Every mother dreams her daughter or son to grow into adulthood, get proper education, and lead a prosperous life that would make them proud, and no other gift can perhaps make them any happier on Mother’s Day, celebrated in Turkey on the second Sunday of May.
But some mothers are not lucky enough to see this process as their happiness is stolen by terror groups who abduct, forcibly recruit their children, bringing their lives upside down. Among them are dozens of mothers in Turkey who have been staging a sit-in protest in the southeastern Diyarbakir province.
The protest began Sept. 3, 2019, when three mothers said their children had been forcibly recruited by PKK terrorists. The sit-in outside the offices of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which the government accuses of having links to the PKK, has been growing since in Diyarbakir. So far, a total of 262 families joined the protest.
Mothers’ initiative bore fruit as 25 of their children who were abducted by the PKK terror group, with some younger than 10 years old, laid down their weapons and surrendered to Turkish security forces.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, sit-in mother Fatma Akkus, whose daughter was abducted at the age of 15, said no other gift could make her happier than seeing the return of her child.
“Mother’s Day means nothing for someone in my position, my beloved daughter is not here to hug me. She was taken away from me, there is nothing left for me to celebrate,” she lamented.
Her daughter was only 15 when she was abducted, she said, adding that the terror group and its affiliates targeted underage children to indoctrinate and use them for their “dirty interests.”
Although sorrow has surrounded her since the disappearance of her daughter, the mother is still hopeful for her return as she is encouraged by dozens of other families who finally got their children from the terror group.
She said May 9 this year was just another ordinary day on the calendar due to the absence of her daughter, but added that the greatest gift she, or any other protesting mother, could have was to once again embrace her.
Another mother, Hatice Ay, said the PKK abducted her son Muhammed when he was 16 in 2015 and he suffered from thalassemia, a blood disorder.
Although her other children are eager to buy her presents and celebrate her Mother’s Day, she said she could not find solace in such gestures as all she ever wanted now was the return of her son she had been longing for.
“The Mother’s Day and festivals are unbearable for me,” she added, and said hearing the voice of her child one more time would be the best she could possibly have. “I know my child will come back soon, and this day will have a meaning for me once again.”
“We have our hopes up as many people (those who surrendered) are back now. When my child is back, everything will be as good as it used to be. I’m looking forward to that,” she said.
In Turkey, offenders who are linked to terrorist groups and surrender are eligible for possible sentence reductions under a repentance law, including relatives of the protesting families.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is PKK’s Syrian offshoot.