DIYARBAKIR, Turkey 

A group of aggrieved families in southeastern Turkey marked the first anniversary Thursday of a sit-in protest against the YPG/PKK terror group.

The protest began on Sept. 3 last year in the city of Diyarbakir when Fevziye Cetinkaya, Remziye Akkoyun and Aysegul Bicer said their children had been forcibly recruited by PKK terrorists.

Taking place outside the office of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which the government accuses of having links to the YPG/PKK, it has been growing day by day since then.

Hacire Akar, who claimed her son was kidnapped and brought to the mountains by the YPG/PKK — started a sit-in protest in front of the Diyarbakir headquarters of the HDP on Aug. 22, 2019.

After she was reunited with her child on Aug. 24 as a result of her determined struggle, other mothers began to gain hope.

Taking Akar’s struggle as an example, three more mothers — Fevziye Cetinkaya, Aysegul Bicer and Remziye Akkoyun — started a fresh sit-in on Sept. 3, 2019.

The number of families coming from all over the country to protest over the pain of being separated from their children reached 150.

Nothing stopped sit-in protest

The families continued their protest during the baking-hot summer and cold winter.

From the very beginning, the mothers took turns protesting with their husbands in front of the Diyarbakir headquarters of the HDP.

While the mothers were protesting, their husbands nurtured their children at home.

Some mothers continued the demonstrations with their children under difficult conditions, sometimes sleeping on the sidewalk or fainting from exhaustion.

The families have not given up their protests even amid the novel coronavirus pandemic which has affected the whole world.

Fifteen families have so far been reunited with their children thanks to the protests while others are longing to embrace their children.

The families rejoiced at every child who ran away from the terrorist organization as if they were their own. The mothers also shed tears because they did not hug their children.

Mothers who were united with their children also joined with those in front of the Diyarbakir headquarters of the HDP from time to time to support the sit-in protest.

Members of the HDP, who did not want to deal with the pain of the mothers, temporarily shut down the Diyarbakir headquarters and decided to carry out the party’s activities at its district branch for some time.

Kidnapped children forced to discourage families

The terrorist organization tried every way to discourage families from their sit-in protest.

Protesting mothers were insulted by some party members and were also subjected to threats while going home or visiting markets.

In its publications, the terrorist organization also tried to openly threaten mothers and discredit the actions of the families.

In interviews made with kidnapped children by publications of the terrorist organization, mothers were asked to halt their sit-in protest.

Protests go beyond the limits

The appeal of the sit-in of families in Turkey to all mothers whose children were kidnapped by the terrorist organization was responded to from Germany’s capital Berlin.

Maide T., a German-Turkish mother living in Berlin whose child Nilufer T. was kidnapped by the PKK terror group on Nov. 12, 2019, starting staging a protest in front of an association known to be affiliated with the terror group on Feb. 29.

She then continued her protest in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office in Berlin due to the insensitivity of the German authorities.

On July 25, protesting mothers in Turkey met with Maide T. via video conference. Mothers and fathers from Turkey conveyed their support to Maide T, who is struggling alone in Germany.

A photo of Nilufer T. was placed next to those of other kidnapped children in a tent in Diyarbakir.

Deceived children escape from PKK through persuasive efforts

Security forces dealt a huge blow to the PKK terrorist organization with successful operations in Turkey and abroad. In addition, the security forces use persuasive techniques to save kidnapped and deceived children from the PKK.

Children who are deceived by the PKK regret their decision after seeing their family members taking part in sit-in protests and try to escape from the organization.

In collaboration with the families, security forces have convinced 719 members of the organization to lay down their arms in four years.

The number of terrorists who surrendered to security forces has risen to 146 since Jan. 1.

Support for sit-in protest came from all segments of society

Protesting mothers whose only desire was to reunite with their kidnapped children made their voices heard across Turkey.

Turkey’s first lady Emine Erdogan also visited the grieving mothers, to whom President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expresses his support at every opportunity.

Turkey’s cabinet members, including Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Family, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zumrut Selcuk paid a visit to Diyarbakir to be in solidarity with the families as well.

In addition to ambassadors and politicians, thousands of people from all walks of life including artists, journalists, writers, sportsmen, representatives of non-governmental organizations, opinion leaders, clergymen, martyrs’ relatives, veterans, tradesmen, teachers and expatriates have paid visits.

People who came for support sometimes shared the grieving families’ sorrow, and sometimes tears were shed with the families.

Numerous artists, journalists, writers and television hosts met with the families, listened to what they have been going through and conveyed their support.

Support from Europe

Ambassadors from foreign missions in Turkey paid visits to protesting mothers and fathers seeking the return of their children abducted by the YPG/PKK terrorist group.

Among the nine senior visitors of the families were Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey Andrii Sybiha, Britain’s ambassador to Turkey Dominick John Chilcott, India’s ambassador to Turkey Sanjay Bhattacharyya, a member of the European Parliament, Tomas Zdechovsky, and the European Parliament’s Turkey co-rapporteurs, Jakob Wienen and Yoomi Renstrom.

In addition, Turkish expats from Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Austria visited the grieving families to show their support.

Members of the Sub-Commission on the Rights of the Convicted and Arrested of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly (TBMM), the head of Turkey’s Press Bulletin Authority, Ridvan Duran, and the head of the Board of Ethics for Civil Servants, Koksal Toptan, also visited the families and showed support.

 ‘We will continue our protest resolutely until no child is left in the mountains’

Zekiye Bozdag, one of the first protesters who initiated the sit-in, said she started the protest with her family members for her brother Suleyman, who was deceived and kidnapped by the PKK on Aug. 30, 2019.

“We all left our children behind us to come here,” she said.

“We will continue our protest resolutely until there is not a single child left on the mountain. We want our children from the HDP, dead or alive.”

Bozdag stressed that her mother Fevziye Cetinkaya laments for her child every day at home.

“I hope all deceived children will reunite with their families. I hope my brother Suleyman surrenders to justice as well. Even during the coldest days, we come and continue the sit-in protest.

“Of course, we experienced difficulties. We were coming and protesting with our children even on the days we were sick. Nothing was more difficult than the grief over my brothers’ absence,” she added.

‘I want my son back’

Aysegul Bicer, one of the mothers who initiated the sit-in for her 17-year-old abducted son Mustafa, said she has been fighting for her son for two years.

Stating that they had left a year behind in the sit-in protest, Bicer said: “Enough is enough! I’ve got two daughters. This struggle should continue not to sacrifice my two daughters to them as well. We are not scared and we are not going to obey them.”

Bicer said she is Kurdish and the state gives her all kinds of rights. She added that the PKK should take its dirty hands off their children.

“I rightfully want my son back, to whom I gave birth to. This struggle will not end until I take my child from them. I devoted my life to this struggle. I will get my son back from them.Fifteen families reunited with their children in a year. We are hoping to reunite with our children as well.

“We are here until there is no son is left behind. We were very happy when they reunited with their children. We burst into tears. May all parents experience this joy. I hope this PKK disease is wiped from the face of the Earth.”

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