News, Turkey

Mothers of young PKK recruits appeal for their return

The families of children and teenagers recruited by the terrorist organization PKK renewed their calls to the group to let their children return.

Ahead of Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim festival where relatives living in different cities traditionally reunite, families urged the PKK to send their children back.

Hamide Ayhan, a mother of nine, had her two children tricked into joining the militant faction. One of them has been with the terrorist organization since 1993, while her daughter, a medical student, joined the PKK last year. “We have nothing to be happy about since they left. I watch TV every day to see any news on the PKK so that one day they will announce the release of my children,” she said. Ayhan is especially concerned about her daughter who was a senior student at a medical school in Istanbul when she went missing before the news came that she joined the PKK. “She has diabetes and has to take medication every day. How could she take have her medication in the mountains?” she asked, referring to the PKK camps in Northern Iraq’s mountainous terrain. “She might be dead for all I know, but I still have hope. I ask them to release my daughter so I can celebrate both eid and her return,” she said.

Last year, a group of Kurdish families staged a months-long sit-in in Diyarbakır, a southeastern province with a large Kurdish population and a brief hunger strike to protest the recruitment of their children as young as 15 by the terrorist organization. Turkey was long plagued by the PKK’s bloody campaign of terror for Kurdish self-rule in the southeast, which killed tens of thousands over three decades. The government-initiated reconciliation process is viewed as a relief from the constant threat by the PKK. But the country is still far from resolving the issue, as the PKK avoids giving up its arms and seeks more concessions from Turkey.

Boze Tunç, the mother of a psychology student who was persuaded to join the PKK, was diagnosed with cancer after she learned her son Mazlum “went to the mountain,” the colloquial term for the PKK. “We want peace and we appeal to everyone who can bring it. It has been four eids [two years] since he’s been gone and the cheerful mood of eid has eluded us since,” she said. Tunç criticized the sides imposing conditions on the reconciliation process. “A solution is long overdue,” she stressed.

Resource: Daily Sabah, July 12, 2015

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