In the Aegean Sea, Two Pictures Tell a Grim Tragedy of Similar Form

Only days after Turkey’s Erdogan excoriated a packed U.N. General Assembly over quickly forgetting the tragedy of Aylan Kurdi on the Aegean Coast, a similar disaster this time hit a Turkish family.

Abdullah Ayasun

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The photo of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi sparked a worldwide reaction. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Last week, world leaders gathered in the U.N. General Assembly for the annual meeting in New York City. With customary gusto, the Turkish leader offered a scathing criticism of the dysfunctional body, lashing out at other countries for failing millions of refugees, a significant number of whom are stuck in Turkey.

In one memorable moment, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held the picture of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler whose body washed ashore in the Aegean Coast after his family’s bid to reach the Greek islands fatally tumbled on the sea in 2015. It sparked a worldwide reaction, spurring Western leaders into action. After months of diplomatic wrangling, Ankara and Brussels came to a seminal agreement in March 2016 to curb the refugee flow from Turkey to E.U.

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun