By Michael Hernandez
The U.S. on Thursday voiced general support for peaceful protests when asked about ongoing sit-in demonstration in Turkey’s Diyarbakir province outside of the headquarters of a Turkish opposition party accused by the Turkish government of having links to the PKK terror group.
State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus told reporters in response to a question that the U.S. is aware of the demonstrations, reiterating U.S. support for freedom of expression.
But Ortagus did not address the grievances of the families that led to the demonstrations.
“When we are asked about these questions in general about people protesting, I’d just reiterate that the United States supports freedom of expression and assembly, including the right to peacefully protest,” she said. “We believe that right is fundamental to any democracy.”
The protests started Sept. 3 when one mother, Fevziye Cetinkaya, began protesting against alleged recruitment of her teenage son by the PKK, claiming her 17-year-old son had joined the ranks of the terror group through members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Diyarbakir province.
The demonstration has continued for over a week, and on Wednesday the number of the families taking part rose to 21 after three other families joined the demonstration.
“When they took my daughter [Songul], she was 15 years old and since then I haven’t heard from her,” said Fatma Akkus, one of the recently joined mothers.
According to Akkus, the PKK deceived her daughter 5 years ago and took her away.
“I watched the news about my daughter’s joining in the terror group on social media,” Akkus said reiterating her support for the protesting mothers.
Last month, another mother, Hacire Akar, staged a similar protest near the party’s office. Her son returned home a few days later giving hope to a number of mothers who suffer the same circumstances.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.