Saturday, March 05, 2016

Turkish Justice

The Turkish government has seen fit to prove its credentials as a member of NATO and an aspirant to the European Union which has been pleading with it to stop the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe, by arresting two Syrian nationals. Muwafaka Alabash and Asem Alfrhad deny any responsibility in the deaths of a number of migrants, although they have been identified as human traffickers. Their arrest dates back to an incident last year where a Turkish soldier was photographed holding the limp form of a child's body that was washed up on a beach.

 Turkish gendarmeries escort 2 Syrians, arrested on suspicion of causing deaths of 5 refugees including Aylan Kurdi,as they are brought to court in Mugla, Turkey on February 11, 2016.
Turkish gendarmeries escort 2 Syrians, arrested on suspicion of causing deaths of 5 refugees including Aylan Kurdi,as they are brought to court in Mugla, Turkey, in february Photo: Anadolu /Getty

The death of Aylan Kurdi in particular, among the four others, including his brother and mother who also perished, gripped the tardy compassion of the world, as photographs were featured in the news media and a renewed interest was mounted on the plight of Syrian refugees, Sunnis attacked by their own Shiite government, facing arrest, torture and death as their communities were bombed and they were made homeless if they were fortunate enough to survive deadly assaults.

His family, father, mother and brother were among others who had shipped out on a flimsy craft from Bodrum, Turkey to attempt to reach the Greek island of Kos. The fates had other plans in store for the refugees, and the overloaded, inadequate craft capsized with a significant loss of life; five people drowned. Among them little Aylan Kurdi and his brother Galip, and their mother Rihan. Their father Abdullah, who had made the decision to attempt another passage after their initial one failed, survived.

The grief-stricken man told how he had attempted to save his family, but was unable to. His wife's family spoke of her fears of attempting another passage to Greece. Their first attempt had not instilled confidence in her that another would succeed, and her instinct was correct. Her unwillingness, however, given the society they stem from would have been overwhelmed by her husband's determination to risk all. And the price paid was the loss of his family.

But it was not just his family; the children of other parents sharing space on that unseaworthy craft died as well. The parents maintained afterward that their children died as a result of a poorly planned and executed mission. They too had felt reservations but decided to commit themselves to the venture, and their pain and loss certainly equals that of Abdullah Kurdi whom they accuse of having masterminded the journey and whom they blame for its disastrous ending.

The arrested men as well put the finger of blame for the failed venture that ended in five deaths on Abdullah Kurdi, as organizer of the trip. Each of the defendants has been sentenced to four years and two months in prison, reduced from the original sentence of five years. Assuredly a reduction of ten months' imprisonment will encourage the Syrian men accused of the crime. Particularly when prosecutors thought their crime serious enough to merit the maximum of 35 years in prison.

A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, who drowned off the Greek island of Kos

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