Members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) kidnapped Hüseyin Aygün, a deputy of the main opposition People's Republican Party (CHP) from the southeastern province of Tunceli (Dersim,) while he was touring his precinct on Sunday evening.
The People's Defense Forces (HPG,) the military wing of the PKK who kidnapped deputy Aygün, issued a statement, however, indicating they were going to release him in short order, according to the Fırat news agency.
"The HPG's Dersim state forces took CHP deputy Hüseyin Aygün under custody on Aug. 12 over the Dersim-Ovacık road. Hüseyin Aygün was detained in view of the frequent complaints emanating from our people that he stands among those who execute the government's policies of special warfare against the people of Kurdistan and the guerilla, to highlight the policies of assimilation and fragmentation employed by the colonial Turkish state against Dersim and her people and to stress the need for Hüseyin Aygün to refrain from serving these dirty policies. Hüseyin Aygün will be released in short order following the completion of relevant administrative and legal procedures," read the HPG's statement.
The HPG also called for an end to military operations launched in wake of Aygün's capture and warned that the operations in Sal Valley, Veng and Turnuva in the district of Ovacık put Aygün's life in danger.
Tunceli Governor Mustafa Taşkesen also commented later on that security forces were going to refrain from undertaking military operations in the area in order to avoid putting Aygün's life in peril.
"We are going to conduct search, rescue and scanning activities in the region. There will not be any operations," he said, according to the news website T24.
Deputy Aygün was travelling in the company of his advisor and daily Akşam reporter Kadir Merkit who were both released by the militants after they kidnapped Aygün, according to reports.
News of the deputy's abduction surfaced when his advisor and reporter Merkit notified the police once they reached downtown Dersim after the abduction.
The CHP's Deputy leader Gürsel Tekin issued a statement on behalf of his party indicating that Aygün had been working in his precinct for 15 days.
A group of five to six militants reportedly told Aygün's advisor and reporter Merkit that they were going to hold him captive for several days.
The CHP consequently sent a delegation of five deputies to the region to spearhead efforts to secure Aygün's release. The CHP's Malatya deputy Veli Ağbaba, Istanbul deputies Müslim Sarı and Mahmut Tanal, Denizli deputy İlhan Cihaner and Ankara deputy Levent Gök set off for Dersim on Sunday night.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also said that security forces were pursuing the matter, adding that they had been "expecting" such incidents to happen.
BDP calls for Aygün's release and criticizes the government
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) also issued a written statement calling for Aygün's release and said they were "ready to provide any contribution to ensure that he returns safe and sound."
"Firstly, we find such an act unacceptable and hereby express our disapproval. We expect Mr. Aygün's release without delay," the statement said.
"We are aware of the fact that the government [would] not care about the human aspect of the matter even if all the deputies in Parliament were abducted. Indeed, we have been following the government's statements since yesterday as a case in point. We have no doubts that the government, which assumes a frivolous and inhumane attitude of non-chalance when district governors, soldiers and the police fall under captivity, will surely act in the same vein for Mr. Aygün as well. In the end, the significance and value of preventing the government from wearing down politically outweighs everything and everyone else!" the statement said.
"We find the act unacceptable and disapprove it. We call for Aygün's immediate release," BDP deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü from the southwestern province of Mersin also said.
"We are sorry about what has been going on. We do not have the same perspective on life as Hüseyin Aygün, but we are sorry. We hope and wish for his emancipation as soon as possible," BDP deputy Sırrı Sakık from the eastern province of Muş commented.
BDP deputy Pervin Buldan from the eastern province of Iğdır also expressed her sorrow with regards to the incident and said that it now fell upon the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to assemble Parliament on Tuesday for an urgent meeting.
Deputy Hüseyin Aygün in retrospect
Born in the village of Erdoğdu (Pulê Dewresu) in Tunceli, CHP deputy Hüseyin Aygün graduated from Ankara University's Law Department and later served as a criminal lawyer.
He had three books published, the "Eve Tarixê Ho Têri Amaene," "Dersim 1938 ve Zorunlu İskan" ("Dersim 1938 and Forced Relocation") and the "0.0.1938 Resmiyet ve Hakikat" ("0.0.1938 Officialdom and the Truth.") He also had articles published in bianet as well.
Aygün also initiated numerous legal proceedings with respect to Dersim, including cases of disappearance under custody, the village burnings of 1994, the enforced emigration of Dersim locals, torture and unfair trials and the 1938 Dersim massacre.
Meanwhile, Aygün's family also issued a written statement regarding his capture, highlighting Aygün's role as a supporter of the rights of Alevis, workers, students and all other oppressed peoples, as well as an advocate of solving the Kurdish issue through dialogue and democratic means.
"A representative of the Alevi and Dersim identities"
A number of authors who had contributed their stories to the book "Bir Dersim Hikayesi" ("A Dersim Story") by writer Murathan Mungan also called for Aygün's release:
Haydar Karataş reminded of the fact that Tunceli Battalion Commander Col. Namık Dursun had threatened Aygün seven years ago for him to "leave here immediately unless [you want] them to come over and collect pieces of your body from every corner." The nationalization processes of the Kurds and the Turks have put a double squeeze on the people of Dersim, he also said.
"Aygün gave voice to the injustice committed against Dersim in 1938 through the sensitivity of elderly people at this critical juncture. He overstressed the Alevi identity, and the Kurdish movement organized around a national axis encountered much difficulty in [coping with] this approach. Just as Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Ertuğrul Kürkçü bear a significance beyond their identities as members of the BDP, Hüseyin Aygün likewise bears a significance for Alevis and Dersim locals beyond his membership in the CHP. They see him as a representative of their identity," Karataş said.
Behçet Çelik said ideas toward a resolution of the Kurdish issue could hardly come out of a milieu of armed conflict and called for Aygün's immediate release as well.
"Aygün's abduction is embarrassing on a human level and constitutes a grave political error. Of course, this [incident] represents a consequence. The reasons behind it are plentiful: Chiefly the government, all officials and all political parties, politicians and even you and I, or in other words, everyone who retains their silence. The reason is all of us who left all minorities, women and children into the hands of dirty politics for years," Hatice Meryem said.
"Aygün's abduction is not merely a political act. It also represents a test of humanity and ethics for both sides. To allay the blood that has engulfed this country, I wish that Turks, Kurds and all the other people of Turkey who feel an attachment toward another identity feel their conscience outgrowing their hearts," Ayfer Tunç also commented. (NV/YY/ÇT)