July 06, 2019
Hundreds mourn Somali refugee whose body was found in River Irwell as family and schoolmates call for investigation
The peaceful protest outside Broad Oak sports college, where Shukri went to school. Photograph: James Speakman/Mercury Press
By Maya Wolfe-Robinson | The Guardian
Hundreds of people have gathered in Bury to mourn a 12-year-old refugee schoolgirl who drowned in a local river, before the memorial turned into a protest outside her school.
Shukri Yahya Abdi, who came to the UK from Somalia last year, was discovered dead in the River Irwell in the Lancashire town on Friday 28 June.
Her mother, Zamzam Ture, was supported by friends and family who gathered at Noor ul Islam mosque in Bury on Friday.
Shukri’s uncle Mustaf Omar said: “I want to thank people for coming and showing their solidarity. People have been coming from all over the UK to show support for Shukri.”
Led by a group of Shukri’s schoolmates, a group then made their way to Broad Oak sports college for a peaceful protest. Her family, who say Shukri had been badly bullied for over a year, accuse the school of failing to take the complaints seriously.
On Thursday, Broad Oak sports college announced it was reviewing its anti-bullying policy. The headteacher, Paul Greenhalgh, said: “We are currently working with Shukri’s family in respect of any concerns which have been raised.”
Shukri’s family are calling for further investigation into her death and claim police are not cooperating with them.
Anab Ture, Shukri’s aunt, told the Guardian that her sister had brought her children to the UK to escape the civil war in Somalia and find safety. “She came here for a better life. We want a thorough investigation to be conducted and for the police to work with us.”
She paid tribute to a “good girl”, who helped look after her four younger siblings and support her mother. “She wanted to become a doctor, she loved helping people.”
She added: “I want to make sure the family’s voice is heard.”
Members of the local community and anti-racist campaigners led chants of “Shukri’s life mattered” and held a banner saying “justice for Shukri Abdi”.
Greater Manchester police continue to say that they found no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.
A petition directed towards local MP James Frith calling for an investigation into whether the school failed to properly address bullying has collected more than 30,000 signatures. Frith, who attended the funeral, noted the hurt, anger and “sense of injustice” felt by the local community, in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.
He said he planned to meet Shukri’s mother and immediate family on Saturday and would continue liaising with the police and the school. A crowdfunding effort to support Shukri’s family has raised over £7,000.
Saynab Hareed, another family member, said that the family wanted to be treated fairly. She spoke of the difficulties her relative had had fitting in and said that teachers would sometimes bring her home themselves from school amid fears for her safety. “She had been telling us of the bullying for months. We want the police to listen.”
Maz Saleem, an anti-racist campaigner, vowed that protests would continue until the community felt justice had been done.