look towards to spot where Blair Peach was killed.Upcoming Southall Resists 40 events:
23 March: Southall history and memorial walk (11am, starting from Dominion Centre, Southall)
12 April: An evening of culture and resistance (6.30pm, at Tudor Rose Club, Southall)
23 April: Screening of Southall on Trial, plaque ceremony and vigil (4pm, Southall Town Hall)
27 April: ‘Southall remembers, Southall united’ procession (2pm, starting from Dominion Centre)
28 April: Conference on How to fight fascists and win, (1-5.30pm, Birkbeck, University of London)
4 June: Conference on ‘State Racism and the far Right’ (6.30pm, Dominion centre, Southall)
For further information, please contact email@example.com
A lecture examining political resistance to the UK’s ‘deport now, appeal later policy’, the value of direct action and what the judgement on the Stansted 15 means for the future of political dissent.
- Wednesday 20 February, 6pm – 8pm
- Room 313, School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End, London, E1 4NS
The event, hosted by the International State Crime Initiative, will feature Ali Tamlit and Helen Brewer – two members of the Stansted 15 – their legal counsel, and experts on policing and protest.
Register for the event here
Queen Mary School of Law International State Crime Initiative
A London conference bringing together activists from across Europe and beyond to discuss and organise against the rise of the far Right.
- Saturday 2 March, 9:30am – 5pm
- Bloomsbury Central, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8EP
Speakers include Diane Abbott MP, Liz Fekete, and more.
Register for tickets here
More information on No Pasaran
A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.ASYLUM, MIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP Asylum and migrant rights
23 January: After two years of unlawfully refusing his safe passage from the Calais Jungle, the Home Office finalises arrangements for an Eritrean child refugee to join his aunt in the UK. (Independent, 23 January 2019)
28 January: The Labour Party’s last-minute opposition to the government’s post-Brexit Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill proves ineffective as Parliament votes in favour by 297 to 234 votes. (Guardian, 28 January 2019)
28 January: In Genoa, Italy, Prince Jerry, a 25-year-old Nigerian chemistry graduate, who arrived in Italy over two years ago on a boat from Libya, kills himself by jumping under a train after becoming deeply depressed after being denied a residence permit. (Naij.com, 31 January, Guardian, 1 February 2019)
30 January: The Dutch government announces that it will allow 630 ‘well-rooted’ child refugees facing deportation to stay but, after that, the amnesty for child refugees will be abolished and the number of refugees the Dutch take from UN resettlement schemes will be cut. (DutchNews, 30 January 2019)
30 January: In The Hague, a 96-day non-stop church service run by 1,000 volunteer pastors and priests from across Europe to protect an Armenian family from deportation comes to an end as the family of five benefits from the amnesty (see above). (New York Times, 30 January 2019)Borders
24 January: A special tribunal in Catania rules that interior minister Salvini could stand trial for kidnap in relation to his refusal to allow an Italian coast-guard ship carrying migrants to enter Italian waters. (The Local, 25 January 2019)
31 January: After twelve days at sea, the Dutch-flagged Sea Watch 3 is allowed to dock in the Sicilian port of Catania as six European countries agree to accommodate the migrants it carries. Italian interior minister Salvini is threatening legal action against the crew for aiding ‘illegal immigration’. (The Local, 31 January 2019)
February: The impounding of the vessel Sea-Watch 3 for technical irregularities by the authorities in Catania, Sicily, means that there are currently no independent search and rescue missions operating in the Mediterranean. (Euractiv, 5 February 2019)
4 February: A section of the port in Lesvos is named after Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a coastguard who distinguished himself during the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015/16 rescuing more than 5,000 people, but who died last year aged 44 of a heart attack. (Ekathimerini, 4 February 2019)Immigration enforcement
29 January: French police clear 300 people, many from Africa and Afghanistan, from a makeshift refugee camp by Porte de la Chapelle in northern Paris. La Cimade condemns repeated evictions, saying that more than 2,400 refugees and migrants, including children, are sleeping rough in camps north of Paris or in Saint-Denis. (Reuters, 29 January 2019)Reception and detention
23 January: The first mass eviction of refugees since Italy introduced the ‘Salvini’ immigration decree begins, with 500 people forced out of the Castelnuovo di Porto reception centre, near Rome. (Guardian, 23 January 2019)
23 January: Lewisham Council becomes the eighth local council to pass a These Walls Must Fall motion calling for an end to immigration detention. (Detention, 24 January 2019)
25 January: The Inspectorate of Prisons’ final report on Campsfield House immigration removal centre, due to close in May, finds that 41 per cent of detainees felt unsafe in the facility. (BBC News, 25 January 2019)
5 February Government figures, revealed in response to a written question by the Liberal Democrats, show that the government has spent £523.5 million on immigration detention between April 2013 and March 2017. (Independent, 5 February 2019)Deportations
30 January The Morning Star reveals that following the Stansted 15 action, Stansted Airport refused to allow the Home Office to use its runway for chartered deportation flights. The RAF, whose runways would be used instead, also began labelling anti-deportation activists as ‘enemy forces’. (Morning Star, 30 January 2019)
4 February Two men are earmarked for deportation on a charter flight to Jamaica despite being summoned as key witnesses in the inquest into the death of Carlington Spencer in Morton Hall IRC in 2017. (Guardian, 4 February; Independent, 5 February 2019)
6 February: About 50 people, including many who have lived in the UK with families and children for decades, are deported on a charter flight to Jamaica, believed to be the first such flight to Jamaica since the Windrush scandal. At least 7 people who were given removal directions are understood to have been granted a last-minute reprieve from the flight. (Sky News, 6 February, Guardian, 6 February 2019)
Crimes of solidarity
22 January: The Legal Centre Lesvos says that there is no basis for the arrest of human rights activist Bangladeshi asylum seeker, Sohel M, for criminal offences relating to a fire at the Moria detention centre in October 2016, in which no one was hurt. (The Legal Centre Lesvos, 22 January 2019)
6 February: As hundreds gather outside Chelmsford Crown Court in support of the Stansted 15, who were awaiting their sentence after being found guilty of endangering an airport for blocking the takeoff of a deportation flight in 2017, a Crown Court judge indicates that all 15 will avoid immediate jail time, with 3 given suspended sentences and 12 given community service. (Guardian, 6 February 2019)
ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT
22 January: A man accused of causing an explosion during a nationalist protest against the Prespes ‘name deal’ between Greece and Macedonia, is linked to the far-right Apella group. Journalist Thomas Jacobi, who co-produced the documentary ‘Golden Dawn: a personal affair’, was also violently attacked during the same demonstration. (Ekathimerini, 22 January 2019, Anti-Fascist Action Greece, 22 January 2019)
25 January: The far Right is believed to be behind the firebombing of the home of Syriza MP Theodora Tzakri in the city of Giannitsa, and linked to the ongoing parliamentary debate on the ratification of the Prespes accord. (Ekathimerini, 25 January 2019)
25 January: Fourteen members of the far-right Austrian ‘Federation of States’, including a former police officer, are convicted of attempting to initiate an army-led coup. (Deutsche Welle, 25 January 2019)
27 January: On International Holocaust Day, around 70-100 neo-Nazis protest outside Auschwitz claiming that only Jews and not Poles who died there are remembered. Alternative for Germany is banned from participating in the commemoration at the Buchenwald camp. (i24news, 26 January 2019, Associated Press, 27 January 2019)
28 January: German bloggers post on netz.politik.org previously unseen classified intelligence on the far-right AfD detailing some members’ links to the Identitarian movement. (Deutsche Welle, 28 January 2019)
29 January: Tommy Robinson is refused a visa by the Australian authorities, derailing a speaking tour in which he was due to speak in five cities alongside Gavin McInnes and Milo Yiannopoulos. (Independent, 29 January 2019)POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
23 January: An inquest jury finds that numerous systemic and individual failings contributed to the death from self-inflicted injuries of Tyrone Givans at HMP Pentonville on 26 February 2018, including a failure to recognise and address his profound deafness and vulnerability to alcoholism and substance abuse. (Islington Gazette, 23 January 2019)
25 January: Following a judicial review, the high court orders a new inquest into the death of Windrush citizen Dexter Bristol. The original coroner refused to designate the Home Office an interested party or to consider whether the stress caused by its hostile environment policies was a contributing factor to his death by heart failure. (Guardian, 25 January 2019)
27 January: Two police officers involved in the death of Sheku Bayoh in May 2015 challenge the Scottish Police Authority’s refusal to grant them early retirement on medical grounds. (Daily Record, 27 January 2019)
28 January: A report by the Inspectorate of Prisons finds that 51 per cent of young boys in young offenders’ institutions and over 40 per cent of those in secure training centres in England and Wales are from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. (Guardian, 29 January 2019)
30 January: A joint inspection report reveals that staff at the MOJ-run Medway secure training centre (STC), a children’s prison for 12- to 18-year-olds, are still restraining inmates who engage in passive non-compliance. (Guardian, 30 January 2019)
31 January: The chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime says that a government proposal, to amend the offensive weapons bill to introduce ASBO-style knife crime prevention orders, risks criminalising a whole generation of young people. (Guardian, 31 January 2019).
31 January: New Ministry of Justice safety in custody statistics show that 325 people died in prison in 2018, a 10 per cent increase on the year before, and that there were even larger increases in incidents of self-harm, prisoner-on-prisoner and prisoner-on-staff assaults. Read the report here. (Guardian, 31 January 2019)
31 January: Guardian Cities gives the background to last week’s urban disturbances in Lisbon during which a spontaneous demonstration against police brutality is called in the city centre after a video showing police beating up the black residents of the Bairro de Jamaica goes viral. Rubber bullets are fired against the protesters, and disturbances erupt across the capital, with cars set on fire and police stations targeted. (Guardian, 31 January 2019)
1 February: Five Metropolitan police officers accused of gross misconduct over the death of Sean Rigg under police restraint in August 2008 lose their bid to have disciplinary charges against them dropped. (Guardian, 1 February 2019)
2 February: Swedish police launch two investigations after a video goes viral showing a heavily-pregnant black women travelling with her daughter being forcibly removed from the Stockholm metro. The security guards are being investigated for potential misconduct and the woman for ‘violent resistance’. (Guardian, 2 February 2019)ELECTORAL POLITICS
25 January: Over two hundred prominent Austrians, led by authors Elfriede Jelinek and Daniel Kehlman, demand the resignation of the country’s far-right interior minister, Herbert Kickl, after he questioned Europe’s human rights conventions in relation to asylum seekers and said ‘it was up to law to follow politics’. (Deutsche Welle, 25 January 2019)
4 February: Several conservative MPs, including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel, tweet support for new right-wing youth group Turning Point UK, an apparent offshoot of a US group accused of anti-Islam views and connections to racism. (Guardian, 4 February 2019)DISCRIMINATION
4 February: University and College Union (UCU) research, based on interviews with 20 of the total 25 black women professors in UK universities, finds that black women professors have to overcome bullying, stereotyping, and institutional neglect in order to gain promotion. (Guardian, 4 February 2019)COUNTER-TERRORISM
22 January: Majed Al-Zeer, a British citizen and chair of the Palestinian Return Centre, wins £13,000 damages after bringing a case against the World-Check risk intelligence database for wrongfully designating him a terrorist threat leading to the closure of three bank accounts belonging to him and the Centre. (Al Jazeera, 22 January 2019)
25 January: The Counter-Terrorism Professional Standards Unit and Redbridge Council launch investigations after the parents of an 8-year-old boy say he was left traumatised after being questioned at school in Ilford by two counter-terrorism police officers and a social worker about alleged radicalisation. (Muslim News, 25 January 2019)EDUCATION
5 February: The Vice-Chancellor of Warwick University announces that two undergraduates who discussed women as rape targets in an online group chat, which included racist and homophobic remarks, will not be allowed to return to campus, reversing a recent disciplinary panel decision that drew heavy criticism. (Guardian, 5 February 2019)SPORT
31 January: Interior minister Matteo Salvini mocks the Italian Football Federation’s new measures to tackle racism in football, claiming they introduce a ‘Richter scale for booing’. (Guardian, 31 January 2019)RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT
23 January: Batley and Spen Labour councillor, Fazila Loonat, links the racial abuse and threats she has received online and on the street to an article written by the owner of a local newspaper who described her as a ‘divisive extremist’ and member of an ‘anti-British’ ‘anti-Semitic’ organisation – a reference to Momentum. (Guardian, 23 January 2019)
24 January: Charlotte Knobloch, the 86-year-old former head of the Central Council for Jews in Germany is targeted for hate mail and threatened by email and telephone ‘almost by the minute’ after describing the far-right AfD, in a speech in the Bavarian parliament, as a threat to democracy. (i24News, 24 January 2019)
25 January: The Bahr Academy, an Islamic school in Newcastle, is attacked and vandalised with graffiti such as ‘Moslem terrorists’ scrawled on the walls. (BBC News, 27 January 2019)
25 January: Oxford hate crime figures may be an underestimate, warns the Oxford Polish Association. 188 racially or religiously aggravated crimes were reported to police in Oxford last year – an increase of over 40 per cent from the previous year. A total of 261 racist incidents were reported in Oxford in 2018, compared to 191 in 2017. (Oxford Mail, 25 January 2019)
25 January: Stockton council’s hate crime statistics for 2018 show that recorded cases in Teesside have doubled since 2014, and that attacks on taxi drivers are now a ‘daily occurrence’. A total of 268 incidents were recorded in 2018, with one in six of all victims aged 17 and under. (Teesside Live, 25 January 2019)
29 January: A man is arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence for a racist video posted online. It appears to have been filmed in Bow, east London and shows Muslim school girls while a male voice threatens a Nazi sterilisation programme and makes other racist and derogatory remarks. (inews, 29 January 2019)
30 January: In Xanthi, Greece, a teacher, Thanasis Papastathopous, vows to protect his pupils from racism after graffiti describing him as a ‘leftist mathematician, f****t and rabbit’ appears on the school walls, alongside comments like ‘punches and kicks to the Turkish-friendly teachers’ and ‘we will be back and the earth will tremble’. (efsyn.gr, 30 January 2019)
30 January: The Never Again Association in Poland publishes a report on the targeting on 2017/18 of Muslims, those perceived to be Muslim, Muslim-run restaurants and mosques often accompanied by racially abusive comments like ‘Osama, Osama’, ‘dirtbags’, ‘terrorists’ ‘your turban’ and ‘to the gas chamber’. (Never Again Association, 30 January 2019)
31 January: A leaflet featuring a cartoon of Sajid Javid with the words ‘Migrants: our country needs you to stay away’ and ‘just get out of England’ written underneath, is delivered to the headquarters of the Nottinghamshire Polish-language newspaper, and is being investigated by the police as a hate crime. (Holdthefrontpage.co.uk, 31 January 2019)
3 February: The family of the 15-year-old Syrian refugee who was filmed being bullied in Almondbury Community School last October say they have moved away from Huddersfield to escape threats of racist violence. (Guardian, 3 February 2019)
3 February: A brutal attack on 29 September 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria on Leon Koffi – a British citizen originally from the Ivory Coast – is not reported on in the mainstream media. Koffi was set upon by neo-Nazis and beaten almost to death, losing his front teeth, suffering a broken jaw and severe concussion. He subsequently received scant support from any official agency, including the British Embassy. (Lee Jasper blog, 2 February
5 February: Police officers in Cumbria report a rise in racist, homophobic and transphobic hate crimes from 2017- 2018, and a decrease in the number of reports of religious hate crime. (News & Star, 5 February 2019)
This calendar was compiled by the IRR News Team with the help of Zeeshan Ali, Graeme Atkinson, Odysseas Grammatikakis, Joseph Maggs and Jamie Wates.
A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.ASYLUM, MIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP 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)Borders
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)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)Deportations
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)Citizenship
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)ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT
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)
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)POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
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)
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)ELECTORAL POLITICS
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)EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR EXPLOITATION
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)HEALTH
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. (overtake.com, 14 January 2019)SPORT
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)MEDIA AND CULTURE
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)EDUCATION
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)VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT 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)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 white paper’s differential treatment of ‘low risk’ and ‘high risk’ nationalities, ‘high skilled’ and ‘low skilled’ people, will create new hierarchies of race and class – and intolerable hardship.
The white paper setting out the government’s post-Brexit immigration policy, The UK’s future skills-based immigration system, seeks to justify the removal of free movement rights of citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) (1) by principles of fairness which dictate that all nationalities should be treated consistently. It would be a fine thing if such a fundamental principle of fairness were adhered to, and race, ethnicity and nationality were finally to become irrelevant in immigration policy. It is however a retrograde step to achieve equality by removing rights from those who have them, and subjecting all to the same dismal state of abject rightlessness.
In fact, though, the proposals set out in the white paper do not achieve equality, or even seek it. They seek instead to entrench existing divisions based on nationality and class. The only change is that the dividing line is no longer ‘EU’ or ‘EEA’ vs ‘non-EEA’ or ‘third country national’, but instead, ‘low-risk’ vs ‘high-risk’ nationalities, who are to be treated differently in terms of ease of entry for visits, study and work in the UK, and ‘high-skilled’ vs ’low-skilled’ migrants, the former welcome, the latter not.
EEA nationals will not need visas for visits or for short-term study, but will join other so-called ‘low-risk’ nationalities, from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the United States and around ten other countries who can visit visa-free, with a multiple-entry electronic travel authorisation (ETA, similar to that required for British citizens visiting the US) before travelling. They will also be subject to fewer documentary checks than ‘high-risk’ nationalities when they apply for student visas. EEA citizens will also join a smaller group of ‘low-risk’ nationalities – from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States, Singapore and South Korea – in being able to enter through e-gates instead of queuing to be seen by an immigration officer. ‘Low-risk’ nationals who are also highly skilled will be able to apply in-country to convert a visit into a work visa.
Institutional racism in action
The division of people into ‘low-risk’ and ‘high-risk’ nationalities does not merely legitimise nationality-based racial profiling, it is founded on it. As such, it is straightforward institutional racism in action. To be given an easier or harder time at the border, to be granted or denied particular opportunities – such as the possibility to convert a visit into a long-term stay for work – purely on the basis of nationality, is offensive in principle – but lawful. The white paper is a reminder that when race equality legislation was extended to public officials including police and immigration officers in 2000, an exemption permitted discrimination on the basis of nationality, ethnic or national origins in the operation of immigration controls, under ministerial authorisation, on evidence that a higher percentage of such nationals breached immigration laws. In the years after 2000, the exemption was used to discriminate against various groups including Afghans, Albanians, Chinese, Kurds, Roma and Tamils, and asylum seekers claiming to be Somali, Eritrean, Afghan, Palestinian or Kuwaiti, by subjecting them to more intensive questioning and sometimes language analysis, and requiring more documentary evidence to support their application. More recently, ministers have not specified the nationalities to be discriminated against.
in the authorisations, although they are believed to include Pakistani students and asylum seekers claiming Syrian nationality. The white paper suggests that ‘low-risk’ status may in future be awarded to nationals of countries with which the UK secures trade deals, exposing the status as a commodity, which has nothing to do with any assessment of risk.
Race and class hierarchies in an ‘economic benefit’ model
This ties in with the basic policy set out in the white paper, which is the narrow and nativist principle that only those migrants who bring a clear economic benefit to Britain will be welcomed. That means business people and investors, those coming to work in the UK with skills and qualifications gained at another country’s expense, or those paying vast sums for the privilege of studying here. To attract as many skilled workers as possible, the cap on numbers of skilled workers, imposed by Theresa May as home secretary in 2010, will be lifted, the threshold of qualifications lowered (to the equivalent of ‘A’ levels), and employers will not need to advertise most jobs in the UK before seeking to recruit from abroad. Applications for work visas from skilled and highly skilled migrants with a sponsoring employer and a minimum salary of £30,000 – which is more than most teachers and many nurses earn (the level is subject to consultation) – will, the white paper claims, be processed within two to three weeks. (Compare this with the years that many destitute asylum seekers are forced to wait for their claims to be determined.) Visitors to the UK of specified ‘lowest-risk’ nationalities will be able to switch to skilled worker status without leaving the UK. Graduates of UK universities will be able to stay on after their studies to look for permanent skilled work – for six months for those with a first degree or a Masters, a year for PhDs. In addition to the highly skilled and qualified, business visitors will be welcomed, and the bureaucracy associated with getting visit visas reduced (although not the fees).
The new ‘guest workers’
No such welcome will be extended to low-skilled and unskilled workers, who are seen as bringing no benefit to the economy or (therefore) the country. To alleviate immediate labour shortages, the white paper proposes a transitional, time-limited scheme reminiscent of the German ‘Gastarbeiter’(‘guest worker’) system of the 1960s and ‘70s, for temporary, short-term workers. Workers of specified ‘low-risk’ nationalities and of any skill level will be permitted to work in the UK for up to twelve months, but must then leave for 12 months before returning. Such workers will have no right to bring family with them, or to switch to another visa, and will have no prospect of settlement in the UK. The scheme can be shut off at any time and will be fully reviewed in 2025. There is also the Youth Mobility scheme for ‘low-risk’ nationalities, allowing young people to work in the UK while having a holiday, which the government intends to expand. (As the working holidaymaker scheme, it used to be open to all young Commonwealth citizens under 27, who could spend up to two years here, until the government saw that too many black and brown Commonwealth citizens were using it, and restricted it to the white Commonwealth and east Asia.) In addition, the notorious seasonal agricultural workers scheme (SAWS), which admitted workers for up to six months to harvest crops under authorised gangmasters, with no rights to bring family or to stay on, is to be revived as a pilot. Otherwise, unskilled work will be performed by international students (part-time and in vacation), by British citizens, and by robots.
The combined effect of the high skill/ low skill divide and the salary threshold will be to put an end to legal migration routes from the EU for care and construction workers, cleaners, hotel and catering staff and those in factory, food processing, warehousing and delivery work – who tend to come from eastern Europe – while retaining the bankers, IT analysts and consultants, engineers, medical professionals and lawyers who tend to come from northern and western Europe. It is of course the eastern Europeans, among them many Roma, who – as well as doing the hardest work – were subjected to constant vilification by politicians and the media in the years leading up to the referendum. Their only route under the white paper will be the one-year unskilled work visa, which forbids family reunion and requires one-year breaks between visas: a precarious, temporary, contingent status. The message, as throughout the white paper, is that they are foreigners now, and unless Britain can profit from them, they have no rights.
More Skype families
Apart from the loss of free movement itself, it will be the end of EU rights to family reunion that is likely to cause the greatest hardship. EU free movement rules recognise the importance of families being able to be together, and provide that EU nationals working in a member state other than their own can be accompanied or joined, not only by their spouse or partner and the children of both partners (under 21, or older if dependent), but also elderly parents, grandparents and grandchildren, regardless of nationality, who are not even required to live under the same roof. Those arriving after Brexit will be subject instead to the extraordinarily restrictive UK rules on family unity, under which even the entry of spouse, partner and children under 18 is subject to strict criteria including income, language and dependency, while the entry of elderly parents has become well-nigh impossible. It is remarkable, though perhaps inevitable in an ever more nativist and racist polity, that British citizens with non-European family members may not freely bring them to live with them in the UK. It is tragic that the Conservative party, the self-styled party of the family, far from remedying this injustice by levelling up family unity rights to those of EEA nationals, instead opts to extend to EEA nationals the dismal lack of rights which has caused so much misery to British BAME citizens in the past. In this context, the white paper’s promise of a pilot project to give inmates of immigration detention centres the opportunity to Skype family members merely adds insult to injury.
In the area of family unity, it is not only EEA nationals who will feel the pain. The white paper proposes a category of migrant worker – temporary, short-term, of any skill level – who are to be positively banned from bringing family members at all, even spouse or partner and minor children. And the government rejects out of hand the proposal by campaigners for refugee rights that children recognised as refugees in the UK should be able to be joined by their parents and siblings. This cruel policy, justified by the government on the ground that such a right would encourage families to send their children on the dangerous journey to the UK alone, is not followed in other European countries, and in March 2018 a private member’s Bill to remedy it, the Refugee Family Reunion (No 2) Bill, passed its second reading – but the government has blocked the Bill’s further progress, and has now confirmed that, in defiance of the parliamentary vote, it will continue its obstruction.
Shades of Windrush
With the end of free movement rights for EEA nationals, they and their family members without a status in the UK (settled or ‘pre-settled’) or an application pending, will be subject to the same immigration rules as all other ‘foreigners’. They will need permission to come for work, study, to visit and to join family, and will be subject to the same strict provisions on overstaying and deportation. To retain their residence rights after Brexit, EEA nationals and their families living here will need to apply online under the EU settlement scheme for settled status, (or ‘pre-settled’ status for those with less than five years’ residence) by the end of the ‘grace period’ after implementation (June 2021, or 31 December 2020 in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, according to the government website) – and there is no guarantee that applications will succeed, particularly if they come from people with a criminal record (however minor), or who are homeless or reliant on benefits. Those in the UK without evidence of settled or pre-settled status or of a timely application will, after the ‘grace period’, be vulnerable to detention and removal. The white paper makes it clear that the hostile environment policies which have caused so much suffering will continue to be used against those with no demonstrable right to be in the country.
There will be no mistakes, we are assured, no repeat of Windrush, because everything will be digitally recorded. Someone’s right to be here, or lack of it, will in this brave new e-world, be able to be evidenced accurately in the blink of an eye – literally (on entry), as e-passports will enable EEA citizens to join the British citizens and the ‘low-risk nationalities’ permitted to go through electronic passport controls. Integration of these digital records with those of other government agencies such as HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions will enable immigration officials, and those the white paper calls their ‘delivery partners’, such as employers, landlords and educational institutions, to separate the legal sheep from the illegal goats ‘in real time’.
A ‘better customer journey’?
Such blind faith in the infallibility of technology – and of people – appears quite terrifying. For just as in the Windrush scandal, there will be changes in people’s citizenship and residence status, and in the whole regulatory apparatus of control, years after their arrival, which take away rights they reasonably believed to be permanent – and not everyone will be aware of the need to register. In the 1970s and ‘80s, nobody in government thought to notify Commonwealth citizens individually that they needed to register as British once their countries became independent and they lost citizenship, or that they needed to retain evidence of their settled status. Similarly, there is nothing in the white paper, or in the bill to implement its proposals which is currently going through parliament, the Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, to suggest that long-resident EEA citizens and their families will be individually notified of their need to obtain settled status.
Other government departments and agencies send out regular reminders to millions of people – notifying changes in pension rates or tax codes, reminding us to fill in tax returns, to renew TV licences, to pay road tax etc. In the white paper, the language of customer relations is deployed: the new immigration system will be ‘customer focused’, and will provide a ‘better customer journey’. Yet the Home Office, to which individuals pay hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds in fees for visas, fails to provide the most basic ‘customer service’ of notifying individuals in good time of their need to obtain or renew permission to be in the country. Add to this the controversial exemption from data protection legislation giving immigration officials the right to deny migrants the right to see their immigration files (and therefore to correct errors, which according to the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, occur in ten percent of cases), and all the ingredients for grievous miscarriages of justice are in place.Related Links
Follow this link to read the white paper.
The Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill can be read here.
Read Don Flynn’s Migrant Rights Network blog on the white paper here.
See the website of the 3 million, a campaign group for the rights of EEA nationals resident in the UK, here.
A day of workshops on understanding the context of the UK border regime with practical sessions on how to build a world without borders.
Including sessions on:
- An interactive play based on the experiences of women from All African Women’s Group
- A teach-in beginning a process of curating The People’s Trial of The Home Office, to be performed outside Home Office HQ on Marsham Street on Monday 11th February.
- A workshop on immigration detention led by SOAS Detainee Support
More information and tickets can be booked here.
A pamphlet published in the run-up to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage to North America offers a welcome alternative perspective.
In early 1982, I went to a packed-out evening meeting in a parish hall in St. George’s, Grenada where I was living and teaching. The main speaker was the militant campaigner of the American Indian Movement (AIM), Russell Means, who was touring the island villages, speaking at revolutionary parish council assemblies about the new US-wide resurgence of indigenous American resistance. I could tell that there was a strong, immediate and instinctive connection and empathy between the speaker and his Caribbean listeners as if it had risen out of history, and it is only now, nearly four decades on, that I realise its roots, prompted by a short and often revelatory pamphlet.
For in their powerful account of the ‘land grabbing, massacres and slavery’ provoked by the landing of the vessel the Mayflower on the Atlantic shoreline of what was to become ‘Plymouth, Massachusetts’ in 1620, historians and veteran campaigners Danny Reilly and Steve Cushion tell how rebellious indigenous Americans – some of those who survived the mass slaughter by the new colonists – were dispatched to the Caribbean in direct slave exchange for Africans transported to the islands to work on the newly-developed sugar plantations. Russell Means may well have been speaking to people of his own lineage that evening in that dimly-lit Grenadian hall.
I thank Reilly and Cushion for this historical insight which I learned from their deeply educative pamphlet, ‘Telling the Mayflower Story’, written and published to give an alternative perspective on the host of commemorative celebrations and ‘sanitised’ interpretations of the Mayflower narrative, particularly in Reilly’s home port city of Plymouth, Devonshire, England, from where the Mayflower set off.
For the four hundredth anniversary of its voyage and eventual disastrous landfall marks the beginning of a centuries-long process of rampant land seizure and theft, successive wars of conquest, genocide and colonisation and the continuous mass murder of generations, the creation of apartheid reservation deformities and the miseducation of thousands of children in Christian mission schools, designed to rob them of their culture, language and inheritance.
Yet in 1870, it was the future vice-president of the United States of America, Henry Wilson, who proclaimed on the occasion of the 250th. anniversary of the Mayflower‘s arrival and the establishing of the new ‘Plymouth’, that ‘the foundations of civil liberty in America’ were to be found ‘in the cabin of the Mayflower’. Another story is potently told in Reilly and Cushion’s pamphlet.
The authors have condensed the testimonies of epochs of colonial incursion and anti-colonial struggle into their brief but supercharged account, while also vividly illustrating the way in which the commerce of US imperialism worked in its fundamental stages. The Mayflower voyage itself was financed by London’s Merchant Adventurers, and the Crown-licensed Virginia Company which offered ‘patents’ for colonial settlement enterprises. While the colonists began to prosper and were pleased to accept ‘bounties’ for the scalps of the ‘hostile Indians’ whom they killed, by the mid-seventeenth century all along the New England coast, ships were being built for the slave trade. Some five million gallons of rum, distilled in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, were exchanged for slaves on the Guinea Coast, while capital investment by the New England banks became an integral part of the development of slave-based plantation cotton in the southern states. All this, prompted by the less-than-heroic trans-Atlantic voyage of the Mayflower.
This is not a publication to rest on library shelves. It is genuinely popular scholarship, to be passed around and read everywhere; for if the historians’ mission is to reveal the truth and dispel lies and illusion fostered by the past, its authors achieve this with fact and lucidity.
Telling the Mayflower story: Thanksgiving or land grabbing, massacres & slavery? By Danny Reilly and Steve Cushion (Socialist History Society 43, 2018)
To buy a copy by cheque or PayPal, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. £4 including p & p (£5 outside UK).
A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.ASYLUM, MIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP Asylum and migrant rights
20 December: Amnesty International (Netherlands) apologises for producing a magazine cover featuring an image of a woman reclining on lifejackets, admitting that the image ‘trivialised the suffering and trauma refugees have experienced fleeing their homes, particularly women’. (Guardian, 20 December 2018)
4 January: Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini says that those who help ‘illegal migrants’ ‘hate Italians and will answer to the Law and History’ and calls on the mayors of Florence, Palermo and Naples to resign for refusing to implement his anti-migrant decree and, in the case of the Naples mayor, for offering to rescue the 32 refugees stranded on the shores of Malta (see below). (Euractiv, 4 January 2019)
4 January: Over 100 individuals and migrant support groups working in the Balkans, many of whom experienced war in the 1990s, call on the EU to halt the politics of closed borders and the disregard of migrants’ rights, which lead to the spread of violence, fascism and war, and urge citizens to resist, and to demand that governments live up to obligations to respect human dignity. (Are You Syrious, 4 January 2019)Borders
30 December: As home secretary Sajid Javid declares that 100 people attempting the Channel crossing since Christmas Day amounts to a ‘major incident’, his shadow Diane Abbott accuses the government of ‘exploiting the issue’ and whipping up fear as a way of ‘frightening people’ into voting for its Brexit deal. (Guardian, 31 December 2018)
2 January: Javid claims that migrants attempting to enter the UK from France via the Channel are not ‘genuine asylum seekers’, and threatens that asylum will be denied them to deter others, provoking condemnation by lawyers who point out such a threat is illegal and in breach of the Refugee Convention. (Guardian, 2 January 2019)
3 January: Following Javid’s request for military assistance to patrol the English border, the Royal Navy vessel HMS Mersey is deployed in the Channel to intercept migrants attempting to enter the UK from France. (Guardian, 3 January 2019)
4 January: The Nord and Pas-de-Calais regions of France introduce an ‘action plan’ to counter migration via the English Channel, which will boost security at Boulogne-sur-Mer and Calais ports and increase surveillance at northern coastal points. (The Local, 4 January 2019)
4 January: The Mediterranea collective accuses European ministers of reaching a ‘new record of shame’ after 32 people rescued off the coast of Malta on 22 December remain stranded at sea 14 days later, with the Maltese government allowing the boat to shelter in its shores but not to land. (The Local, 4 January 2019)
6 January: Anti-racist campaigners in Kent organise a vigil in the town’s harbour to welcome refugees. (Independent, 7 January 2019)Reception and detention
20 December: The inquest into the death of 35-year-old Polish man Michal Netyks in HM Prison Altcourse, Liverpool in December 2017, returns a verdict of suicide, aggravated by the threat of deportation. Senior coroner André Rebello criticises the Home Office and calls for an investigation after it provided partially redacted notes which indicated that senior management had deleted records relating to Netyks’ death. (Guardian, 21 December 2018)
21 December: The Danish parliament approves a plan to hold ‘foreign criminals’ who have completed their sentences but cannot be deported, on an island close to Copenhagen which is used by scientists to research contagious diseases and experiment on animals. (Guardian, 21 December 2018)
26 December: A Guardian investigation, using figures obtained through freedom of information requests, reveals that ambulances are being called to immigration detention centres across England up to ten times a week to deal with suicide attempts, self-harm, overdoses and other problems. As data was only obtained from around half of all detention centres, the figure is potentially an underestimate. (Guardian, 26 December 2018)
4 January: A video emerges showing a five-year-old Syrian refugee at the Sjælsmark Departure Centre at the Zealand facility in Denmark being refused broccoli and potatoes, told that this type of food is only given to smaller children whose teeth have not come through, and offered a banana and salad instead. (The Local, 4 January 2019)
7 January: Forty refugees in the Diavata camp in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, form a barricade to protest the desperate winter living conditions, with a truck driver and a refugee injured when a driver attempts to break through the barricade. (Ekathimerini, 7 January 2019)
8 January: A 24-year-old man from Cameroon is found dead at the Moria refugee camp in Lesvos. Those who knew him say he died as a result of exposure to the extreme cold and that since the end of December, electricity at Moria only works sporadically, and persistent power cuts have rendered heating units useless. (Lesvos Solidarity, 8 January 2019)Immigration Enforcement
6 January: The Court of Appeal upholds the legality of Operation Nexus, the partnership between the police and the Home Office for the purpose of immigration enforcement, in an appeal brought by the AIRE centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe). (Free Movement, 6 January 2019))Deportations
25, 26 December: Home Office attempts to schedule deportations for Christmas Day and Boxing Day are thwarted by successful campaigns in support of Otis Bolamu, a 38-year-old asylum seeker from the DRC, who remains in detention at Brook House, Gatwick, and a 29-year-old trafficking victim detained at Yarl’s Wood. (Guardian, 23, 27 December 2018)
29 December: Nigerian airline Max Air threatens to end its business in the UK after one of its pilots, Captain Adam Dilli Ibrahim, is arrested by immigration officials as a suspected stowaway and threatened with deportation. (Independent, 29 December 2018)Crimes of solidarity
20 December: Swedish journalist Fredrik Önnevall, his cameraman and his interpreter lose their appeal against a people-smuggling verdict, but the sentence is reduced, with the court accepting that their motive for helping a young refugee boy enter Sweden was humanitarian. (The Local, 20 December 2018)
8 January: Lawyers for the Stansted 15 accuse the attorney general and the Crown Prosecution Service of abuse of power as well as failure to fully disclose documents as they launch an appeal against their convictions on a terror-related charge on the grounds that the judge was biased in his summing up, that he should have allowed the jury to consider the defence of necessity, and that he got the law wrong about what the offence actually constitutes. (Guardian, 8 January 2019)Citizenship
2 January: An investigation finds that many of the 82 victims of forced marriage, including four young British women imprisoned and tortured at a ‘correctional religious school’ in Somalia, have been charged by the Foreign Office for their repatriation and related costs. (Guardian, 2 January 2019)ELECTORAL POLITICS
21 December: An independent panel clears Conservative MP Boris Johnson of breaking the Conservative party code of conduct when he suggested, in a Daily Telegraph column, that women wearing the burqa looked like letter boxes or bank robbers. (Guardian, 21 December 2018)
4 January: Poland’s newly-appointed deputy prime minister, Adam Andruszkiewicz, a former leader of the extreme-right All Poland Youth, describes mounting criticism of the numerous statements he has made against migrants and gays as a ‘scandalous witch hunt’. (Miami Herald, 4 January 2019)
5 January: Romford Tory MP Andrew Rosindell denies a report in The Times that he was part of the ‘Free Tommy’ Facebook group supporting Tommy Robinson when he was in prison for contempt of court. (Daily Mail, 5 January 2019)ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT
20 December: A ‘Boycott Toblerone’ hashtag spreads on social media as the far-right Alternative for Germany claims that the fact that the chocolate company’s Bern factory became halal-certified in early 2018 is proof of the ‘Islamization of Europe’. (News18.com, 20 December 2018)
26 December: A neo-Nazi member of Blood and Honour dies when he is hit by a car in the melée which breaks out when ultra supporters of Inter Milan attempt to attack a minibus taking Napoli supporters to a Boxing Day fixture in Milan. (See also Sport below). (Guardian, 27 December 2018)
30 December: Glasgow University and Glasgow Caledonian University issue statements confirming that they have removed ‘illegal’ Generation Identity Scotland recruitment posters that appeared on campus promising to combat ‘ethnomasochistic tendencies’ of students and stand up for ‘patriots’. (The Scottish Sun, 30 December 2018)
3 January: The neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany is believed to be behind the anti-migrant neighbourhood defence groups which sprang up in Amberg, Bavaria, after a group of teenage migrants were arrested at the end of December following a drunken street rampage involving random assaults. (Sputnik News, 3 January 2019)
7 January: Mark Brown, 31, the former leader of the National Front in Northern Ireland, is convicted of a racist attack on a taxi driver in Co. Antrim, with sentencing adjourned until February. (Belfast Telegraph, 8 January 2019)
7 January: Two L’Espresso journalists covering the commemoration at Rome’s Verano cemetery of the killing of far-right activists in 1978, are attacked by Giuliano Castellino, the head of Forza Nuova Rome, and members of the far-right Avanguardia Nazionale. (The Local, 8 January 2019)
8 January: MPs write to the head of the Metropolitan police, demanding more security outside parliament after Conservative MP Anna Soubry is targeted for the second time by pro-Brexit protesters, some of whom, including prominent activist James Goddard, have links to the far Right. Political commentator Owen Jones is also targeted by the so-called gilets jaunes. (Guardian, 8 January 2019)
8 January: The Bremen leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany is seriously injured in an attack that the police are treating as ‘politically motivated’. The AfD says the media and politicians who have stoked up hated against the AfD ‘on a daily basis’ are to blame. (Guardian, 8 January 2019)POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
December: JENGbA relaunches a political campaign to change the law on joint enterprise after the Court of Appeal refuses three appeals referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission despite the Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that the joint enterprise test was wrongly convicting innocent people. Sign the petition here. (JENGbA Newsletter, Christmas 2018)
22 December: The Mayor of London’s review of the gangs matrix finds that, while the database is necessary to cut violent crime in London, the representation of young black males on the matrix is disproportionate to their likelihood of criminality or victimisation. (Guardian, 22 December 2018)
3 January: The Derby Telegraph reports on the case of international charity worker Ahmed Ali, who says he has been stopped by West Midlands police at Birmingham airport fifty times, the latest incident occurring when he passed through the disabled check-in area to support his grandmother who is in a wheelchair. (Derby Telegraph, 3 January 2019)
8 January: The family of Kingsley Burrell, who died in Birmingham under police restraint in 2011, reschedule a protest march after receiving information that a group of rogue police officers planned to disrupt it. The officers are supporters of PC Paul Adey, who was found guilty of gross misconduct in relation to Burrell’s death and sacked last month. (Morning Star, 8 January 2019)NATIONAL SECURITY
21 December: The new head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (BfV) announces a plan to expand the capacity of the department monitoring far-right extremism by 50 per cent, suggesting that more than half of Germany’s far-right extremists are ‘violence-oriented’. (WMC5Action News, 21 December 2018)EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR EXPLOITATION
27 December: Research by the Resolution Foundation on the ethnicity pay gap finds that black and minority ethnic employees are losing out on £3.2bn a year in wages compared with white colleagues, with the gap rising to 17 per cent, or £3.90 an hour, for black male graduates. (Guardian, 27 December 2018)
31 December: Following allegations in November 2018 of bullying, harassment and racism in Hackney council, no councillors turn up to a union meeting ahead of an investigation into the claims. (Hackney Gazette, 31 December 2018)
3 January: Belgian prison teacher Luk Vervaet, who was barred from the country’s prisons for unspecified ‘reasons of national security’ in August 2009, thereby losing his livelihood, is awarded €8,825 damages by the Brussels court of appeal for the manner of his exclusion, but loses his claim for loss of livelihood, the court ruling that the action was reasonable to protect national security. (Le Vif, 3 January 2019)HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
29 December: Freedom of information data obtained by the Guardian reveals that under local authority ‘reconnection’ policies, 6,810 one-way tickets for travel for rough sleepers were purchased by 83 councils in England and Wales since 2015, with local authorities in the Greater London area buying 4,159 tickets, more than a third of which were for journeys outside the UK, most commonly to destinations in eastern Europe. (Guardian, 29 December 2018)
8 January: Following six years of campaigning by refugee support groups, giant security company G4S loses the asylum housing contract with the Home Office to Serco and Mears. (Telegraph, 8 January 2019)HEALTH
20 December: Royal Colleges representing over 70,000 doctors call on the government to suspend NHS charges for those without settled status, which they say have a direct impact on individuals’ health, potentially affect public health and damage the doctor-patient relationship and the morale of health professionals. (Guardian, 20 December 2018)SPORT
26 December: At an Inter Milan-Napoli fixture, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is subjected to monkey chants for the entire match and then sent off, leading the club manager to criticise the referee’s handling of the game, adding that in future he would consider taking all his players off the pitch, even if it means losing the match. (Guardian, 26 December 2018)
29 December: In a joint statement, European football governing body UEFA and players’ union FIFPros say that the three-step anti-racism protocol was not followed during the Inter Milan-Napoli match, which should have been suspended because of the repeated racist abuse of Koulibaly. (Agence France Presse, 29 December 2018)
8 January: Police appeal for information on a group of twenty Chelsea fans who allegedly sexually assaulted women and engaged in racist chanting on a train from London Paddington to Worcester on 22 December. (Guardian, 8 January 2019)MEDIA AND CULTURE
28 December: People of BAME heritage are invited to contribute to creative writing workshops held across Sussex, organised with Writing My Legacy, with the aim of producing an anthology about living in the UK. (Shoreham Herald, 28 December 2018)
2 January: Independent publishers Knights Of are fundraising to fill a permanent space in Brixton with children’s books featuring BAME lead characters, in a campaign launched to address the lack of BAME representation in children’s books. (Voice, 2 January 2019)EDUCATION
19 December: It is revealed that earlier this year, Oxford professor Nigel Biggar hosted an invitation-only conference on the legacy of colonialism based on Bruce Giley’s article ‘The case for colonialism’, which argues that colonial rule can be legitimate. (Telegraph, 19 December 2019)VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT Abuse
23 December: Police appeal for information after a Muslim woman was racially abused by another woman on a bus in the Ruddington area in Nottingham. (Nottingham Post, 23 December 2018)
26 December: A 20-year-old student at Cardiff University is subject to racist abuse at a Marks & Spencer, and calls for stores to improve their way of dealing with such incidents. (Wales online, 26 December 2018)Attacks on people
22 December: A mother and child flee to safety in a neighbour’s house after their Co. Armagh home was targeted by teenagers in what police have called a hate crime that was ‘simply because of their race and nationality’. (The Irish News 22 December 2018)
28 December: A 28-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated assault and a 25-year-old woman is arrested on suspicion of inflicting grievous bodily harm following an attack on a taxi driver in Shoreham that left him with facial injuries and bruising to the body. (The Argus, 28 December 2018)
1 January: A man is charged with multiple counts of attempted murder after injuring at least five people, some seriously, when he drove his car into crowds celebrating New Year in the German cities of Bottrop and Essen. Police say the motive for the attack was xenophobia and those injured include a Syrian family, a 4-year-old boy and his mother from Afghanistan, a 10-year-old Syrian girl and a 34-year-old German national of Turkish heritage. (Deutsche Welle, 1 January 2019)
4 January: Police appeal for information and release images of a man wanted in connection with a racist attack on a shopper in a Boots in Eastgate, Bristol on 24 December. (Bristol Post, 4 January 2019)
7 January: A gang force their way into a house in Co. Antrim and assault the five Romanian men living there with baseball bats in an incident the police are investigating as a possible hate crime. (Belfast Telegraph, 7 January 2019)Attacks on property
26 December: Swastikas are daubed on children’s climbing equipment in Pontcanna Fields, Cardiff. (Wales Online, 27 December 2018)
2 January: A swastika is daubed on a wall of Dublin Hebrew Congregation synagogue, Ireland’s oldest active synagogue. (Jewish News, 6 January 2019)Statistics
26 December: A Freedom of Information request reveals that 9,407 hate crimes were reported across the rail network between 2015 and the end of May 2018, with fewer than 25 per cent prosecuted. The London Underground network accounted for 30 per cent of all incidents. Religiously motivated hate crimes are rising, with 287 incidents reported last year, and 130 faith-motivated crimes in the first five months of 2018. (Guardian, 26 December 2018)
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.
A one-day seminar for anyone concerned about the racist narratives that have emerged around migrants in UK since the EU Referendum.
- Saturday 16 February, 10 – 4.30pm
- London venue – exact location to be confirmed
Organised by the Ella Baker School of Transformative Organising, the seminar will bring together migrant support groups, anti-racist campaigners, trade unionists, academics and community groups to discuss how to control the post-Brexit narrative that is currently using migrants as scapegoats for ills of society, and in particular those who want to think about how we can come together to change the ‘hostile environment’ that has been deliberately created.
Complete Google form here – register for tickets
Ella Baker School of Transformative Organising Facebook page
This week, the IRR publishes a memorial issue of Race & Class celebrating the lifework of the late Barbara Harlow, Solidarity here and everywhere.
Barbara Harlow, a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin described as ‘a critic of both the world and the text’, profoundly shaped the fields of feminist and post-colonial theories, Middle Eastern and African literatures and gender studies. She taught academics to remain true to being radical. As critic, activist and teacher, she has been compared to her contemporary Edward Said, who coined the phrase ‘solidarity here and everywhere’, used to title this issue.
Guest-edited by Avery F. Gordon professor of sociology at UCSB and a member of the journal’s Editorial Working Committee and Neville Hoad, a colleague of Barbara’s at the University of Texas, this issue of Race & Class brings together excerpts from Harlow’s unpublished works, comments and pieces by those who worked with her or were influenced by her and a comprehensive bibliography of her considerable life’s output.
In ‘The Subversive Pencil: writing, prison and political status’, Avery F. Gordon situates Harlow as a unique literary critic whose work crosses geopolitical and disciplinary borders; and whose interventions were made in commitment to her liberatory agendas. Gordon revisits Harlow’s Barred women, writing and political detention – one of the first texts to treat prisons as central to resistance movements.
Mia Carter, University of Texas, Austin, who co-edited three volumes on Archives of Empire (2003) with Harlow, describes the collaborative work that was central to their praxis as they grappled with documents from the past and their relevance to the present. As Carter writes, ‘what resistance to today’s imperial schemes and military designs might look like was the necessary questions that Harlow required her students, colleagues and comrades to wrestle with seriously, undespairingly, fiercely’.
At the heart of the issue is material from two of Harlow’s ongoing projects – a biography on Ruth First, the South African anti-apartheid activist who was assassinated in 1982 and a prospective book on drones, examining fiction and non-fiction to show how drone warfare challenges human rights.
Harlow made a significant contribution to upholding this journal’s distinct tradition of publishing articles that connect theory to the struggle against racism and imperialism. She was a dedicated book reviewer, and wrote a total of thirty-two reviews for Race & Class alone. We publish online a selection of ten reviews by Harlow, including her important award-winning 2011 review essay, ‘Extraordinary renditions: tales of Guantánamo’.
‘Her work was prolific, energetic, and adhered to a consistent vision of the actual legal, political, and civic realities of our times’, writes Timothy Brennan, ‘and this forging of a new road was tirelessly her own, and quietly – although insistently – against the stream’. We hope the issue will bring Harlow’s work to a whole new generation of students and activists, and (in words borrowed from the issue) pay forward our debt to her, here and everywhere.
- Editorial by Jenny Bourne
- Introduction by Avery F. Gordon and Neville Hoad
- The subversive pencil: women, writing and political status by Avery F. Gordon
- In the archives with Barbara Harlow by Mia Carter
- Introduction to Looked Class, Talked Red by Barbara Harlow by Neville Hoad
- Looked Class, Talked Red: towards a bio-bibliography of Ruth First by Barbara Harlow
- The drone imprint: literature in the age of UAVs by Barbara Harlow
- Radical revisions: Barbara Harlow and criticism beyond Partition by Salah D. Hassan
- Methods for a neoliberal order: views on Yemen by Hosam Aboul-Ela
- Bibliography of writings by Barbara Harlow by Mehdia Mrabet
View the whole issue here
An appreciation of Barbara Harlow by Timothy Brennan
Barbara Harlow 1948-2017 by Liz Fekete
To mark the anniversary of the death of A. Sivanandan, the IRR examines how useful his ideas are for unravelling the recent turn in the UK to the concept of unconscious bias.
Until the Guardian published at the start of December 2018 its ‘findings’ of omnipresent, omnifocal ‘unconscious bias’ to explain BAME people’s lack of progression in the UK, it was hard to see how far and how deeply the ‘concept’ had penetrated. Now suddenly we see the new narrative: racism is covert not overt; it is psychological not social; it is individual not structural; it is subconscious not conscious. Hence, it effectively exonerates governments, institutions, organisations, even individuals, for it is unconscious, inevitable. But it can be remedied – through retraining and therapy for the individual. Unconscious bias (UB) is the child of neoliberalism.
Just do a little googling and there are hundreds of sites now offering advice, guidance, books and courses (at a price) on UB: UB training, UB exercises, types of UB, why you can’t afford to ignore UB, UB consultancy, Understanding UB. … And there are experts – many on the psycho-social side of the academy – debating in reputable journals, especially in education and in employment, the best forms of such training or therapies.
Don’t get us wrong. We are not arguing, as the Right does, about the existence of unconscious bias. We are worried about the way it is being given primacy as the fons et origo of racism and hence (to mix a metaphor) the forge on which to hammer out racial justice.
In the beginning was the word
For the word or phrase matters. The word shifts blame, the word redefines, the word predicates the fight. Let’s look at it historically. One had during the 1950s and 1960s to contest the comforting use of the term xenophobia – a natural fear of strangers – which was said to explain away those ‘no Irish, no Blacks, no dogs’ signs in lodgings’ windows. Then we got ‘disadvantage’ to explain away profound racism at the hands of the police. In 1981 after the urban uprisings Lord Scarman, called in to decide what had gone wrong in the policing of Lambeth, refused to acknowledge that there was systematic racial injustice in the UK, preferring the vague term ‘disadvantage’ which attributed no cause to what black people experienced. There was suspicion and prejudice on either side of the ethnic divide. And then to counter this disadvantage we got divisive localised ‘ethnic policies’ (or poultices as Sivanandan had it to bind up the wounds of said disadvantage). And to counter prejudice we needed a raised awareness.
Thus, in the early 1980s we were ‘sold’ RAT (race or racism awareness training). RAT, an American import, was all the rage for dealing with prejudice and being promoted by well-meaning left-leaning local authorities – which had money at that time. The IRR with the analysis provided by Sivanandan ‘RAT and the degradation of black Struggle’ produced a robust critique of it and RAT appeared to die a death. For Sivanandan, RAT failed to make the distinction between personal racialism (i.e. attitude and prejudice) and institutional and state racism. Worse it imposed a kind of collective guilt on all white people (as opposed to power structures in societies) implying that they were almost programmed as of birth to be racists. Trying to bridge the analytical gap between individuals and social forces, RAT practitioners adopted the very lazy idea that racism was simply prejudice + power (power being individualised to white professionals). The critique went on to parody the training of people out of racialist attitudes as teaching people to excrete their shit genteelly – letting the guilt out.
Behind the critique of RAT lay the notion that one has to distinguish between attitudes, which of themselves may not affect anyone, the acting out of those attitudes, which is discrimination, and the imprimatur of the state in creating the conditions for and condoning of racism. The need to make these distinctions is because we need to know where to conduct the fight.
But then in 1999 came the Macpherson report into the 1993 death of Stephen Lawrence in a racist street attack and subsequent police enquiry. And Macpherson, pushed no doubt by the weight of the evidence put before him, came out with a finding of institutional racism in the police and by implication in other agencies and structures. And the fact that this was said in a government-backed report (whatever the muddled thinking in his extended description of it) was a watershed.
From Macpherson to Lammy
It was what groups and organisations fighting police brutality and racist violence for years had waited to have acknowledged as official fact. But it was just not what the police or the establishment wanted to hear. And since 1999 there has been a rear-guard action from right-wing politicians and the police to somehow wipe institutional racism from national consciousness, – not the reality on the ground, you understand, but the concept. That this was now entering the mainstream became quite evident in the 2017 Lammy Review ‘into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System’.
As Liz Fekete pointed out:
Having failed to mention institutional racism in the body of the report, Lammy identifies, in his conclusion, three forms of prejudice – ‘overt, covert and unconscious’ – as fault lines within the CJS. Many newspapers flagged up issues of ‘racial bias’ in reporting the publication of the Lammy review, but there is but one reference to racial bias in the report, where Lammy much prefers to work with phrases like ‘unintended bias’, ‘unconscious’ or ‘implicit bias.
Racism as microaggression and covert bias
But the swing of the pendulum from institutional racism to unconscious bias is not just a concession to the anti-Macpherson Right; it has at least two other contributing nudges. On the one hand in the UK, we have had over the last two or three years a series of popular books by BAME authors stressing the ubiquity of everyday racism, microaggressions, witnessed in a range of experiences from being mistaken for someone else, names forgotten, a culture which excludes people who look like them, a school curriculum which skews the historical record, to being passed over for jobs. This all-pervasive racism (personal, cultural, structural, representational) is explained by the concept of ‘white privilege’. This they maintain is because of racism’s deep penetration everywhere including into white people’s consciousnesses, so that it inevitably colours interactions. White people think they are ‘colour-blind’ when in fact they practise forms of covert racism all the time. (Theoretically they are borrowing from Critical Race Theory  and the work of Eduardo Bonilla-Silva.)
On the other hand, or perhaps it is one and the same, changes in naming the problem in the US were slowly seeping into the British vernacular. And the US experience was particular. With the election of president Obama in 2008, a black man in the highest position in the land, it became part of the national narrative to describe the US as post-racial. And to fight this illusory idea that one black swallow made an egalitarian summer of a country based on slavery, people began to stress the omnipotence of everyday racism felt by the majority of the ‘Land of the Free’s inhabitants. And experts and professionals, especially in the fields of law, education and employment, had recourse to ‘science’ to validate and measure their claims. And they lighted on the ‘magic bullet’ of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) – basically a social cognition test – devised in 1998 by three psychologists, to prove their point. Via its now accessible and online portal it purports to show, by giving an individual a series of images to choose between, how deeply in our subconscious we may hold views of ‘the other’, despite our conscious wish to be just. This test or its variants are now being used extensively to counter disproportionality in various professions in recruitment and promotion policies. (It was, too, given prominence in the Guardian’s take on racism and bias.)
Disproportionality – usually showing the under-representation of a particular group in an area or profession compared with their number in the population – is now a very popular way of ‘proving’ racism – vide the Guardian. But, as Lee Bridges pointed out in his critique of the Lammy Review, what it actually gives is a snapshot of something at one stage in a system. If, as Lammy was, we are looking for causes, we have to look at the way that stages compound one another and fit into whole processes. And the disproportion snapshots do not allow for such analyses.
The problem with IAT and bias ‘theory’
US law professor Jonathan Kahn in his book Race on the Brain: what implicit bias gets wrong about the struggle for racial justice explicates the political problems when ‘implicit bias’ morphs ‘from a useful psychological theory of cognitive function into a master narrative framing legal and policy response to race and racism in America today’. To provide a resume of his arguments:
it denies history;
it reduces racism to merely another form of ‘bias’;
it obscures power relations which undergird contemporary race relations;
it promotes a mirage of an easy pain-free way to fight racism;
it is overenthusiastic about a technological fix for what is fundamentally a complex social, political and historical problem;
it opens the door to the biologicalisation of racism. (An Oxford research team is said to have come up with a drug to counter implicit bias!)
Looking specifically at the UK, where does the emphasis on ‘bias’ take the struggle against racism? Yes, as implied throughout this piece, it moves the centre of gravity from institutions and structures to the individual and, unfortunately, to the unconscious. But this has profound implications – in terms of class and hence what to fight and how to fight. It may feel from the point of view of those coming up against the ‘glass ceiling’, that racism is simply ubiquitous but that does not mean that it does not affect different groups and classes differentially. Everyday microaggressions, though wearing and demoralising, are not the same as a death in custody, a deportation or a housing eviction. We have, as Sivanandan pointed out, to distinguish between ‘the racism that kills’ and ‘the racism that discriminates’ especially when austerity policies and neoliberalism are making for an ever-increasingly unequal society.
And pinning one’s star to just enlarging the number of BAME people in an organisation or structure does not of itself change that organisation’s policies – witness Sajid Javid. (Changing the colour of those in charge does not ipso facto change the colour of the policies.) And structural racism is not just as a recent writer had it, ‘the intensification of personal prejudice, of groupthink’. The Home Office has racist policies on terrorism, security, immigration, gangs, all determined not by nasty unenlightened people but by state policies, themselves influenced by economics and foreign policy. 
The emphasis on individual bias runs fundamentally against a materialist view of society. It puts the chicken before the egg. Do ‘white’ attitudes and biases create the discrimination that blights the lives of BAME people? Or are those biases being inculcated and constantly being redefined by the political culture around us, itself being reproduced by the laws of the land, the steers from the media, and in fact the larger processes of globalisation and its flipside austerity – which provide the wrapper for class and power relations?
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)Detention
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)Deportations
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)Destitution
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)Borders
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)HEALTH
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)EMPLOYMENT AND EXPLOITATION
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)EDUCATION
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)SPORT
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)POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
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/Gov.uk 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)ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT
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)ELECTORAL POLITICS
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)HOUSING
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)VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT 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)Statistics
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.
IRR vice-chair Frances Webber comments on the standsted 15 verdict, a trial where laws designed to deal with terrorist threats at airports have been brought against human rights defenders.
The crime of endangering airport security, under the Aviation and Security Act, was designed to deal with terrorist threats at airports – not peaceful anti-deportation activists armed only with equipment to lock themselves to an aircraft to prevent a deportation charter flight from taking off. The Stansted 15 took the action to stop the individuals on the flight from being deported to the risk of serious human rights abuses – and they have been vindicated by the fact that eleven of the sixty deportees who did not fly that day remain in the UK and two have been granted leave to remain, in an implicit admission that they should not have been subject to deportation. The evidence given at the trial has highlighted these secretive charter flight deportations, marked as they are by brutality and inhumanity.
But the trial judge’s refusal to allow the jury to consider a defence of necessity or duress of circumstances – the argument that the defendants’ actions were necessary to prevent serious harm to those on board the plane – made a guilty verdict inevitable, in a trial which appears choreographed from start to finish to send out a tough message to deter human rights defenders.
Frances Webber is the Vice Chair of the Institute of Race Relationsrelated links
21 November: The European Court of Justice rules that a 2015 Austrian regulation giving minimal social assistance to refugees is not compatible with EU directive on the recognition of ‘third-party’ nationals. (Deutsche Welle, 21 November 2018)
24 November: Following the Freedom party’s (FPÖ) unverified claims that it has got hold of the Turkish electoral register and that Austrian citizens of Turkish heritage are illegally holding dual citizenship, eighty-five Austrians of Turkish heritage are stripped of their citizenship by the interior ministry, which is controlled by the FPÖ. Thousands more are threatened in an administrative nightmare that is being dubbed Austria’s ‘Windrush scandal’. (The Telegraph, 24 November 2018)
25 November: Slovakia becomes the eighth EU member state, and the fourth and final Visegrad state, to withdraw support for the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. (Reuters, November 25)
28 November: Svein Ludvigsen, 72, a former high-ranging conservative Norwegian government minister, is charged with sexually abusing three asylum seekers over a period of several years and taking advantage of his position as regional governor to exploit an asylum-seekers vulnerable situation. (The Local, 28 November 2018)
28 November: The Decree-Law on Immigration and Security, dubbed the ‘Salvini decree’, is passed in Italy, abolishing humanitarian protection for refugees, vastly reducing the Sprar system of asylum reception, and making it easier to strip naturalised citizens of citizenship. (The Local, 29 November 2018)
28 November: The Project for Registration of Children as British Citizens wins the right to judicially review the Home Office over the £1,012 fee it charges to register a child as a British citizen. Around 120,000 children are the victims of Home Office ‘barefaced profiteering’, it says. (Guardian, 28 November 2018)
28 November: A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission finds that asylum seekers are being deterred from using the NHS because of the introduction of upfront charges in England last year, and fears that their information would be shared with the Home Office. Many are having to choose between buying food and paying for medicine, with pregnant women and disabled people the worst affected. (Guardian, 28 November 2018)
3 December: Six refugee families from Iraq, Sudan, Ethiopia and Syria, stranded on a RAF base in Cyprus for more than twenty years, are given indefinite leave to enter the UK for permanent residence, as the government finally abandons its argument that the 1951 Refugee Convention did not apply to the sovereign base. (Guardian, The Times, 3 December 2018).Reception and detention
21 November: The Croatian interior ministry’s refusal to extend a cooperation agreement with the Centre for Peace Studies ends its work over fifteen years providing legal advice and teaching refugees Croatian. (Euractiv.com, 21 November 20128)
25 November: Forty-three women detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre begin a hunger strike to protest an imminent charter flight that will deport at least ten people to Nigeria and Ghana. (Independent, 26 November)
26 November: In the first ever action against the Moria reception centre in Lesvos, Greece, the family of Ahmed Elgamel, a 20-year-old Egyptian migrant who died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the centre in 2017, file a lawsuit for compensation. (ekathimerini, 26 November 2018).
30 November: The Greek ministry for immigration announces that bad weather and deteriorating conditions in refugee camps on the Greek islands has resulted in a plan to evacuate 5,000 refugees from the islands to the mainland, where they will be hosted in hotels for six months. (International Balkans News, 30 November 2018)
30 November: The Danish government announces that by 2021 all convicted foreign nationals and failed asylum seekers who cannot be deported to their country of origin will be detained in a facility on 17-acre Lindholm Island, two miles from the nearest Danish shore (The Local, 1 December 2018)
3 December: Following FOI requests, it is revealed that senior managers in Glasgow city council, who previously claimed to be ‘blindsided’ by Serco, knew months in advance about the private security company’s plans to issue seven-day eviction notices to around three-hundred refused asylum seekers living in accommodation it provided. (The Ferret, 3 December 2018)
3 December: A report reveals that staff at the G4S-ran Brook House immigration removal centre, near Gatwick airport, acted in a ‘draconian’ way and with ‘laddish behaviour’, and that violence at the centre was not properly investigated. The review was commissioned after an undercover reporter for BBC Panorama, broadcast in September 2017, filmed detainees being verbally and physically abused. (BBC News, 3 December 2018)Destitution
2 December: Souaro Jaiteh, an 18-year-old Gambian migrant, dies in a fire at the San Ferdinando shantytown in Calabria, Italy, with the region’s president, Mario Oliverio describing the area as a ‘death camp’. His death comes after charities predict that thousands will be left destitute by the ‘Salvini decree’. (The Local, 3 December 2018)Borders
28 November: The captain and crew of a Spanish fishing vessel Nuestra Madre Loreto, which rescued twelve Africans from a rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean, are left stranded for days with no country willing to accept the migrants and the captain unwilling to return them to Libya. (AFP, 28 November 2018)
3 December: After ten days, and amidst worsening sea conditions, Malta finally agrees to take eleven migrants rescued in the Med by the crew of the Spanish fishing vessel Nuestra Madre Loreto, with a twelfth migrant evacuated to hospital after falling seriously ill with dehydration. (Al Aribya, 3 December 2018)Immigration enforcement
1 December: Calais-based human rights observers and French group L’Auberge des Migrants report that police clearances of makeshift camps around the port of Calais increased to a high of twenty per week in September and October. Read the report here. (Guardian, 1 December 2018)Deportations
23 November: A Home Office review of its use of a controversial, terrorism-related provision in immigration law reveals that between January 2015 and May 2018 it attempted to remove at least 300 ‘highly skilled migrants’ from the UK, and actually deported around eighty-seven. (Guardian, 23 November)
27 November: For one month, a Protestant church in the Hague maintains a 24-hour church service aimed at protecting the Tamrazyans family, who have sought sanctuary there, from being deported to Armenia. Dutch law prevents the police from entering places of worship during religious services. (ABC News, 27 November 2018)
28 November: In response to a question by Caroline Lucas MP, the immigration minister Caroline Nokes reveals that the Home Office has made no attempt to inform 49 individuals deported in 2017 from the UK to the Commonwealth countries of Ghana and Nigeria they may have been deported illegally, or to provide details of the Windrush taskforce. (Independent, 28 November 2018)Crimes of solidarity
21 November: In Riace, Italy, the Associazione Città Futura, coordinator of the city’s award-winning efforts to integrate refugees, is evicted from its offices in a move which is seen as connected to the vindictive prosecution of the city’s mayor for ‘aiding illegal immigration’. The Network of Solidarity Municipalities vows to help rehouse the association. (radiocittafujiko.it, 21 November 2018)Police and criminal justice
21 November: A West Midlands police constable is charged with racially aggravated wounding after a man who was with a group of travellers was bitten by a police dog in Northfield, Birmingham. (Bromsgrove Advertiser, 21 November 2018)
24 November: BirminghamLive reveals that racism allegations against the police in the West Midlands have prompted more than 250 internal investigations in the past four years. (BirminghamLive, 24 November 2018)
28 November: The CPS rules that there is not enough evidence to pursue charges against the retired Assistant Chief Constable Steven Heywood (facing an IOPC investigation for gross misconduct), in relation to evidence given at the inquiry into the death of Anthony Grainger, who was shot by a firearms officer in Cheshire, 2012. (BBC News, 28 November 2018).
28 November: Although the inquest into the death of Branko Zdravkovic at the Verne Immigration Removal Centre returns a suicide verdict, the coroner does not close the inquest. The Home Office is asked to provide more evidence on the management of vulnerable detainees, with a view to preparing a public report to prevent future deaths. (Inquest, 28 November 2018)
30 November: The Mayor of London is asked to intervene after the Met sends an email to community leaders advising them that armed police foot patrols could be introduced as a response to knife crimes. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)Anti-fascism and the far Right
22 November: A Guardian investigation finds that Steve Bannon’s political consultancy ‘The Movement’, aimed at influencing the May European parliament elections, may be illegal under electoral law in nine European countries. (Guardian, 22 November 2018)
23 November: Ukip leader Gerard Batten appoints Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also know as Tommy Robinson, to be his personal special advisor on gang rapes and prison reforms, advising on ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ and prison conditions. (New Statesman, 23 November 2018).
26 November: In Finland, thirty members of the far-right Soldiers of Odin and the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement march through an East Helsinki shopping centre, as Somali community leaders warn that the far Right are getting ‘bolder’. (YLE, 27 November 2018)
28 November: Bristol anti-fascists protest against Generation Identity’s anti-refugee activities across the city, including spraying a prominent water fountain with red dye and leaving a sign reading ‘rivers of blood’ , a reference to Enoch Powell’s 1968 speech, beside it. (Bristol Post, 27 November 2018)
30 November: The lawyer for the Syrian schoolboy racially bullied in Huddersfield (see education and racial violence sections below), announces that the family are taking legal action against Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also know as Tommy Robinson, for posting two ‘defamatory’ videos on Facebook claiming that ‘Jamal’ had attacked two girls at the Almondbury community school. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)
2 December: In regional elections in Andalucía, Spain, the far-right Vox party takes twelve seats in the regional parliament, an electoral breakthrough that marks the first time a far-right group has won at the ballot box since the death of General Franco in 1975. (Guardian, 4 December 2018)
3 December: Far-right Jobbik MP István Szávay resigns his parliamentary seat after Hír TV releases a recording of him making antisemitic comments and discussing a verbal and physical assault on a woman in a pub who had called him a ‘stinking Nazi’. (Hungary Today, 3 December 2018)
3 December: Following an undercover BBC investigation, Cardiff MP Stephen Doughty calls for the System Resistance Network (SRN), a neo-nazi group that preaches zero tolerance to non-whites and says homosexuality is a disease, to be banned. (BBC News, 3 December 2018)Electoral politics
22 November: Hillary Clinton, echoing the strong-borders rhetoric of Donald Trump, calls on European leaders to combat right-wing populism by reassuring electorates that ‘we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support’ to migrants. (Guardian, 22 November 2018)
26 November: Bruno Weber, an extreme-right Freedom party councillor in Amstetten, Lower Austria, is convicted of posting racist and homophobic comments, which included the Austrian equivalents of the term ‘faggots’ and the n-word, and is ordered to attend a workshop to learn good behaviour online. He claims that he did not realise the n-word was offensive. (Kurier, The Local, 26 November 2018)
25 November: Voters in a referendum introduced by the extreme-right Swiss People’s Party overwhelmingly reject the ‘Swiss law first’ proposal which would have seen the Swiss constitution take precedence over international law. Not a single canton voted in favour of the initiative. (The Local, 26 November 2018).
27 November: A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims calls on the government to adopt a definition of Islamophobia, which it says will help tackle what it describes as a growing problem. (ITV, 27 November 2018)Discrimination
25 November: Three black schoolgirls who made it to the finals of a NASA school competition have spoken out about the racially-motivated sabotage they faced during the competition, during which online users urged others not to vote for them because they are black. (The Voice, 25 November 2018)
26 November: Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema says she will not enforce the law banning the wearing of full-face covering clothing in public buildings, unofficially known as the ‘burqa ban’, and that police capacity could be better used elsewhere. Administrators in Rotterdam and Utrecht agree. (Dutch News, 26 November 2018)Education
30 November: As the Syrian refugee schoolboy Jamal pleads for people to not use social media to advocate violence against the schoolboy excluded from Almondbury community school for racially bullying him (see anti-fascist section above, and racial violence statistics section below), a Guardian analysis reveals that a record number of schoolchildren (4,590 cases in all, up from 4,085 last year) have been excluded from schools for racist bullying. (Guardian, 30, 30 November 2018)
30 November: As the government is criticised by teachers’ unions and charities for removing the duty on schools to monitor racist bullying, the Department for Education announces that it has launched an internal review. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)
4 December: The Equality and Human Rights Commission launch an inquiry into racial harassment at UK universities. Students and staff have until 15 February 2019 to submit evidence. (BBC News, 4 December 2018)Media culture
26 November: A comic called A suicide bomber sits in the library due to be released in May 2019 has been pulled from publication after an open letter signed by more than 1,000 writers, teachers and readers, criticise the book and say it is ‘steeped in Islamophobia and profound ignorance’. (Guardian, 26 November 2018)
3 December: The Bild newspaper is accused of pandering to the German far Right after describing a guide aimed at helping teachers and parents deal with racist attitudes among children as a ‘snooping manual’ that encourages children to ‘spy on their parents’. The publishers of the guide, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, receive hundreds of violent threats since the newspaper ran the story after picking it up on far-right German blogs. (Deutsche Welle, 3 December 2018)
3 December: The 2019 annual Wales Theatre Awards are cancelled after judges face criticism for shortlisting an opera featuring white actors playing non-white roles. (BBC News, 3 December 2018)
21 November: Half of UK football fans witness racist abuse at games, with only forty percent knowing how to report it, according to a survey conducted by Kick It Out and Forza Football. (Guardian, 21 November 2018)
3 December: Kick It Out, with the support of Chelsea and Eni Aluko, have released a short film aiming to tackle antisemitic abuse in football, after Kick It Out statistics from the 2017/18 season revealed that 10 per cent of discrimination reports they received related to antisemitism. (Sky Sports, 3 December 2018)RACIST VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT Abuse and harassment
21 November: A woman who racially abused her neighbour, a member of the travelling community and smashed the windows of her housing association home in Flintshire, Wales, is given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay costs. (LeaderLive, 21 November 2018)
22 November: Police appeal for information after a man, claiming he had a knife and acid in his possession, racially abused and threatened a woman while travelling on a train between Gatwick Airport and Bedford. (Crawley Observer, 22 November 2018)
25 November: Police appeal for information after a Sri Lankan shopkeeper is racially abused and spat on, before having his shop windows smashed, by a gang of youths in Scartho, Grimsby. (GrimsbyLive, 25 November 2018)Attacks on people
23 November: A husband and wife report that both they and their three-year-old daughter are racially abused and attacked by a couple, who punched and kicked them before trying to remove the wife’s headscarf in Banbury, Oxford. (Oxford Mail, 23 November 2018)
28 November: A 16-year-old boy is charged with assault after a video of a 15-year-old Syrian refugee being pulled to the ground before having water poured over his face in a school playground in Almondbury, Huddersfield, goes viral on social media. The schoolchild, who cannot be named for legal reasons, recounted the harassment he has received since coming to the UK on ITV News. (ITV News, 28 November 2018)
30 November: Fresh footage emerges showing the sister of the Syrian schoolboy, now named as Jamal, being physically abused at the same school. The family lawyer confirms that the girl, aged 14, has been bullied by another group of pupils, with a schoolgirl excluded for forcibly removing her headscarf. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)Attacks on property
23 November: Police appeal for information after Nazi graffiti and racist slogans are found carved into wood at Swansea University’s Bay and Singleton campuses. (WalesOnline, 23 November 2018)Attacks on asylum centres
25 November: In Ireland, an arson attack on a former hotel in Moville, Donegal which was set to open as an asylum accommodation centre, leaves one man injured and needing hospital treatment. (the journal.ie, 25 November 2018)Charges and convictions
25 November: A judge at Carlisle county court convicts three men for assault but spares them from prison on the grounds that the incident in Botchergate started when they were continuously racially abused by two men and ‘being…victim[s] of racial abuse was significant in their mitigation’. (News and Star, 25 November 2018)Statistics
28 November: A third of people of African descent who responded to an European Fundamental Rights Agency survey say they experienced racial harassment in the last five years, with one in twenty respondents saying they had been physically attacked, with the most incidents reported in Finland. (Guardian, 28 November 2018)
30 November: Freedom of information figures from thirty-nine local authority areas obtained by the Guardian shows a rise in racial incidents in schools from 2,702 incidents in 2014 to 3,660 in 2017. Huge surges in Glasgow and Rochdale are reported. Childline says that there have been more than 2,500 counselling sessions in the last three years about racial and faith-based bullying. (Guardian, 30 November 2018)
Thanks to Rajesh Bhattarcherjee, Jamie Wates, Joseph Maggs and Ifhat Shaheen-Smith for helping compile this calendar.
Frances Webber explains why Corporate Watch’s ‘The UK border regime: a critical guide’ will be an essential resource for activists.
In the overcrowded market of books on immigration control, Corporate Watch’s 331-page book, The UK border regime: a critical guide, is one which will not only be read, but will be an indispensible resource for activists. My initial doubts that yet another book on immigration could tell me anything new were quickly dispelled: it is a goldmine of basic, vital information about how the UK’s immigration control system works and to whose benefit.
In the first section, entitled ‘Background’, after a brief history (from Henry III to the Hostile Environment, including a moving graphic of the Iranians’ hunger strike in 2011) the infrastructure of control is described. All the various departments, units and commands within the Home Office immigration directorate are set out, with acronyms such as RALON (Risk and Liaison Overseas Network), NRC (National Removals Command), ISD (Interventions and Sanctions Directorate), what each does, and how they all work together – but that is just the beginning; as the authors explain, the border regime also comprises transport and security companies, local authorities, homelessness charity workers, NHS receptionists, employers, the media and the far Right..
The second and longest section describes the features of the control system, starting with the reporting system which applies to 80,000 migrants, from which officials, we learn, detain twice the number needed to reach removal targets, as half those detained will not be removable. The Home Office is seeking to make detention on reporting’ the main source of volume removals’, including same-day removals, using both fear and hope to keep migrants reporting, but with NATT (the National Absconder Tracing Team) and the Police National Computer to fall back on if they don’t . Chapters on asylum dispersal, immigration raids, detention and deportation are all packed with useful information. We are taken through the process from receiving a tip-off through a raid to the deportation, learning en route that morale is a huge problem with enforcement officials, made worse by constant rebranding, budget cuts and bullying, and not helped by rewards such as cake for the officer making the most arrests.
As we would expect from Corporate Watch, we are given a wealth of information about the contractors who profit from enforcement. Who knew that dogs and handlers used in border controls at Calais are provided by a company called Wagtail? The Calais chapter describes – and costs – the massive and hugely expensive infrastructure of walls and fences, drones and sniffers, policing and juxtaposed controls – an infrastructure responsible for the deaths of a hundred migrants in the past decade, even sniffing out a French security company linked to Calais mayor Nadia Bouchart, whose efforts to discourage migrants have extended to closing community centres as well as criminalising food distribution.
Another chapter in this section which is revelatory is ‘Hostile data’, which goes into detail on the databases the Home Office has, their links with each other and with police, HMRC and other databases, and the creation of integrated platforms, data sharing agreements and arrangements, and private sector links such as Experian, a company which sells a ‘right to work’ checking app for businesses and acts as the middleman between state and private sector needs, making money from both sides, The Mosaic profiling database, built for corporate marketing, uses Experian’s data to sort households into 67 ‘geodemographic’ categories, and is sought after by local authorities, government agencies and police to assess risks of re-offending and to help in custody decisions. The implications are terrifying, and the immigration exemption in the recent Data Protection Act means we often won’t even know about them.
The third section, ‘Consent’, recapitulates Corporate Watch’s recent report Who is immigration policy for? The media politics of the hostile environment. After a discussion of how collaboration works, based on a case study in which the Department of Health sought to convert frontline NHS staff to the practice of charging for treatment, we are taken through the ‘show of control’ that is all immigration policy can do, in the context of the electoral politics of migration, the dense ecosystem linking corporate interests, media, politicians, and the processes whereby far-right slogans become mainstream party positions through the politics of fear and the ‘anxiety engine’. The final section, How can we fight it?, draws lessons from the resistance described in each chapter, and prescribes new relations of solidarity and the finding of common cause between citizens and migrants, linking, for example, citizens fighting gentrification and social cleansing with migrants fighting raids. Two extremely useful annexes detail major Home Office immigration contracts, and profile the major companies involved in their performance.
The UK border regime is eminently readable, and has many hand-drawn illustrations making it a pleasure to look at – a rare feat in books dealing with such a subject. Accessible, up to date to October 2018, and written from a grassroots, activist perspective, it is a hugely valuable resource.Related Links
Book available from the Corporate Watch website, price £9.00.
At least 99 humanitarian volunteers and anti-deportation activists have been placed under criminal investigation or prosecuted so far in 2018
In 2017, the European Commission (EC) published its long-awaited evaluation of the 2002 Facilitators Package which regulates member states’ national penal laws against human smuggling. Pleas from NGOs throughout Europe for an end to the criminalisation of humanitarian actions assisting refugees and migrants fell on deaf ears. A complacent EC argued that there was no case to change the directive and ‘limited evidence’ that ‘citizens acting out of compassion have been prosecuted and convicted’.
Below, the IRR, in documenting evidence of eleven investigations and prosecutions (involving 81 people) using anti-trafficking and aiding illegal immigration laws in 2018, draws the EC’s attention to a massive escalation in criminalisation, since it failed to change the regulatory framework (1). The majority of these cases occurred in Sicily and were against the crew and supporters of NGO search and rescue missions.Crimes of solidarity
Recently, a European citizens’ initiative (ECI) petition was launched, calling on governments to stop punishing volunteers and civil society organisations for offering shelter to refugees. Since the launch, the IRR has received a number of requests for up-to-date information on current cases of crimes of solidarity. We intend to report thoroughly on this issue at the start of 2019. In the meantime, and in order to assist ongoing campaigns, we provide information on eleven cases that we have been following this year, none of which are documented in previous report Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity.BELGIUM
Twelve private individuals: The twelve, who provided shelter for refugees and migrants in their homes, are accused of human trafficking and being part of a criminal organisation. Those charged include Anouk Van Gestel, editor in chief of Marie Claire Belgium, and journalist Myriam Berghe. Case ongoing. More information here. https://www.facebook.com/pg/solidarityisnotacrime/posts/?ref=page_internalFRANCE
Briancon 7: Seven men and women accused of ‘aiding illegal entry’ of migrants as ‘part of an organised gang’ during a demonstration in April 2018 against a Generation Identity anti-migrant militia. Court case ended in November 2018 with the accused receiving suspended prison sentences ranging from six to twelve months. More information from the refugee and migrant support group La Cimade here.GREECE
Three supporters of Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI): Two humanitarian volunteers (Seán Binder, Sarah Mardini) and ECRI field director Athanasios Karakitsos ‘Nassos’ have been released on bail after over 100 days in pre-trial detention. The three humanitarians have been charged with people-smuggling, espionage and membership of a criminal organisation. More information here and here.ITALY
Twenty-four crew members and supporters of Aquarius: Twenty-four people connected to the migrant rescue ship Aquarius, including its captain and the deputy head of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Belgium, under investigation in Catania, Sicily, for ‘trafficking and illegal management of waste’. No charges as yet. More information here.
Twenty-two crew members and supporters of Iuventa: Twenty-two individuals, including ten crew members of the search-and-rescue ship Iuventa operated by Jugend Rettett under investigation in Sicily for aiding illegal immigration to Italy while conducting rescue operations in the central Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast. Ship impounded but no charges as yet. More information here.
Two crew members of Open Arms: Despite the release of the impounded vessel (run by the Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms) by the prosecutor in Catania, Sicily, the captain, Marc Reig and the mission’s coordinator, Anabel Montes are still under investigation for ‘aiding illegal immigration’. The case was brought after they rescued 218 people in the Mediterranean in March 2018 and took them to Sicily where the ship was initially impounded. No charges as yet. More information here.
Mayor of Riace and his partner: Domenico Lucano, mayor of Riace, in Calabria, and his partner, Tesfahun Lemlem placed under house arrest and charged with encouraging illegal immigration including organising ‘marriages of convenience’ for immigration purposes. Case ongoing. More information here.
Six Tunisian fishermen: Six Tunisian fishermen, including Chamseddine Ben Ali Bourassine, known in the city of Zarzis for his heroic work saving migrants, are under investigation in Sicily for illegally escorting a boat into Italian waters after towing a vessel with fourteen migrants onboard to safety, off the coast of Lampedusa. Case ongoing.MALTA
Captain of Mission Lifeline vessel: German national Claus-Peter Reisch charged with filing incorrect registration documents and entering Maltese waters illegally. The Lifeline crew had rescued 234 people near the Libyan coast but Malta initially refused to allow the boat to dock, and then impounded it, arresting the captain who was later granted bail. Case ongoing. More information here.SPAIN/MOROCCO
Helena Maleno Garzón: A Spanish national and founder of Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders), Maleno Garzón, who lives in Morocco, was initially investigated by the Spanish authorities for her work alerting the Spanish coast guard about migrant boats in difficulty during crossings. After the Spanish could not find enough evidence to prosecute, she was charged in Morocco with aiding and abetting illegal immigration. Case ongoing. More information here.SWITZERLAND
Anni Lanz: A former Secretary General of Solidarité sans Frontieres, Anni Lanz has already been prosecuted once but now faces further court appearances owing to her refusal to pay fines amassed after attempting to help an Afghan asylum seeker, deported under the Dublin regulations, return to Switzerland. Case ongoing with next court appearance in December. More information here.
Prosecutions of anti-deportation activists
Unlike in previous years, we include in our monitoring of 2018 three cases involving criminal prosecutions (including the use of anti-terrorism provisions) against eighteen individuals arising from attempts to prevent deportation flights. While these actions – aimed at disrupting flights carrying deportees – would not be protected by any change to the Facilitators Package, we include them now, because of our concern that the kind of disproportionate and politically-motivated charges being brought by European states appears to imply a coordinated approach. Those who have attempted to stop deportation flights are acting from the same idea as those who try to provide shelter, food and transport, or rescue people in the Mediterranean Sea. Why people act in particular ways is of course individual to them, but in all the cases we identify (at borders or on deportation flights) those who stand accused speak of a humanitarian impulse to protect life, or a political impulse to defy an unjust law, or both. While those who rescue at sea might be responding to an immediate threat to life, those who intervene to prevent a deportation flight do so because of the future life-threatening consequences of deportation.ICELAND
Two anti-deportation activists: Ragnheidur Freyja Kristinardottir and Jorunn Edda Helgadottir were arrested in May 2016 after attempting to stop a deportation flight by standing up and explaining to passengers that there was a Nigerian deportee onboard. They were not charged at the time, but two and a half years later in October 2018 charges of jeopardising the safety of a flight were brought on the same day that Elin Ersson was charged in Sweden (see below). Case ongoing. More information here.SWEDEN
Elin Ersson: Student Elin Ersson charged with violations of the Swedish aviation act after an incident in July 2018 when she prevented a Turkish Airlines flight with an Afghan deportee from taking off at Gothenburg airport, by refusing to sit in her seat when the plane was set to take off. Case pending. More information here.UNITED KINGDOM
Stansted 15: Fifteen activists from a number of anti-deportation groups face charges of endangering airport security under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act after they chained themselves to an immigration removal plane as an act of conscience to protect the lives of deportees to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone who they believed were being deported unlawfully. More information here.
Details of Crowdfunding page for legal defence of Nassos, Sean and Sarah here.
As part for the Migration Film Festival the Migration Collective is showing the 1980 film Babylon followed by a panel Q&A.
- 6:45 – 8:45 pm, Tuesday 4 December 2018
- Migration Museum at the Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, London, SE1 7AG
Babylon tells the story of DJ for Brixton reggae sound system ‘Ital Lion Sound’, Blue is getting ready for the local sound system showdown with rival crew, Jah Shaka. In the year when the Windrush scandal came to light, this film will help us explore how much (or how little) things have changed for members of the Windrush generation living in London and the UK.Related links
Event details and tickets here
Details of Migration Film Festival here
8 November: A total of six EU states, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic and Croatia, have so far refused to sign the UN’s non-binding Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. (Deutsche Welle, 8 November)
10 November: At least 20,000 people, chanting ‘we are all illegals’ and coming together under the slogan #indivisibili (indivisible), march in Rome against the government’s security and migration decree and the ‘growing climate of hatred’ in Italy. (Al Jazeera, 10 November 2018)
13 November: An investigation by the Independent reveals that asylum seekers attending compulsory reporting sessions with the Home Office are forced to travel a five-hour journey each week, costing them up to three-quarters of their weekly allowance. (Independent, 13 November 2018)
13 November: Around 150 remaining residents of the Baobab camp, an informal refugee camp close to one of Rome’s train station, are evicted by the police and with only 65 people relocated, many now have nowhere to go as winter sets in. (Al Jazeera, 13 November 2018)
14 November: The chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee accuses the Foreign Office of allowing government asylum policy to be dictated to by a mob after it emerges that it urged the Home Office not to grant asylum to Asia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan, due to fears for the safety of UK consular staff. (Guardian, 14 November 2018)
19 November: Seventy-seven people, rescued by a cargo ship while trying to reach Italy but taken back to Libya, are refusing to leave the vessel docked at the port of Misrata, saying they want to reach Europe and would rather die than be taken back to a Libyan detention centre. (Al Jazeera, 19 November 2018)
Borders: violence and militarisation
14 November: The Guardian obtains video footage that backs claims that Croatian police are beating migrants and refugees with truncheons and inflicting multiple injuries on them as they attempt to cross into the EU from the Bosnian cities of Bihac and Velika Kladusa. (Guardian, 14 November)Reception and detention
8 November: The trial of thirty security guards, police officers, European Home Care administrators, municipal government employees and social workers accused of abusing refugees at an asylum-centre in Burbach, Germany, opens. A 155-page indictment details widespread systematic abuse and lays out the charges against the accused, which include grievous bodily harm, deprivation of liberty, coercion and theft. (Deutsche Welle, 8 November 2018)
9 November: The Home Office announces that, in response to the Shaw review into welfare of vulnerable people in detention, Campsfield House immigration removal centre in Oxfordshire will close by May 2019. The Campaign to Close Down Campsfield and End All Immigration Detention welcomes the ‘long overdue’ announcement, and remembers Ramazan Kamluca and Ianos Dragotan who died there in 2005 and 2011 respectively. (Gov.UK, Campsfield campaign press release, 9 November 2018)
20 November: A Guardian investigation reveals that child refugees are facing abuse, violence and malnutrition in a network of twenty-six Libyan detention centres part-funded by the British government. (Guardian, 20 November 2018).Immigration enforcement
12 November: Following a legal challenge by Migrants Right Network and Liberty, the Home Office scraps a memorandum of understanding which would have allowed for data-sharing between the Department of Health, NHS Digital, and the Home Office, with the data then used to track down patients believed to be in breach of immigration rules. (Guardian, 12 November 2018)Deportations
12 November: In a monthly report to the Home Affairs Select Committee, home secretary Sajid Javid reveals that it is now known that eleven of the eighty-three people wrongfully deported to the Caribbean died following deportation. The government had previously acknowledged three Windrush generation deaths. Read a Home Office update here. (Guardian, 12 November)
14 November: Kweku Adoboli, a junior banker convicted of fraud while working at USB, who has already served a prison sentence, has been deported to Ghana despite having come to the UK at the age of twelve. (Guardian, 14 November 2018)
15 November: Lord Blunkett, home secretary in Blair’s Labour government (2001 – 2004), admits to a parliamentary Human Rights Committee that he ordered home office staff to ‘up removals’ to satisfy the anti-immigrant press. (The Independent, 15 November 2018)
16 November: The Home Office, under pressure from the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, revises its methodology for calculating the number of the Windrush generation wrongly deported or detained. Officials now admit that they misclassified a number of affected people as criminals and excluded them from the official tally of 164. (Guardian, 16 November 2018).Crimes of solidarity
9 November: In France, the trial of the ‘Briancon 7’, accused of ‘aiding illegal entry’ of migrants as ‘part of an organised gang’ during a demonstration in April 2018 against a Generation Identitaire anti-migrant militia, ends with the accused receiving suspended prison sentences ranging from six to twelve months. (Le Monde, 9 November 2018)
20 November: Twenty-four people connected to the migrant rescue ship Aquarius, including its captain and the deputy head of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Belgium, are placed under investigation in Italy for ‘trafficking and illegal management of waste’. The National Aids Trust condemns the Sicilian prosecutor’s claim that clothes worn by rescued migrants could have been contaminated by HIV, meningitis and tuberculosis, for perpetuating ‘myths about HIV and infectious conditions’ and ‘stigmatising’ both ‘people living with HIV and migrants fleeing hardship’. (Guardian, 20 November 2018)Destitution
13 November: Victims of the Windrush scandal criticise the length and complexity of the consultation for the government’s proposed compensation scheme, pointing out that many people are facing destitution for want of financial aid. (Guardian, 13 November 2018)Police and criminal justice system
8 November: The inquest into the death of Adrian McDonald who died in 2014 after being tasered by Staffordshire police and bitten by a police dog opens in Stoke-on-Trent with his family criticising the long delay in securing a hearing. (Inquest, 8 November 2018).
9 November: The Information Commissioner launches an inquiry after the Metropolitan police admit that the names of young people on its Gangs Matrix had been shared online on social media with the data breach carried out by an ‘unknown professional’ working in Newham. (Evening Standard, 9 November 2018)
12 November: Junior Home Office minister Nick Hurd denies a Guardian report suggesting that the government is set to change the ‘reasonable grounds’ requirement to stop and search but confirms that the government has plans to help police use stop and search more efficiently. (Guardian, 12 November 2018)
16 November: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issues an enforcement notice against the Metropolitan police, finding that the Gangs Matrix breaches data protection laws, fails to distinguish between victims of crime and offenders, and potentially causes damage and distress to a disproportionate number of young black men. (Guardian, 16 November 2018)
19 November: The inquest into the death of Jamal Mohamoud, 21, who was fatally attacked by prisoners at HMP Pentonville on 16 October 2016, opens. (Inquest, 18 November 2018)
19 November: The inquest into the death of Branko Zdravkovic, who in April 2017 was found hanging in the Verne immigration detention centre in Dorset where he was facing removal, opens. (Inquest press release, 19 November 2018)
19 November: A police misconduct hearing, expected to last five weeks, opens at Sutton Coldfield police station against three West Midlands police officers accused of giving false or misleading accounts of events, including the inappropriate use of force, leading up to the death of Kingsley Burrell in March 2011. (Birmingham Live, 19 November 2018).Anti-fascism and the far Right
8 November: A Polish court overrules a ban on far-right groups marching in the capital on annual Polish independence day, that was initiated by Warsaw’s mayor on the grounds that the threat posed by ‘aggressive nationalism’. (Deutsche Welle, 9 November 2018).
9 November: As events are held across Germany to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of the Nazi Kristallnacht anti-Semitic pogrom of 1938, historian Wolfgang Benz draws parallels with events earlier this year in the eastern city of Chemnitz and discusses the rise of Alternative for Germany (AfD), pointing out that Hitler ‘began his career as a ‘populist’. (Deutsche Welle, 9 November 2018)
9 November: The far-right movement ‘We are for Germany’ demonstrate in Berlin on the eightieth anniversary of Kristallnacht after a court lifts a ban on the protest on the grounds that it poses no threat to public order. (Deutsche Welle, 9 November 2018)
9 November: PayPal bans Tommy Robinson, stating that the company does not allow its services to ‘be used to promote hate, violence, or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory’. (Guardian, 9 November 2018).
9 November: A package containing white powder and addressed to judge Geoffrey Marson, who previously jailed Tommy Robinson, is delivered to Leeds Crown Court. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 9 November 2018)
11 November: The Polish president Andrzej Duda addresses the 200,000-strong March of Independence organised by nationalist and far-right groups and attended by the National-Radical Camp (ONR), the successor to a pre-war Polish fascist movement, and Italian neo-fascists from Forza Nuova. (Guardian, 11 November 2018)
13 November: Birmingham crown court finds Oxfordshire couple Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas guilty of being members of National Action, a far-right terrorist organisation banned in 2016. Daniel Bogunovic, from Leicester, is also convicted of membership of National Action. (Guardian, 13 April 2018)
13 November: As reporting restrictions were lifted following the verdict in the Birmingham crown court, it emerges that Cpl Mikko Vehvilainen, a British army veteran who served in Afghanistan who was jailed for eight years in March, was a recruiter for National Action and a key part of its strategy to expand its membership with the armed forces. (Guardian, 13 November 2018).
16 November: Former Donald Trump strategist and Breitbart News editor Steve Bannon is escorted to the Oxford Union by riot police after around 1,000 protestors demonstrate against his speech at the union. (Mirror, 16 November 2018)
17 November: Tens of thousands of people demonstrate in London in a unity march against the rise of the far Right and and to mark Islamophobia awareness week. (Morning Star, 18 November 2018).
20 November: The Home Affairs Select Commitee writes to Facebook and Twitter asking why a video promoting National Action has not been taken down, and seeks clarification on the training that moderators receive on identifying content relating to banned UK terrorist organisations and far-right material. (Guardian, 20 November 2018)Electoral politics
7 November: Conservative Birmingham Solihull councillor Jess Potts has been readmitted into the party after being suspended for sharing tweets calling for the deportation of all Muslims and for describing ‘Pakistani hospitality’ as ‘having a daughter raped by men who think she’s “white trash”’. (Birminmgham Live, 7 November 2018)
18 November: Cornwall Conservative MP Derek Thomas refers racist leaflets inflaming hatred of ‘non-white migrants’, to the police. The leaflets, which claimed that ‘mixed-race worker drones’ are replacing Europeans, were handed out before a public meeting Thomas organised on Brexit in Helston. (BBC News, 18 November 2018)Media and culture
9 November: Roma community worker and former police officer Peter Torák criticises the Guardian for falsely claiming in an article that tensions between Roma and Pakistanis across England are on the rise. The article by Helen Pidd has also reinforced racist media frameworks in the Czech Republic, he says. (Romea.cz, 9 November 2018)
12 November: More than 700 organisations, individuals, journalists and public figures in Croatia sign an open letter, criticising the media’s ‘one-sided’ and ‘dishonest’ reporting about migrants and refugees which they say is fuelling a rise in hate crimes. (Balkan Insight, 12 November 2018)
14 November: In response to an article in the New York Times revealing that Facebook hired a US Republican research firm to stir up animus towards George Soros, the Open Society Foundations calls for a through and independent inquiry into Facebook’s lobbying and PR work. (Open Society Foundation, 14 November 2018).
14 November: The Majority Perspective Foundation, representing people of African descent in the Netherlands, loses its legal challenge to get ‘all racist characteristics’, such as curly hair, red lips and black face make-up, removed from Santa Claus’ helper Zwarte Piet. (Dutch News, 14 November 2018)
Employment and labour exploitation
16 November: The families of five Spanish-African migrants who died in July 2016 after a concrete wall collapsed on them at the Hawkeswood Metal Recyling company in Birmingham express disbelief after an inquest returns an accidental death verdict. The five men who died are Almamo Jammeh, Ousmane Diaby, Bangally Dukureh, Saibo Sillah and Mahamadou Jagana. (BBC News, 16 November 2018)Housing
7 November: Controversy mounts over the appointment of controversial right-wing philosopher Roger Scruton as chair of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission after it emerges that he described Jews in Budapest as forming part of a ‘Soros empire’ in 2014. (Guardian, 7 November 2018)
16 November: Six of ten rough sleepers who died in Redbridge this year were Indian men, prompting the Refuge and Migrant Forum of Essex and London to call for changes to the No Recourse to Public Funds rules. (Guardian, 16 November 2018)Discrimination
9 November: The new chair of the Parole Board reveals that that none of its 240 members is black, a factor she puts down to unconscious bias. (BBC News, 9 November 2018).
9 November: An employment tribunal finds luxury goods group Richemont UK guilty of racial discrimination against an employee seeking promotion after displaying a ‘preference for white continental Europeans’. The company was also found guilty of using convert surveillance on the employee whilst she was on sick leave. (Drapers, 9 November 2018)
13 November: The UN Human Rights Council says that negative stereotypes about parents of African descent amongst Dutch social workers have resulted, in some cases, in children being forcibly removed from their parents and placed in care. (Dutch News, 13 November 2018)Sport
8 November: Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) football team admit that since 2013 its scouts outside Paris categorised promising young talent according to ethnicity (North African, French, African and West Indian) but denied that such illegal racial profiling was part of official club policy. (Al jazeera, 9 November 2018)
10 November: Greek TV sports commentator Takis Tsoukalas faces charges under anti-discrimination laws after describing black basketball player Thanasis Antetokoumpo on air as a ‘monkey’. (Ekathimerini, 15 November 2018)Education
10 November: The National Union of Black Students is amongst those criticising the University of Reading for categorising an essay on the ethics of socialist revolution by the late renowned University of Manchester academic Norman Geras as ‘security sensitive’ under the government’s Prevent strategy. (Guardian, 10 November 2018)National Security
6 November: Fouad Belkacem, a former leader of Sharia4Belgium currently in prison for membership of a terrorist organisation, launches an appeal against the decision to strip him of his Belgian nationality on the grounds of severe violations of his duties as a citizen. (Brussels Times, 6 November)Racist violence and harassment Abuse and harassment
15 November: Police appeal for information after footage showing a man racially abusing a Chinese couple on a train from London to Bristol went viral. (BBC News, 15 November 2018)
16 November: North Yorkshire Police apologise to Uber driver Mohammed Shafaq after the man who racially abused him whilst he was driving his taxi in York was only given a caution, which ‘was not a robust punishment for a hate crime’. The case has been reopened and Mr. Shafaq has been invited to make a formal complaint. (York Press, 16 November 2018)Attacks on people
5 November: Police appeal for information after a taxi driver was racially abused and assaulted, having his hair and beard pulled whilst driving, by a passenger in Grays, Essex. (Echo News, 5 November 2018)
9 November: Police are treating as racially motivated an arson attack on the home of a family of five in east Belfast. (Belfast Telegraph, 9 November 2018)
17 November: Police appeal for information after a man is racially abused, before being pushed to the floor and spat on, by another man in a car park in Wolvercote, Oxford. (Oxford Mail, 17 November 2018)Attacks on property
5 November: Swastikas and neo-Nazi slogans are daubed on the wall of a house in Beverley, Yorkshire. (HullLive, 5 November 2018)
10 November: A swastika and graffiti reading ‘KKK’ are daubed on the side of an accommodation building on the University of Kent campus. (The Tab, 10 November 2018)
16 November: Anti-Roma graffiti is daubed on the wall of a pedestrian subway in Ballymena, County Antrim. (BBC News, 16 November 2018)
19 November: Swastikas are daubed on the wall of a community centre in Oxford before being removed by the council. (Oxford Mail, 19 November 2018)Charges and convictions
6 November: John Lock, 28, is sentenced to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to racially aggravated criminal damage and racially aggravated threatening behaviour at a bar in Burmantofts, Leeds. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 6 November 2018)
9 November: John Reilly, 41, is sentenced to two years and eight months in prison after admitting racially aggravated assault causing actual bodily harm, with the sentence running consecutive to an existing conviction, for racially abusing and pouring boiling water into the eye of a fellow inmate at HMP Altcourse, Liverpool, whilst they were sleeping. (Liverpool Echo, 9 November 2018)
15 November: Joseph Brogan, 27, admits racially aggravated threatening behaviour and is jailed for six months after shouting antisemitic abuse and giving a Nazi salute at a rally against antisemitism in Manchester. (Metro, 15 November 2018)
15 November: Craig Douglas, 24, pleads guilty to assault and is jailed for eighteen months after racially abusing and attacking a shopkeeper, kicking and punching him and leaving him with a broken cheekbone and nose, outside the victim’s shop in Musselburgh, East Lothian. (East Lothian Courier, 15 November 2018)
16 November: Kane Powell, 20, pleads guilty to two counts of assault and another of causing racially aggravated fear/provocation of violence after repeatedly banging and kicking the door of a residential property whilst shouting racist abuse before assaulting a Pakistani man in Redruth, Cornwall. (Cornwall Live, 16 November 2018)
16 November: Two men are charged with religiously aggravated assault, after both men, along with a third unidentified suspect, allegedly racially abused, punched and kicked an Italian bartender, who the group mistook to be Muslim, at Canada Water underground station in London. (Daily Mail, 16 November 2018)
Thanks to Rajesh Bhattarcherjee and Joseph Maggs for their help in preparing this calendar.
Slide show explaining the first 50 year of the Institute of Race Relations History from its creation in 1952 as part of Chatham House, to its take over by staff in 1972 and transformation into an anti-racist ‘think tank’.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?enablejsapi=1&autoplay=0&cc_load_policy=0&iv_load_policy=1&loop=0&modestbranding=0&rel=1&showinfo=1&playsinline=0&autohide=2&theme=dark&color=red&wmode=opaque&vq=&controls=2&" frameborder="0" class="__youtube_prefs__" allowfullscreen data-no-lazy="1">