News / Middle East

Missing Kurdish Children Stir Claims, Concern in Turkey

Turkey: Missing Kurdish Children Stir Claims, Concerni
X
Dorian Jones
July 02, 2014 4:17 PM
A growing number of Kurdish families in Turkey are calling for the return of their children, who they say have been abducted by the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK. The PKK denies the claim, but with the Turkish prime minister stepping in, the issue is putting pressure on an already stalled peace process. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.
Turkey: Missing Kurdish Children Stir Claims, Concern
Dorian Jones

A growing number of Kurdish families in Turkey are calling for the return of their children who they say have been abducted by the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK. The PKK denies the claim, but with the Turkish prime minister stepping in, the dispute is putting pressure on an already stalled peace process.
 
In the sweltering summer heat, a group of families hold a daily vigil for their children who they say were kidnapped by the PKK in recent months.  Each carries a photograph of their child. Some were as young as 14 when they disappeared.

Sureyya Toklar, whose son disappeared three months ago, says she is convinced her son was kidnapped by the rebel group.

"My son couldn't have gone on his own will," she said. "He didn't have such love for them. I am sure he was tricked and didn't go on his own will."
 
The families claim the rebels are holding their children in mountain bases just across the Turkish border in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Throughout three decades of conflict, thousands of young Kurdish men and women have "gone to the mountains," a euphemism for joining the PKK. Until now, there have been few voices claiming any were kidnapped.

But Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stepped in and taken up the families’ cause. The dispute comes at a delicate time in the government-initiated peace process with the rebel group.

According to Fatma Oncu, a member of the ruling AK Party's national committee from Diyarbakir, the peace process has allowed people to start speaking out against the PKK.

"Women are now coming out to the streets and voicing that their children are being kept in this way [by the PKK]," she said. "As a party we are supporting these women in this process in every way, she said.

But many pro-Kurdish political groups back the PKK in dismissing claims of abduction. They say all those who join the PKK are volunteers and accuse the government of generating the controversy as a distraction over the lack of progress in the peace process.

Edip Yasar of the Democratic Society Congress, a pro-Kurdish movement, says the claims of abduction are groundless.

"Who would believe in such claims of abduction? Even the crows will laugh at these statements by the government," he said.

Yasar says the PKK has stated no one under 16 will be given positions in its armed structure, and that the group says it will send back children who want to go home.

Back at the families' vigil, the PKK pledge is being met with both skepticism and guarded optimism, according to Sureyya Toklar.

She says the mothers are determined and won't be going anywhere until their children come back.   

"My son is 14 years old, God willing he'll be sent back," Toklar said. "We are waiting, let's see."

No date has been given by the PKK to return any of the children. Observers say the families could well be pawns in a wider struggle between the government and the pro-Kurdish movement over the stalled peace process.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs