‘Lost children’ make headlines across Turkey
Three children who have gone missing have made headlines across Turkey over the past two weeks.
While two of the three youngsters were found dead, one of them is still being sought for by volunteers, law enforcement officials and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
As the search continues, clothing become an important factor for search and rescue teams, Zafer Özbilici, head of the “Families Who Lost Their Loved Ones” said on June 28, daily Cumhuriyet reported.
“Postpone washing your child’s clothes from time to time because if the child gets lost, sniffer dogs are used in their search. Especially in less populated areas and where there aren’t camera systems installed, clothing is often a huge help in the search,” Özbilici said.
“Keep the most recent picture of your child nearby. For the DNA process, if there is hair that is pulled from the root, if there are fingerprints and if there are x-rays, do not throw them away,” he added.
A young girl, Eylül Yağlıkara, was found dead on June 1, buried by an electricity pole after a week of comprehensive searches conducted by the authorities. Her death sparked outrage across Turkey, where many people closely followed the search process that went on for around two weeks.
Meanwhile, Leyla Aydemir, a four-year-old girl, was reported lost on June 15 near her house in the eastern province of Ağrı.
Teams have dugs holes, closely inspected reed fields, and headed down wells around the village, but they have not been able to bring back good news for 18 days.
Aydemir was found dead on July 2 in Ağrı's Bezirhane village, some three kilometers away from her own village.
In another heart-wrenching case, six-year-old Ufuk Tatar was reported lost in the southern province of Hatay, local media reported on July 1.
Tatar, who has a speaking disability, reportedly went missing in a forest by the Amanos Mountains, prompting search and rescue efforts for him that are still ongoing.
Numbers remain vague
A question posed to the Family and Social Policies Ministry, meanwhile, was left in the air in March.
In response to a question raised by independent deputy Aylin Nazlıaka from Ankara about how many children went missing in 2017, the ministry instead gave the number of children found: 11,691.
“Some 8,684 of these children were returned to their parents and some 2,147 of them were brought under state protection,” the ministry stated.
In 2016, however, the Interior Ministry was quoted as saying that around 15,900 children remained lost following an inspection proposal made by a deputy from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in parliament.
In her parliamentary address, MHP Aydın deputy Deniz Depboylu had also quoted data from the “Families Who Lost Their Loved Ones” research project, which was nearly double the official data – around 30,000.
The inspection proposal suggested at the time was rejected by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Officials say they want ‘harsher penalties’
Amid outrage over the latest cases, officials and political leaders have once again brought up the debate on harsher punishments and heavier penalties, such as “chemical castration,” once again.
“In the new term, we will take steps for harsher penalties. We will fully install what is called ‘chemical castration,’” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on July 2, speaking in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat.
Meanwhile, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli brought up the death penalty debate once again on June 30.