Mehmet Ciplak, the Turkish Gendarme Command Sergeant Major who was pictured gently cradling the tiny body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi after he was found lying face down at the edge of the Aegean Sea this week, has spoken about the ordeal with the Dogan News Agency.
He spoke about what he was thinking and feeling when he found Aylan Kurdi’s body lying on the beach like some piece of jetsam.
“I told myself ‘God I hope he’s alive,’ when I approached toddler Aylan. I craved, searched for a sign of life. However, I couldn’t find any signs. I felt sick at heart. People kept asking me how I’ve managed to carry a this heavy burden.”
A video showing Ciplak retrieving Aylan Kurdi’s limp body went viral after still images recording the macabre scene were first shared on Twitter.
Ciplak had been serving the Bodrum, Turkey community for more than three years when he found helpless Aylan Kurdi’s body on September 2. A major part of Command Sergeant Major Ciplak’s duties involve working to prevent calamities such as what the Kurdi family experienced. The Inquisitr previously reported on Aylan’s brother, Galip Kurdi, and his mother, Rehan Kurdi, who perished along with Aylan during the unsuccessful attempt to cross to the Greek island of Kos.
“We keep our shoulder to the wheel to prevent illegal transitions and tragedies of journey of hope of those who try to survive facing inhuman conditions, in a geography that they aren’t familiar with, after fleeing their home countries. To prevent these journeys of hope of people, who want nothing further then keeping their head above water conclude with disasters, we will keep working. I put myself in Aylan’s father’s place. Above all, I am father to a six-year-old boy. I thought of my own son, the moment I’ve faced the lifeless body of toddler Aylan and I immediately put myself in Aylan’s father’s place. This is an indescribable pain.”
Ciplak’s words are described as “sticking in his throat” while being interviewed.
“The gendarmerie command whom I have been serving has a vision of duty targeting to put persons in the center. Human life is more important than anything for us. I prayed the God to find Aylan alive. But he didn’t show any life signals. Some people fear of approaching lifeless bodies. Believe me, I was confronting the same feelings of a father who was holding the lifeless body of his own son in his arms, beyond feelings of a police force who was serving his duty.”
The interviewer asks if Ciplak was aware that he was being photographed.
“Believe me, I didn’t even think that image showing me carrying baby Aylan in my hands would be brought to the agenda of the world. As I’ve already stated, when I arrived at the scene, I saw a group of inhabitants. I wasn’t aware whether they were taking pictures. Within my duty, I launched investigations rapidly.”
“When I noticed the photos on the papers, media, I was shocked, of course. Once again, I confronted that pain. This was new for me, for my family. I received highly positive reactions from my relatives, my colleagues, and particularly my wife. Everybody has noticed the expression on my face. They asked me how I managed to carry such a burden in my arms. The image marks a bleeding wound.”
Ciplak refers to the plight of Syrian refugees such as Aylan Kurdi’s family as the “shame of humanity.”
“My sorrow would ease if this spark could grow to a greater fire which could extinct this fire.”
Video of the interview, conducted in Turkish, from the beach where Aylan Kurdi and the other members of the Kurdi family were found, is available from the Dogan News Agency.
[Screenshot Courtesy Dogan News Agency]