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UK anti-racism activists call for new investigation into death of Somali schoolgirl

Tuesday June 9, 2020

Campaigners, including Star Wars actor John Boyega, demand a new investigation into 12-year-old Shukri Abdi's death

Anti-racism activists in the UK are demanding police further investigate the death of Somali schoolgirl Shukri Abdi, whose case was deemed a "tragic incident" last year despite allegations of racist bullying by her schoolmates.

One petition launched by activists last year has garnered renewed interest since being endorsed by Black Lives Matter activists and celebrities.

Star Wars actor John Boyega, who has emerged as a leader in the anti-racism protests in the UK, was among those who popularised the petition on Monday.

The petition for the girl, who was 12-years-old at the time of her death, saw numbers spike to more than 490,000 at the time of this article's publication.

A second petition, which saw numbers rise to more than 280,000 on Tuesday, demands that authorities "independently investigate both the Local Education Authority of Bury, and Lancashire and Broad Oak Sports College (now Hazel Wood High School) for potential negligence and a potential breach of duty of care towards pupils in light of accusations of failure to address incidents of bullying."

Abdi was found last year in Manchester's River Irwell, where she had been with a group of other children shortly before she died.

A child who allegedly tried to save her life told an inquest that another child forced her to get into the water and later "laughed for two minutes while she died".

Her body was also said to have had bite and scratch marks when she was recovered.

Hours after Abdi drowned, the Greater Manchester police ruled out any suspicious circumstances, describing her death as a "tragic incident".

'Out of character'
Abdi's family has objected to the police department's conclusion, saying she could not swim and playing by the river was not like her.

Abdi came to the UK as a refugee, along with her mother and four siblings, in 2017. She was born and raised in a refugee camp in Kenya.

Her family said she was bullied at school for more than a year, accusing authorities of failing to respond to their concerns.

"She couldn't swim so she wouldn't even go near the edge," her uncle Mustaf Omar is quoted as saying on the petition's website.

"Everything about it is out of character for her," he said.

"She was a sweet, innocent child. Her mum is absolutely destroyed".

In an update on Sunday, Mufti Fendi, the individual listed as the petition's starter, said that the case was not closed.

"We are currently awaiting dates from the Coroner's court to hear the remaining evidence and then the Coroner will deliver the verdict," Fendi said in the update.

With the Black Lives Matter movement bringing renewed attention to the case, the hashtag #JusticeForShukriAbdi also gained traction on Twitter.

"Solidarity with the family friends and community of 12 year old Shukri Abdi. There must be a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding her tragic and untimely death. Justice delayed is justice denied #justiceforShukri," Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy tweeted.

Some compared the handling of Abdi's case to that of Madeleine McCann, a white British girl who went missing 13-years-ago in Portugal.

More than $13 million has been spent on the investigation by UK authorities and the case still remains open. On Tuesday, a German prosecutor said he had evidence McCann was dead and appealed to British tourists to help identify a key suspect's former homes so police could search for her body.


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