Socialist Worker

Racist murder of Firsat Yildiz – the bloody price of scapegoating asylum seekers

Issue No. 1761

Firsat Yildiz fled to Britain from Turkey in fear of his life. He hoped to find sanctuary from violence and terror. Last weekend he was murdered. At the age of 22 he bled to death in a Glasgow park.

Firsat Yildiz died because government policies, press lies and politicians' speeches made refugees a target. He died because Nazis like Nick Griffin's BNP deliberately stoke resentment of refugees and spread a message of hatred.

Griffin said in the July issue of the BNP's Identity publication, 'We are spearheading a campaign against asylum seeker placements in the Sighthill area.' Firsat Yildiz had been persecuted in Turkey for demanding rights for the Kurdish people. His mother, desperate to see him safe, sold most of her possessions to get him out.

He arrived in Scotland a year ago. Everyone who met him describes him as friendly and popular. But he was marked from the start. He told friends how embarrassed he was when he went into shops, because he had to use the vouchers which labelled him a refugee.

He suffered repeated racist abuse, but swallowed his pride and walked away from his tormentors. It did not save him. Politicians' lies about Britain being a 'soft touch' and 'floods' of asylum seekers mean that people like Firsat are bitterly resented by some of those they live next to.

Papers like the Daily Mail and the Daily Record may now pretend to care about the murder. But for months they led vicious campaigns against 'beggar refugees'. Racist words lead to racist actions.

The government's dispersal policy makes the situation worse. Its whole basis is that refugees are a 'problem', that they have to be scattered across Britain to 'dilute' their impact. No wonder some people hear that message and decide that the refugees should be driven out.

Dispersal means refugees get dumped in run-down housing areas with no proper facilities and support. This is what happened in Sighthill. There are pools of extreme poverty right across Britain, and Sighthill is one of the worst.

Officially, 40 percent of the population are living in poverty. It has the highest level of unemployment in Scotland. Babies are 12 times more likely to die before their first birthday than in the rich areas of Glasgow. It is an area where many white families quite rightly feel bitter resentment against a society which promises so much and delivers so little. This was where Glasgow City Council decided to herd 1,200 refugees. They were sent to empty, virtually unlettable flats which were scheduled for demolition. It was inevitable that racism would grow. Official propaganda stigmatises refugees. It hides the fact that problems in society are the fault of the rich and the government.

The result is that some extremely poor people end up blaming people even more desperate than themselves. As anti-racist campaigner Aamer Anwar said at a demonstration in Glasgow on Monday, 'The majority of people in Glasgow are outraged at what happened on Saturday. The message we have is for Glasgow City Council, the government and the Home Office, who are responsible for what happened to Yildiz – it's what happens when you send asylum seekers to one of the most deprived areas in the country and do not provide resources for them.'

There are a minority of racists in Sighthill. They are among the people who took to the streets to taunt refugees this week. But the racists would never get a hearing if it were not for the poverty and despair in the area.

It is tragically certain that there will be more murders like the one this week unless the government changes its policy. If it continues to treat refugees as criminals, to lock them up, to assume they are 'bogus', then there will be more horrors. We need to fight racism and the poverty it feeds on. We need to drive the Nazi BNP back into the sewer it comes from and to send the message that refugees are welcome to Britain.


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News
Sat 11 Aug 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1761
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