Tunceli Governor Mustafa Taşkesen said the group blocked a road in the Ovacık district on last Sunday and stopped a car carrying Aygün as well as his aide and a journalist. The group reportedly released the other two after abducting Aygün and authorities only learned of the incident once the two arrived in Tunceli without the deputy.
Turkish media outlets reported on Monday that a number of websites known for being close to the PKK stated that the PKK claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. And on Tuesday, shortly after the PKK announced that it would release Aygün, the CHP deputy was freed near Aşağı Torunoba in the Ovacık district.
Aygün said at a news conference in Tunceli late on Tuesday that his captors told him they had kidnapped him for “political propaganda.” He added that he didn’t receive any threats and that the captors were behaved respectfully to him. He also said his captors requested he continue his political activities without any party affiliation, but that he replied this was not be possible “under the shadow of guns.” Aygün asserted that the incident was not intended to threaten him, but “to send a message to the Turkish people.” He added that those who captured him were a young group and that it appeared to him that most of them wanted to return home.
However, the first statements made by Aygün have upset many, including EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış, who was angered by Aygün’s referral to the PKK terrorists as “well-mannered” young people. “Speaking about the bandits who kidnapped him, the abducted CHP deputy said he was hosted by seven respectful youths. What shame,” he said.
Analysts and politicians have described the kidnapping of Aygün by the PKK as yet another example of the terrorist group’s intolerance for political figures in Kurdish-dominated areas that carry out their activities outside the PKK.
Aygün testified to prosecutors, who have launched an investigation into the incident, on Thursday.
August 11, Saturday
The United States and Turkey are looking at all measures to help Syrian rebel forces fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, including a no-fly zone, as the conflict there deepens, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. She told reporters after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in İstanbul that their countries needed to get into detailed operational planning on how to assist the rebels and bring a halt to the violence.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) brought to an end an almost three-week operation against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in rural parts of the Şemdinli district in the southeastern province of Hakkari, a statement released by the Hakkari Governor’s Office said.
August 12, Sunday
While NATO allies Turkey and the US started synchronizing their contingency operation plans for Syria amid the influx of thousands of refugees into Turkey in recent days, Turkey made it clear that it will go ahead with setting up “safety zone” pockets inside Syrian territory to handle the mounting humanitarian crisis. Speaking to Today’s Zaman, diplomatic officials drew a picture of a two-stage plan for Turkey to handle the mass exodus from Syria, underlining that the issue may have already become a “significant national security threat” for Turkey. According to officials who asked for their names to be withheld, Turkey, in coordination with the US and other allies, will press for a UN Security Council resolution mandating the establishment of “protective enclaves” within Syria so that potential refugees will be taken care of inside Syria.
A group connected to the terrorist PKK claimed responsibility for an attack on Aug. 9 on a Turkish military bus that killed two soldiers and injured 12 people. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) said in a statement emailed to websites close to the terrorists that they had fired on the vehicle carrying military personnel close to Foça, a small resort town on the western Aegean coast which is home to a naval base.
Hüseyin Tanrıverdi, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), who is in charge of local administrations, has said the government is vigorously pursuing reforms in local governance and that more powers will be transferred to local administrations.
The Turkish Armed Forces Assistance Center (OYAK), a private company affiliated with the TSK, wiretapped several big Turkish banks using illegal means, according to a letter signed by an anonymous intelligence officer.
August 13, Monday
A Diyarbakır court handed down a record total of 207 years in prison to the 26 suspects in the trial of the Batman branch of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). The trial of the suspects, four of whom were jailed, has been going on since 2009. They are accused of involvement in the activities of the KCK, an umbrella organization which prosecutors say encompasses the terrorist PKK.
The Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) stated that Turkey has collected TL 5.325 million in an aid campaign recently launched for the benefit of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
More than 4,000 people fleeing violence in Syria entered neighboring Turkey between Saturday and Monday, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees there to 59,710, Turkish authorities said.
August 14, Tuesday
The leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, unveiled a proposed roadmap for ending the ongoing Syrian crisis. Explaining the details of the CHP’s roadmap, Kılıçdaroğlu said Parliament can hold an urgent session on Syria and call for an international conference under the auspices of the UN.
The US’s top envoy in Turkey slammed the president of northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region, saying that the US administration is not happy with the performance of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Massoud Barzani in containing the activities of the PKK in northern Iraq. “We are not satisfied [with Barzani],” the US ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone, told a group of reporters in his residence. “We want better results from Barzani.” Talking in detail about how the US views the surge of PKK terror attacks against Turkey, including the abduction of a Turkish parliamentary deputy on Sunday, the US ambassador said that Washington urges Barzani and other leaders in Iraq to do more in reining in PKK terror.
Fehman Hüseyin -- a commander in the People’s Defense Forces (HPG), one of the militant wings of the terrorist PKK -- was reportedly heard congratulating the terrorist group for the acts it has committed in Şemdinli, in the province of Hakkari, in conversations over a walkie-talkie.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ordered an investigation into the suspicious deaths of three engineers who worked for ASELSAN, a defense industry giant that produces technology for the Turkish military. The Prime Ministry Inspection Council will investigate the deaths of engineers Hüseyin Başbilen, Halim Ünsem Ünal and Evrim Yançeken, which occurred between 2006 and 2007. The General Staff’s Military Prosecutor’s Office had earlier concluded an investigation into the deaths of the engineers, saying there were insufficient grounds for legal action. Erdoğan ordered the investigation following a letter from the family of Başbilen, requesting that the engineers’ deaths be reinvestigated.
August 15, Wednesday
President Abdullah Gül, addressing leaders of the world’s Muslim countries in Mecca, warned against “falling into the trap of sectarian conflict,” saying this would drag the Muslim world into the “darkness of the Middle Ages.” In his speech at an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) convened to discuss Syria, Gül said the Muslim nations “would exhaust the resources” of the Islamic world.
Col. Ertuğrulgazi Özkürkçü, the head of the Turkish General Staff’s information department, has stated that the military provided complete information to the government concerning the details of how a Turkish jet crashed off the Syrian coast on June 22, adding that any contradictions over the jet were due to comments made by unauthorized people.
“We are committed to our ‘zero problems with neighbors’ policy,” reaffirms seasoned diplomat Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru, in response to growing criticisms of inconsistency in Turkey’s foreign policy, particularly towards the Middle East. At a time when Turkish foreign policy and its main architect for the past decade, Professor Davutoğlu -- first as chief advisor to the prime minister and then as foreign minister -- are being exposed to unprecedented criticism, Koru answered Today’s Zaman’s questions in detail on a wide array of topics. He described Iran’s latest threatening statements about Turkey as ‘‘unacceptable,” while directing attention to Turkey’s efforts to maintain dialogue with all its neighbors, including Tehran.
The AK Party welcomed Voice of the People Party (HAS Party) leader Numan Kurtulmuş to the ranks of the AK Party through a merger of the two parties, and a former leader of the Democrat Party (DP), Süleyman Soylu, is also expected to join the party, a top government official said.
The Divine Liturgy, marking the Dormition of the Theotokos, was held at the historic Sümela Monastery in the northern province of Trabzon, ending with messages of peace. It was the third time that a religious service has been held at the monastery in the history of the Turkish Republic.
There were attacks and violent demonstrations in the country’s Southeast perpetrated by the terrorists PKK to mark the 28th anniversary of the start of the PKK’s bloody campaign on Aug. 15 in 1984.
August 16, Thursday
Earthquake experts have been saying that Turkey is certainly not prepared for a potentially devastating earthquake, but in addition to lack of preparedness, what has been done is too little and what is being done is going very slowly, various experts said at different platforms on the 13th anniversary of the devastating Aug. 17, 1999 Marmara earthquake that claimed at least 18,000 lives. Minister of Urban Planning and Environment Erdoğan Bayraktar said in a statement he released to mark the anniversary of the 1999 quake that the government was intent on transforming “unhealthy” cities without a solid infrastructure. But critics say this is not really happening.
President Gül reiterated a warning that Turkey might respond with military action if it faces a terrorist threat from Syria’s north. “Terrorist organizations may attempt to exploit the situation in such difficult times, but they will not be allowed to do so,” Gül told journalists in Mecca following a two-day extraordinary summit of the OIC, which convened to discuss mainly Syria. “Whatever action necessary will be taken if extensions of the PKK begin to pose a threat,” he said.
Retired noncommissioned officer Hüseyin Oğuz, a witness in the Ergenekon case, revealed to the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court his recollections of many extra-judicial killings, kidnappings and disappearances during the late 1980s and early 1990s, which he claimed were carried out by JİTEM -- an intelligence unit illegally established under the TSK.
August 17, Friday
The İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court, which is hearing the Sledgehammer coup trial, announced that it would file a criminal complaint against the suspects of the case who refuse to attend hearings citing health complaints.
A senior gendarmerie sergeant who testified to prosecutors conducting an investigation into Ergenekon, a coup-plotting group that allegedly sought to bring down the AK Party government during the first decade of 2000s, has said the Republican Work Group (CÇG) -- the clique that allegedly was plotting a coup -- had anti-government posters distributed and hung up at gendarmerie stations and around streets in every district of the Tekirdağ province.
Metin Ekinci, the brother of a suspected member of al-Qaeda, was killed in clashes between the Syrian military and opposition forces in Aleppo. Metin Ekinci is a brother of Azad Ekinci, who is accused of involvement in bombing attacks on HSBC headquarters, the British Consulate General and the Neve Shalom Synagogue in İstanbul in 2003.
The sub-commission of the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which is in charge of writing the new constitution, yesterday discussed the article dealing with the “freedom of political parties.”
Police uncovered a bug-for-hire gang, located in İzmir and several other provinces, that has been listening in on people’s smartphones for clients by way of a secretly installed spy program.