The family of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler whose body washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015, says they’re heartbroken that the story of his death is being made into a movie without their permission.
Turkish producer Omer Sarikaya posted on social media saying shooting for Aylan Babek, which features American actor Steven Seagal, began a few days ago. The title of the movie translates to English as “Baby Aylan”.
Alan’s aunt Tima Kurdi, who lives in Port Coquitlam, said her brother Abdullah — Alan’s father — called her in anguish to tell her the news.
WATCH: (Sept. 2, 2016) What has changed one year after drowning of Syrian refugee child Alan Kurdi?
Kurdi said the family has received many requests to picturize the story over the years — but they, and especially Abdullah, are just not ready.
“We are sensitive about it. We cannot see Alan coming alive and acting,” Kurdi said.
Kurdi says the cast and crew of the movie should never have done this without permission.
“Steven Seagal — one day, he’s gonna feel ashamed,” Kurdi said. “Because it’s disrespectful for the family. He cannot do that. He can’t. How much do you know about my family, Steven?”
Not a lot, Kurdi said.
“First of all, they call it Aylan. Aylan is not his name. Alan is his name. A-L-A-N.”
Photos of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body on Turkish shores sent shockwaves through the international community when he died. The family fled the war-ravaged city of Kobani and was trying to get to the Greek island of Kos and onward to a safer life.
His mother, Rehana, and brother, Ghalib, also died when the smugglers’ boat they were in capsized.
Tima Kurdi said she encourages use of the striking photos, because it raises awareness about the migrant crisis. But she said it crosses the line for the filmmakers to hire a child to act Alan Kurdi’s part without the permission of his family.
Kurdi said the filmmakers have announced September 2nd, the anniversary of Alan’s death, as the release date for the film.
Global News has reached out to Sarikaya for comment.