Hacire Akar, a mother from Diyarbakır, is the symbol of a new protest movement against the PKK terrorist organization and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey. Her 22-year-old son Mehmet was taken to the HDP building in Diyarbakır by some of his "friends." To her dismay, she learned that her son joined the ranks of the PKK. This was shocking and disappointing for Akar because her son never showed any intention to join the terrorist group. She accused HDP representatives of recruiting her son and started a sit-in protest in front of the HDP's building in Diyarbakır. Four days into the protests, the HDP officials facilitated the return of her son. Hacire's bold effort encouraged other families that faced a similar fate to protest the HDP and other pro-PKK organizations.
These political and civil society actors play critical roles in the facilitation of new recruitment for the terrorist group.
There is mounting criticism of the PKK, the role played by the HDP and related "civil society organizations" that help the terrorist group recruit young people.
Previously, due to the threats posed by the PKK and its affiliates, families refrained from protesting or publicly criticizing the group and its activities.
However, Akar's protest became an inspiration for the families who either lost their sons and daughters to the terror group or those afraid of facing similar fate.
The PKK and its affiliates will most probably threaten and try to suppress the rising criticisms in the region, but the recent protests are a significant turning point. People in the region started to feel more comfortable to express their discontent against the terrorist organization after security operations against the PKK.
It is losing ground both in cities and in the rural areas due to the intensive security operations in the last two years. They are trying to instrumentalize their political wings to mobilize Kurdish youth and citizens in big cities like Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Diyarbakır.
Having lost its capacity in the rural areas, the PKK and its affiliates have now increased their propaganda and recruitment efforts in big cities. PKK is instrumentalizing the HDP and the HDP municipalities and the civil society organizations in the cities to radicalize Kurdish youth. There is, however, mounting dissent and criticisms against the administrators of the terror group in the Qandil mountains.
Qandil puts recruits with limited training to the front lines to fight the Turkish security forces. Many of the new militants die in the early months of their participation in the terror campaign. Now the Kurdish families in the region are more aware of the PKK's dirty tactics.
The PKK strategically tries to generate grievances and pain among the Kurdish families against Turkish security forces and the Turkish state for the recruitment of future militants. "Heroic stories" of the dead PKK militants are circulated and glorified to attract recruits.
Qandil was quite comfortable with the loss of young PKK militants since they considered these losses and consequent pains as the part of their "nation-building" strategy. Families of the Kurdish youth are more aware of the dirty tricks and the tactic of the terror group and its political affiliates.
Nowadays, due to the new security situation, they face difficulties in finding recruits. The PKK is also losing its senior militants in Turkish counterterrorism operations. Families of the Kurdish youth in the region are playing a more important role in preventing young people's recruitment by the PKK.
HDP municipalities offered job opportunities and financial compensation for the families of the young militants that join the PKK or for the terrorists that die during the operations of the Turkish security operations.
The resources of the municipalities are allocated to finance the PKK's activities. Some families were even offered job opportunities in HDP/Democratic Regions Party (DBP) municipalities in return of allowing one of their family members to join the PKK. Financial resources and the capacity of the HDP/DBP-governed local administrations are allocated to some terrorist activities.
Municipal staff usually do not perform their duties or provide services that are designated to them, neglecting the management of the towns and cities. The HDP and the civil society organizations that are affiliated to the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) then resort to the discourses of neglect and economic discrimination by the Turkish state to increase the grievances of the people in the region against the officials.
The tension between the PKK and the Kurdish population will increase as the people in the region will feel less pressure from the terrorist group. Due to effective anti-terror operations in the rural areas of the region and northern Iraq, the PKK is facing the most challenging period in its history.
The recruitment rate is historically low and the number of deaths among its ranks is increasing. The number is likely to increase in the coming months. The difficult task for the Turkish government is to maintain the active struggle against PKK terrorism on the one hand and maintain this struggle within the boundaries of the legal framework in order to not create new grievances.
Kurdish families will play a more central and persuasive role in containing the PKK's terror efforts.
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