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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 23:36 GMT
Asylum seeker sought safe haven
asylum seekers, sighthill
Asylum seekers took part in a protest after the killing
An asylum seeker who was murdered in Glasgow had come to Britain to escape his political enemies in Turkey, a close friend has revealed.

Firsat Dag had been in Scotland a matter of weeks when he was knifed to death by Scott Burrell in the Sighthill area of Glasgow.

The unmarried grocer's son had been arrested in Istanbul for taking part in a pro-Kurdish demonstration and felt threatened by the Turkish Government.

After arriving in Britain he went to Glasgow, where he stood out as an intelligent individual with a genuine passion for Kurdish culture and history.

That guy ran away from Turkey to live safe here because of his beliefs, and from here he could do something for his beliefs

Peri Ibrahim, Firsat Dag's friend
Peri Ibrahim, a leading Kurdish community figure in Glasgow, struck up an instant rapport with the new arrival after meeting him in the weeks before his murder.

The two men discussed politics and cultural ideas, and the need to educate people about the persecution of the Kurds.

"We had something in common, we had the same feeling that the Kurds should be united," said Mr Ibrahim, himself a Kurdish asylum-seeker who arrived in Scotland 17 years ago.

"We were both against the policy of Kurds from different parts fighting each other over power or money."

Mr Dag was not a member of the PPK, the militant Kurdish nationalist group, said Mr Ibrahim, adding: "He believed more in negotiation; he was more of a socialist, always giving you Marxist ideas and examples - Lenin said that and Marx said this.

Emergency accommodation

"He was an educated guy. He talked about the Kurdish history, not like it was folklore, but in a scientific way, reciting names, places, dates, treatises and conferences."

Mr Dag claimed asylum under international law when he arrived in the UK in the summer of 2000.

His family remained in Gaziantep, in south-eastern Turkey, where he grew up.

Firsat Dag
Firsat Dag died from a single stab wound
According to the Scottish Refugee Council, which had contact with Mr Dag, he was staying with a friend in another part of Scotland before he arrived in Glasgow.

He was given emergency accommodation and later re-housed in Sighthill as part of Glasgow City Council's asylum-seeker programme.

Mr Ibrahim said Mr Dag wanted to spare his family persecution by the Turkish authorities by removing himself from the country, and going somewhere he would also be free to protest.

"He was politically active in Turkey, but even when he was doing the things he was doing, he was always aware of his family," he said.

'He wanted to live safe'

"He didn't want to cause trouble for his family, which is why he decided to come over here.

"The family agreed for him to come over because they knew that he had some kind of involvement politically."

While some people arrived for economic reasons, Mr Dag was not one of them, he said, adding: "His family had a good profession back home, he was comfortable, his family were comfortable. There was no need for him to come over here for economic reasons.

"That guy ran away from Turkey to live safe here because of his beliefs, and from here he could do something for his beliefs.

"He was here to highlight the Kurdish situation in Turkey.

'Unique' asylum seeker

"He had a good way of living, he didn't need to come to this country to live on vouchers.

"The vouchers were one of the things that we talked about, he said he wanted the voucher thing to end.

"He was really one of the unique asylum seekers who was in Sighthill. There are so many educated people in Sighthill who are Kurds, but they are ignorant of the Kurdish causes.

"To me I had found a friend who shared the same beliefs I have got. I was looking forward to working with him, and hopefully being a power together for the Kurdish cause."

Burrell, 26, was jailed for life at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday after being found guilty of fatally stabbing Mr Dag on 5 August.

See also:

14 Dec 01 | Scotland
Life for asylum seeker killer
14 Dec 01 | Scotland
Man guilty of killing asylum seeker
11 Dec 01 | Scotland
Murder accused 'admitted stabbing'
10 Dec 01 | Scotland
Asylum seeker 'stabbed in chest'
07 Dec 01 | Scotland
Murder trial hears special defence
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