Understanding the roots of the UK’s immigration system

This post also includes examples of racism that are underpinned by the ongoing hostile environment

Updated 6 April 2023: Ethical Journalism Network: Structural racism in UK newsrooms: Research and fieldwork conducted by the EJN Jan – Jul 2022

In February 2021, the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) was awarded funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, through their Power and Accountability programme, to fund a project to identify and begin to address structural racism in UK journalism. The resulting policy report, published in March 2023, provides an overview of the challenges that Black journalists are facing in the British news media. Browse the report by chapter and download the report below.

The report, written by Dr Aida Al-Kaisy and based on 27 in-depth interviews with Black journalists and stakeholders who have or are currently working in national mainstream media newsrooms across print, online and broadcast media, provides an overview of the challenges that Black journalists are facing in the British news media.

Although the proportion of Black African and Caribbean journalists has increased in recent years, and there has been a heightened sense of the possibility for change since 2020 with the increased momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, Black journalists interviewed confirmed that newsroom processes continued to be exclusionary and racism was commonplace.

Read more: https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/structural-racism-in-uk-newsrooms-research-and-fieldwork-conducted-by-the-ejn-jan-jul-2022

Institute of Race Relations/John O: Calendar of Racism and Resistance Monday 22nd November to Sunday 27th November Callous Indifference: Remembering 32 Lives Lost in the Channel

Exactly a year ago, a dinghy with 34 people on board sank in the English Channel. There were two survivors. In the three hours it took for the boat to sink, as distress messages flooded in from those on board, French and British coastguards debated whose responsibility it was to rescue them. No help came, as one by one the passengers died of cold or drowned. As this week’s Calendar of Racism and Resistance shows, the body investigating the deaths – the worst loss of life in the Channel in over 30 years – the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), will not present its findings until at least early summer next year, and has not yet been in touch with most of the families of those who died, despite being sent their contact details. The families have also been denied access to recordings of their loved ones’ final calls for help. The unmistakable message conveyed by such responses is that these deaths don’t matter and that the families of the deceased are unworthy of respect.

Twelve months on, another death, this time in Manston, a former RAF base which in its short time as a holding centre for asylum seekers has become, like Napier barracks, a byword for inhumanity. Manston has now been emptied, but as Joseph Maggs, in his critical analysis of the state violence that occurs behind the closed doors of a ‘no-access border zone’, shows, the closing of Manston will not put an end to the politically manufactured humanitarian crisis facing newly arrived asylum seekers. This can only end with a wholesale rejection of current policies of criminalisation and deterrence. But a change in policy, Maggs concludes, will not come from the top-down parliamentary process, with Labour leaders seem determined to match the Tories on toughness towards migrants. It will come through grass-roots resistance to state violence and demonisation, exemplified by the determined and dogged commitment of groups like SOAS Detainee Support, Action Against Detention and Deportations, as well as people from the Thanet area, at Manston.
Source; Institute of Race Relations, https://rb.gy/6razem

IRR: Manston: state violence in a no-access border zone

With the Manston facility emptied this week after the death of a man detained there, IRR News publishes the first in-depth analysis of a politically manufactured crisis, caused by policies of criminalisation and deterrence. Joseph Maggs provides a first-person account after visiting the facility on 30 October alongside fellows activists from SOAS Detainee Support and other groups and organisations.

Read the long-read on the IRR website https://irr.org.uk/article/manston-state-violence-in-a-no-access-border-zone and check out the accompanying twitter thread.

Updated 25 June 2022: Independent: Celebrities urge Commonwealth leaders to condemn ‘offensive’ Rwanda asylum plan

Celebrities including Olympian Anita Asante and actress Dame Emma Thompson have urged Commonwealth leaders to stand against Britain’s “ill-planned” and “offensive” scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

More than 20 high-profile names have penned an open letter to attendees of this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Rwanda, describing the controversial plan as a “scandalous affront” to Africa and the rest of the world.

Many of the signatories have heritage from African Commonwealth countries, including the actress Sophie Okonedo, and actors Martins Imhangbe and Lucian Msamati.

Read more: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/rwanda-emma-thompson-commonwealth-celebrities-africa-b2109144.html

Updated 22 June 2022: Independent: Grenfell and Rwanda have something terrible in common – they highlight how we treat refugees in Britain

Our treatment of people fleeing war and persecution is what colonialism and systemic racism look like in real time

[…] The echoes of history should send a shiver down our spines. There must be change. A refugee protection system should be based on justice and compassion. To get there, the structural racism that underpins the current regime must be called out and torn down.

Tim Naor Hilton is the CEO of Refugee Action

Read more: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/grenfell-rwanda-flight-refugees-boris-johnson-b2100921.html

Updated 25 May 2022: Guardian: From ‘go home’ vans to Windrush scandal: a timeline of UK’s hostile environment

Theresa May first revealed Tory policy that has been derided across the world

On 25 May 2012 Theresa May, the then home secretary, gave an interview to the Daily Telegraph in which she said: “The aim is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration.” The phrase became shorthand for a series of strict policies aimed at cracking down on migrants who had overstayed, making it harder for them to work in the UK legally and access housing and bank accounts.

A decade on and the hostile environment is still around, but politicians and others from across the political spectrum question whether it has achieved its stated objectives.

25 May 2012Theresa May announces the aims of the hostile environment in a Telegraph article. For the first time private landlords, employers and NHS staff are to be co-opted into plans to carry out checks on migrants to ensure they are in the UK legally and to report them to immigration enforcement if not. May, who became home secretary two years before she announced her crackdown, warned: “We’re going to give illegal migrants a really hostile reception.” The policy heralded a culture change across a range of UK institutions unused to policing immigration.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/may/25/from-go-home-vans-to-windrush-scandal-a-timeline-of-uks-hostile-environment

Updated 11 May 2022: Our Racism Exposed – Barbara Forbes, published in Churches Refugee Network Advisory Group Bulletin May 20222

It is surely very heart-warming to observe the enthusiasm across the country to support and welcome those fleeing the war in Ukraine – and it therefore might seem somewhat curmudgeonly to offer any criticism.

And yet, all across the refugee sector, voices have been raised pointing out that the disparity between the responses to refugees from Ukraine and refugees from elsewhere has revealed a deep and ongoing racism both in the government and the wider public.

Media coverage of the refugees from Ukraine has been in marked contrast to headlines condemning those asylum-seekers who have hitherto been “swamping” the country. The Daily Mail headlined “Putin’s stain on humanity” but had previously ignored the similar “stains of humanity” of those perpetrating atrocities in countless other wars – possibly because the UK has often been complicit in those other atrocities?

There is blatant racism also, for example, in the treatment of Black students trying to flee from Ukraine; there have also been reports of Roma families being prevented from leaving.

More than 150,000 people have expressed interest in taking in Ukrainians – but seven months after the fall of Kabul, less than 450 have offered space for Afghan refugees. Media have been reporting that people feel drawn to support Ukrainians because “they look like us”; “they drive the same cars as we do”; “they are Europeans” – (statements made by people who have failed to notice that Britain is a multi-racial and plural society); and Sabir Zazai, CEO of the Scottish Refugee Council, reported that he attended a meeting where someone said that refugees from the Ukraine would bring “better human capital”. Better than what?

Zoe Gardner of JCWI has commented that while there is a genuine wish for Ukrainians to be looked after, to be given hope, to be with their families, there is also an underlying general assumption that brown and black people should just be satisfied with not being bombed.

Our governments (and not just the current one) have, over decades, gaslighted the British public into believing that asylum-seekers are a threat. The current proposals in the Nationality and Borders Act reveal the cruel and callous nature of the government’s thinking, and in some cases would break international law. In response to this official attitude, groups and individuals up and down the country – religious groups, human rights groups, schools, colleges, arts groups – have been campaigning to replace the hostile environment with something more hospitable and welcoming, often in the face of indifference at best and active hostility at worst.

It is a natural human reaction to want to “do something” when confronted with horror and atrocities. But this reaction is only triggered at specific times –when the photo of Alan Kurdi’s body was washed up on a beach in Turkey, there was an outpouring of emotion which then quickly died down. Was that emotion just sentimentality – as Oscar Wilde said, having the luxury of an emotion without paying for it? In the longer and ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, there is more opportunity for people to feel that there is indeed something they can do to offer support – the images are before us all the time, their brave and bold president is masterful in his leadership, and of course people will want to help. But often these offers are made without any real knowledge or understanding of what might be involved or what the consequences might be.

And meanwhile, in Yemen (which has been consistently bombed for over seven years with UK bombs dropped by UK-trained pilots), Afghanistan (where five million children face starvation and where people are actually selling their children), Syria (where the war has been going on for eleven years), Ethiopia (where the war with Tigray has been re-ignited), and in many more countries, far too many, people are left wondering why their humanitarian catastrophe is not important enough to produce such headlines and offers of welcome. There are atrocities in all wars. There are crimes against humanity in all wars. And there are always wars going on, all around the world, and the UK is genuinely “world-beating” when it comes to turning away those who are fleeing from those wars.

Our challenge will be to see whether or not this welcome for Ukrainians has made people more sensitive to the needs of asylum-seekers from other countries too, and has opened people’s eyes to the horrors of the UK asylum system. The churches, and CRN, have an important opportunity here to change the narrative in how we think and speak about asylum-seekers, and we know that congregations up and down the country are already doing this. As the government is being seen to continue its never-ending descent into the bottomless pit of its inhumanity, the churches must make a loud and clear call for good against evil.

Updated 3 April 2022: Big Issue: Exclusive: Fewer than 500 people in the UK have offered to help find homes for Afghan refugees

Government data obtained by The Big Issue shows the disparity between the number of people offering homes to refugees from Ukraine and from Afghanistan.

More than 150,000 people have expressed interest in taking in Ukrainian refugees – but fewer than 500 have offered to house Afghans seven months on from the fall of Kabul.

Experts say it highlights the impact of the government “dehumanising refugees who are brown, Black, or Muslim”, as 11,500 Afghan refugees are believed to be stuck in hotels waiting for more secure accommodation.

Government data obtained by The Big Issue shows 427 individuals — at most — had offered Afghan refugees a place to stay between last August and February 22. Almost 350 organisations had offered help in the same period.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Robina Qureshi, chief executive of Positive Action in Housing, which runs the community hosting network Room For Refugees. “The hostile environment rhetoric has succeeded in dehumanising refugees who are brown, Black, or Muslim, all filtered down courtesy of successive home secretaries who have promoted hate rhetoric against refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, helped by sections of the media.”

Read more: https://www.bigissue.com/news/social-justice/exclusive-fewer-than-500-people-in-the-uk-have-offered-to-help-find-homes-for-afghan-refugees

Updated 20 February 2022: Guardian: Home Office immigration contractor failed to investigate racist staff messages

Mitie admits failure to ‘escalate’ whistleblower complaints made two years ago about racist WhatsApp group posts

The Home Office is investigating allegations of racist WhatsApp messages sent by immigration staff, as the contracting firm Mitie admitted that they received complaints two years ago but failed to “escalate them”.

The messages by workers for Mitie, revealed by the Sunday Mirror, include derogatory references to Chinese people and the mocking of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Mitie told the newspaper: “As soon as we were made aware we commenced an investigation, which is ongoing. We have suspended those about whom complaints have been made, pending the investigation outcome.”

However, Mitie later told the Guardian: “It has been brought to our attention that an allegation was previously raised but was not escalated in line with internal procedures. This is not acceptable and we are sharing details of our whistleblowing policy with all colleagues and reminding our mangers of their responsibilities to take any such allegations with the utmost seriousness.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/feb/20/home-office-immigration-contractor-failed-to-investigate-racist-staff-messages

Updated 17 February 2022: Herald Alba: Discrimination in Britain: immigrants

Discrimination in Britain has become a severe problem for minorities and immigrants. Britain is becoming a discriminatory society for minority ethnic groups and immigrants. Arbitrary extremism alongside the conservative Government’s unjust treatment has made the conditions difficult for immigrants.

Violation of UN immigration laws by the British government

UK government is breaking UN convention on racial discrimination due to ‘systemic racism’, a report claims. The report by the Runnymede Trust claims some government approaches to racial inequalities are making the conditions worse. A REPORT HAS CLAIMED THAT the UK government is breaching several articles of a UN convention on racial discrimination. According to research by the Runnymede Trust, racism is still “systemic” in England. The study shows that legislation, institutional practices, and customs harm ethnic minority groups. People from ethnically diverse backgrounds face inequalities across health, the criminal justice system, education, employment, immigration and politics (Sky News). Nationality and Borders Bill 

As it says in the UK Parliament, the Nationality and Borders Bill seek to achieve the below goals. 1) to increase the system’s fairness to protect better and support those in need of asylum. 2) to deter illegal entry into the United Kingdom, thereby breaking the business model of people smuggling networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger. 3) to remove those with no right to be in the UK more easily.

UK Borders Bill against UN human rights

Discrimination in Britain is increasing with the proposal of the UK Borders Bill. As it says in the UN News, UK Borders Bill increases risks of discrimination and human rights violations. Lawmakers are debating the Bill in the United Kingdom. The Bill increases the risk of discrimination and “serious human rights violations”. It breaches the country’s responsibilities under international law. 

According to UN Human Rights, the right to seek and enjoy asylum is a fundamental human right. If lawmakers pass the Bill, it can penalize asylum-seekers and refugees. It will violate the principle of non-punishment in international law. It will discriminate between asylum seekers, which is against international law. According to experts, the Government repeatedly wants to fight against trafficking and modern slavery. However, what the Government says does not match its action. The Government must ensure equal protection of the law for all victims of trafficking and modern slavery without discrimination.

Deprivation of citizenship

As it says in  GOV.UK, maintaining our national security and keeping the public safe are the Government’s top priorities. Deprivation of citizenship refers to removing someone’s British citizenship. The UK government uses Deprivation of citizenship against those who obtained citizenship by fraud. They also use it against the most dangerous people, such as terrorists, extremists and serious organized criminals. 

According to UN Human Rights, experts say “the Bill will increase the possibility of arbitrary Deprivation of citizenship. It has a troubled history rooted in racism and discrimination. The Bill increases the risks of discrimination and serious human rights violations, particularly against minorities, migrants, and refugees. 

Terrorism and Deprivation of citizenship

Deprivation of citizenship is a clear sign of discrimination in Britain. Terrorism is only an excuse for the British Government to deprive refugees of British citizenship. The British Government claims to stop terrorism by making complex rules against immigrants. Terrorism According to the Guardian, Matt Jukes said the vast majority of those plotting terrorist atrocities are British. They are British born or raised and not asylum seekers. Matt Jukes is the country’s most senior counter-terrorism officer. He is the head of counter-terrorism policing. 

Read more: https://heraldalba.com/2022/02/17/discrimination-in-britain-immigrants/

Updated 19 January 2022: There are many many examples of racism in UK and beyond, coming to our attention daily and it is racism that has enabled the hostile environment to take hold such that people are left in a situation where they fear the potential threat to their safety from the Home Office more than they fear the threat to their own lives of the Covid pandemic.

Below, you will find just a small selection of reports about the way in which racism shows itself.

Updated 15 January 2022: Criminal Justice Alliance: How the PCSC Bill will deepen racial inequality in the criminal justice system 20th October 2021

Since the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was first introduced into Parliament in March, charities, GPs, social workers, nurses, teachers and members of the general public have sounded the alarm over its impact on minority groups. […]

Our concerns

The Bill will enable courts to hand Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) to individuals, allowing police to stop and search them without any need to suspect they’ve committed another crime. Worryingly, an SVRO could be imposed on someone without any evidence they ever handled a weapon. The government has admitted that the power could be ineffective as searches will not be based upon recent intelligence.

It’s also likely to be used disproportionately on Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, damaging already fraught trust in policing. Young people we spoke to are concerned that SVROs will label and stigmatise then, making it harder for them to move away from crime.

The Bill introduces measures which will disrupt the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities, such as criminalising trespass and giving police powers to move people on from unauthorised encampments. This ignores the fact that there aren’t enough authorised sites for GRT people to live on. Most police forces said in a government consultation that they oppose criminalising trespass and instead called for more authorised sites.

The Bill also introduces a range of measures to toughen sentences. The government admits in equality assessments that these changes will disproportionately impact Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, yet justifies this by saying they will protect the public. However, tucked away at the end of a dense, official document, the government concedes there is limited evidence the Bill will reduce crime. Instead, the measures risk being counterproductive, increasing the prison population and reducing already limited resources for rehabilitation. The Bill will also mean people spend more time in custody and less time being supervised by probation in the community. We are concerned this will impact rehabilitation and resettlement.

Agenda and the Alliance for Youth Justice recently highlighted that measures to increase sentences for assaults on emergency workers risk drawing more Black, Asian and minority ethnic girls in the criminal justice system. Many have experienced significant trauma in their lives, and this approach risks criminalising girls who are distressed and have unrecognised needs. Instead, Agenda and AYJ call for ‘investment in training for emergency workers to identify those in need and de-escalate situations in a trauma-informed way.’

Read more: https://www.criminaljusticealliance.org/blog/how-the-pcsc-bill-will-deepen-racial-inequality/

Mirror: Fury over Home Office job advert that calls migrants a ‘threat’ amid refugee crisis

The founder of charity Care4Calais has called the listing for the six-figure position of Home Office Head of Science and Technology ‘deeply offensive’

Charities have blasted a Home Office job advert calling Channel migrants a “threat”.

It emerged hours after a desperate refugee family was pictured carrying a young child to safety on a British beach.

The description was published online in the same week a man in his 20s died making the perilous journey and two months after 27 people, including five women and a young girl, drowned trying to start a new life in Britain.

The attack on migrants is in a listing on jobs site LinkedIn for a new Home Office Head of Science and Technology.

The role, understood to offer a six-figure salary, involves finding ways to stop migrants crossing the Channel.

It says: “The Head of Science and Technology is responsible for: Understanding the Threat”.

Clare Moseley, founder of British charity Care4Calais, stormed: “It is deeply offensive the Government thinks of people crossing as a ‘threat’, after the tragic deaths in the Channel.

“They are ordinary people who have done nothing more wrong than to be born in the wrong place. We have seen years of government spending millions on security to stop people crossing. Not once has it worked.

“It’s time to try something new A system to screen those eligible to make an asylum claim and transfer them safely to the UK would put people smugglers out of business and save lives.”

Read more: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/fury-over-home-office-job-25957089

Morning Star: The brutality of modern racism cannot be separated from its history

CLAUDIA WEBBE MP welcomes the acquittal of those who toppled the statue honouring the slaver Edward Colston, which sanitised the abhorrent violation of black Africans’ humanity

THE acquittal of the Colston Four, the protesters charged with criminal damage after anti-racist campaigners tore down a statue of slave-trader Edward Colston in Bristol, shines a light on the ongoing struggle for equality and justice and the enduring legacy of the transatlantic slave trade.

The abhorrent statue of a man responsible for the violent deaths, rape and enslavement of thousands of people was pulled down and thrown into Bristol’s harbourside during the largest mobilisation of anti-racist protest for decades.

The trigger for such protest was the brutal police killing of George Floyd in May 2020, in Minneapolis, that shook the world. In its wake came the international mobilisation of the Black Lives Matter movement, the demand for change and the march for justice.

Read more: https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/brutality-modern-racism-cannot-be-separated-its-history

10 January 2022: from our signatory organisation, Freedom United: Freedom United and partners call out the International Olympic Committee

The gloves are off!

Along with our partners at the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, Freedom United has reached the end of our rope with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after eight long months of attempting to initiate a respectful two-way dialogue.

Despite the IOC previously promising and failing to produce their human rights due diligence plan for the fast-approaching Beijing Winter Olympics and repeatedly publicly dismissing the concerns of Uyghurs and advocates in the name of “neutrality”, the Coalition has been overly patient with the organization.

In February and April 2021, the Coalition publicly requested a human rights due diligence plan from the IOC to no avail. The IOC is officially committed to “responsible sourcing” yet its uniform supplier, Anta Sports, points to other realities.

Read more: https://www.freedomunited.org/news/freedom-united-calls-out-ioc/

Metro: Racism stopped me from embracing my bilingualism – but no more

‘Go back to your own country!’ a woman shouted at my mum while we were in our local supermarket.

All she was doing was speaking Tagalog – a central Philippine language – on the phone to a family member.

It didn’t really phase my mum, as I’m sure she’s encountered stuff like this before. But for 12-year-old me, it was the first time I witnessed xenophobia aimed directly at a loved one.

It’s incidents like these that created a barrier in me fully embracing such a wonderful language – and my culture in general.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2022/01/09/racism-stopped-me-from-embracing-my-bilingualism-but-no-more-15828518/

9 January 2021: Guardian: Exclusive: many resettled Guantánamo detainees in legal limbo, analysis shows

One-third of former prisoners sent to third countries are lacking legal status – unable to work or travel and at risk of human rights abuses

About 30% of former Guantánamo detainees who were resettled in third countries have not been granted legal status, according to new analysis shared exclusively with the Guardian, leaving them vulnerable to deportation and restricting their ability to rebuild their lives.

Of the hundreds of men released from Guantánamo since the prison first opened 20 years ago, about 150 were sent to third countries in bilateral agreements brokered by the US, because their home countries were considered dangerous to return to.

Publicly, the US committed to transferring them in a humane way that would ensure rehabilitation after years of incarceration – and, in many cases, torture – without charge. But many remain in legal limbo, unable to work or reunite with their families, and have been subject to years of detention. Others have been forcibly returned to dangerous conditions.

The new data was produced by the human rights organization Reprieve, which assists former detainees, and illustrates how the lawlessness that has marked the prison from the beginning can follow men years after their release. The analysis indicates that approximately 45 men have not been given residency documents upon resettlement.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/09/guantanamo-resettled-no-legal-status

5 January 2022: Guardian: BLM protesters cleared over toppling of Edward Colston statue

Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Sage Willoughby and Jake Skuse found not guilty over act of public dissent during Bristol protest

Three men and a woman have been found not guilty of criminal damage after toppling the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol, an act of public dissent that reverberated around the world.

Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, and Sage Willoughby, 22, were accused, with “others unknown”, of helping to tie ropes around the statue’s neck and joining with others to pull it to the ground.

Jake Skuse, 33, was accused of helping to roll it to Bristol harbour where it was thrown into the River Avon.

In a 10-day trial at Bristol crown court, the four defendants did not contest their actions on 7 June 2020 but sought to argue they were justified, because the statue was so offensive.

[…] The Colston statue was approved by the council in 1895 and it had not given permission to anyone to alter, damage or remove the statue on 7 June, the trial heard.

[…] Judge Peter Blair QC, the recorder of Bristol, allowed expert evidence from David Olusoga despite past comments by the historian and broadcaster that he “desperately” wanted to join protesters that day, which were raised as a sign of potential bias by the prosecution.

Olusoga described to the court the horrors of the slave trade, from “rape rooms” in slaver fortresses on the African coast to grotesque punishments meted out to rebellious slaves. Colston was “chief executive officer” of a company that branded children as young as nine, and which was eventually responsible for enslaving more Africans than any other in British history, Olusoga said.

The court heard from black Bristolians including a former lord mayor of the city, Cleo Lake, who had removed a portrait of Colston from her office. “He was the person responsible for brutalising my ancestors, taking away their humanity; and for me and my community experiencing the harm they still experience today,” Lake said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/jan/05/four-cleared-of-toppling-edward-colston-statute

2 January 2021: Guardian: For Labour and the Conservatives, racism is really all about reputation management

[…] On ethnic minority matters, there is far more continuity between the Labour party and theConservatives than there are material differences. Both parties share a notion that matters of race are merely a government liability and not something for which the government should take direct responsibility. Last year, that notion was manifest in the shape of the widely discredited report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities chaired by Tony Sewell.

The denial and dishonesty in that document about the extent of the country’s institutional racism was just one step away from Blair’s timidity in front of the rightwing gallery. He passively did not want to upset the Telegraph and its reactionary contingent; today’s Tories actively want to please it. But what Labour and Tory leaderships have both exhibited is deference to a status quo that preserves racial hierarchies and refuses by default to acknowledge any criticism that might challenge Britain’s moral sense of self.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/02/labour-conservatives-racism-stephen-lawrence-inquiry-rightwing-press

Updated 30 December 2021: BBC: Africa Cup of Nations: Tournament is being ‘disrespected’, says former England striker Ian Wright

The Africa Cup of Nations is being “disrespected” by some negative media coverage, says former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright.

The 24-team competition begins on 9 January and will feature a host of Premier League and European stars.

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira is among those to also call for the tournament to be given more respect.

“Is there ever a tournament more disrespected than the Africa Cup of Nations?” Wright said on Instagram.

On the media coverage around Afcon he claimed: “There is no greater honour than representing your country. The coverage is completely tinged with racism.

“We played our Euros across 10 countries in the middle of a pandemic and there’s no issue at all. But Cameroon, a single country hosting a tournament, is a problem.

“There are players getting asked if they will be honouring the call-ups to their national teams. Imagine if that was an England player representing the Three Lions. Can you imagine the furore?”

Former Newcastle, Tottenham and Norwich defender Sebastien Bassong, who won 18 caps for Cameroon, says he recognises the double standard.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/59825904

From 2 April 2020 Huffington Post: Four Migrant NHS Doctors Are Dead. Can We Please Stop Turning Migrants Into Villains?

Tens of thousands of migrants are putting their lives in harm’s way to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic, writes Cryton Chikoko.

Dr Alfa Saadu, Dr Habib Zaidi, Dr Adil El Tayar and Dr Amged El-Hawrani. These are the first NHS doctors to die from Covid-19 — we can but hope they will be the last. Like most NHS staff, the four doctors selflessly put themselves at risk to save the sick. Unfortunately, they have paid with their lives.

All four were of a minority race. There’s been some media coverage of their deaths, which is only right, but there is little mention of their migrant backgrounds. I don’t have a problem with that: people’s backgrounds, race or colour shouldn’t factor into the coverage. All people are equal. What troubles me, though, is that ethnicity and immigration status always take centre stage when a migrant commits a crime or does something wrong. ‘Man is hacked to death by his Syrian migrant ex-flatmate’, or ‘Afghan migrant stabbed ex-girlfriend to death’ — such headlines are common. This is often the same case as well with Muslims, and the four medics who died were Muslim, yet there has been little mention of that either.

Read more: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/coronavirus-nhs-doctors-migrants-racism_uk_5e85ae33c5b6f55ebf485759

29 December 2021: iNews: Raheem Sterling says racism in football is dealt with in the moment then ‘brushed under the carpet’

The Manchester City and England player has spoken out about the racist abuse he has faced on and off the pitch

Incidents of racism in football and wider society are addressed at the time but later brushed under the carpet, Raheem Sterling has said.

While guest editing an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, the England and Manchester City player spoke to presenter Nick Robinson and England manager Gareth Southgate about dealing with racism on and off the pitch.

Aside from his successful career as a footballer, the 27-year-old is known for his courage in calling out racism, including the high profile incidents he has faced.

He said: “I think a lot of the times when racism comes up or something has happened, a lot of time in football and the majority of society, we tend to address it for that five days or that week, and then we normally brush it up under the carpet and ‘things are all fine now’ and when the next scenario happens, that’s when we go again.”

Sterling said players want to keep highlighting the issue, whether that be by using their platforms to speak out about it or by taking the knee at the start of matches.

The England team made the decision to take the knee before all their games throughout the Euro 2020 tournament.

But the anti-racism gesture has drawn criticism and attracted boos and abuse from both domestic and international fans.

Despite the negative reactions, players have continued to take the knee as part of their visible opposition to racism.

Sterling said: “There’s been times that we’ve sat down and said, ‘is the message still powerful?’ And we’ve said yes and as a group and a collective, we’ve tried to keep that going.”

Read more: https://inews.co.uk/news/raheem-sterling-racism-football-dealth-with-brushed-under-carpet-1373804

28 December 2021 Glasgow Live: Glasgow Kenmure Street protest named among world demonstrations that ‘made a difference’ in 2021

The protest, which took place back in May, features on a new list alongside protests across the world, including Malaysia, Brazil, Burkina Faso and Colombia this year.

Glasgow’s Kenmure Street protest has made it onto a list of the top 10 protests across the globe ‘you may have missed that made a difference in 2021’.

The protest saw hundreds of locals and protestors join forces to halt an attempt by the Home Office to detain two Sikh men of Indian origin following a ‘dawn raid’ at a property on the street.

Regarded as’ one of the biggest demonstrations of civic defiance seen in the UK in recent history’ by Third Sector, it made headlines around the world back in May this year.

The two men – Lakhvir Singh and Sumit Sehdev – were successfully released after being held in a van by enforcement personnel for more than eight hours amid a stand-off between protestors and police on the Pollokshields street.

And amid a sea of goodwill directed at those who helped block the van that poured in from all corners of the earth after the story went viral, one person in particular who lay under the UK Border Force van to prevent it from moving – affectionately dubbed ‘van man’ – even found himself immortalised in song.

Read more: https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/glasgow-kenmure-street-protest-named-22578458

18 December 2021 Independent: ‘The most racist legislation in my lifetime’: Protest at Nationality and Borders Bill reaches Downing Street

Taiwo Owatemi, the shadow equalities minister, told The Independent that allowing the Home Office to remove citizenship without any warning or notice, given the Windrush scandal, is “very alarming” for millions of dual-nationality citizens.

“The Nationality and Borders Bill is a sham. Its tough-sounding measures are unworkable and it breaks key international humanitarian conventions,” she said.

“The new draconian powers to deprive a person of their British citizenship without any warning are deeply worrying – particularly in light of the Windrush scandal in which this Conservative government oversaw the wrongful detainment, deportation and denial of legal rights to British citizens with every right to live in the UK.about:blankjavascript:void(0)javascript:void(0)✕javascript:void(0)

“Once again it is black, Asian and ethnic minority people who look to be hit hardest by a Conservative government which denies that structural racism even exists. 

Read more: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/protest-nationality-borders-bill-b1978675.html

7 January: Clackton & Frinton Gazette: Ex-employee had no choice but to carry out ‘racist instructions’, tribunal told By Press Association 2021

A former employee of a litter enforcement contractor has claimed “he had no choice” but to comply with the “racist” instructions of his bosses.

Gary Forrester, 39, told an employment tribunal the “dog-eat-dog” nature of the business meant staff targeted ethnic minorities with fixed penalty notices (FPNs) as they were less likely to challenge them.

The former team manager, who was usually stationed in the London borough of Barnet, said that on one occasion Waltham Forest was “flooded” with officers as Kingdom had not enforced enough penalties there.

Read more: https://www.clactonandfrintongazette.co.uk/news/19833075.ex-employee-no-choice-carry-racist-instructions-tribunal-told/

16 December 2021: Guardian: Windrush: high court rules claimants’ human rights breached by Home Office

Minister could have applied discretion when considering citizenship applications, says judge

Members of the Windrush generation had their human rights breached when the Home Office refused to grant them citizenship, the high court has ruled.

Eunice Tumi and Vernon Vanriel were refused citizenship after being told by the home secretary they did not fulfil the residence requirement of having been in the UK on the date five years before they made the application for citizenship, the court heard.

The only reason they could not fulfil this requirement was because the home secretary had unlawfully prevented them from coming back to the UK earlier, the court heard.

They were only granted indefinite leave to remain after the the Windrush scandal, when it emerged that those who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries from 1948 onwards, as well as their children, were wrongly targeted by the government’s “hostile environment” policies designed to deter illegal immigrants.

Both were subsequently denied British citizenship when they applied for it under the Windrush scheme.

But on Thursday, Mr Justice Bourne ruled that the home secretary had discretion about applying the five-year rule when considering citizenship applications. The ruling is likely to have a significant impact for other members of the Windrush generation in similar situations.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/dec/16/windrush-high-court-rules-claimants-human-rights-breached-by-home-office

12 February 2021:

Starting in March, we will be running a four-part course with Woodbrooke to understand and reflect on the root causes of racism and the draconian immigration policy of the UK. The course has been developed collaboratively by Tatiana Garavito from Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Kékéli Kpognon from Quaker Council for European Affairs and Catherine Henderson from Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network.

Through four interactive sessions, this short course will discuss the narratives and social constructs that have led to the current anti-immigrant sentiment as well as the ways in which people and communities can begin to get organised to build power that achieves racial and migrant justice.

Through four interactive sessions, this short course will discuss the narratives and social constructs that have led to the current anti-immigrant sentiment as well as the ways in which people and communities can begin to get organised to build power that achieves racial and migrant justice.

We are hoping that the course will be useful to many Friends, including those who are not currently involved in Sanctuary Meetings. Please share this widely though your meeting and your networks.

The course costs £42 with live sessions are every Thursday at 19:00-21:00 between 8th March 2021 – 4th April 2021.

To read more or to book, please visit the Woodbrooke website