Turkish opposition slams gov’t for failing to free captive troops, policemen

Turkish troops scout the mountainous area in Hakkari province in winter time.


The Turkish opposition has accused the government of failing to do anything to free soldiers and police officers who are believed to have been abducted and held hostage by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In a parliamentary question, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Veli Ağbaba asked for an explanation from the government as to why the efforts to bring back captive members of the security forces have so far failed.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, is believed to have kidnapped 10 soldiers and two police officers at various times in the past.

Ağbaba noted that video footage of the captive soldiers and police officers was released by the PKK on June 7, 2018 in which they said the Turkish government had done nothing to ensure their release.

According to the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği), police officer Vedat Kaya was kidnapped by the PKK on July 4, 2015 while on a highway between Diyarbakır and Bingöl, and police officer Sedat Yabalak was snatched on July 28, 2015 on a road between Diyarbakır and Lice.

The names of the kidnapped troops and their dates of abduction were listed as follows: Sgt. Hüseyin Sarı, Pvt. Sedat Sorgun and Pvt. Süleyman Sungur (Aug. 13, 2015); noncommissioned officer Semih Özbey (Sept. 18, 2015); Pvt. Müslüm Altuntaş and Pvt. Adil Kavaklı (Oct. 2, 2015); Sgt. Sedat Vardar and Sgt. Ferdi Polat (Dec. 12, 2015); and Sgt. Ümit Gıcır and Sgt. Mevlüt Kahveci (Sept. 21, 2015).

The PKK also captured two National Intelligence Organization (MİT) operatives in northern Iraq. Erhan Pekçetin, the head of the department that oversees ethnic separatist movements including the PKK, and Aydın Günel, the human resources director at MIT, were snatched by the PKK in August 2017 while on a mission in Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq.

Mustafa Karasu, an executive committee member of the PKK, last year claimed the PKK had imprisoned 20 Turkish officials.

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