Another two families have joined the sit-in protest against the PKK's abduction of their children in front of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in southeastern Diyarbakır, having made the journey from northeastern Kars and southeastern Hakkari provinces Monday.
Aslıhan Buğan, a mother who joined the protest in search of her son Mahmut who was abducted by the PKK 22 years ago at the age of 18 from Kars, said, “The PKK has taken him and not given him back.”
Mahmut’s brother accompanied their mother, saying they saw the protests on TV and decided to join the sit-in in the hopes of being reunited with Mahmut.
Şahin Salim, another to have joined the sit-in, did so for his brother Nurullah Salim who was abducted at the age of 14 as a high school student. Salim called on his brother to surrender to security forces.
The two families joined the protest as the sit-in entered its 525th day. The protest started when Hacire Akar turned up on the doorstep of the HDP’s Diyarbakır office one night, demanding to be reunited with her son. Akar’s son Mehmet returned home on Aug. 24, 2019, giving hope to other families. A week later, on Sept. 3, 2019, families inspired by Akar staged a collective sit-in protest.
Since then, the number of families demanding the return of their children who, they say, were deceived or kidnapped by the terrorist group, has been gradually growing.
Families have not given up their post despite difficult conditions, at times being threatened or ridiculed by HDP officials and those with links to the PKK terrorist organization. The protest continued despite the coronavirus pandemic, with the families taking the necessary precautions. First lady Emine Erdoğan on Dec. 31 reaffirmed her support for the protesting mothers, saying in a Twitter post, "No matter how great the threat of a terrorist organization, it is doomed to be ineffective in the face of the warm hearts of mothers.”
A significant number of suspected terrorists have begun to flee the PKK and surrender but many terrorists lack the courage to leave the group out of fear of severe punishment if caught. More than 235 members surrendered to Turkish security forces in 2019, with 112 surrendering in 2020.
Once they surrender, former recruits are provided with a host of opportunities, including the right to an education and the freedom to live without fear and oppression.