Another family has been reunited with their child that had been recruited by the PKK, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced Wednesday.
The Çetin family rejoined their son, who was abducted at the age of 13, for the first time in five years, thanks to persuasion efforts conducted by the Diyarbakır, Mardin and Şanlıurfa provincial gendarmerie forces.
Erdal Çetin’s family was protesting in front of the pro-PKK Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in southeastern Turkey’s Diyarbakır when he surrendered to security forces in Mardin’s Nusaybin district Tuesday.
“Diyarbakır mothers continue to write history. The 16th reunion will hopefully take place tomorrow,” Soylu said in a statement posted on his Twitter account Tuesday.
A group of families has been staging a sit-in protest in front of the HDP demanding the return of their sons and daughters, who were recruited to fight for the terrorists.
The HDP is accused by the government of having links to the PKK. The protesting mothers claim the party is responsible for kidnapping or tricking their children into joining the terrorist group.
The HDP, long facing public reaction and judicial probes over its ties to the PKK, is under pressure from this growing civilian protest movement. Various groups from around Turkey have supported the Kurdish mothers in their cause, with many paying visits to show their support.
The protest started when Hacire Akar turned up at the doorstep of the HDP’s Diyarbakır office one night after her son was abducted by the PKK. A week later, on Sept. 3, 2019, families inspired by Akar, transformed her solo stance into a collective sit-in protest.
Akar’s son Mehmet returned home on Aug. 24, giving hope to the other families.
Since then, 16 families have managed to reunite with their children thanks to the protest's success.
A significant number of suspected terrorists have fled the PKK and surrendered. More than 235 members surrendered to Turkish security forces in 2019. Once they surrender, former recruits are provided with many opportunities, including the right to education and the freedom to live without fear and oppression.
Many suspected terrorists lack the courage to leave the group because they fear severe punishment if caught. They are not ill-treated, can contact their families freely, and are provided with essential judicial assistance, while the Turkish state offers a variety of services to ensure their reintegration into society.