Tuesday 27 September 2016

Omran is my name, but the world cares only for my photo

Published 22/08/2016 | 02:30

Little has changed since the death of Aylan Kurdi Photo: AP Photo/DHA
Little has changed since the death of Aylan Kurdi Photo: AP Photo/DHA

Omran Daqneesh is my name.

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I am a three-year-old infant, but, the world knows this because I was photographed sitting in shock in an ambulance in Aleppo.

A photo wired around the world in nano-seconds like the photo of the drowned innocent infant, Aylan Kurdi, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, as his family sought a new life, almost a year ago.

Meanwhile, what has changed in Syria? Nothing for the innocent but pain and sorrow; even anger is useless today. I am with my family now, but what of my future? Will there be counselling for me to help me get over the trauma of a non-stop civil war in my country? Will I, or my compatriots, ever be able to come to terms with life? Or are we to be dismissed by the world at large as ignorant, backward people?

Where and when did this vast crime against my people start; when will it end?

Here I am today, totally innocent of any crime, yet the makers of bullets, bombs, and all manner of munitions boast and brag of their increase in sales, and the billions they profit by.

No doubt at their boardroom meetings they will proclaim: "We must send a donation to Unicef, or the Red Cross. Ten dollars should be sufficient: ensure you get a receipt for a tax credit." No tithes allowed.

Is this is to be the sum of Aylan Kurdi's life and my life? Mere civilian casualties of the immense profits for munitions manufacturers. What about our future lives? Do we not deserve them? My people hear of angst in the international media about the destruction of Palmyra and other ancient artefacts: surely the future of innocent people is of more importance than an ancient monument?

Alas, the desire for vast profits for a handful of families, from oil, a natural resource in the Middle East, must not be allowed to outweigh the need for the majority to be allowed live with human dignity in peace.

I, Omran Daqneesh, know exactly who is to blame for the civil war in my country. It is the interfering cabinet members of the UK; the US; of France; the EU; the dictators of Russia; Turkey, Iran and Middle East nations who are to blame, as they, like puppeteers, cast aside a puppet they no longer have need of or use for. The great American Operation Iraqi Freedom liberated millions of dollars for an elite.

"The ceremony of innocence is drowned. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

I, Omran Daqneesh, despite being in a state of shock, and 'unholy terror', as I sit in the back of an ambulance, being photographed, hope that common sense will prevail.

Through my photograph, I have spoken out to the world leaders. Through my tears I ask, do WB Yeats's words ring true in the year 2016?

Which are you: lacking all conviction or full of passionate intensity? Will you speak passionately for me and humanity, or be intensely silent?

Declan Foley, Berwick, Australia

Poland and war restitution

I write regarding Dominic Shelmerdine's and Grzegorz Kolodziej's letters (Irish Independent, August 19 and 20) on the subject of historical compensation to Poland.

As a large portion of Napoleon's army, which invaded Russia in 1812, was composed of Poles and these barbaric invaders caused untold havoc and destruction to Russia and its people, perhaps Poland should first make restitution, including the accrued interest since 1812, for the gross crimes of its ancestors in Russia before looking for historical compensation from others?

Micheal O'Cathail, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Olympics ticketing inquiry

It is hard to fathom what the non-statutory inquiry into the Olympic Games ticket controversy announced by Sports Minister Shane Ross will lead to, other than a plethora of populist media sound-bites from politicians.

Many organisations, both government-controlled, non-government and voluntary, incorporate the word 'Ireland' into their names.

That practice imposes the gravest responsibility on them for being the custodian of the honour, prestige and reputation of the nation.

If the honour, prestige and reputation of Ireland is made toxic or undermined by an institution, there is an onus on the entire leadership to resign, not to merely step aside at their own discretion and solely on their own terms. The achievement of this basic tenet of governance and accountability should not require a State-funded, quasi-judicial inquiry.

The nation's top athletes deserve to be adequately supported. The confidence of commercial sponsors in the global Olympic movement can only be restored if there is a basis for wider public trust, respect and universal public confidence.

Myles Duffy, Glenageary, Co Dublin

Best of times, worst of times

It was the best and worst of times for Team Ireland in Rio 2016 in Brazil.

The best was the two brothers, Gary and Paul O'Donovan, from Lisheen, near Skibbereen in west Cork, winning a silver, and with their immortal phrase "pulling like a dog"; the excellent sailor Annalise Murphy winning a silver after missing out by less than a second for a bronze in London 2012; and Thomas Barr from Waterford, the first Irish male sprint finalist in the Olympics in 80 years, coming in fourth in the 400m hurdles final and with a new Irish record of under 48 seconds. Fionnuala McCormack, 20th in the women's marathon with a new personal best, and Cork's Rob Heffernan, sixth in the 50km race walk - just three minutes behind the winner.

The boxing team had a very difficult time with the consensus, even from some Russian boxing coaches, being that Michael Conlan won his first fight.

London 2012 was the 'People's Olympics', but Rio 2016 often saw half-full stadiums through lack of interest or high ticket prices in a country in a severe recession. The opening ceremony reminded us of the riches of Brazil with its magnificent Amazon and how important it is for the world to look after it and the planet's unique land and underwater environments.

Rio 2016 could also be a watershed for the renewal of the Olympic movement.

The poet Maya Angelou wrote: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away" - like performances which won the USA the Team Gold in gymnastics in Rio 2016.

Mary Sullivan, Cork

Irish Independent

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