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Edinburgh Protest says "Sudanese Lives Matter"

Solidarity with Scotland's Sudanese people, Edinburgh 12 July 2020

On Sunday 12 July Black Lives Matter held a protest outside the Scottish Parliament in solidarity with Scotland's Sudanese people against racism and the hostile environment.

The protest was in response to the problems faced by asylum-seekers in Glasgow (including Sudanese people) who have been moved by Home Office contractor Mears into temporary hotel accommodation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Badreddin Abdalla Adam - a Sudanese asylum-seeker - was shot dead by police on 26 June after he had stabbed other asylum-seekers and staff at the Park Inn Hotel in Glasgow. He appears to have been suffering from mental health problems brought on or excarbated by the move to temporary accommodation.

Speakers included Councillor Graham Campbell (Black Lives Matter, Glasgow), representatives of the Sudanese communities in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Cynthia (BLM Edinburgh), Joseph Malik (BLM Edinburgh) and Polly (East & Southeast Asian Support group, Edinburgh).

Besides highlighting the racism of the UK's asylum system, the speakers talked about black trauma, the disturbing incidence of racist abuse and violence in Edinburgh and the racism faced by people of east and southeast Asian origin.

A speaker representing Glasgow's Sudanese community read out the following statement, originally issued on 28 June:

"We are saddened and horrified by the tragic and senseless incident that took place on Friday the 26th of June 2020 in Glasgow Park Inn hotel in the city centre by a Sudanese asylum seeker. Our thoughts are with all those injured in this illogical act.

We condemn violence in all forms, and we hope that the injured people get well soon.

We also send our condolences to the family of the troubled young man who was suffering from complicated mental health issues, who is now deceased.

As we offer all our support to al, those who are injured, we also express our grief for the suspect who died in this incident in a way which did not consider the lowest level of human rights.

The Sudanese community in Glasgow would like to ensure again our respect and abide to all the laws and human rights in the UK. In this context, we stick to our human rights and we will not relent and give up our legal rights and any human right violations that happen to any of us from anyone. And for that, we will take all the legal methods to achieve the completed justice for us and the others.

The deceased came to Glasgow from Belfast last February and was suffering from mental health and other health problems that deteriorated due to the bad treatment and negligence from the hotel administration, asylum seeker housing company (Mears), the Home Office and the wrong decisions regarding asylum seekers from the Home Office during lockdown. The bad treatment as in the bad quality of food offered by the hotel which was sometimes undercooked. In addition to this, the hotel admiration forced the deceased to quarantine for around a month, even when he asked to see a doctor because of his gastric problems. Being in quarantine for this period of time lead to a further deterioration in his psychological and mental state and his health generally.

This is on top of him complaining to hotel management before the attack, his constant requests to see a doctor had been refused. He also complained about noise from people in adjoining rooms disturbing him and knocking on his walls deliberately. But no one dealt properly with his complaints.

The deceased had asked previously to move to another, more comfortable and safe space. The reasons mentioned prior about the asylum seekers circumstances have led to generations of self-harm and violence in his mind as he was mentioning before. He confided to one of his friends about his intentions the night before the attack, and it was reported to the hotel reception through the liaison officer in the Sudanese Community in Glasgow charity on Thursday the 25th of June 2020 at around 23:00. The receptionist was asked to take the required procedures and call the Police. Sadly, the hotel receptionist did not take it seriously and was only satisfied by writing it down in a book as a notice and he reported that to Mears the next day. The Sudanese Community in Glasgow charity was aware about the circumstances of the seekers during the pandemic and we offered food as well as food vouchers to them in partnership with other organisations including but not limited to Empowerment Women for Change.

When we were made aware of the incident, we started an internal questionnaire to find out information and news that related to the sad incident to help the Police with their investigation. We also kept in contact with the Scottish police and the solicitor of the deceased and we will continue to do so with other legal advising organisations and human right bodies to ensure achieving justice to all with transparency and neutrality. Unfortunately, this is the second time this year were a member of our community with severe mental health has died in such circumstances. On the 28/02/2020 another refugee from Sudan named Hassan Yahya was shot dead in London Trafalgar Square because "he was acting suspiciously" as was mentioned to us by the Police. His death did not get any media coverage at all. Hassan Yahya was suffering from lots of mental and psychological health issues as well and the investigation on his case is still running.

Finally, we will be working closely with all our partners from love justice and peace to achieve justice and to find out the circumstances that led to those who were killed."

Hassan Yahya was shot dead by police in Trafalgar Square earlier this year. No one else was injured, and according to police the incident was not terror-related. Police say Hassan Yahya was carrying two knives and "acting suspiciously" before he was shot. They say tasers were fired at him at three different locations before he was finally shot dead in Trafalgar Square. The IOPC is investigating the incident.

There are unconfirmed reports that tasers were fired at Badreddin Abdalla Adam before he was shot dead in Glasgow. The Times reported on 30 June:

"It is understood that officers including PC David Whyte, 42, who is recovering in hospital after being injured by Adam, fired Tasers that failed to stop the knifeman."

PIRC (Police Investigations and Review Commissioner) is investigating the Glasgow shooting. PIRC's findings about the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody in 2015 have not yet been made public and the family say they have lost confidence in PIRC. Dame Eilish Angiolini is currently conducting a review of PIRC and issued a preliminary report in June 2019. A final report is scheduled for August 2020.

The Glasgow and London incidents raise questions over police policies in London and Scotland regarding the use of tasers and the handling of knife incidents more generally.

Photo © Julia Davidson. Speaker from Glasgow's Sudanese community, with an impromptu interpreting collective.