Misleading Claim About Why Syrian Boy Drowned - Jon Danzig

Misleading Claim About Why Syrian Boy Drowned
2015-09-06 12:00:00
A YouTube video posted yesterday by a UKIP supporter claims that the Syrian boy who was washed up on a Turkish beach drowned because ‘his father wanted new teeth.' The video has so far been viewed over 400,000 times and also posted by far-right groups.
The video shows a clip from a short Sky News interview to which has been added (not by Sky News) an opening title stating, ‘Syrian boy drowned because his Father wanted new teeth’.  

In the brief Sky interview, the boy’s aunt said that that her brother, the little boy’s father, had lost all his teeth. He would need implants, and she was trying to help him, but it would cost a lot of money which she couldn’t send in one go. She explained that the idea was that the family should go to Europe for his kids and a better future, and then they could see about fixing his teeth.

According to news reports, the father had been kidnapped and tortured during the siege of Kobani by Islamic State or another jihadist group, and it's claimed that all of his teeth had been pulled or knocked out. (I am seeking verification of these reports) 
I have watched the 2-minute video clip several times and have to ask: why does the father's need for dental treatment change anything about the story of this family's desperate bid to find a place to resettle? How can anyone conclude from this short interview that the little boy, 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, drowned because his father, Abdullah, needed his teeth fixed?

The Kurdi family, including Alan’s brother, 5-year-old Ghalib and mother, Rehanna, were trying to reach a country where they could start a new life.

There is clearly more to this story and I expect further details may be forthcoming in the coming weeks.  I am relying on information gained from several news sources to present here what I believe is a more rounded account than the one presented in the misleading title of the video.  Of course, in war the first casualty is truth; I don’t know the full details or how accurate are all the news reports.  However, common sense and humanity tells me how unlikely it is that a father would risk his family’s life just so that he could obtain dental treatment.
Abdullah’s sister living in Canada, Tima Kurdi, sent money to him so traffickers could be paid to arrange the perilous boat journey for the family to escape from Turkey to Greece  - a ‘good deed’ she now greatly regrets.  
She explained in a BBC interview why she sent the money, “I was doing it for their better future, for the kids, for him, for the whole family”.  In another interview published by Canada’s Huffington Post she said, "I am the one who should be at blame. I blame myself because my brother does not have money. I sent him the money to pay the smuggler. If I didn't send him the money, those people still (would be) alive."

The family were hoping eventually to start a new life in Canada as they were desperate to leave Turkey, where they had sought refuge for three years, but Turkey wouldn’t let them have exit visas.

The father, Abdullah Kurdi, had first gone on his own to Turkey for a job, leaving behind his wife and 2-year-old son Ghalib and yet-to-be-born Alan at their family home in Kobani.    But later Kobani was overrun by ISIS terrorists; a relative of the family was beheaded and the family home was hit by a mortar shell and completely destroyed.  Abdullah went to fetch his wife, Rehanna, son Ghalib and newly born Alan to flee Kobani and seek refuge back in Turkey.

Earlier this year ISIS was driven out of Kobani, but this summer ISIS resumed its attacks on the city.

In Turkey the family joined 2.5 million other Syrian refugees, representing the world’s biggest refugee population.  The circumstances in Turkey for Syrian refugees is reported to be very difficult.

According to a recent BBC report, Syrian families are forced to live on the streets and many refugees feel there is no future for them there. Large numbers consider they have no option but to take desperate, hazardous measures to escape across the sea, as eventually would the Kurdi family.
According to a recent BBC report, Syrian families are forced to live on the streets and many refugees feel there is no future for them there. Large numbers consider they have no option but to take desperate, hazardous measures to escape across the sea, as eventually would the Kurdi family.

As the Kurdi family did not have passports, they were reported to have to register at a ‘temporary protection shelter’ and were not permitted to leave the country. So the family were in a kind of limbo - unable to obtain exit visas from Turkey because they lacked passports, and unable to win asylum elsewhere because they lacked exit visas.  It appeared that if they were to leave Turkey it would have to be by illicit means.

The family wanted to escape from Turkey to find a life somewhere else, somewhere better; that’s what many refugees understandably seek to do after weeks, months and often years living in stasis as ‘displaced persons’, where conditions are tough, often with no home-life, no legitimate jobs, no future, no prospects and mostly with no legal or hopeful means of 'moving on'... 
The Kurdi family made several unsuccessful attempts to be illegally ‘smuggled’ out of the country. The fourth and final attempt led to devastating circumstances this week, as the world now knows. The two little boys and their mother drowned. Only the father, Abdullah, survived.

It’s believed that the smugglers were paid almost £3,000 for the crossing; several times the cost of a flight for the entire family to Canada. But when the only means of escape from a country is illegal, there is usually no choice in the method of transport.

I fail to see how this tragic story of a war-torn desperate Syrian family trying firstly to seek safe refuge in Turkey, and then to seek a new life somewhere else, is at all demeaned, diminished or changed by the fact that the father also required dentistry.

I feel sad that a video has been distributed that tries to undermine the plight, and death, of a family caught up in the most awful, tragic circumstances. 

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