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Worldwide protests mark anniversary of Shukri Abdi’s death

Demonstrators in UK, Toronto and LA pay tribute to Somalian refugee who drowned in river

Diane Taylor

Protests have been organised across 10 cities to mark the first anniversary of the death of Shukri Abdi, a 12-year-old Somalian refugee who drowned in the River Irwell, and whose case has been taken up globally by Black Lives Matter.

Claims have been made by Shukri’s mother Zamzam Ture that her daughter was a victim of bullying at school. A group of children were with Shukri at the river in the period before she died.

An inquest that opened in February but which was adjourned with no confirmed resumption date, largely focuses on events on the day of Shukri’s death. It is not examining allegations of bullying at school.

Following Shukri’s death, Greater Manchester police initially said they were treating what happened as a “tragic incident” and did not believe there were any suspicious circumstances.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has investigated the police’s actions in the case and will publish the report at the conclusion of the inquest.

Protests are due to take place in eight cities in the UK , as well as in LA and Toronto on Saturday. Prominent supporters calling for “justice for Shukri” include the Star Wars actor John Boyega, Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz, and the US rapper and actor Ice Cube.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has called for “the widest possible investigation” into circumstances surrounding her death.

Four out of the five children who were with Shukri at various times on the day she died have given evidence by video link at the inquest. Shukri’s mother told the inquest her daughter could not swim. One of the children told the inquest another child laughed when Shukri got into difficulty in the water. Joanne Kearsley, senior coroner for Manchester north who is presiding over the inquest, has commended two of the children for their attempts to save Shukri’s life when she was drowning.

Shukri came to the UK with her mother and four siblings after they fled conflict in Somalia. Shukri was born and raised in a refugee camp in Kenya. She and her family were brought to the UK as part of the vulnerable persons resettlement scheme in which refugees are vetted by the UN. Only the most vulnerable individuals and families are accepted on to the scheme.

Maz Saleem of the Justice4Shukri campaign said: “On the first anniversary of the death of Shukri Abdi, we must hold all those institutions to account that failed to protect her when she was alive and until this very day. We will continue to fight for justice for Shukri and eagerly await the final inquest dates.

“Justice4Shukri send their solidarity to all social distancing protests held across the country and worldwide today. People are angry that a young black refugee child was neglected by the very institutions that were there to protect her. Systemic and institutional racism played a huge role in this and we believe this was the very reason why Shukri was neglected.”

Shukri’s family’s solicitor Attiq Malik of Liberty Law Solicitors said: “It’s amazing how many people have rallied all over the world asking for justice for Shukri. It’s heartening for her family to see this at such a difficult time.”

Source: Reuters

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