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People take part in a justice for Shukri Abdi protest on the first anniversary of her death near Parliament Square in London, Saturday, June 27, 2020. AP Photo

Thousands joined protests across England to mark a year since the death of a 12-year-old Somali refugee girl who drowned in a river in the north of the country.

Shukri Yahye-Abdi, who came to Britain in 2017, was found dead in River Irwell in Bury, north England, on June 27 last year.

She grew up with her Somali family in a refugee camp in Kenya before she came to the UK.

Police initially said there were no suspicious circumstances around her death.

But her mother claimed she was a victim of school bullying and in February, the ongoing inquest was told that a child had confessed to threatening her to “get in the water”.

Police have been accused by activists of not treating the case fairly because Yahye-Abdi was black.

The case has drawn the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement, and more than a million people signed a petition calling for “justice for Shukri”. Star Wars actor John Boyega is among those urging people to sign it.

People gather during a demonstration called “Justice for Shukri Abdi” at Whitehall in London, Britain, June 27, 2020. REUTERS

Events marking the anniversary of her death were held on Saturday in cities including Manchester, London, Cardiff and Bristol, with protesters holding up banners saying: “Justice for Shukri Abdi”, “no justice no peace” and “silence is violence”. Others wore T-shirts with the girl’s face on it.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, said earlier this month he would further investigate the case after he received thousands of emails about it.

An inquiry into the case, launched last August, is looking into whether the police treated Yahye-Abdi less favourably because of her race. The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is leading the probe, said it had shared its results with Yahye-Abdi’s family and Greater Manchester Police and the report will be published after the inquest into the child’s death is completed.

IOPC regional director Amanda Rowe said the complaints had been treated with the “upmost seriousness and very carefully assessed”.

“Our final report has been shared with the force, and with Shukri’s family. It has also been provided to the Coroner to help support the inquest process,” she said.

“We plan to publish our report following Shukri’s inquest, a date for which has not been set at this time. Our thoughts remain with all those affected by her tragic death.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that many Black and ethnic minority people felt they were discriminated against, so the country had to break down barriers.

When asked if he believed there was institutionalised racism in the British police, Mr Johnson said: “I think the issue – and it has been really highlighted by the whole Black Lives Matter campaign – is that people unquestionably feel in their lives, black and minority ethnic groups feel that there are barriers to them and to their success.

“And we need to break those down. It’s still true and it’s unacceptable. And we need to do all sorts of things to tackle it.”

The National