“Alan Kurdi is not just one person. In 2015, everyday two persons, two young children just like him drowned”
One year ago, three-year-old Alan Kurdi from the Syrian town of Kobani was found lying face down on a Turkish beach. His family, along with other refugees, had been trying to reach the Greek island Kos. The Kurdi family were attempting to flee to family in Canada. At least 12 others drowned that day, including his five-year-old brother Galip and his mother Rehan.
The image of Alan, lifeless on the beach, was circulated across the world to mass, grave outrage, a spark of humanity in what had been a wholly ruthless refugee crisis.
Ai Weiwei, the renowned Chinese artist, posed as the drowned child for a piece last year that raised awareness of the crisis. Speaking in a new video for the UN Refugee Agency, he said: “Refugee issue is not a local or regional issue. It’s a human rights issue, it’s about fundamental values which touch everybody.”
“Alan Kurdi is not just one person. In the past year, in 2015, everyday two persons, two young persons just like him drowned. It’s very important to put myself in that condition and I always believe you have to be involved, you have to act.”
“Refugee is not someone who’s not fortunate. If someone is unfortunate that means we are all unfortunate. We have to always think as one.”
The artist has consistently used his work to draw public attention to the refugee plight. In Vienna, Austria last year, Ai Weiwei also created an installation using 1,005 worn lifejackets. He closed his Copenhagen exhibition ‘Ruptures’ three months early in protest at the Danish government’s decision to pass a controversial law confiscating valuables from refugees seeking asylum in the country, and he's also currently working on a film with 600 hours of footage collected on his trips to the camps and borders.
Alan Kurdi’s father recently spoke to the BBC, pleading that the world doesn’t forget the crisis going on.
“Every day I think of them but today I felt as though they had come to me and slept with me. This makes me sad again,” Abdullah Kurdi said.
"At first the world was anxious to help the refugees. But this did not even last a month. In fact, the situation got worse. The war has escalated and more people are leaving. I hope that all the leaders of the world can try and do good and stop the wars, so that the people can go back to normal life.”