“To the boy on the beach in Turkey, I cried for you.”

Warning. This post contains a photo that may be disturbing.

To Aylan, the little boy in the blue shorts and the red t-shirt. I saw the photo of you, washed up on shore in Turkey, and I cried.

I never met you, but I cried for you. Your life ended at the age of just three. I feel like the adults of the world failed you.

I saw the photo of the Turkish police officer carrying you away. It looked like he was holding you gently. Maybe he cried for you too.

Image via Twitter. REUTERS/Nilufer Demir/DHA

I read about you. I read that you had an older brother, Galip, who was five. I read that Galip and your mother Rihan died at sea with you.

I am sure your parents only ever wanted the best for you. They would have wanted what we all want for our children. To grow up in safety, to have the freedom to just be kids.

You and your family were living in the Syrian town of Kobani, under siege. Life wasn't all about fun and play for you. As much as your family would have tried to protect you, you would have known about war and bombs and death and fear.


Your family did what they thought was the right thing. They brought you hundreds of kilometres through Turkey. Your little boat only needed to cross three kilometres of the Aegean Sea to get to the Greek island of Kos. Your family believed it was safer than other refugee routes. Thousands of other refugees had made that same journey safely. Only that wasn't how it ended for you and Galip and your mum.

Aylan, I have a son who's not much older than you. It was just a matter of luck that my son was born into a safe, peaceful country, and you weren't. You deserved the right to a happy, carefree childhood. All kids do.

I wish you could have made it safely to the shore of the Greek island. I wish I could have seen a photo of you just splashing in the sea, like my son loves to do.

Aylan with his brother, Galip.

Aylan, you won't be forgotten by the people who saw your photo. You won't be forgotten by the people who cried over you. But I can't do anything for you, and I am so sorry.

The only thing I have the tiniest influence over is the fate of the refugees who want to come to Australia. I can only hope that perhaps, because of you, more people will see refugees as people. Instead of arguing over responsibility and costs and numbers, if everyone could just open their hearts a little more, it would be something, a step on the way towards a solution.

Of course Australia can't help every refugee family in the world. But for every extra refugee family that Australia welcomes, it means the world to them.

Aylan, although you'll never have the happy, carefree childhood your parents dreamed of for you, maybe some other children will.

Rest in peace, with your mother and your brother.


More articles