“The worst affected from government corruption is the common man” – Kher
On the 14th of July 2013, a 44 year old Iranian refugee was beaten and set on fire by a white man in a racially aggravated attack. The victim was called Bijan. And this happened on British soil under a Conservative government which has failed Bijan and his family. He came to Britain from Tehran, searching for a better life. He moved across the world, leaving his family and friends behind, in hope that our government could care for him. Bijan didn’t know that he was flying across the world to meet death.
Several years prior to his murder, Bijan made 85 calls to the police, reporting racially motivated incidents. When his flat was set on fire in 2007 while he was still in it, police showed up and arrested Bijan, not the criminal and his future murderer Lee James. Bijan was subjected to a horrific hate campaign by his neighbours. They abused his pet cat, ruined his flowers which he loved, shouted abuse at him, threatened him and physically assaulted him. Despite our state’s great pride in its police system, Bijan was failed by it. The police labelled Bijan a “serial complainer” and said that he was “always the aggressor”.
Bijan’s family solicitor, Tony Murphy at Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, added: ‘Bijan was left defenceless against the race hatred of other tenants because the very institutions whose duty it was to protect him are infected with the same racism.’
Bijan was isolated and left defenceless. No help was given to him by the police – the ‘institution which brings justice’. The very system that is supposed to protect people regardless of race, religion or gender handed Bijan his death sentence. The system demonised him and turned the victim into the perpetrator. No person should be subjected to injustice, especially not by an institution that disguises itself as the bringer of justice. The most heartbreaking thing about Bijan’s circumstance was that he never lost faith in the system. He continued to call police when they disrespected and ridiculed him. Bijan cried out for help, but the corrupt police system does not hear the cries of refugees. It does not hear the cries of those who are coloured, of those who are not white and English.
An hour before his murder, Bijan called the police for help. A PC told a call operator: ‘I’m absolutely not interested in speaking to him ever thanks … I don’t think anybody is to be honest, he’s a pest.’ CCTV footage has emerged of officers shouting at Bijan, telling him to “shut up”. Only now, 4 years later, has the police admitted that they “failed” Bijan. But I disagree. The police didn’t fail Bijan, they murdered him. The entire British government is responsible for Bijan’s murder, and for many more on British soil and around the world. How many lives has this government stolen in Iraq and Syria? How many hopes and dreams has it crushed? How many injustices has it served?
Our government claims that it is working hard to root out any racism, but the same hard-line racism is engraved into its core and intertwined in its policies and conduct. When in their most weak and vulnerable moments, people like Bijan have turned to the police for help. Yet they have been betrayed and handed over a death sentence.
Who murdered Bijan Ebrahimi? Lee James, the police, the British government, institutional racism. And all those who turned a blind eye to him when he was desperate for help. Bijan wasn’t a case or a statistic. Bijan was an innocent person who had his life brutally stolen from him while he was most vulnerable.
This government may claim it promotes equality for all, but if you’re not white and English then you are not worthy of justice in its eyes. Only in death will our voices be heard.