Turkish governor invokes human rights in Aegean disaster

At least 51 migrants drowned trying to cross from Turkey to Greece—and the European Union—when their boat sank in rough weather Dec. 9. The boat was carrying about 70 Palestinians, Iraqis and Somalians when it sank off Seferihisar, in the Aegean province of Izmir. Rescuers saved six; the death toll is expected to rise. Izmir’s Gov. Orhan Sefik Güldibi noted the irony that the disaster happened on the eve of International Human Rights Day.

Said Gov. Güldibi: “Today, December 10 is the day of World Human Rights. These people who lost their lives here came here to try this dangerous way because they had no peace and job in their country. Coast guards are continuously controlling borders for illegal immigration. Within the last year, 350 illegal immigrants were arrested while trying to enter Greece.”

Meanwhile, in a similar accident near Gazipasa, Antalya province, a boat carrying six Uzbek citizens and a Turkish captain also sank Dec. 9. The captain and three Uzbeks were rescued, and efforts to find the others are underway. The three rescued Uzbeks are to be deported. (Turkish Daily News, NYT, Dec. 11)

See our last posts on the Turkey, and Europe’s immigration crisis.