Turkish side aims to politicize the issue of missing persons, Commisioner Photiou says

Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Photis Photiou said that the Turkish side is aiming to politicize the issue of missing persons in Cyprus.

He was commenting a press release issued on Saturday by the so called presidency of the puppet regime in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, regarding the efforts to discover the remains of 31 people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, at an area near the Nicosia General Hospital, by the Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital. They were killed when the site was bombed by the Turkish air force, during the first phase of the invasion of the island on July 20, 1974. Among the 31 people, believed to be inmates of the Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital, are 3 Turkish Cypriots and seven women.

Photiou said in a written statement that the press release “was not a surprise to us”, and constitutes another example of the long-term plans, tactics and actions of the Turkish side aiming at the politicization of efforts to address the missing persons tragedy and to lift the burden of the responsibility for crimes committed by the Turkish army from Ankara.

According to the press release issued by the Turkish Cypriot puppet regimes “presidency”, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has sent a letter to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, asking the UN to intervene with regard to the “unilateral” excavations taking place by the Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital, “and establish conditions of cooperation.”

Photiou said in his written statement that one must not forget that “the persons we are looking for, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, for whom Akinci is now interested, were defenseless patients who died due the Turkish Air Force bombing.”

The Commissioner said that the Republic of Cyprus, despite Turkeys denial and the obstacles puts forward by Ankara for almost half a century as regards efforts to solve the issue of missing persons, has been facing the tragedy of both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons as a humanitarian issue that needs to be solved in the right way to the benefit of their families.

He pointed out that the excavations at Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital concern the cases of victims for which the Turkish side refused to cooperate within the framework of the Committee of Missing Persons project for the exhumation and identification of their remains.

Meanwhile in a speech he delivered on Sunday during a memorial service Photiou referred to the relocation of the remains of missing persons from Assia by the Turkish side, and described Turkeys stance on the issue of missing persons as inhumane and barbaric.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The latest round of UN-backed negotiations, in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, ended inconclusively in July 2017.

A Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) was 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.

According to data posted on the CMP website, the remains of 637 Greek Cypriot missing persons and 210 Turkish Cypriot missing persons were identified and returned to their families until November, 30, 2017. A total of 873 Greek Cypriots and 282 Turkish Cypriots are still missing.

Source: Cyprus News Agency