This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Gambling To Win: Losing

"The motor couldn't handle the weight, and halfway into the journey it stopped working. The next thing we knew, the boat had capsized and were all in the freezing cold water."
"We were in the water for over two hours before the coast guard came."
Bilal, Syrian refugee, Izmir, Turkey

"The hardest part of this job is receiving the children. They are at the age when they should be splashing about in the sea and playing, but instead their lifeless bodies are being washed up ashore."
Izmir morgue official

"We decided to give the migrants their own cemetery to make the identification process as easy as possible, even after the bodies are buried."
"We have a whole system in place for the families to identify the bodies for up to 100 years."
"I broke down when I buried a 3-month-old baby. I couldn't help myself. It's hard to accept, because these deaths can be prevented by politicians, but they won't stop and it's getting worse."
"We are now faced with entire families drowning at sea, with no one left to claim them."
Ahmet Altan, imam, Dogancay Cemetery, Izmir, Turkey
turkey migrants drowned shore beach deadDHA via AP    Paramilitary police officers investigate around the body of a migrant on the beach in Dikili, Izmir, Turkey, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016

Recently, 35-year-old Syrian refugee Bilal got into an unseaworthy craft with his wife and their three children, 10, 8 and 6. They were determined to set out for Greece. The boat had a 30-person capacity, but on it were 36 adults and 15 children. When the motor cut out they were halfway to their destination, but halfway is nowhere at all, it is the middle of the sea, and there lies death. Bilal and his wife grabbed their children, and a current drifted them from one another.

Ibrahim, 6, began vomiting blood, their daughter lost consciousness, but the entire family managed to survive their ordeal. His cousin was with them on the boat, and his three young children were among those who drowned, 18 of the passengers in all. "Death has become our destiny", Kholoud, Bilal's wife said. "Either you die in Syria from shelling or you die at sea." In an effort to prevent those deaths by stopping the refugees from leaving shore, the Turkish coast guard has increased its patrols.

It was thought that dropping temperatures, and winter-stormy seas would convince Syrian refugees to bide their time for more auspicious conditions, but it is when business begins to slow during the winter months, that the human smugglers drop their prices. And so the hundreds of thousands who flee conflict hoping to find their safe futures in Europe, continue to risk their lives. NATO has dispatched warships to the Aegean Sea hoping to constrain the refugee flow, but the deaths pile up.

At the Izmir morgue -- being expanded to make more room -- photographs of the dead migrants reveal all too many of them are children. When the drowned arrive at the morgue they are retained for 15 days in the hope that families will claim them. With no identification made, the forensics department conducts an autopsy and records the DNA. Every body is bathed and shrouded, according to Islamic burial rites, then sent to the cemetery and there imams conduct an Islamic funeral.

The imams admit to feeling haunted by the sheer numbers of burials of unidentified migrants they buried in the past year. There are four imams working at the cemetery, and each one carries out an average of five funerals every day, both for Turkish citizens and for the migrants. There is no one to mourn the passing of the refugees whom the imams can comfort, and there is no one to comfort the imams, carrying out their last rites for lost souls.

People check bodies of migrants at a port near Izmir, Turkey,  who drowned in Turkish-Greek water routes. Photo: AP
People check bodies of migrants at a port near Izmir, Turkey, who drowned in Turkish-Greek water routes. Photo: AP

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