Say Their Names: Justice for Shukri Abdi
“If you don’t get into the water, I’m going to kill you.”
That is what one of Shukri Abdi’s classmates “jokingly” told her shortly before abandoning her in deep water in the River Irwel; standing by and laughing as she fought for her life and eventually drowned.
Shukri, by all accounts from the subsequent inquest, did not want to be there that evening. She did not want to hang out with the 2 children who stood by and did nothing as she lost her life; but she was bullied into it. She did not want to go into the water (she couldn’t swim); but was bullied into it. She was coerced by 2 students who had so casually used racist language such as “caste” and “coloured” to intimidate a visibly frightened Shukri into leaving athletics club with them on June 27th last year.
It was ruled “a tragic incident” merely hours after her death with the haste of a police service that didn’t seem to view the death of a 12 year old Somalian girl as a tragedy at all. I don’t know about you but 2 children pushing, shoving and harassing a 12 year old girl, taking her into and callously leaving her in deep water knowing she can’t swim, and then standing by and watching her drown (as 2 other children who had met her that day tried frantically, desperately and, ultimately, in vain to save her) sounds like the very definition of suspicious circumstances to me.
Quite frankly, the UK failed Shukri and her family; refugees who escaped conflict in Somalia as part of the UN Vulnerable Persons Settlement scheme reserved for the most vulnerable families. They were placed in Bury – 88% white, underprivileged and with a history of severe racism; escaping conflict only to be dropped straight into war. This war, the one against racism that has been raging for over 400 years, would be one that she, like Stephen Lawrence decades before her and Christopher Kapessa just days later, would not survive.
Justice is yet to be served for Shukri; a horrific indictment of the twisted state of affairs we find ourselves in where concerns about racism and bullying are too often ignored until it is too late to prevent tragedy. If the system we have in place can’t even protect those deemed most vulnerable, how can anyone with half a mind believe it is fit for purpose? Something must be done… and it must be done NOW. She deserves more than her death being “looked into”. She deserves justice.
No Justice, no peace.
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