The numbers joining the ranks of the PKK terrorist organization are at their lowest in 30 years, Turkey's interior minister said Thursday.
"There were 15,000 terrorists in the mountains. Now, this number has fallen to 700," said Süleyman Soylu, speaking at an event in Istanbul.
"Today, we see that the terror group's recruitment rate is at its lowest in the last 30 years," Soylu added.
Formed in 1978, the PKK terrorist group has been fighting the Turkish government for an independent state. Its terror campaign has caused the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women and children. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
In December 2018, Soylu said, the PKK saw its numbers of new enlistments plummet, and many of its members left as a result of the government's effective anti-terror policies.
He added that the terrorist group has been tricking young people into coming to their camps, where many of them faced sexual abuse. "There have not been any strong reactions from the West against the [PKK's] human rights violations," he said.
The senior figures' fearmongering at the PKK terrorist camps has often prevented young people from leaving, as they were told that they would be killed if they surrendered to security forces.
However, Turkish officials contact the families of these people, making sure they will not be harmed. When the person is persuaded to come back, the judicial process begins, and the former members provide information about the terrorist group.
According to an Interior Ministry report released in October 2018, the latest examination of numerous testimonies and interviews of former PKK terrorists portrayed a detailed picture of the terrorist organization's exploitation of children.
The report states that the testimonies of these former members mostly illuminate the period following the mid-1990s, which are full of "numerous undeniable human suffering stemming from random rapes and the executions of so-called traitors who were circulating such stories."