Europe has forgotten, what it is to be a refugee fleeing the devastation of war. Europe has forgotten the hunger and suffering. Europe has grown has grown fat and selfish. Europe has turned its back on these needy, desperate refugees. And then a little 3 year old boy, Aylan died, drowned with his brother and mother and the world could not turn away, any longer, could not remain selfish and uncaring. This was the defining moment. It took the lifeless body of a three old, lying on a beach in Turkey to awaken us.
Aylan did not have to die, but he did, because of the callous policy of governments, including the Canadian government. His aunt, in Vancouver had requested asylum for he and his family, six months ago.. A letter was presented to the Minister of Immigration, Chris Alexander, by her local NDP, MP, but it was rejected, because it did not follow protocol ( someone has to be designated as a refugee by UNCHR or another government....how could this be done in the midst of such chaos, people wandering from place to place seeking refuge...in 1979, the Conservative government of Joe Clarke undertook a massive airlift of Vietnamese refugees/ "boat people", after many had died at sea, 30,000 were saved and brought to Canada where they have prospered and become a great asset to Canada and the communities, in which they live. The Trudeau Liberals had started the programme. They had also previously accepted thousands of Sri Lankans and in the mid-90s thousands fleeing the genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda. After the second world war, tens of thousands of Jews, Italians, Greeks and other Europeans were accepted and in 1956, thousands were accepted from Hungary after the Soviet invasion ). Canada has always done its share, but not this time.
The policy of the Harper government is not to accept refugees who are Muslims. A few Christians from Syria and a few Yazidis from Kurdistan have been accepted. But it is not alone. The Saudis and the oil rich Arab states, have so far accepted none. Jordan, Iraq and Turkey on the other hand have millions refugees, streaming in. Europe has been very reluctant to open its doors and no where is this more glaring than Hungary. They have lied to and ill-treated these people. They want to place them in camps. They even fooled them into boarding trains, ostensibly to take them to the Austrian border, bet instead, try to force them into barb-wired fenced ad guarded camps ( reminiscent of the Nazis herding train loads to death camps. Thousands decided to walk the 100 miles to the Austrian border, the old, the young, the women, the children, the injured on crutches, in the broiling sun they walked and no one offered them food or water or a lift, until the world shamed the Hungarians and the a few children offered water and the government offered buses.
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood up and said that Germany would accept 800,000 (equivalent to 1% of the German population. She had said this, after attacks on refugee shelters and on the growing crisis..." Every person who comes is a human being and has the right to be treated as such" ( She has not forgotten what it is to be a refugee, born in East Germany, seeing the failed attempts to cross the Wall; neither did she forget the sufferings of Germans after the second world war). Others in Europe have forgotten but not Angela Merkel and she must be commended for generosity and humanity. She did not obfuscate, make excuses or dithered, like Cameron and other European leaders. She acted and did so immediately.
Aylan, died so others ay live. He was laid to rest in his home town of Kobani. Rest in peace, little one.