Thousands of desperate parents still search for missing children
Gülseven Özkan – ISTANBUL
The parents of thousands of missing children in Turkey have still not given up hope on their quest to find their lost children, going from door to door holding outdated photographs of their loved ones.
Some of the children have disappeared while playing in front of their houses, while some have disappeared on their way to the market. Almost all of the parents daily Hürriyet has spoken with have said the same thing: “This feeling [of your child being missing] is like death. Every telephone, every knock on the door is hope.”
The father of Bayram Küpşi, who disappeared at the age of six in 2017 in Istanbul’s Ümraniye district while playing just outside their house, has not given up hope to find his missing son.
“Words fall short to explain what we have gone through. There is no such pain. If someone is dead, you go to their grave and console yourself. But here… He does not leave my mind for even a second. Let God not put this [burden] on anyone. Is my child out in the cold, is he alive, who has him? When the doorbell or the phone rings at night, the first thing that comes to my mind is my child,” Cevher Küpşi said.
Another grief-stricken father is İbrahim Selam, living in the southern province of Hatay, who lost his 28-month old child 20 years ago. “This process is more painful than death. One who does not go through this cannot understand,” he told daily Hürriyet. Selam continues to look for his youngest son with an age-progressed photograph of him.
Another parent who has lost her child is Kibar Daşkın, residing in the eastern province of Muş’s Bulanık district. “I want my son Nurullah. I have been waiting for a long time, I tear my heart out, I can no longer stand this,” tear-stricken Daşkın told daily Hürriyet, after losing her child in 2009.
Ahmet Davut, a Syrian refugee, lost his nine-year old Betül in 2014 in Istanbul, while she was playing in front of their house.
“Our life became miserable. I lost my uncle and nephew after bombs fell on them in the war [in Syria]. And I came to Istanbul to protect my children from bombs. Would it have been different if that bomb had fallen on us? It would’ve been the same pain,” Davut said, adding that he has since been wandering around Istanbul streets, hanging pictures of the missing Betül on walls.
As part of the “Missing Alarm” project launched by the Turkish Interior System in 2014, authorities send information and photographs of missing or abducted children to the residents of the area where the child has gone missing via a message. Also, the Foundation for Relatives of Missing Persons (YAKAD) has been conducting various projects to help desperate parents find their missing children and help them cope with grief.
The Turkish police advise parents to immediately call the 155 police emergency hotline once they realize their children are missing. After informing the police of the child’s name, surname, age and the clothes they had last been wearing, the parents should search for their missing children on their own as well, the police say. Also, parents should put a note indicating the child’s identity, phone number and address in their pocket, to make police find them easier, according to authorities.