PKK frees kidnapped opposition lawmaker

PKK frees kidnapped opposition lawmaker

PKK frees kidnapped opposition lawmaker

Huseyin Aygun, a parliamentarian for the country's main opposition group, the Republican People's Party (CHP), gestures at his office in Ankara December 5, 2011. REUTERS Photo

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Tunceli deputy Hüseyin Aygün was released by his captors yesterday, 48 hours after he was kidnapped by militants.

Tunceli Gov. Mustafa Taşkesen confirmed Aygün’s release, and said the lawmaker was at a military post near the location where he was kidnapped by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) late Aug. 12.

Aygün was still testifying to the prosecutor about his kidnapping yesterday when the Hürriyet Daily News went to press. He was expected to arrive in central Tunceli later yesterday.

CHP lawmaker Veli Ağababa, who was among the main opposition deputies following the developments in Tunceli, told private NTV television over the phone that a group from the party was on its way to meet with Aygün.

Aygün’s wife, Emine Aygün, said she was very happy about her husband’s release and thanked everyone who had supported the family during the crisis. 

Aygün was returning from a visit to Tunceli’s Ovacık district when PKK militants stopped his vehicle at around 5 p.m. on Aug. 12. 

Aygün’s kidnapping drew rebuffs from both the ruling and opposition parties, as well as international figures.

The kidnapping was an attack against Turkey’s national will, President Abdullah Gül said Aug. 13, adding that he appreciated the political parties’ common stand against the abduction.

A lawyer by profession, Hüseyin Aygün is best known for being a human rights activist. He was among the founders of the Tunceli Bar Association and was the driving force behind the publication of the first-ever newspaper published in the Zazaki language in Turkey. 

Aygün had caused controversy recently when he said “Alevism is a religion,” drawing ire especially from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Fellow deputies from the CHP also objected to his remarks, prompting CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, an Alevi himself, to say: “Alevism is not a religion, but a belief. It is a part of Islam.”

Aygün had been at odds with his party earlier when he said the CHP and the Turkish state were responsible for the Dersim Massacre in 1938-39, and that “Atatürk had full knowledge of what was going on.” 

These statements completely contradicted party policy, and numerous CHP deputies requested that Aygün be expelled from the party. 

 The controversial deputy had also defended education in mother tongues, “not only in Kurdish but also in the Arabic, Zazaki and Laz languages.”