Presidential Commissioner says Turkey must give information about mass graves of missing persons

Only if the Turkish army provides information from its archives there will be information about a number of missing persons’ cases, said Monday Presidential Commissioner, Photis Photiou.

He was speaking after a meeting with new US ambassador to Cyprus, Judith Gail Garber, with whom he had an interesting and very productive discussion, as he said.

Photiou informed the ambassador about the tragic situation of the missing persons’ issue, especially the last years as the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) has been unable to fully resolve the issue of missing persons since no remains have been found lately.

He informed her that US nationals are included in the list of missing persons and this itself should be a motive for the US to persuade Turkey, which is the occupation force, to cooperate. This means providing information from the Turkish Army’s archives about the mass graves of missing and relocation of remains.

Photiou reminded that time is the greatest enemy in this humanitarian issue, adding that 45 years after, 50% of the missing are still unaccounted for.

The Commissioner said there is an initiative with overseas Cypriots to see how they can inform the US administration, the Congress and Senate to undertake a new initiative on the missing persons.

Early June, he said, he will be in Washington for the PSEKA conference and there they will discuss specific action that can be taken with the diaspora.

Photiou also said that the CMP is going through archives provided by the United Nations which, he noted, were given to the committee late. The archives are from countries that participated with contingents in the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Cyprus. The CMP is also looking into archives of the Red Cross.

Noting that the archives can help in isolated cases, Photiou underlined that the biggest number of cases will be found if the Turkish army provides information from its archives. The mass execution or collection of dead took place between July and August 1974. These are the two main issues and the CMP has no information about these and thus the numbers (for locating remains) are low.

Asked if the US ambassador said how her country will proceed, Photiou said that “she considers the missing persons’ issue a humanitarian issue and will do everything possible to help resolve it and this is important, he added.

Photiou further recalled President Nicos Anastasiades’ appeal for people who have information to come forward, adding that those Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who have information should come forward without hesitation.

The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) has announced the recovery of human remains in the Turkish occupied villate of Stylloi, in Famagusta district.

A CMP press release said that “a bi-communal excavation team of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) has started to recover human remains at a site in Mutluyaka/Stylloi on 10 May 2019.”

It added that in 2019, the CMP has recovered the remains of 16 individuals. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.

A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.

Source: Cyprus News Agency