VANCOUVER – The aunt of a Syrian toddler who was shown in a haunting photo lying lifeless on a beach says the photograph this week of a bloody boy pulled from a collapsed building in Aleppo is heartbreaking, but she fears these kinds of images thwart peace efforts by adding fuel to the fire of a years-long conflict.
Tima Kurdi of Coquitlam, B.C., said Wednesday’s image of a stunned and weary-looking child, coated in dust and blood and perched on an orange seat in the back of an ambulance in civil war-ravaged Aleppo, is being used in the West to garner further support for the rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Selective reporting will prolong the bloodshed and displacement, and instead of supporting either side world leaders need to focus on organizing peace talks that prioritize ending the conflict as soon as possible, she said.
“This image is the wrong message. The message should be: in the West we should talk to end the war in Syria,” Kurdi said in an interview Thursday.
“You can’t continue like this. You’re going to see more refugees. You’re going to see more bloodshed,” she added. “It’s been six years. Enough is enough.”
Nearly a year ago, the body of Kurdi’s nephew Alan Kurdi was photographed face down on a Turkish beach after the boat he and his family had hired to bring them to Europe after fleeing Syria capsized on the Mediterranean Ocean.
The only member of the family to survive was the father, who lost his wife and both of his sons in the capsizing.
Kurdi said she believes the image of her two-year-old nephew is different than the photograph of the boy in Aleppo, who was identified by a local doctor as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh.
“He was the wake-up call to the four or five years of silence,” Kurdi said about Alan’s death raising the profile of the war in Syria, her voice breaking.
“He was the message to wake up the people around the world. And he did, for a few months. And then everybody went back to business.”
Kurdi said she doesn’t support one side or the other in the Syrian conflict, but she’s frustrated by what she calls the Western media’s one-sided coverage of the war. The slanted reporting downplays the impact on civilians of American attacks and bolsters the Syrian rebels at the expense of peace, she said.
“In the West we are supporting regime change. It’s a ridiculous policy,” said Kurdi. “We did support regime change in Iraq. Look what happened.”