Mothers in eastern Turkey long to reunite with PKK-abducted children

By Sener Toktas and Ibrahim Yaldiz

BITLIS/MUS, Turkey (AA) – Mothers in eastern Turkey are waiting for the day when they will reunite with their children, who were abducted or forcibly recruited by the PKK terrorist group.

The families of the children have been protesting since Sept. 3, 2019 in southeastern Diyarbakir province, encouraging their children to give up their weapons and surrender to authorities.

Holding the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) responsible for the kidnapping of their children, mothers have also been staging sit-ins in various provinces, including eastern Van and Mus. The government accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK.

Saliha Mert, one of the protesting mothers from Bitlis province, told Anadolu Agency that her son was deceived and taken to the mountains from Istanbul by the PKK in 2015 when he was only 17 years old.

“I don’t know where my child is now,” said Mert, who joined a protest in Diyarbakir province.

She said she was told that her son died, but they did not return his body to the family.

“I feel that my son is alive. I go to the protest in Van province as well,” she said, adding she hopes for the return of her son and the children of all the other mothers.

Gulbahar Teker, who joins the protest outside the HDP office in Mus province every week, said her son was abducted eight years ago.

Supporting the sit-in initiated by mothers in Diyarbakir province, Teker said she has been protesting for nearly two years now, and they started the protest in Mus province two months ago.

“We will continue to protest. We aren’t afraid. We will not leave here until our children come back,” she said.

Teker called on her son to give in to security forces.

In Turkey, offenders who are linked to terrorist groups and surrender are eligible for possible sentence reductions under a repentance law, including relatives of the protesting families.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

*Writing by Sena Guler