Another family joined the ongoing protest against the PKK terrorist organization in eastern Türkiye’s Van province on Thursday.
Şahin Salim said he joined because his older brother was kidnapped by the terrorist group in 2014 when he was just 14.
"My brother was kidnapped when he was at school and taken to the mountain. That's why I decided to take part in this protest," said Salim.
"I will be here until the end," he said as he encouraged his brother to lay down his arms. "They are deceiving you over there. My mother and father are suffering miserably. Come and surrender."
Another protester, Aynur Arslan, who is a part of the sit-in for her husband's brother, said demonstrators have been protesting for two years straight.
She said everyone wants the same thing: The reunion of families with their beloved children. Arslan said her brother-in-law was 25 and studying engineering at a university when the PKK deceived him.
"Our only wish from him is to come and surrender, to turn back to his home. They will not do anything good at the mountain," she said, urging other children to return.
The number of people protesting in Van has reached 34 while its predecessor – a protest in Diyarbakır – is similarly ongoing.
The protest started when Hacire Akar turned up at the doorstep of the Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) 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.
Demonstrations have since spread to other provinces, including Van, Muş, Şırnak and Hakkari.
Families have not given up their posts despite difficult conditions, at times being threatened or ridiculed by the HDP officials and those with links to the PKK terrorist organization. The protests continued despite the coronavirus pandemic, with the families taking the necessary precautions.
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.