A sit-in protest staged by the families of young people abducted or forcibly recruited by the PKK terror group, and its Syrian offshoot the YPG, entered its 1,000th day on Sunday, with thousands chanting against terrorism to show their support for the protesters.
The protest began on Aug. 22, 2019 when a Kurdish mother, Hacire Akar, started a sit-in in the city of Diyarbakir outside the office of the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) – a party accused of links to terrorism – accusing the party of brainwashing her son into joining the terror group.
The tearful mother’s reunion with her son in the subsequent days gave a glimmer of hope to scores of families in the same shoes, and the sit-in launched by three other mothers on Sept. 3 transformed into a massive demonstration over the years, with hundreds of parents and relatives joining the sit-in to bring back their beloved ones.
The site on Sunday was packed with thousands of people, including protesters, officials, locals, and people coming from other Turkish provinces, all shouting slogans slamming PKK/YPG terrorism and the alleged HDP role in the abductions.
Showing his support in a phone call, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that the strong stance of the protesters gave a clear message of hope for hundreds of others whose children were abducted by the PKK/YPG.
He added that Turkiye would eliminate terror nests abroad in line with its counter-terrorism goals, and make sure that Turkish territories and people would not be struck by terrorist attacks.
“I hope we will soon complete a 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) security corridor we are establishing along our border with Syria to eliminate the structure deceiving our children, taking them to the mountains," Erdogan said.
‘Heart ripped from my chest’
Aysegul Bicer, another mother who reunited with her child during her protest, called on the demonstrators’ PKK-recruited relatives to flee the terror group and surrender to Turkish security forces.
“We are determined to bring back all of our children, we stand firm and will not leave (the protests) until each and every one of them are back,” she said.
“The abduction of my child simply ripped the heart out of my chest, nothing has been the same ever since,” said Ayten Elhaman, another protester. “Even if our sons and daughters cannot return, our protest will at least protect other young boys and girls from the claws of the PKK.”
Speaking at the event, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu delivered a speech saying the parents’ struggle revealed the true colors of the PKK/YPG, which he accused of threatening them since the start of the protest.
The unity and harmony of the protesters and the NGOs, unions, political figures, and citizens in attendance deals a heavy blow to the PKK/YPG, he said, adding that their fight will help derail the terror group’s recruitment process as more and more people learn about how the group sends their children to perish on foreign land for a murderous cause.
According to the families, the vast majority of the abductees, mostly via brainwashing, were taken to northern Iraq and Syria by terror affiliates to join the ranks of the PKK and YPG, its Syrian branch, and were used to fight against Turkish Armed Forces (TAF).
While some were younger than 10, about 40% were below age 18, according to statistical data provided by police authorities. Additionally, some 30% of them were girls.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is its Syrian offshoot.
State prosecutors have filed a case with Turkiye's top court to close down the HDP due to its reported ties with the terrorist PKK, which many officials say the HDP is only a front group for. The ties between the two groups have been documented in many reports and news stories.