Read these names slowly to give them a bit of their lives back. Let them touch your heart and then let them touch your anger.Many will have seen DJ Nadia Isla furiously demanding “Have you seen the building? Where are the people … everyone is walking round with missing on their … they died …. none of the people I grew up with .. I can’t find anyone …. why is there no list of all the people that were in that building … we still don’t know who is accounted for … there is no information.”
I went to Grenfell Tower four days after the fire to get a first-hand account and then to write about all the things we have all read about on social media and touched on – sometimes – in the corporate media. The dodgy cladding and dodgier politicians who should have been arrested by now. The absence of fire alarms and fire escapes. But then I saw the pictures of the missing, put along the streets by the community and decided to write them down.
A note on the community centre wall stated that as of 18 June Resident in hospital or hostels 108, confirmed dead 68 still missing 324.
Commander Stuart Candy of the Metropolitan Police said in a Sky interview that dozens of people are still believed to be inside Grenfell Tower. On a hot afternoon and with a large crowd there I did my best but there were walls I could not reach, names I could not read, flowers which obscured my failing eyes. I copied from the wall the names of the missing people, now presumed dead.
When I looked up at the building I saw a tomb. I hope that the tomb full of these people will become a tomb for the system responsible for their deaths. I apologise to the living and the dead for any misspelt names.
I returned a week later on 24 June, the same day that Shadow Home Secretary, Dianne Abbott, stated in The Independent that the deaths were most likely be in the hundreds. This time I counted 126 names of the missing, most with photos. There were 127 in all, only one marked as ‘Found’.
Tottenham MP David Lammy has tweeted: “Survivors cannot believe that the death toll has not risen. Speaking to people on the ground, there is huge suspicion of a cover-up.” Speaking on BBC Newsnight on 26 June 2017, he said:
“The 79 figure which has now stood for a week does not accord with those who live down there and say that there’s a gap, that they know there’s a gap. In one flat alone people say there were up to 40 people, a gathering because they gathered in the flat. It was Ramadan …. There are lots you can use. DWP lists for those on benefits. There’s a local school. Through the local authority you can assess how many kids showed up for school or not showed up for school. You can use mobile phones. You can speak to mobile phone companies. They will assist. I saw this during the riots. Who’s been on their phone at 12 o’clock before the fire started. There are ways in which you can assemble lists of people and numbers … When you have tragedies of this kind that could have been prevented. We know from Hillsborough and other affairs in our national life, that governments, local authorities, big corporations, companies, the contractors – they cover their backs and that’s why I raised issues around the documentation. Have the police seized documents yet in this one? We know nothing about whether that’s happened … It doesn’t really matter what I think. It matters what people on the ground think .. what people say is that if you put the numbers out early you will have civil unrest.”
My two visits to check on the missing confirms this. Nearly two weeks after the fire it is left to people like me to inform on who are possibly missing, possibly dead, possibly neither. Grenfell residents’ groups are trying to compile lists of victims and survivors. This is either gross incompetence on the part of the ‘authorities’, gross negligence or worse. David Lammy says, “It is difficult to describe the pain people are going through.”
I received a message after I first published a photo of a missing family, which said: “The family in the photo are the Choucair family who i knew very well…Nadia and her immediate family i grew up with. My family and i always remained close and in touch ever since. We were all like one family. Her mother, Sirra Choucair, was living one door away from Nadia but she is not mentioned here. I’m devastated. They are still reported as missing.” (See video interview with Nadia Choucair’s brother Nabil)
Please read these names slowly to give them a bit of their lives back. Let them touch your heart and then let them touch your anger.
Naming the missing
Amal Samia Ahmadin
Abu Feros Alsanousi
Amal and Mohammed + daughter Amaya
Raymond ‘Moses’ Bernard
Hesham El Raaman
Fatuma El Raaman
Sina El Raaman
Abdul Aziz El-Wahabi
Rania Fathiu Hamia
Ramia Ibrahim & two daughters
Ali Yawar Jafari
Mohammed ‘Saber’ Neda
Hesham Rahman ’Mother’ Rama & children
Fethia Hassan & Hania Hassan
Hosina Began Tanime
Crazy’ Yasim. Photos and names with only first name: Arsad