Kalender Şahin petitioned the commission to investigate the fate of his brother, Aydın Şahin, and three other friends who went missing in the late 1990s shortly after they traveled to Greece to join the PKK's operations in Eastern Europe. Kalender, who has been searching for his younger brother for over 13 years, petitioned the commission this week to launch an investigation into his brother's disappearance.
Born in the south eastern province of Kahramanmaraş and raised in İstanbul, the younger Şahin decided to join the PKK with his friends Sevim Adıbilen, Sedat Bayraktar and Levent Büker after failing to complete primary school. The four left from Istanbul for Greece in 1998 and were never heard from again by their relatives.
Kalender Şahin, now 48, says that the four became victims of an underground organization which has disavowed any responsibility for the death of its young volunteers. Their tragic loss, said Şahin in an Friday interview with the Turkish daily Taraf, was by no means an uncommon fate for new PKK recruits in the 90s. “My brother and his four friends were not the only ones lost in the Balkans during those years,” Şahin stated. “At that time the international mafia ruled that area. One of the legs of the mafia was the PKK. My brother became prey to this organized crime,” he added.
Şahin stated that his appeal to the human rights commission comes at the end of a lonely, decade-long struggle to learn the truth of his brother's death. The search took Şahin into contact with top officials of the PKK who admitted the death of the four but refused to divulge the circumstances of their deaths. “Yes, those comrades were lost. We hereby announce their martyrdom,” Şahin paraphrased a PKK commander.
The PKK operated cells in northern Greece throughout the 1990s, engaging in organized crime with eastern European syndicates which helped the group traffic drugs to Western Europe. Now, says Şahin, the parliamentary human rights commission must work to uncover the fates of those who became victims such operations. “He was 17 when he was lost. I cannot imagine my brother as a child or even as a young boy anymore. This is what saddens me the most,” Şahin told Taraf.