DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — It was May 26, and fierce clashes were underway between the security forces and urban Kurdish militants in Turkey’s southeastern city of Sirnak. The Kulter family, which had fled the city, got an unsettling text message from their 32-year-old son Hursit, a senior local member of the Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP), who had stayed behind at home. “They are coming closer. Give me your blessing,” read the message, which was to be their last communication with him.
The next day, an anonymous Twitter handle believed to be used by members of the security forces posted a derisive message suggesting Kulter was being held in an armored vehicle and interrogated. The family quickly contacted the prosecutor’s office and then the police, the military and anyone they could think of, but the answer never changed: No one by the name Hursit Kulter had been detained.