Aylan Kurdi’s father denies claims he was a people smuggler and driving boat that capsized and led to son’s death

Abdullah Kurdi, who has returned to Syria, said that the claims were ‘all lies’

Andrew Griffin
Sunday 13 September 2015 14:58
Aylan Kurdi stands in front of a neighbour's ruined home in Kobani
Aylan Kurdi stands in front of a neighbour's ruined home in Kobani

The father of Aylan Kurdi, the young boy pictured washed up on a Turkish beach, has been accused of lying about the circumstances of his family’s death.

Abdullah Kurdi has denied claims that he was to blame for the capsizing of a boat that led to the death of at least 12 refugees and refuted allegations he acted as a people smuggler.

A photo of Aylan Kurdi’s body, lying on a beach on Bodrum after he had drowned, prompted global outrage and pledges from countries around the world to help with Syria’s refugee crisis.

Abdullah Kurdi said in the aftermath of the incident he had been forced to take over control of the boat after the man steering it, a Turk, had leapt overboard when it got into trouble.

But passengers on the same tragic journey have claimed that Aylan’s father was driving the boat from the start of the journey.

Other refugees making the journey said he was involved in people smuggling and had been driving the boat when disaster struck. Mr Kurdi, who lost his wife and two children in the disaster and has said that someone else was driving the boat, said that the claims are “all lies”.

Zainab Abbas, an Iraqi refugee who was on the same boat as Mr Kurdi and his family, claimed that Mr Kurdi had been steering the boat when it got into trouble. He had been driving it too fast and lost control, she told an Australian news channel.

The same claims were made by fellow passengers Ahmed Hadi Jawwad and his wife, who lost their two children during the same crossing.

Mr Kurdi has angrily denied the claims.

"The story that (Aylan's father) told is untrue,” Mr Jawwad told Reuters. “I don't know what made him lie, maybe fear.

"He was the driver from the very beginning until the boat sank."

Mr Jawwad said that Mr Kurdi had panicked during rough seas and accelerated after a wave hit the boat, leading it to collapse, according to Reuters.

Both Mr Jawwad and Ms Abbas said that Mr Kurdi had told them to cover up his involvement in the incident.

“This is not true,” he told MailOnline. “If I was a people smuggler, why would I put my family in the same boat as the other people? I paid the same amount to the people smugglers.”

Mr Kurdi has blamed Turkish people smugglers for the incident.

Ms Abbas lost two of her children in the same disaster.

“'I know there was an Iraqi family on the boat and two children had died - a boy and a girl. I don't know why Zainab is saying that.

“She had the same as me - she lost her children, I lost my children.

“I have three graves in front of me and I have no one.”

Aylan Kurdi drowned along with at least 11 other people after the boat he was in hit problems during its crossing from Turkey to Greece. Pictures of the child’s body, which was later found washed up on a Turkish shore, became a defining moment in Europe’s refugee crisis.

The Kurdi family had paid €4000 (£2900) to get from Bodrum to Greece on a small dinghy, according to previous reports.

When the sea became rough, the Turkish people smugglers abandoned the boat, leaving the passengers onboard, according to local reports.

“I was holding my wife’s hand,” Mr Kurdi has said. “My children slipped away from my hands.

“We tried to hold on to the boat. Everyone was screaming in pitch darkness.”

Aylan was laid to rest in a ceremony in war-torn Kobani last week.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in