The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has recruited children in various fields since its establishment: soldiers, drug dealers in European metropolises, and the production of porno films. The recruitment of child soldiers by the PKK / PJAK and other branches of the group has been criticized by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations. Meanwhile, the PKK has repeatedly acknowledged the existence of child soldiers in its ranks and promised to release them, and even signed the “Geneva Call” and pledged to stop the use of child soldiers (Ms. Delal Amed who signed the Call on behalf of the PKK and was later killed in Syria).
As a “Crisis Group” survey of PKK casualties from 2015 to 2019 shows, the recruitment of child soldiers in the PKK and its branches has increased, and at the same time the PKK through its branch, PJAK., has resorted to deceiving and abducting Iranian Kurdish children and adolescents to supply its forces, and according to the “Crisis Group”, the number of Iranian Kurdish members killed in the PKK has increased significantly. The international group concludes in its study, citing statistics published by the PKK, that the group is in a decline.
On the one hand, the PKK claims that children and adolescents have become members with the consent of the family, on the other hand, dozens of Kurdish mothers have been in front of the office of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) – PKK political branch – in Diyarbakir. They have staged a sit-in and want to bring their children back while taking pictures of their children, and this sit-in continues in the hot and cold weather. “If you stay there for ten years, we will not bring your children back,” said Murad Karayilan, commander of the PKK’s armed wing, in the first reaction to the sit-in. This means that the PKK confesses to abducting these children and has child soldiers, while also denying the PKK’s claim of family consent.
Solmaz Ovunch is the mother of one of the child soldiers who, through the HDP has been given to the PKK and since 334 days ago she has been sitting in front of the HDP office. She wants to haveher student child returned. Her son was only 15 years old. Fakhreddin AkKuch has staged a similar sit-in and wants his 15-year-old son to be returned. If the PKK really values Kurdish families as it claims, it should release all children immediately.
Given that the PKK has recruited dozens of Iranian Kurdish children and adolescents through PJAK with the aim of using them as child soldiers, it is necessary for real Kurdish human rights activists and the competent government agencies to take serious action in this regard, and to save the children.