Fighting regressive legislation: No defeat is ever complete – IRR News 28 April 2022

Thursday, 28 April 2022 — The Institute of Race Relations

The fact that within the last 72 hours opposition in the House of Lords to four bills, including the Nationality and Borders Bill and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, has crumbled, is, to say the least, a setback for the struggle for racial and social justice. But no defeat is ever complete and the stories we document this week in our regular calendar of racism and resistance, suggest that opponents are not going to allow these laws, and others yet to come, to set regressive new norms.

As ever, anti-racist strategies combine legal and strategic interventions with community self-defence. The first legal challenge to the home secretary’s plan to send people seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda on a ‘one way ticket’ has been launched by an asylum seeker eligible for removal under the plans. It is likely to be followed by more legal challenges, say the Immigration Law Practitioners Association. Meanwhile, local networks in south London, acting in the tradition of community self-defence, mobilised quickly to challenge what they describe as the ‘excessive force’ used during an immigration raid on a Chinese takeaway. And in Sheffield, the South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group used all its resources, again to challenge the use of excessive force, including pepper spray, at a Kurdish Community protest outside Sheffield town hall.

With more regressive legislation in the pipeline, there are additional fights to be fought. This week, the IRR joined with 45 peace and justice groups, trade unions and religious organisations, to launch the Protect the Right to Boycott declaration which challenges profoundly undemocratic legislation – s 100 of the Public Sector Pensions and Judicial Offices Act, for instance, and another expected in the Queen’s speech in May, which will deny public bodies including public-sector pension fund administrators, local authorities, universities and others the right to decide not to invest in companies or states involved or complicit in gross violations of human rights. We support the declaration in the knowledge that comes from our long involvement in racial justice campaigns that BDS campaigns have a long and honourable history in our movement. For the history of anti-racism is replete with examples – from bus boycotts against racial segregation, to arms embargoes against apartheid – of boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against state and corporate racism, discrimination and human rights abuses.

IRR News team

Rare 1982 film by the BBC’s Here and Now
Out Now: IRR50 anniversary film

In case you missed it last week, to mark our 50th anniversary, we released a rare BBC film from 1982 about the unique history of the Institute of Race Relations and it’s radical transformation, precipitated by the Extraordinary General Meeting of 18 April 1972. Featuring A. Sivanandan, Stuart Hall, Jenny Bourne, Hazel Waters, Cedric Robinson, Colin Prescod and Kenneth Leech. Head over to our Youtube channel and watch at this link.

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Calendar of Racism & Resistance

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.

This week’s calendar charts the backlash against the government’s plans to offshore asylum seekers to Rwanda, amid concerning news about the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Meanwhile in Poland, a far-right media group in receipt of state funds publishes a deeply antisemitic book. Find these stories and thousands more on our Register of Racism and Resistance database.

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