An innocent Iranian, Bijan Ebrahimi, is dead, another name to add to the grim list of disabled people falsely accused of sexual crimes they didn’t commit- and then cruelly murdered. I grieve for him and his family. I share an Iranian heritage too, on my birth father’s side. (If you want to read about my own story, and how I came to live in the UK, you can do so here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Water-Anglo-Iranian-Kindle-ebook/dp/B00E00BEZQ/ref=la_B004GH8LS6_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383565614&sr=1-4)
The Ebrahimi family, like so many others, have lived through the turbulent history of our country and Mr Ebrahimi is reported to have had refugee status in the UK. They – and Bijan, perhaps, in particular, as a disabled person, should have found solace and comfort in the UK, as I have done. Instead, their beloved Bijan is dead and he shouldn’t be. He needn’t have died. The British legal and social care system failed him, and I, as a campaigning journalist, will do my best over the next few months, to raise the profile of his case and try, as best I can, to bring some closure to the family who clearly loved him so much. At the Disability Hate Crime Network, on Facebook, co-ordinated by Stephen Brookes, Anne Novis, me and others, we will continue to follow the case and hold the criminal justice system to account. We will not forget Bijan Ebrahimi, and as a number of us hold advisory posts within the criminal justice system, we will do our best to make sure that what happened to him will be a wake-up call to our legal system.
I know, from my friend Anne Novis, whose seminal work in raising the false rape allegations against disabled murder victim, Albert Adams, kickstarted much of my research, that the Metropolitan Police Service is already looking at Bijan Ebrahimi’s case, and asking what lessons it should learn from it. Stephen Brookes and Ruth Bashall – both great disability rights campaigners – are going to share their thoughts about the case at the College of Policing tomorrow. Let’s hope those lessons are spread far and wide – throughout the British legal system.