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School forced to investigate bullying of a drowned refugee girl

26th Jul 2019
School forced to investigate bullying of a drowned refugee girl

(Photo: Twitter/CC)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Officials from a school in Bury were forced to launch an inquiry after the family of a Muslim pupil who drowned in a local river accused them of failing to protect her from bullies.

News of the inquiry came after more than 30,000 people signed a petition calling for an investigation into the death of Shukri Yahya Abdi, a Somali refugee schoolgirl who drowned.

On June 27 police were called at 7.55 pm after the 12-year-old went missing; four hours later her body was pulled from River Irwell. According to media reports, Shukri – who couldn’t swim – was with other girls at the time.

The child’s family and friends called for a more thorough police investigation into her death and via a petition demanded that the local MP James Frith and council investigate Broad Oak Sports College’s handling of her bullying ordeal.

Frith, who attended the youngster’s funeral, noted the hurt, anger and “sense of injusticefelt by the local community, in a statement on Twitter on July 4.

The family has also dismissed Greater Manchester Police assertion her death was not suspicious. In a statement, Detective Inspector Andrew Naismith said: “We have a team of detectives working on this, but there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances at this time.

However, Shukri’s cousin Mustaf Omar Mohamed slammed the police for quickly ruling her drowning an accident, inadequately briefing them and for “contradicting key witness” accounts. “We want them to do a proper investigation, interview all the witnesses the longer they leave it the harder it will be to get the witness statements correctly,” he told 5Pillars.
We feel like they’re leaving us in the dark and letting time go past. If we don’t get the full cooperation from the school and the police how are we to stop other children from going through the same thing?

Her mother, Zamzam Ture, who moved to the UK two years ago said: “The school where my daughter was bullied… I had been complaining to forever.”  Speaking in a video on Facebook Ture said: “The police said [to me] your daughter died in an accident, she was playing with other kids, she died there.”
“The other kids were not wet or harmed, so it was a denial. She was denied the truth. The police haven’t shown us any evidence. I have no proof of what happened,” Ture added. 

Many people took to social media demanding justice for Shukri and #JusticeForShukri continued trending on twitter days into her death. The newly elected President of the National Union of Students, Zamzam Ibrahim, said: “The more we hear about Shukri, how her life is insignificant to the police, to the school, the more anger and absolute rage comes over me. Shukri was my little sister and your little sister and we can’t let her death be forgotten and pass in Silence. #JusticeForShukri.

Almost immediately the police concluded that it wasn’t “suspicious”, instead of investigating the case and listening to the relatives. This shows the lack of competence the authorities in Britain have especially when dealing with minorities. #JusticeForShukri,’ one Twitter user said.

‘The police are really saying a girl who has come from Somalia and experienced 40-degree weather daily has found British summer so hot that she jumped into a river to cool down whilst knowing that she cannot swim and somehow the water gave her bite marks. Excuse me? #JusticeForShukri.’said another.

Paul Greenhalgh, Headteacher, Broad Oak Sports College and other members of staff have visited the family home and further visits are planned. “We are currently working with Shukri’s family in respect of any concerns which have been raised about the school,” said Greenhalgh in a statement.

“As the school was taken into the Oak Learning Partnership Multi Academy Trust in April of this year, the Trust leadership under CEO, Elaine Parkinson, will be reviewing all policies and procedures at the school, in particular we will focus on the schools anti-bullying policy and procedures and other policies relating to the welfare of children.

“The Trust will ensure they engage with its community and co-produce policies and procedures that are well understood by all.

“In addition, we have been working in partnership with Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire Service, Healthy Young Minds (NHS), the Educational Psychology Team, Bury Social Care and Bury Local Authority to ensure all our young people are supported at this time”.

Mohamed said his cousin was a timid, vulnerable girl.She was probably [seen] as an easy target. She wanted to make friends. She wanted to get along with people. That just made her vulnerable. He also said the school has a record of Shukri’s bullying and her mother was in the “process of changing her school. We want the school records of everything that happened up to that incident.

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