clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

Hopes wash up on Aegean coast as dead bodies

Posted by clandestina on 23 November 2009

source: http://www.todayszaman.com

Hopes wash up on Aegean coast as dead bodies

by

RECEP KORKUT*

Nothing has changed in the Aegean Sea. The journey of hope(lessness) for those searching for a future at the brink of despair ends in sorrow.

The lifeless bodies of six Palestinian children aged between 2 and 12 wash up on the shore. Over a week ago 19 Palestinians, of which more than half were children, were crammed into a small boat in the town of Turgutreis in Bodrum to head to the Greek Island of Kos. They brought nothing along with them except their dreams. But death interfered in the hopes of six children after the boat overturned 500 meters from the coast. The tragedy was mentioned as a disaster that had occurred between the two Aegean coasts, while the deaths of immigrants, which has come to be perceived as commonplace, were simply just another number for statistics. The invisibility of those who escape the difficult conditions in their homeland with the hope of establishing a normal life, even when they die, leads to the question of whether contemporary human rights are applied to everyone.

Death bells tolling for immigrants in Aegean

The Aegean Sea is the first border between the conflict-prone destitute East and South and wealthy Europe. The two coastlines of the Aegean, which is the scene of frequent journey-to-hope disasters, resemble two completely different worlds. But more often than not dreams end up drowning in the dark Aegean waters before passengers are able to reach the other world. The biggest disaster in this sea was the accident that killed 70 people near Seferihisar on Dec. 10, 2007. The tragedy coincided with World Human Rights Day, and dozens of hopeful passengers were not able to see the sun on that day. Over the past decades, hundreds and thousands of immigrants have been killed in the Aegean, and more death bells will toll for immigrants in the future.

As a result of Greece’s inhuman practices and nationalist chauvinism, the problem stopped being a human rights problem and became seen as a massive influx of immigrants. Turkey’s indifferent attitude and tendency to blame others resulted in turning the incidents in the Aegean into a dirty epic war. The fact that the victims and the people being killed are humans is not even mentioned. As for civil society organizations, the tragedies in the Aegean are trapped in an absolute human rights reference frame. Turkey and Greece are not the only sides to this problem — it is a “mutual” issue that concerns the entire world.

Emigration is a human right

Immigrants comprise the largest groups of people in the world and more people are becoming immigrants. Emigration today is more an escape from conflict and wars than a search for a new life. But it’s worth mentioning that the cause of most wars today is poverty, which creates a ground for conflict and displacement, especially in places where there is a vast difference in standards of living.

Certainly there is no magic spell that can resolve this issue, but if half of the global alliance formed around the disapproval of emigration formed around other matters, this issue would not be such a thorny problem. The global disturbance with immigration propels more countries to come together and reach an agreement than any other issue. Precautionary measures based on global cooperation must be taken until the real factors that cause people to become emigrants and refugees are resolved. Instead of trying to prevent emigration and convincing immigrants to stay home, more investments need to be made in countries that cause emigration.

Lastly, it’s also important to point out that emigration is a very rational choice and a natural human right. It would be a grave injustice to deprive people of this right. In order for people who are forced to emigrate to continue their life in an honorable fashion, we must not withhold this right from them.

Let me conclude with a statement that suits Immanuel Kant’s description of hospitality: Just as emigration is a natural right of every citizen, this right must be respected and these people must be welcomed inside.

*Recep Korkut is a social worker with the Association for Solidarity with Asylum-Seekers and Migrants (SGDD) and a journalist who has written articles about minorities, migration and refugees. recepk85@gmail.com

22.11.2009

Op-Ed

 

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