Racist attacks on immigrant workers

Racist attacks have increased sharply across Britain in the last two years. Those under attack include Middle Eastern and Asian people targeted as a result of the government’s racist ‘anti-terror’ campaign against Muslims. But also increasingly now under attack are central and Eastern European migrants who migrated to Britain to work following the admission of 10 new ‘accession’ states of the EU (‘A10’) in May 2004. In 2005 it was estimated that there are 49,000 racist attacks a year in Britain. CHARLES CHINWEIZU reports.

Racist attacks have nearly doubled in the two years to 2007 – Scottish police recorded 5,000 racist incidents in 2005/6. Over a third of the 900 race hate crimes in Edinburgh were against Eastern Europeans. Polish worker Patryk Mnich was left fighting for his life after being beaten in a street attack in Pilrig. Police are now dealing with an average of three racist incidents every day; every weekend in Edinburgh immigrant workers, usually from Poland, are physically assaulted or face racist insults.

In Basingstoke in February 2007, a gang of 16 teenage boys and girls kicked and punched three Polish men for at least ten minutes in a shopping centre. In Telford in August 2007, a month after swastikas and racist graffiti telling Polish people they were not welcome was scrawled on walls, a 30-year-old Lithuanian was attacked with a paving slab, almost blinding him.

In Clacton teachers and students from Spain, Germany, Italy, France and China, staying with host families for a few weeks to improve their English and get a feel for life in Britain were racially attacked. One teacher was kicked in the head. In Oxford a gang of four or five men dragged 20-year-old Polish security guard Jakub Mucha out of his car at a petrol station, stabbed him in the ear and beat him with baseball bats.

North of Ireland
At least 45,000 Eastern European workers have come to the north of Ireland from the A10 states since May 2004. In 2005/06, the police recorded 936 racial incidents – double that of the previous year. Many more incidents are not reported because immigrants do not trust the racist police. British-backed Loyalist paramilitaries are behind at least 90% of reported racist attacks

On 20 May 2006 a Polish family was forced to barricade themselves into a bedroom in their house in Derry after three masked men forced their way into their home armed with a hatchet and an iron bar. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said it believes the attack was racially motivated. The PSNI is still investigating the racist attack on three Polish immigrants by up to four men in a bar in the same city in 2004. One of the victims received 13 stitches after being glassed in the face, while another had his nose broken.

In Belfast in March 2006, seven men armed with baseball bats smashed their way into a house, attacking a 51-year-old man with a hammer. In Dunmurry in June 2006 two homes belonging to Lithuanians were attacked.

Labour government fuels racism
The government has constantly tried to blame Eastern European migrants for ‘pressures on public services,’ while the real pressures come from the running down and privatisation of health, housing and other services. These lies have contributed directly to the racist attacks.

The British state encourages migrant workers from Eastern Europe to come here as it wants their cheap labour. But it does nothing to prevent racist attacks; on the contrary, a climate of racial terror is of use to it, as immigrant workers are discouraged from settling permanently and deterred from agitating against exploitation and for better pay and conditions.

This attitude was graphically illustrated in October 2007 when, having learned of the thousands of Eastern European women kept as sex slaves in British brothels, many of whom were locked up, forced into prostitution, and told their families back home would be killed if they refused to obey orders, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that a blanket guarantee that none would face deportation ‘would be likely to act more generally as a pull factor’.

FRFI 200 December 2007 / January 2008


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