"I would like to see my daughter's wedding too," said a Kurdish mother yesterday; her daughter was abducted by the PKK, and she spoke as she looked at the photographs of the wedding of a child of a well-known deputy from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The HDP is being accused of assisting the PKK in its abduction of children despite publicizing itself as the defender of Kurdish rights.
This cry by Hatice Levent was heard on the 69th day of sit-in protests, which have been ongoing in front of the HDP headquarters in southeastern Diyarbakır province, by Kurdish mothers longing for the return of their abducted children. Levent's daughter Fadime was abducted by the PKK in 2015 in eastern Bitlis province, while she was an 18-year-old college student. After four long years of sorrow, Levent came from the northwestern province of Kütahya to join the protests in Diyarbakır on Sept. 22. Having had enough, the mother, with tears in her eyes, showed photographs of Sırrı Süreyya Önder's daughter's wedding which took place in 2015, the year her daughter was abducted.
"Where is my daughter? Give my child back. I want to see my daughter as a bride and have a wedding for her as well. As a mother, I'm tired. Damn this terrorism," said Levent, questioning the conditions of her daughter compared to the daughter of Önder and other HDP deputies and whether it's fair or not.
"Our children did not want to end up like this. I want my Fadime back," she said.
The HDP, long facing public reactions and judicial probes over its ties to the PKK, is under pressure due to this growing civilian protest launched by mothers and local families. Families are accusing the party's leaders of sacrificing regular people's children while providing luxurious lives for their own kids. Previously, photos of party co-chair Pervin Buldan's son in a luxury car in Paris were pointed to by the families. Another photo showed Buldan's daughter sitting in a cafe in London. Other photos showed Buldan's son, Neçirvan, resting near a villa swimming pool.
Despite all the accusations and sorrow that is surrounding the party, the HDP still turns a blind eye to Kurdish families and even goes as far as to threaten them.
According to a protesting father, Süleyman Aydın, the party does not want them to protest in front of the headquarters and often utters threats, saying that their youth "will do what it takes [to teach them a lesson]."
"They are the ones who abducted our children and yet, they are also the ones who threaten, confront us," said Aydın.
"What more do you want from us?" Aydın cried, highlighting that the terrorist group has already caused them massive suffering. Aydın expressed that the terrorist group, which is based on threats and lies, have caused nothing but suffering for 40 years. "Let them stop making politics out of our children," he added.
Calling for the Turkish public to realize the true face of the terrorist group, Aydın said that their portrayal as Kurdish rights defenders is nothing but fake publicity.
"If their main point was being Kurd, today those [HDP] deputies would be right here, alongside me. They used to knock on my door and tell me 'we are Kurds as well so give your vote to us'. Then, why they are not with me right now?" he asked.
"They want to silence us. They confront us every day and threaten us. What is the point of these threats? We have not asked for your positions [as deputies], we only ask for our children," he said.
Initially, a lone protest was started by mother Hacire Akar in front of the HDP provincial organization in Diyarbakır last month. Akar wanted to see the return of her 21-year-old son Mehmet Akar, who had been missing for three days after he was abducted by the PKK terrorist group. Following her sit-in, and with the help of security forces in Diyarbakır, Akar was finally reunited with her son.
Omay's words reflect those of other Kurdish mothers protesting, all of whom are demanding the return of their long-lost children with the fear of losing them forever.
Currently, 56 Kurdish families have been participating in the protests.
Another mother, Süheyla Demir, is participating in the protests with her year-and-a-half-old daughter Asmin, who is there for her sister Hayal who was abducted five years ago while she was only 17.
"We have never lost hope. We hope to eventually receive good news and return home happy with our children. We will not leave without our children," she said, underlining how much she missed her daughter.
"If they were Kurds, if they were defending our rights, they would be with us right now," Demir said, referring to the HDP deputies.
"They are not defending us, they are kidnapping our children and taking them to the mountains," said Demir, adding that they at least deserve an explanation from the HDP.
She also called on other Kurdish families with abducted children to join the protests, saying that the larger the number the higher the chance of reaching the children.