A Global Tribute for Aylan Kurdi

Obituaries are typically quite local. They appear in newspapers published geographically near to the person who has died, placed there by family members or friends who knew the deceased in day-to-day life. But this week, a stranger placed a death notice in The Sydney Morning Herald for someone they’d never met in person—a toddler named Aylan Kurdi.

Kurdi drowned as his family fled Syria aboard a boat. A photographer captured heartbreaking images of the child’s body being carried ashore, and the jarring photos have been shared worldwide. Some have recoiled from what they consider to be the shock-value voyeurism driving the photos’ viral spread, but others feel it’s necessary to share the upsetting images in order to raise awareness of the violence in Syria and the plight of the country’s refugees.

In placing Kurdi’s death notice, an unnamed person found a way to honor the child’s short life in a small way, drawing attention to his people’s plight. The notice reads:


You did not deserve to drown in the coldness of water and in the coldness of human indifference.
You were not a Migrant. You were not a Refugee. You were a 3yr old little boy wanting to play safely, away from the threats of violence and war.
In Heaven, you will be nursed by those who held you, by those who kissed you and by those who risked everything in the hope of you reaching the shores of safety.
Rest In Peace Aylan Kurdi. May God forgive us for failing you.

In the online Guest Book linked to the notice, Australians and others from around the world express their grief and love.

“The whole world loves you. God Bless.”

“My heart is broken. May you become a symbol for all that we must fight for. Rest in peace baby Aylan.”

Kurdi’s 5-year-old brother, Galip, and his mother, Rehan, also drowned. His father, Abdullah, returned to Syria with the bodies and buried them Sept. 4 in their hometown.

Aylan and Galip Kurdi (Facebook)