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Shukri Abdi: Thousands in UK protest for investigation into death of Somali girl

Anniversary protests also expected in Canada and US to demand a new probe into drowning of 12-year-old in Manchester
Protestors marched in major cities across Britain demanding justice for Shukri Abdi (Supplied)

Thousands of people on Saturday joined protests across Britain to mark the first anniversary of the death of Shukri Abdi, a 12-year-old Somali schoolgirl who drowned last year in suspicious circumstances. 

Abdi was found in the River Irwell in the Manchester suburb of Bury after meeting a group of classmates outside her school. An inquest into her death heard that Abdi's classmates had threatened her life. Her family and peers said that she was bullied and faced racist abuse by some of her classmates. 

Holding placards emblazoned with "Justice for Shukri Abdi" and "Black Lives Matter," a diverse crowd marched through London on Saturday demanding a new investigation into Abdi's death. 

Many protesters wore masks at the request of protest organisers to protect themselves and their families from the coronavirus. 

Protests also took place in other major British cities, including Bristol, Cardiff and Manchester, with more expected in cities across Canada and the United States. 

Zamzam Ibrahim, one of the organisers of the protests, said thousands attended the demonstrations because they could personally identify with Abdi's plight. 

"We have seen Shukri's name appear on placards across the world because so many black girls have felt the impact of bullying and abuse at an age where they should have the freedom to grow up safely and happily," said Ibrahim, who served as the former president of the National Union of Students in the UK. 

Global calls for justice 

Abdi's case gained global attention as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, with a petition calling for a new investigation into Abdi's death reaching a million signatures. 

Star Wars actor John Boyega and rapper Ice Cube have also shown their support for Abdi's case and her family. 

Greater Manchester Police did not pursue criminal charges against four unnamed children accused of playing a role in her death. 

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

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

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham recently supported calls for the "widest possible investigation" into her death. 

The inquest, whose main focus is the events that led to the death,  began in February but was adjourned with no confirmation of a date when it would be continued. The inquiry is not examining allegations of bullying at her school. 

Abdi's family lived for 17 years as refugees in Kenya after fleeing the unrest in Somalia, before being resettled by the United Nations to the UK.