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Rudaw

Turkey

PKK Denies Recruiting Underage Fighters, Parents Demand Children's Return

By Deniz Serinci 31/5/2014
“Anyone involved in the PKK does so voluntarily,” said the statement. “It would be impossible for us to force someone to be here against their will.” Photo: Ramazan Moray
“Anyone involved in the PKK does so voluntarily,” said the statement. “It would be impossible for us to force someone to be here against their will.” Photo: Ramazan Moray

COPENHAGEN, Denmark—For weeks now a number of Kurdish parents have been gathering in front of the Diyarbakir municipality, demanding the return of their children whom they say were forcefully recruited by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

“No father would like to be separated from his child,” said Selami Eren, whose 15-year-old son, Firat, went missing in the suburbs of Diyarbakir last month. ”My son should not be in the mountains, but in school.”

“I ask the PKK to release my son,” Eren told Rudaw.

Eren is one of 20 parents who have staged sit-in protests in Diyarbakir, pleading with local authorities, Turkish officials and PKK leaders to explain the fate of their children and let them return to their families.

Eren claims that his son was attending an outdoor picnic organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and People's Democratic Party (HDP) with his friends when he disappeared.

He believes his son “was deceived and taken to the mountains” by PKK guerrillas.

For his part, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quick to speak for these parents, asking the PKK and pro-Kurdish parties to work for the release of the children.

“I whole-heartedly greet those mothers and fathers who are now demonstrating in front of the Diyarbakir Municipality for their children who have been kidnapped in the mountains,” the Turkish Hürriyet newspaper quoted Erdogan as saying.

“Hey BDP, HDP, where are you? Go and get the children of these mothers… You know their addresses very well,” said Erdogan.

The PKK however, dismissed the families’ accounts as propaganda, saying the Turkish state is using these families in its war against the PKK.

“The PKK will not use minors for war,” said the PKK in a statement published on Firatnews

“Anyone involved in the PKK does so voluntarily,” said the statement. “It would be impossible for us to force someone to be here against their will.”

The PKK wrote that the group respects international laws with regard to the age of its members.

“In addition, we have an age limit in our group according to international conventions to which we adhere,” read the statement. “Those who do not comply with the age limit will be turned back.”

Ramazan Moray, a member of the Central Committee of the Rights and Freedom Party (HAK-PAR), known for its disagreement with the PKK, supports the case of the families of the missing youth.

“The children do not have the capacity to think about the consequences of their actions,” Moray told Rudaw. “They have been brainwashed to take to the mountains and do not know what they are doing. The PKK should according to international conventions send the children back to their families.”

Abdurrahim Ay, chairman of the Diyarbakir branch of Mazlum-Der, a Turkish Islamic association for human rights, says that 11 families have reported to him the disappearance of their children.

Ay told Rudaw that in most cases the youth have joined the PKK voluntarily.

“Out of the 11 cases, the four children are between 14 and 16 years,” he said. “We request the PKK to keep these young people away from armed struggle and send them back to their families.”

Altan Tan, a parliamentarian from HDP, believes that stories of “kidnappings” are mere allegations, and he hopes that the PKK wouldn’t allow people under age to join the group.

“Whether it is right or wrong, we do not know,” he said. “But if there are any minors in the mountains, below the age of 18, as is claimed, then PKK should of course send them back to their families and prevent new minors from coming and participating in the group.” 

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seiei | 31/5/2014
Pkk typical terrorists shame !
Adar | 31/5/2014
This is definitely new Cold War strategy from erdogan to against the PKK so please do not believe this lie stories
Hersh | 31/5/2014
PKK signed the children convention and should stick by it, with that said I'm not buying this story for a second, many young people join PKK either out of political conviction or want to run away from very conservative families or both as a form of rebelling against the parents who often make planes to marry them around that age. You don't have to go further than to look at the picture, all the mothers are covered from top to toe indicating very conservative pro AKP families, I wouldn't be shocked if they have been payed by Erdogan either because PKK has never run out of or lacked legal age recruits. They have many times turned away youngsters that have just turned around and run away from home again, when a young girl or boy begs them to let them join them and not send them back to abusive parents or they will commit suicide what are they suppose to do? this has happened many times and they have very strict rules of not using under age youngster in any war activity, Erdogan is behind this and exploring it.
MB | 31/5/2014
The Turkish occupation state which tortures kills and sexual abuses Kurdish children like in the Posante prison case, never talk about that. But if the children join the PKK with their free will this Kerdogan mention children rights. This children dont fight in the PKK, they just get protection from the violence they saw from the Turkish Terror state and from the fascist military service.
Muraz Adzhoev | 31/5/2014
No, of course, it is inadmissible to blame the PKK in recruiting children. I agree with those who, apparently and reasonably, believe that they just run from the awful social conditions and cultural backwardness of the local society and their parents. But first of all from lawlessness and brutality of the state. The real fear is, that these children are refugees, that have only one way out - to find shelter and protection in the Kurdish mountains, "near" the Kurdish guerrillas.
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