Archive for the ‘antiracism’ Category
Talk given at an Anti Deportation Ireland public meeting, 11 April 2013
Culture of incarceration
According to a recent book on coercive confinement in Ireland, Ireland locked up one in 100 of its citizens in Magdalene laundries, industrial schools, mental hospitals and ‘mother and baby’ homes, where women pregnant out of wedlock were locked up and forced to give their babies for adoption. At any given time between 1926 and 1951 there were about 31,000 people in these institutions – only a small fraction of whom had committed any crime. This also applied to children – one child in every hundred was enslaved in an industrial school. Children in industrial schools, run by female and male Catholic orders, were treated with cruelty, not given proper food or education, made to work for the nuns or the brothers and were often physically and sexually abused. Their sole ‘crime’ was belonging to what would now be called ‘problem families’.
This history of incarceration, Fintan O’Toole writes, was Ireland’s way of establishing religious, social and moral “purity” by locking up and “correcting” potential deviants. This level of “coercive confinement” is extreme for any democratic society. In 1931, the Soviet gulags held about 200,000 prisoners – from a population of 165 million. The Irish system held 31,000 people – from a population of three million.
And this continues today. Between 2000 and 2012 Ireland locked up in direct provision hostels 51,000 asylum seekers, whose sole ‘crime’ was legally applying for Geneva Convention refugee status. In total, between 1991 and 2012 there were 68,847 asylum applications, of which only 4,130 or 6 per cent received positive answers. In November 2012, the last month for which figures are available, 4,822 people were incarcerated in these hostels, 75 per cent from Africa. Although intended to hold people for a maximum of six months, the average length of stay in these ‘holding camps’ is 44 months – almost four years, and many have been incarcerated for up to six years. Read the rest of this entry »
I write this having learnt that taxi driver Moses Ayanwole, originally from Nigeria, and brutally attacked by a white passenger in Pearse street, has died of his injuries. I write this with rage not only at the senseless murder, but also at the refusal by politicians and the mainstream media to use the racism word to describe it. We heard nothing from the Minister of Justice or any other senior politician. And on RTE’s Morning Ireland the representative of the taxi federation spoke about the need to install CCTV cameras in taxis but not about the issues faced by black African taxi drivers, who experience daily racism from white colleagues and passengers alike. There was nothing about many taxi ranks carrying ‘Irish drivers only’ notices, or about passengers refusing to get into taxis with black drivers, not to speak of the litany of racial slurs and insults.
This murder puts further flames onto recent racist fires. In Naas we had mayor Darren Scully who made the decision to refuse representation to black Africans based on what he described as their “aggressive” attitude when making representations to him, but who insensitively argues that he ‘abhors racism in all its forms’, adding that he had many African friends (not realising this is one of the most common ‘I am not a racist’ but ploys). And in Athlone, a 16 year old black girl was raped by a group of white boys, including one white girl, in an attacked described by the Evening Herald a ‘race rape of girl (16)’ – at least they used the R word, but one wondered whether the reason is sensationalism or accurate reporting. Read the rest of this entry »
On September 9 the European parliament passed a resolution calling on Paris to ‘immediately suspend all expulsions of Roma’, saying the policy ‘amounted to discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity’. French Gendarmes were accused of compiling secret illegal lists of Roma and other travelling minorities in violation of French laws on ethnic profiling. In 2010 France deported 5,000 Romanians and Bulgarians (10,000 in 2009), and vows to continue deporting Roma, all EU citizens, even though the expulsions are against the constitution and break international human rights laws on discrimination and despite the European Commission’s announcement on 1 October that it would initiate legal action against France. Indeed France began fingerprinting departing Roma to prevent their return, proving the futility of invoking human rights law (Crumley, 2010). Read the rest of this entry »
On 20 April 2010 I attended a roundtable run by the Equality Authority in Dublin to discuss antiracism. While several of us attending have sat in similar roundtables and other forums for the past 15 years to discuss racism and antiracism, Toyosi Shitta-bey’s killing on Good Friday has clearly moved the EA - curtailed and under-funded though it is - to convene this forum, in a genuine attempt to mobilise members of migrant and ethnic minority groups.
The main speakers were, as usual, white, settled Irish people, but around the table were leaders of migrant-led groups and networks (mostly Africans, with scant representation for Asians and Eastern Europeans, and only one Traveller, Ellen Mongan, the only Traveller who has ever sat on a local authority council). Everyone was asked to speak, and participants outlined their experiences of racism, and spoke of the anger and fear in their groups and neighbourhoods. A few ‘usual suspects’ proposed what has been proposed so many times before: establishing an antiracism forum, reforming the useless 1989 Incitement to Hatred Act (promised so many time by successive ministers for justice), educating and holding information campaigns ( the government has clamped down on public awareness campaigns, but one wonder were these ever really useful?) Read the rest of this entry »
Since the onset of the recession and the demise of the NCCRI and the cut in
the budget of the Equality Authority and the Irish Commission on Human
Rights, no one has been speaking much about racism. Most Irish people feel
they have other priorities, as they try to make ends meet, get a bank loan,
or secure their pensions.
Racism, however, has not disappeared. Migrants, Travellers and members of
other ethnic minorities are reporting a marked increase in racist incidents,
though, apart from CSO statistics on ‘racially motivated crimes’ (which
don’t differentiate the experiences of Travellers, migrants or other
racialised groups) there is little hard evidence. Read the rest of this entry »