2 July 2020 — Institute of Race Relations
If you suddenly move hundreds of extremely vulnerable people, en masse, together in vans, out of safe, self-contained flats where they could cook for themselves, giving them less than an hour’s notice, to shared accommodation in hotels where social distancing is impossible, at the same time withdrawing their £5.39 per day living allowance, cutting them off from phone lifelines – tragedy is very likely to follow. The asylum seeker shot dead after the multiple stabbing at Park Inn, Glasgow, run as an asylum hostel by Mears during the pandemic, is not the first to die after suffering severe mental health deterioration in this situation; Syrian refugee Adnan Olbeh died in early May at another asylum hotel. Charities and migrant support groups such as Positive Action in Housing warned for months of the dangers of this ‘hotel detention’.
Regular readers of IRR News will know John Grayson’s regular reports bearing witness to the misery and anguish of those shoved around the asylum ‘support’ system, abandoned in overcrowded hostels or in rat- and bedbug-infested, insanitary flats. This week he continues his investigations in ‘Abandoned Voices from the UK asylum system in a time of Covid-19’.
In our calendar of racism and resistance we continue to document the Black Lives Matter Protests across the UK and Europe as well as highlighting several cases which raise serious concerns around policing – including the emergence of footage of an 18-year-old black man being kneed in the face during a stop and search by two officers in Hackney, and the arrest of two Met police officers for allegedly circulating images of the bodies of two murdered sisters, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, on a Whatsapp group. Listen to IRR director Liz Fekete and Dr Adam Eliott-Cooper of the Monitoring Group discuss Black Lives Matter, policing and the criminal justice system amidst the backdrop of Covid-19 as part of a recent Crime and Justice webinar. They ask, what does defunding the police look like in practice?
Covid-19 has thrown into relief many key issues – the frailty of capitalism, the potential for the state to control life and death, the nature of solidarity. The July issue of Race & Class, now online, reflects on these key issues, including a crucial piece on ‘biometric bureaucracy as imperial control’ that looks at the medical age assessments of young asylum seekers in Denmark and a discussion on ‘Coercion and compliance’ in the hostile environment. Read a press release here, and email us to register to buy a print-copy of the issue once it is back from the printers.
IRR News team
Despite assurances given to a parliamentary committee, asylum housing providers are still neglecting the health and welfare of vulnerable residents including young children, says John Grayson of South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group.
17 June – 1 July 2020 Calendar of Racism & resistance including Covid-19 roundup
A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe
Volume 62 #1: If Not Now, When? New Race & Class Out Now
Covid 19 has, asserts the July issue of Race & Class, thrown into relief so many key issues: the essential frailty of advanced capitalism, the potential for the state to control the life and death of citizens, the nature of human solidarity and the way in which we desecrate the planet.