Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Piano Man, Redacted

What the Sydney Morning Herald's Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard can write about Palestinian refugee, Ayham al-Ahmad:

"Even as he walks along the border from Croatia into Austria, pianist Ayham al-Ahmad is singing the songs of Yarmouk.

"He is a long way from the neighbourhood he called home for 27 years, a home he was forced to flee in April when Islamic State militants took control of much of Yarmouk, the besieged Palestinian refugee camp just 6 kilometres from the centre of Damascus.

"Since then he has made the trek from Syria into Turkey and down to the Mediterranean coastal city of Izmir where tens of thousands of Syrians have made the short but dangerous passage to Greece.

"Documenting every step of his journey on Facebook, the famous piano player of Yarmouk made a quiet, heartfelt plea for safety as he prepared for the sea crossing.

"'Dearest Mediterranean, I am Ayham and I would like to safely ride your waves,' he wrote on September 14. 'People here just want to go to Europe, [they are] paying through their noses for it. They ride in dinghies prone to overturning in seconds, taking all their lives to your deepest canyons. So what's the solution? We would like Turkey to open its borders with Greece and let us board overland in safety, away from the boats of death,' he wrote, signing off: 'This is Yarmouk, from the heart of Turkey, Ayham.'

"The days when I felt the most helpless were when I had money, but I could not get milk for my year-old baby Kinan, or when my older son Ahmad would ask me for a biscuit,' he told Agence France-Presse of leaving his wife and two young children behind - for now - to find a secure place in Europe where he can bring them.

"Ahmad held out for two years as the situation in Yarmouk deteriorated, moving his piano onto an old wooden trolley that he could wheel out of danger whenever the militants got too close or the regime shelling proved too dangerous.

"When he finally decided to move his family out of Yarmouk to the neighbouring suburb of Yalda in April, militants from IS stopped him at a checkpoint.

"They burnt his beloved piano to the ground in front of him, declaring: 'don't you know that music is haram [forbidden by Islam],' AFP reported.

"By the time he made it to Turkey's coast, Ahmad was exhausted and suspicious of the people smugglers who were making their fortune off the desperation of those fleeing the conflict in Syria.

"'We got into the inflatable boat and we made a deal with the smuggler that he wouldn't let more than 40 persons to get in it with us,' Ahmad wrote on Facebook on September 16. 'I was surprised to find more than 67 persons and a lot of baggage.'

"To everyone's great relief, he posted again the next day: 'After a dangerous trip through the Mediterranean Sea I arrived to Greece, thanks for all the prayers and wishes, I love you all very much.'

"By Monday, Ahmad had become one of the 12,000 to 13,000 refugees who had entered Austria in just 24 hours between Sunday and Monday. He is counting down the days before he can send for his family." (Famous pianist escapes to Austria, 23/9/15)

Presumably, this is what Pollard can't write about Ayhan: To find a place of refuge, a Palestinian refugee such as Ayhan has to travel all the way from Damascus to Vienna, a journey of around 2,330 kms. His ancestral homeland, Palestine, known since 1948 to its usurpers as 'Israel', is less than 100 kms from Damascus, but if Ayhan tried to return there, he'd be shot dead at the border... simply because he's not Jewish.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One important fact is overlooked in the case of Ayham, the residents of Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria and all Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

This fact is that Palestinian refugees of whatever religion, driven from their homes by political Zionism, will not be registered with the UN High Commission for Refugees [UNHCR].

Palestinian refugees, as the worlds largest refugee population, have their own special UN body the UN Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] which purports to look after their interests but is starved of funds and ignored.

Australia has said that it will seek "minority" refugees from the UNHCR. Therefore no Palestinians.

Ayham would not be interviewed or considered for refugee status by Australia no matter how deserving or how talented he proved to be. Even if he passed "The Israel Test".

That is one reason a special body was set up just for Palestinian refugees. Imagine treating all refugees equally? Imagine Zionist friendly countries like the USA or Australia putting their hands in their pockets to fund Palestinian refugees? If Palestinian refugees are excluded from the one UN body that purports to help refugees we have refugee Apartheid.