One day in 2014 during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Turkey’s southeastern Siirt province, Saadet Ödümlü was planning to cook for her family and enjoy their company while breaking her fast.
But then she heard the news that her son was duped into joining the YPG, the PKK terrorist organization’s Syrian wing.
She said the “darkest day” of her life was that day when the family lost their peace of mind, and she has not been able to smile for the past seven years as she worried about her son’s fate.
Fearing he may lose his life, she joined a sit-in protest against the PKK/YPG in the southeastern Diyarbakır province of Turkey.
The protest started when Hacire Akar turned up on the doorstep of the pro-PKK Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Diyarbakır office one night, demanding to be reunited with her son. Akar’s son Mehmet returned home on Aug. 24, 2019, giving hope to other families. A week later, on Sept. 3, 2019, families inspired by Akar staged a collective sit-in protest. The sit-in protest has continued for more than 500 days.
“Seven years (since the abduction of my son) will have passed in a month. My son was 15 years old (when) they tricked him. They took him, particularly because my husband is a village guard.
“A year later, he called me and said he was in Kobani (Ain al-Arab). He has not called since then. I’ve never heard from him ever since,” Ödümlü told Anadolu Agency (AA).
The disappearance of Yusuf inflicted a heavy blow on their lives, according to Ödümlü, who said her family lost its joy and has never recovered since then.
“Our life is ruined. We have no peace. We cannot sleep, none of (the family),” she said, adding she does not cook certain dishes, as they remind her of her son.
“My son had dreams. He did not go to school, but he was a very compassionate, smart and well-behaved kid,” she said, noting the family was greatly concerned about Yusuf’s well-being.
At least 24 sons and daughters of the protesting families have so far reunited with their families after surrendering to Turkish authorities, and watching this happen on TV became a source of inspiration for Ödümlü, prompting her to take part in the protest.
“I want to hug my child. For seven years, we haven’t been able to sleep or eat (properly) or have peace. The food we eat feels like poison. Twenty-four of our children (of sit-in families) have returned. God willing, all our children will come back,” she said.
Ödümlü also cursed the YPG/PKK terrorist group, accusing it of forcibly recruiting children as young as 8 to carry out its agenda while destroying their families, leaving thousands of mothers in tears.
She also noted that she was determined to be part of the protest until her son was brought back, dead or alive, and the families’ protest could perhaps lead to the rescue of children who were abducted during childhood, indoctrinated and raised to operate within the terrorist group.
A significant number of suspected terrorists have begun to flee the PKK and surrender but many terrorists lack the courage to leave the group out of fear of severe punishment if caught. More than 235 members surrendered to Turkish security forces in 2019, with 112 surrenderings in 2020.
PKK abducts children of Turks in Germany
More families have started to submit applications to German authorities to prevent the PKK from abducting their children.
The family of Neşe O., 23, who was living in the North Rhine-Westphalia state and was kidnapped by the PKK in October, is still struggling to find their daughter.
According to Neşe O.’s family, she started to visit the pro-PKK association Mala Kurda in Cologne via her boyfriend, where other members of the organization came together. She eventually left home two months ago after saying that she would meet with her friends but never returned.
The family members went to Mala Kurda and asked about their daughter’s whereabouts. However, PKK members in the association warned them to not search for their daughter anymore.
After failing to get results, Neşe O.’s family appealed to German authorities for help.
Many people in Germany share the same fate as Neşe O.’s family. Maide T., one of the parents whose daughter was kidnapped by the PKK, continues her protest in front of the German Chancellery.
The mother told AA last month that she last saw her daughter Nilüfer T. before she left the house on Nov. 12, 2019, to go to school.
Maide T. initially went to the pro-PKK Navende Kurdistaniyen li Berlin association in the German capital to learn about her daughter’s whereabouts. As her attempts brought no result, she launched a protest in February 2020 in front of Brandenburg Gate and the Bundestag.
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