Three years after she was brainwashed into joining the PKK terrorist organization, Leyla Güneş reunited with her mother after miraculously escaping from the group.
She was 15 years old when her mother, Ayfer Güneş, joined 47 parents who staged an unprecedented rally in southeastern Turkey to stand against the PKK's recruitment of children. Leyla was persuaded by a pro-PKK group to attend a picnic in the countryside where she and others were exposed to terrorist propaganda and was eventually convinced to join the militants. Ayfer Güneş took part in a sit-in calling on the terrorist organization to return her daughter to her family in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, where the PKK exploits opportunities to recruit people in support of its aims of Kurdish self-rule. The PKK, having killed hundreds in the past two years alone in its violent campaign against the state, has ignored the demands. Three months ago, Leyla decided to turn herself in to security forces in the eastern city of Tunceli. When a military unit approached the cave where she was hiding with other militants, Leyla began running toward them to surrender, but militants threw grenades at her before spraying gunfire at her.
Soldiers managed to kill and capture them and Leyla was thought to be dead with multiple wounds. It was only in a hospital's morgue that it was discovered she was alive when attendants saw the body bag moving. She was taken to intensive care and started recovering after one month of treatment. Ayfer Güneş was finally able to talk to her daughter recently after she underwent numerous surgeries. She is now recovering in a prison in the eastern city of Elazığ where she is being held on terrorism charges. She invoked the remorse law, which grants freedom to PKK members who surrender, and she is waiting for her application to be concluded.
"I thank God that I found my daughter again, even though she has been injured. May God bless everyone who is helping her. The state helped her recover, but she is still not completely healed. She suffered from trauma and sometimes she does not recognize me. She is always crying and wants to return home. I hope the state will help us to be together again," Ayfer Güneş said.
The PKK is accused of recruiting children and teenagers with the assistance of its supporters across the country. Reports in the Turkish media claim 700 children, or those under the age of 18, have been forcibly recruited by the terrorist organization since 2013. The PKK focuses on recruiting younger militants as it has difficulty finding support for its activities.