Another family has joined the protests against the PKK terrorist group in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır province on Saturday as Turkey’s fight against terrorism continues with both domestic and cross-border operations.
Coming from eastern Bingöl province, Ahmet Bayram, the father of Arafat, who was abducted and taken to the mountains seven years ago, joined the protest on Saturday.
Bayram said that his son was working at a restaurant in Istanbul's Umraniye district and he was deceived by the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
"I begged them (HDP) in Istanbul but it was no use, they refused to return my son to me," he said.
He has visited the HDP building every year for the past seven years to find his son, but to no avail. Bayram urged his son to surrender to Turkish security forces.
Families in Diyarbakır province have been protesting since Sept. 3, 2019, encouraging their children who were abducted or forcibly recruited by the terrorist group to give up their weapons and surrender to Turkish authorities.
Protests in Diyarbakır outside the office of the HDP started with three mothers who said their children had been forcibly recruited by the terrorists.
The HDP, long facing public scrutiny and judicial probes over its ties to the PKK, is under pressure from the growing civilian movement. Various groups from around Turkey have supported the Kurdish mothers in their cause, with many paying visits to show their solidarity.
The dissolution of the PKK has accelerated due to Turkey's successful counterterrorism operations and strategies both at home and abroad. In recent years, Turkey has seen record numbers of PKK terrorists giving themselves up in the face of determined domestic and cross-border counterterrorism operations. Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence.
Once the terrorists surrender, they are provided with many opportunities, including the right to education and the freedom to live without fear of oppression. They are not ill-treated, can contact their families freely and are provided with essential judicial assistance. The Turkish state offers a variety of services to ensure their social reintegration. According to some former terrorists, PKK ringleaders risk the lives of others to save their own and threaten those planning to surrender with torture.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that two terrorists linked to the PKK’s Syrian wing, the YPG, were eliminated in Syria’s Operation Peace Spring area while another was eliminated in the Euphrates Shield area.
Elsewhere, security forces eliminated another three PKK terrorists in northern Iraq’s Gara, where Ankara’s counterterrorism operations continue. The PKK often hides out in northern Iraq, just across Turkey's southern border, to plot terrorist attacks in Turkey.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) regularly conducts cross-border operations in northern Iraq. Turkey has long stressed that it will not tolerate terrorist threats posed against its national security and has called on Iraqi officials to take the necessary steps to eliminate the terrorist group. Ankara previously noted that if the expected steps were not taken, it would not shy from targeting terrorist threats itself.
PKK elements are being heavily targeted in the Metina, Avashin-Basyan, Zap and Qandil regions in northern Iraq. In addition to F-16 fighter jets, the operations are being supported by border artillery units, fire support elements in forward base areas and attack helicopters.
In a separate statement, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar marked the establishment of Turkey’s ground forces and said: “With operations conducted in northern Syrian and Iraq, the attempted formation of a terror corridor in our country’s south has been destroyed and the security of our borders and the innocent local people who have tied their hopes to us has been ensured.”